If you were asked to make a list of the risks which affect businesses, it’s probably safe to say that phone calls wouldn’t be anywhere on it. How could taking phone calls at work possibly be a bad thing? Surely the biggest risk is not taking phone calls when you’re working? After all, isn’t it important to answer calls and have a direct link with your customers? Whether it’s landline or mobile, the phone is a crucial lifeline for millions of business-owners, bringing in new contracts and helping to strengthen relationships with loyal customers.
There are lots of reasons why phone calls are essential to the success of many a small business, from plumber to beautician to building contractor. So why wouldn’t a business-owner want to answer the phone? There could be several problems with responding to those calls when you’re out and about or in your office. They could mean that you end up putting your business at risk in a number of ways.
Taking your eyes off the prize
The phone is a powerful form of communication. But it’s also a powerful distraction. It’s all too easy to forget that when you’re concerned with responding to calls from potential customers.
Business-owners need many strengths to survive and thrive. One of the most important ones is focus. Try staying focused when the phone is ringing constantly and you’re disrupting what you’re doing to answer it. Or when you’re worrying throughout your working day about how to find the time to respond to all those messages. What can seem like a great thing on the surface can end up breaking up your day, your meetings and your total dedication to growing your business.
Constant interruptions, including those caused by phone calls, have been found to reduce your IQ by 10 points! Those are ten whole points you could be putting to good use in growing your customer base. There’s no getting away from it: answering phone calls all day long isn’t always the smartest option for a company.
Hindering health and safety
Let's say you’re a professional tradesperson. People trust you and pay you for your services. So, you’re confident about taking calls while you’re actually working - hands-free of course. But even if you’ve been doing this for a long time with no problems, there’s still an associated risk. However detached we think we are, our attention is always taken up by a call. Why else would there be a ban on using a phone with your hands while you’re driving?
It gets worse. Ever heard of a thing called “cognitive workload”? New research suggests that even hands-free calls in the car should be banned because our attention is always more taken up with them while we’re driving than we think, giving us too much of a cognitive workload. Not just during the call itself but for quite a while after it’s ended. Now apply this to when you’re working – perhaps with potentially dangerous equipment. Not great, is it? Even a slight shift in your focus could create a health and safety risk.
As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also the added risk to your business reputation. The customer you’re working for that day may not be in the room with you while you’re working, but if they’re nearby they could still hear you taking calls. It’s just another way of suggesting to the customer that you don’t think they’re important to you. The only answer may seem to be to put your phone on silent or in aeroplane mode. But this isn’t always a great option either. No wonder so many business-owners resort to taking the risks along with the phone calls. However, there are other options which can resolve this paradox in one go and could even enhance your professional image at the same time.
Piling on the pressure
Your customers matter to you. But not all of them need your help at once. Some will only have small, non-urgent jobs for you. So why put them all at exactly the same level of priority? That’s what you’re doing if you take each call which comes in exactly when it comes in: you’re making every single customer the most important one at that moment in time. It may sound very nice, as does dealing directly with live customer calls as they come in, but it’s also a great way to make yourself work harder than you need to. If you answer the phone immediately, that customer will expect you to be available straight away. It’s human nature.
So, yet another risk of taking those customer calls at work all day every day is putting yourself under more pressure than you have to be. No strategy means no clarity. Which simply means more stress. Instead of risking stress, confusion and losing messages, you can pick and choose who to contact and you have more insight into the best jobs to prioritise. You’re a business owner because you want to work smarter, not harder. There’s a huge amount of value in finding a way to remove the risks and boost your quality of life!
Break the pattern
Risk is one of the biggest ingredients of building a successful business. Many an entrepreneur will admit to actually enjoying some of the hazards: the uncertainty and the sheer satisfaction of building something great despite the many challenges along the way. It’s all part of the fun of self-employment when things are going well. But when a risk affects your business reputation, your focus and even your safety, it’s worth looking at taking a different approach. Why should something which is intended to benefit a business end up working against it?
Whether you’re affected by a constant barrage of calls or just trying to deal with infrequent but valuable long-distance catch-ups with your customers, there is a right and a wrong way to manage and minimise the risks. Even better, it is possible to maximise the power and potential of every phone call made to your business. But how do you achieve this? One approach is to have a clear strategy for dealing with calls. Another one is to use a high-quality call handling service to manage your phone calls and keep you in more control of potential new business. With this kind of support, you can step out of the rut affecting many business-owners in which they are constantly fielding calls all day long, wherever they are. Business is challenging enough. Why put up with more risks than you have to?
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