The Phone Still Works

Old phone

By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA

Let me get this out of the way: I am of the baby boomer generation. Actually I remember when our home phone number was, “9” yep, that’s right; one number worked in Slayton, MN.  Back then, picking up the phone was the only way to communicate; today picking the phone seems to be a last resort.  I generally pick up the phone when it is too detailed to explain in a note, when I feel like I need a customer service solution, or when I want to “connect” with someone.   The first use of more detailed explanation and a conversation is generally with current business colleagues.   How many business calls have you made in the last week?   When do you decide to call vs. text or email? Consider the value of brainstorming topics for an educational session or new ways to get through a gatekeeper in a text message. For this, the phone is better.  As I think about ways to connect to an individual, short of face-to-face, or an application like Facetime, the phone is still the best tool we have today.

As I have worked to enhance my phone skills I’ve learned some techniques that I suggest you consider.

1.      Be prepared

Nothing ends the call more quickly than giving the impression you’re not organized or you don’t value their time.

2.      Personalize

I am not all about counting the number of times you use their names. However, I am all about making sure you are in the moment, listening to them, customizing the message to their needs.  Avoid that telemarketer demeanor at all costs.

Make sure you are calling at a time that works for them.  When it doubt, ask.

3.      Be positive, assumptive, persuasive

They need to make sure you are the right person to get an appointment, you need to believe it first.

4.      Speak clearly

I suspect this goes without saying, but often it can be the cell or speaker phone you are using or a headset that makes it hard for the recipient of the call to hear and understand you.  Plan the time, phone and approach.

5.      Be professional but be warm

The two attributes can work together and it’s all easier when the recipients want to converse with you.  Professionalism may come from dropping the name of a person in your healthcare organization or your title or role may reflect your status.  The more engaging and professional you are, the more opportunities you will earn.

Make a professional connection today and pick up the phone.

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