As a service provider, I provide prospects and clients with a phone number so that they can access me during normal business hours to discuss any questions or concerns they may have about a project. Most writers quickly learn that the phone can take up large chunks of time. Since I'm a one woman show, I've established a simple system for managing calls throughout my day.
Virtual communication rocks
I'm fortunate that the majority of my clients prefer using email to communicate. Most prospects who call will do so during the initial "getting to know you" stage and then quickly phase the communication process on to sending email messages.
When emailing just won't do
However, I have a couple of long-term clients who prefer to speak on the phone quite often about things we could just as easily discuss via email. Excessive incoming business calls can interrupt your work flow and become very time consuming.
I know that phone calls are a preferred method of communication for some of my clients so in an attempt to keep them happy, I compromise. Whenever someone calls unexpectedly, I set a 15 minute limit on that call (I'm now trained to watch the time on my computer screen). If all questions or issues have not been addressed in that amount of time, I then offer to schedule a later day or time to continue the conversation. This allows me to work it into my schedule.
When I'm staring down the throat of a deadline, I will usually screen all calls and return them within 24 hours. Managing client phone calls requires you to immediately take control of the conversation, which can sometimes be easier said than done.