Saturday, March 26, 2016

Are you out of time? Are you answering calls?

You're working on a big project at the office and you feel that there is not enough time left to complete the work?  Are you answering calls thru out the day?  That could be the issue...

It's a known fact that people do prefer to call you instead of sending an email when asking for support or new features.  It seems faster and a more productive way to communicate between departments but you'd be surprise how much time is lost in the whole process.

Let's assume that someone is requesting a new data column in a report.  This implementation is not a big modification and should take around an hour including the time to open the report, do the modification, validate the result and deliver the updated report.

The request is simple so it's easy to compare requesting by phone or by email.

Over the phone:
- Stopping whatever you were doing to answer the phone call
- Greetings and polite introduction : 30 seconds
- Hearing the request: 120 seconds
- Confirming the request (to ensure the proper names, labels, content): 60 seconds
- Ending the call, polite salutes, etc...: 60 seconds
- Writing on a note, in a todo list the request with full details : 120 seconds
- Going back to whatever you were doing and figuring where you left off: 60 seconds

Total time used is around 7,5 minutes more or less.  

Same request but by email:
- Seeing the incoming request in your inbox : 5 seconds
- Complete your tasks before having a look at the request: 0 seconds
- Open the email when ready: 10 seconds
- Read the request details: 60 seconds
- Reply to acknowledge the email: 60 seconds
- Copy and paste the request into your note/todo list: 30 seconds
- Go back to your next task: 30 seconds

Total process time by email: 3 minutes, more or less.

For a simple request, handing it can take half the time by email compared as the same request over a phone call.  For any request, you can add a factor of complexity.  The time used to explain everything over the phone is increasing a lot more then in an email explaining the full details in text and screen captures.

A few years ago, we did the math at the office and found out that a rough average of 15 minutes per call was about right.  As for emails, we had calculated a rough average of 5 minutes.  Assuming you are getting 10 requests/day/week, you can compare the time spent handling requests:

Total week time by phone: 750 minutes (12.5 hours)
Total week time by email: 250 minutes (4.17 hours)

For the same requests, you are actually wasting a full day of work (~8 hours) just by handling requests over the phone on a 5 days/week.

Validate yourself at the office how many times you're handling a phone call that could have been handled by email.  The more you get, the less time you have to complete your tasks.

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