Is Voicemail Killing Your Business Communication?

voicemailYou are on the phone. It’s ringing. You’re looking at your computer, checking email, web pages, the sports scores, whatever, while waiting for the voicemail to pick up and then BOOM!

An actual person answers. You instantly panic… “What on earth was I calling about?”

With the wide adoption of voicemail, that’s become the way of things. So universal in its use, the concept of talking to the person you actually intended to call is not only a surprise, it’s almost annoying.

Yet, you were calling for a reason, and whatever that reason was, it would have been better handled with a one-to-one interaction with a real person on the end of the line then and there, instead of leaving a message, requesting a call back and the inevitable telephone tag that follows.

We all want to get things done, and businesses that are too reliant on the convenience that is voicemail suffer from it, perhaps even terminally. Once seen as the universal answer to optimizing business communications, now the “direct to voicemail” option on phone systems are keeping companies out of touch with their existing or potential clients.

Ask yourself, in the past month, how many times have you called up a service provider, and been sent to voicemail instead of talking to a representative? Me? Our furnace went out during the deep freeze after the holidays and I was on the phone calling seemingly dozens of companies looking for a repair person, any repair person. Finally, I got in touch with an actual guy and booked the appointment then and there.

Over the next few days I received a bunch of call backs from those voicemails that I’d left. Not only did they not get my business when I needed it, they lost out on future business as the nice fella who fixed my furnace also sold me on a replacement unit which he will be installing next week.

How many of your employees are dealing with potential client calls the same way? How many of them actually pick up when the phone rings? And how much potential business are you losing due to this modern “convenience?”

As a business owner, you can’t afford to have the customers you have worked so hard to attract go elsewhere for any reason, and voicemail should be the least of those.

So – what to do?

First, check you technology: Is your business phone system exacerbating the problem by not allowing calls to get through easily? The NEWT Managed PBX has a feature set specifically designed to get your clients on the phone with your employees where ever they are. There’s Find Me Follow Me that routes calls to multiple numbers simultaneously or in sequence ie: office extension, home, cell or alternate number — wherever a live point of contact is the, that call will find them. Call Ques allow inbound calls to a particular destination (i.e. Sales, Service) to queue up while waiting for an available staff member to take their call. Better than being on hold, and certainly better than going to voicemail or worst of all, a busy tone, as soon as a staff member is available, the ‘queued’ call rings their phone. Those are just two examples of the features available to you to ensure no call goes unanswered as soon as possible.

And second, culture: Even with the best technology, the base solution to this increasingly serious business communication issue is, employees have to snap out their voicemail addiction and start picking up the phone.

Incoming calls are the lifeblood of most businesses. It’s probably time you gave yours a checkup.

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About Gavin McDougald

Gavin McDougald has been working on and around the Internet since 1995. One of the original developers of The Sports Networks website, TSN.ca, he ended up as its Editor-in-Chief. An award winning writer, Gavin's work has been published on numerous sites like CBC.ca and NHL.com, as well as in papers such as the LA Times and Globe & Mail. Moving from online sports to Internet marketing in 2003, he's worked in a variety of industries including console gaming, online publishing, and now in telecommunications with Fibernetics. His focus is on the social media channels for both the Worldline and NEWT brands, blogging and corporate communications. Gavin has a BSc in Geology and a BA in Fine Arts from McMaster University.

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