The benefits and limitations of a phone tree template
If you want to create an incident or emergency response strategy in your organization, using a phone tree template is essential. This will make it easy for you to contact everyone who’s part of the template. As long as you make sure that the contact information on the template is always updated, it will serve its purpose. Here are some benefits of creating your own blank phone tree template:
- You can use the template to communicate with several employees in a short amount of time.
- You can convey your message quickly without having to overload a single system or person.
- Unlike an automated message, the template enables two-way communication between the recipient and the caller. You can also report back to your superior in case the person you’re supposed to contact isn’t answering.
- This can help create a common information source for all of the members of your organization.
- Since those part of the call tree template will personally call each other, it shows that the organization has a vested interest in its staff’s welfare.
Like any other means of communication, an emergency phone tree template also comes with some limitations namely:
- Human error may compromise the effectiveness of the template. This is especially true in cases when one or more of the employees listed on the template aren’t clear on what they’re supposed to do and who they’re supposed to call during an emergency.
- Also, if one person isn’t contacted, this means that everyone he’s supposed to call won’t get contacted either. Depending on the circumstances of the emergency, some of the employees might not even be physically able to make a call.
Apart from using this phone tree template, you should also consider starting an alternate process of contacting your employees. If one of them don’t respond to the call after several attempts, then you should try other methods of communication.
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Building your phone tree for the template
A blank phone tree template is an essential aspect of a system wherein you communicate with a group of employees through the telephone. The system can help you get a short message across in a fast and efficient manner to a big group of people. Once you’ve completed your phone tree template, you can use it to:
- Mobilize your employees in a single location when you need to call for an emergency meeting.
- Spread an important message in case of an emergency.
- Notify your employees of tasks or last-minute changes to hearings or meetings.
- Increase the number of people who attend the meetings you set.
- Reinforce information you’ve sent through email.
If you’re the one in charge of coordinating the phone tree, you only need a complete an updated list of the names and contact details of the people you plan to make part of your call tree template. If you want to build your own template, here are some steps to guide you:
- Create a comprehensive list of names and updated contact details of the people you want to reach through the phone tree. Include cell numbers, office numbers, and home numbers too.
- If you’re calling employees from other branches, speak to the head of the branch so he can provide you with the relevant details. Also, ask the leader of the branch to inform you of any changes in names or contact details if needed.
- From your main list, select a small group of dependable employees who you will assign to call and activate the other employees on your template.
- Before implementing the phone tree system, make sure to speak to everyone involved in it, especially the small group. Tell them that they have to get back to you in cases where the people they’re supposed to contact aren’t picking up.
- Request your employees to inform you if they will take a break from work so you can assign other people to take responsibility for calling the other people in the phone tree.
Creating a phone tree template in Microsoft Word
As aforementioned, phone tree templates are very useful tools in organizations. Used properly, it will permit you to disseminate urgent or important messages to a group of people effectively and quickly. Rather than placing the pressure of contacting an entire group of people to a single person, an emergency phone tree template allows you to divide the responsibility.
As long as you select a Key Group of people which consists of your most reliable employees, this will help ensure the effectiveness of your emergency response strategy. For instance, you as the first person on your template would have to call 3-4 important people. Then each of these people will have to call another 3-4 people to share the information you had just given.
This will keep on carrying on until everyone part of your phone tree has received the message. The great thing about a blank phone tree template is that it’s easy to create one using Microsoft Word or any other word processing software. Here are the steps:
- Open a new document in Microsoft Word.
- Click on the “Insert” tab that’s located at the top of the page. Find the “Illustrations” group on the tab and click on “SmartArt.”
- When the window for SmartArt opens, click on “Hierarchy.” Look at the different options then choose the layout style you want. When you’ve chosen a style, click “OK.” Make sure that the template you choose contains all of the boxes you need for your phone tree and in the proper order. If it doesn’t you may have to remove, add or re-organize some of the boxes.
- If you want to add more boxes, click on one of the existing ones. Then find the “Design” tab and click on it. In the “Create Graphic” group, right next to the “Add Shape” option, open the drop-down menu. Here, you can either select “Add Shape Before” or “Add Shape After.” In doing this, you will create a new box which is at the same level as the one you clicked on.
- If you want to add a box above or below the one you clicked, you can select either “Add Shape Below” or “Add Shape Above.”
- If you need to reposition any of the boxes, click on “Move Down,” “Move Up,” “Demote” or “Promote.”
- If you need to delete one of the boxes, simply click on it and press the keyboard “Delete” key.
- When you’re happy with your template, it’s time to save it. Click on “File,” “Save As” and choose the file destination. Give your template an appropriate name so you can easily find it in the target location.
- After you’ve created your list of names and contact details for the phone tree, open the template and start typing. After completion, save the document under a different file name so you can keep on using the blank template for different phone trees.
Activating your phone tree template
The person who starts the phone tree is the coordinator. If that’s your job, you have to know exactly how to activate the phone tree. It would be very helpful for you to come up with a short script to share with the Key Group. This way, you know exactly what you have to say when you make those first calls. Here are some tips to help you out:
- If the members of your Key Group aren’t with you in the office, give each of them a call. But in cases where you work with them, call them in for a meeting to discuss the message you need to share.
- After that, remind them of their responsibilities. If needed, you may also require them to give you feedback about the calls they made and how the recipients responded.
- If you made a script for the Key Group, share it with them too. In doing this, they will have all of the information needed to inform the other members of the phone tree.
- Perform a spot-check on the effectiveness of your phone tree. Do this by giving a few random people a call to make sure that they received the information completely and accurately from the person assigned to contact them.
- When you’ve confirmed that everyone received the message, thank the members of your Key Group and congratulate them on a job well done. Appreciating their efforts will keep them motivated and willing to perform well the next time.
- Along with the phone tree template, create an organizational chart to serve as a guide for the members of the phone tree.
- Also, think of other ways to contact the members of your phone tree apart from just calling them at work.
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