The fact is, I very rarely answer my phone.
Don’t get me wrong – I do HAVE a phone and it does take messages.
And I do listen to those messages and I do return phone calls.
BUT – I will rarely, if ever, pick it up while it’s ringing. There are two simple reasons.
1. I am usually tracking time, working on clients tasks, very focused on what I’m doing and/or on a tight schedule. Answering my phone is a big disturbance to my productivity. The last thing I need is to pick up and get roped into a 90 minute discussion with that super-needy client who always talks too much! That is a schedule-murderer for sure. It might also be that demanding client who needs to know everything NOW. Many clients don’t understand that you are balancing multiple accounts and might need some time to dig up the info they require. So that never happens to me anymore. My phone will take your message and I will return your call later – on my own terms – and when I have time. (note: of course if something is urgent or an emergency I will drop everything and come to a client’s rescue)
2. I prefer time to think about my answers. Nobody likes getting put on the spot. Or being unprepared to answer whatever inquiry is on the other end of that phone line. It’s a win-win situation for both of us if I have time to think about my answer to your question before I respond. If there is time to think then my answer will be more accurate, I will be more confident and sound more professional. My client, in turn, will get a much better answer to their question as well.
Do you prefer email over the phone? There are a couple of ways to handle the issue when consulting with new clients. I usually like to give clients a brief explanation about what it’s like to work with me – and include the fact that I’m a total ’email girl’. Let your client know if they have a problem or issue the best and quickest way to reach you is by email. Some Virtual Assistants will send out a Frequently Asked Questions sheet along with their client welcome package. On that sheet you can make it clear that your preferred method of communication is email.
Make it clear to your clients the best way to get in touch with you for everyday work and also for emergencies. Things will run a lot more smoothly and you’ll both have a happier relationship.