Managing Your Outbound Calls

Whilst the phone can be a source of major distraction with all the calls you receive, it also an important tool, along with your email, in keeping others informed and up to date as required. If these outgoing calls and emails are not managed effectively, they will also become a major interruption to your effective working.

Making calls and replying to emails is a key part of any management role but you need to adopt strategies that ensure this is done effectively. The simplest way to manage this activity is to block a period of time that is solely for this purpose.

Once you have set a specific time for your calling/emailing, make a list in descending order of importance. Make sure that you aren't over-ambitious with the number of calls you can make or emails you can send during the allocated time.

At the end of each calling period, make sure that you set reminders in your PDA, diary, or calendar of any call-backs or actions. Ensure that all notes you have made, as a result of your calls, are stored somewhere safe and any resulting actions are logged.

To ensure this time is kept to a minimum and that you work through your calls efficiently, you will need to have given some thought to each call and have made a note in your diary, calendar, or PDA as to its purpose. By keeping all the essential information in this one note, you will be able to work methodically and speedily through your necessary calls.

Details required for your outgoing calls:

• Name & Organization.
• Telephone & extension number.
• Name of secretary if appropriate.
• Purpose of call, e.g. monitoring progress of project.
• Any specific issues or questions you need answers to.
• Essential information you must communicate.
• Deadlines or timescales.
• Future action required, if any. For example, email to rest of project team to communicate progress, or to the person you called to confirm outcomes of call.

The benefit of this preparation is that you know exactly what you require from the call and nothing is forgotten which may cause you to have to call the person back. This also ensures that your time spent on the call is as effective as possible as you will know the purpose of the call from the outset.

It also allows you the opportunity to leave a concise and informative message on the person's Voicemail or with a colleague. If you are known to the person you have called, you may not need to leave your full name, company, or your phone number - only leave the essential information as appropriate to ensure efficiency.

Make sure that you leave a clear indication of when you can best be contacted, or when you will next call them, so that you don't end up in a circle of message leaving. If applicable, you can ask them to email you with your required information by a certain time and date.

For example:

'Hello Ross, its Kyle Squires of NCJ on 555 965 367122. I'm calling to ask how our new website design is coming along. Are we still on target for the final designs to be shown at next Tuesday's meeting? Please call me back or email me with an update by the end of today. Thanks Kyle.'

If the relationship you have with the person is in its early stages, you may prefer to say you will call them back. That way you stay in control and are prepared for the call, rather than being caught unawares or without your notes.

Try to avoid being left on hold as this reduces your efficiency and limits the number of total calls you can make. If you are having difficulty in getting through to a particular person, see if there is a PA, secretary, or colleague you could speak to in order to ascertain the best time to call the person you need to contact, or whether an email may be better. It also gives you the opportunity to express the importance of your call.

You may also be interested in:
Handling Interruptions | Controlling Interruptions | Identifying Interruptions | Limiting Inappropriate Socializing | Techniques to Minimize Interruptions | Managing Phone Interruptions | Cold Call Elimination | How to Stop Constantly Checking Emails.

Key Points

  • Plan your outbound calls and do them in batches.
  • If you can't reach someone always leave a well-structured message to avoid a prolonged round of message tennis.
  • Don't waste time being left on hold.
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