From cave paintings and smoke signals to the invention and continued improvement of the telephone, the ability to share information fast and easily has been a pursuit of man for eons. One family’s recent invention designed to make communication across large groups more effective is the phone tree. In this article, we define a phone tree, look at how to create one from a Phone Tree Template. We also review this method’s benefits, limitations, and activation process.
What Is a Phone Tree?
A phone tree is a communication system used to activate a group of people via telephone. It is prearrangement designed primarily to disseminate a brief message easily and quickly to many people. When you set up and activate the system, you can use it for:
- Eliminating the need for posting brief messages via mail, thus cutting postage and printing costs.
- Inviting people personally – in addition to via email – and increasing turnout.
- Mobilizing voters quickly.
- Notifying members of last-minute changes, actions, meetings, etc.
What Is a Phone Tree Template?
A phone tree template – or call tree template – is a reusable model used to contact a group of people within an organization and share an important message. It contains the names and contact information of your main points of contact and the group of people to whom they must spread the message.
Phone Tree Applications
Phone tree systems have wide applications within the corporate world. In companies with call centers, a phone tree can be used to gauge and classify a caller’s needs then route them to an available agent. For instance, consumers can use the system to get details through phone calls about:
- Movie showtimes
- Bank balances
- Event schedules
Emergency response agencies and religious centers can also use phone trees to share important alerts.
Phone Tree Templates & Examples
Benefits of a Phone Tree Template
A phone tree is an excellent model of communication because it eliminates the need for you to repeat the same message to everyone in your organization. Here are some benefits of the system:
- Phone trees allow two-way communication because they are done through the phone, unlike automated messages, which don’t allow a response.
- If phone tree members contact each other personally, it can increase team harmony.
- Phone tree templates significantly reduce the amount of time needed to share information with a group of employees.
- Employees can inform you when some members of the tree cannot be contacted.
- Besides saving time, phone trees make sure you don’t overload one person.
- They also create a common information source for all employees.
Limitations of a Phone Tree Template
As is the case with any mode of communication out there, phone trees have their limitations. Some that you might encounter include:
- The system’s effectiveness could be affected by human error, especially when a member of the tree is unsure of their role in the system.
- In the event one member of the tree is not contacted, everyone they were supposed to contact will also not receive the shared message.
- In some emergency situations, a member could be physically unable to make the call.
How to Create a Phone Tree Template in Microsoft Word
Now that you know the benefits and demerits of using a phone tree let’s look at how to create a Phone Tree Template in MS Word. Remember, this is still a very effective tool for sharing urgent messages to multiple people without overloading one person or system. Here is how to prepare it:
- Step 1: Open Microsoft Word and open a new blank document.
- Step 2: Open the Insert tab and click on SmartArt from the Illustrations section.
- Step 3: On the left side of the SmartArt window, select Hierarchy and pick a layout style. You want one that allows you to insert and arrange member details.
- Step 4: If you want to remove some boxes from your layout, click on them and press the Delete key on the keyboard.
- Step 5: If you wish to add more boxes, select the ones you have and click on the Design Tab. Find the Create Graphic section, open the drop-down menu, and choose Add Shape Before or Add Shape After, depending on what you want.
- Step 6: Use the Move Up, Move Down, Promote, and Demote options to adjust the position of individual boxes.
- Step 7: If you like the results, save the document to a preferred destination. Assign the file a suitable and easy-to-remember name.
- Step 8: Open the template and enter your list of member names and phone numbers, then save the resulting file under a different name so you can maintain the template.
Activating the Tree
Once you create your phone tree, you, as the coordinator, must activate it. Start by creating a short script for what each member must do or say to complete the process. Next, you must:
- Share a copy of the script with the key members and help them understand their role within the tree. Inform them that they must ensure they reach everyone under them, then report to you.
- Test the effectiveness of the tree by contacting some people down the tree and checking whether they received a complete and accurate version of your message.
- If the system is working properly, thank all the key members.
- Your phone tree is now active.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a phone tree work?
When the coordinator needs to communicate a message, they inform the key members of the phone tree. Each key member is assigned a ‘branch’ complete with other members – at most 2 to 5 – to whom they must share the information until everyone receives the original communication.
Do people still use phone trees?
The phone tree system works as a very effective and viable system. However, recent developments in communication technology have made the traditional format near obsolete. Most companies using the phone tree now automate the system instead of relying on manual phone calls.
A Phone Tree Template is a crucial tool for any organization, especially those dealing with emergency situations and disaster recovery. If you fear the system might be too outdated for your company, consider automating it with software that shares the message via text message, email, or your preferred means of communication. This will take the manual aspect of having every member call the next member personally out of the equation.