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Jul 07

I recently replaced the business phone systems in the company I own to accommodate the needs of my staff. I wish I could say that it was to accommodate the needs of our customers, but sadly, that isnt the case. You see, our old phone system had many more extensions than we had lines for. It was built with the assumption that inter-office communications would be utilized more than incoming and outgoing calls. Since my company deals primarily with internet business and doesnt do much in the way of transactions over the phone, the system I put in place in the late 90s had served us well until very recently. As of late, I have had vendors who had traditionally reached me by phone sending me e-mails. They were complaining that its often impossible to get through to me. I looked into the matter and this is what I found… Most of my employees were spending a great deal of time talking on the phone. They werent talking to vendors, customers, service providers or other business entities. Instead, they were utilizing the phone for personal reasons.

Dont get me wrong, Im not the type of boss who thinks its never acceptable to talk on the phone. I understand that during the workday, things are inevitably bound to come up which require an employees attention. Weve all been there. Perhaps a child is sick or the car is in the shop needing repairs. I understand that these things often require time spent on the phone. Judging from the traffic on my lines and the astronomical phone bills I was receiving, however, this was way beyond what I think any employer would consider acceptable.

So, I decided to replace the old phone system. The new system has a line for every extension, including mine, so that vendors or anyone else will be able to reach me at any time. Since the new phone system also offers increased functionality, I had an additional feature programmed in.

Now, whenever someone makes an outgoing call, they must dial in their own code so that both the number they call and the times spent are recorded. These records are matched to the phone bill and all employees are required to mark the non-business related calls they make each month. Since the calls bear their code, they cannot say it wasnt them who made the call. Of course, they must pay for these calls. I have noticed that phone times (and my phone bills) have decreased substantially.

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