Perception is Everything
You may be incredibly busy. It may also be a fact of life that a large number of your callers get shuffled off to voicemail. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a couple minutes to think about what your voicemail is saying to your callers.
What you said:
Hi there! You’ve reached the desk of Joan Smith. I’m away from my desk or on another call at the moment. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. *beep*
What they heard:
Mu-wha-ha-ha! My electronic sentries have prevented you from disturbing me while I did something trivial and ignored you! Leave a message and I might listen to it sometime later today. *beep*
A New Strategy
Instead of leaving it open to all sorts of wild interpretations let’s change your outgoing message to something very specific. Try this:
“Hi, this is Mike. I check my voice mail every time I finish a call. If you require a return call please leave the appropriate information and I will get back to you within the hour” (or a specific time such as “before 4:00 PM this afternoon.”) *beep*
Now you have a client who understands that you’re busy, but unlike all the other voicemail recordings they’ve listened to today, they feel acknowledged by you and know, not only that you’re going to return their call, but when you’ll return their call. You now stand head-and-shoulders above the crowd.
Change your voice mail message as often as necessary to reflect the current circumstances. It only takes a minute to change 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM to reflect your current workload. If frequent updates are too arduous change it twice a day to say “before noon” and “before 5:00 PM” instead.
Don’t ever let your voice mailbox get full. There’s absolutely nothing more frustrating than a) not being able to get a hold of you directly, and then b) not being able to leave a message. At that point your caller is ready to move on to the next firm and forget about your company altogether.
Some PBXs (Private Branch Exchanges) can be “trained” to recognize an incoming number and direct those calls to a specific place, but that’s not always useful because important clients can call from any phone number. A properly configured PBX can provide specific, customized phone numbers that you can give out that are always delivered to the same department or person.
And it is not limited to internal numbers. Your PBX could automatically forward it to a cellular number, or a private home number, without the caller even being aware of the transfer. It is even clever enough to make it ring on multiple numbers so you can answer on whatever device is most convenient.
By using such a number you can control which message they receive when a human isn’t available. You can even make sure that high priority clients are always directed to a human, and never to an automated voicemail service. Elon Musk and Richard Branson would never even know you had a voicemail service when they dialed in.
And if someone were trying to get a hold of you, and the phone was ringing in your office, your home, your cottage, and even trying (and failing) to ring your cell while you’re at 30,000 feet in an airliner, your PBX can still save you by sending the message to your e-mail where (in some cases) you could retrieve it even while in-flight.
Technology is your friend
It is even possible now for your field reps and customers to securely send you video voicemail from their iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and other devices through your PBX. Imagine the convenience, and the enhanced communication, when you can see facial expressions! No need to rely on unprofessional emoticons to convey feelings.
Explosives are neither good nor evil; it’s entirely dependent on what you use them for. The exact same thing is true of your voicemail; it can be your worst enemy, or used properly, your best friend.
Consult with your IT person and learn what your system can do to enhance your communications. You’ll love it and so will your customers!