The other day I saw this on Twitter:
Time Tamer Tip: If a call is not a priority and will take more than 5 minutes, ask to call them back at a scheduled time.
Because you’re limited to 140 characters, I’m sure @TheTimeTamer would want you to ascertain whether it was a priority to the caller as well as to you. But some people would read this tweet as,”If it’s not a priority to me, then I’m putting them off.”
Let’s stipulate that you are a busy person, that you never get everything on your “to do” list accomplished. But likely, so is that busy person who just called you. It could be that they need a key piece of data from you which prevents them from moving forward on one of their important tasks.
Let’s further stipulate that any call from a customer or a prospect is a priority. Don’t look at a customer call as an interruption; look at it as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between you two.
Some people, especially those who are new and inexperienced think that tasks completion always comes first. Let me shift your paradigm. You will find yourself more successful when you take priority time to build relationships with people above you, below you, and with those on the same level. Take their phone calls. Reply promptly to their emails. Do favors for them. Nearly all of them will return the favor when you need one. Develop a reputation as one who can be counted on.
At the same time, don’t develop the reputation as a door mat. Learn to say “no,” without actually saying “no.” “I would love to help you, but I’m on deadline for something that has to be turned in this Friday.” Learn to tactfully ask co-workers, “How time sensitive is this? I’m on deadline. Can I call you back at 3PM?”
Stop thinking that your projects are more important than anyone else’s. They’re not. When you invest time in developing relationships, you’re able to speak more openly with people. It will then be easier for you to ask them to delay a call when necessary.
In summary, invest time in building relationships with people. Before you attempt to put off a call, determine how important it is to the caller as well as yourself. It’s basic customer service. Identify their needs before you consider your own.
It doesn’t take much to follow me on Twitter. I’m txglennross.