You probably had your share of plenty of whiz-bang tech experts trying to get you set up with a 21st century, cloud-based Internet telephone system. But did you realize that you can also radically increase productivity by changing your behaviors when it comes to answering and speaking on the phone?

Here’s a simple example. How many times have you called someone, and they’ve answered with just one word: “Hello?”

This is just about the worst possible thing you can do when answering the phone. It shows no interest in the conversation and forces the caller to take charge.

Instead, you can actually increase productivity by considering three distinct factors when answering:

  • The type of line are you answering — direct line, company line, or cellphone
  • The relationship you have with the caller — personal, professional or none
  • Whether or not the call was scheduled

For example, if you picking up a company line, you should probably answer most inbound calls with your company name and identifying yourself:

 “ABC Services, Emily speaking.”

If it’s your own cellphone, it’s still good to say your own name. That way people know they’ve reached the right person.

“This is Emily!”

If it’s a call that you’ve got on your calendar and the caller ID matches, a great way to improve productivity is to start with the purpose of the call. That way, you start off on the right foot and save time.

“Thanks for calling! This is Emily. Ready for our 3PM call to discuss the new online marketing campaign?”

There are other ways to increase productivity on the phone as well. One of the most powerful is the “quick answer.”

If someone calls in and you’re focused on an urgent task or talking to someone else in person, it can be tempting to let the message go to voicemail. But then, you have to listen to the voicemail and try to return the call later. That’s no way to increase productivity!

Instead, try this:

               “Jack, Emily here. Hey, I’m in the middle of something. Can I call you back in ten minutes?”

More than likely, the caller will accept this suggestion. They save the time of leaving a voicemail and you save the time of listening to the voicemail.

Plus, the caller can increase productivity by planning to be available in ten minutes. Everyone wins!

The “quick answer” strategy works for any time frame, not just ten minutes. The person answering the phone could have suggested a time to call back, such as 11:00AM.

Furthermore, they don’t actually have to be “in the middle of something.” The telephone is a source of interruption every time it rings. But if you decide to answer quickly, you can control the phone—instead of it controlling you.

Use these etiquette tips to increase productivity!

Robby Slaughter is a speaker and consultant focused on employee productivity, employee engagement, and process improvement. Visit his firm online at www.accelawork.com.

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