An old idea from Franklin Covey was that whenever you had a phone conversation with someone and wanted to document the info, you jotted brief notes on your "daily record of events" (aka DRE) page, which is part of their planner. In the seminar I took w/them 10 years ago, the instructor said that an entry from a DRE page had once been used in court as evidence to prove that a conversation did take place, implying that this was important evidence in the case. No way to know if any of that is truth or urban myth, (either way, it sure is great marketing for *their* system) but I also think the concept has merit.
When having a conversation with random customer service representatives (CSR) at various large organizations (wireless phone service, health insurance company, etc) I have found that details that seem mundane at the time can become vitally important later on, and I sometimes regret it later on when I didn't document the conversation. Regardless of whether the CSR made an honest mistake, or was sloppy and just didn't care about being conscientious , "proof" of the nuts and bolts of the conversation, and the name/extension, etc, of the CSR becomes very important, especially with Big Anonymous Companies with so many call centers and tons of employees. Often, you can't get any help without this proof even when you know that they goofed, or they suggest you write a complaint letter--it just wastes time and energy and I find this totally depressing.
I believe that records of such conversations can serve as scissors that cut through this red tape of awful bureaucracy, non-action, and finger-pointing.
I know of someone (a non-GTDer) who keeps good conversation records, and when faced with a subsequent disagreement over the facts is able to say something like "I talked with Jane Doe at Extension 351 at 3:32 pm Pacific time on 5/31/05, and she said that she was crediting the disputed $30 to my account...this has still not been done.." The mention of date, time, and name of employee generally works miracles, but if that doesn't work, she adds "well, we could always pull the tape of the recordings your company makes of the incoming calls...you know, the ones for quality assurance and training purposes!" and it generally does the trick.
I could use some suggestions for Best Practices for capturing, organizing, storing, and retrieving such information in a paper-based system?
For a while, (before I read GTD) I was keeping a phone log. (Yes, I know David frowns on these in GTD). Indeed I had been using it to "scan" for incomplete loops and see which calls I still had "open" and was waiting for a return call, which I now do via @Waiting For. But still, the phone log seems like better "proof" that I actually made a call or had a conversation on a particular day just because it logs things in chronological order and you can't easily "fake" that without faking a several pages of a phone log as they are generally spiral bound so new pages cannot be added. And, sometimes even the "proof" that I had placed a call and left a message was itself vital information...
My desire is to take notes on such conversations with pen/paper--I cannot use a computer or a handheld for this.
Would a fresh sheet of paper for each conversation, with the time and date of the call (or meeting) noted at the top, and the names of the person(s) I spoke with (or was tranfered to, in the case when I am sent from department to department) important info just written down on paper and then filed in the appropriate Reference file be appropriate?
Or are there better ways?
Any help appreciated!