By Adrian Swinscoe

There is a statistic that I learnt some time ago where someone told me that between 70 and 80% of all people when faced with leaving a voicemail for someone they don’t know or don’t know very well will not leave a message.

Checking this against my own experience, I believe that this may very well be true. Now it may be something to do with not being prepared to leave a message or a rejection thing or something else but the fact remains that it seems to exist.

What do you think? How often do you leave a message when nobody picks up the phone?

How often have you tried to call a business and the phone has rung out or you have been asked to leave a message? I have come across this quite a lot lately when dealing with all sorts of businesses, small ones and large ones.

When faced with the message: “There’s no one here to take your call at present…” what does that say to me?

From the perspective of a prospective customer, isn’t it tantamount to saying “Hello, whatever we’re doing at the moment is more important than dealing with you.”

I’ve heard people in organisations try and combat that by asking people to leave a message with a promise that they’ll get back to them in such and such amount of time. And then they don’t. I think that’s worse. Says so much about how important I am to you.

The fact is that we, as people and customers, much prefer to be answered by a human voice, even if it’s just to take a message. People are more likely to wait for you to return their call if they think that someone, somewhere, is dealing with it.

Even if you are a small business, that does not mean employing someone to answer the phones as these days, if you’re too busy to answer the phone – or if you’re out of the office a lot and it’s impractical and inconvenient to have your mobile phone going off every few minutes – there is a solution. For a small amount every month, you can hire a tele-answering company, to catch and answer all of the calls that you miss. Some of these companies offer an excellent personalised service, answering with your company name and responding as if they’re there in the office with you – “I can’t see her at her desk at the moment...” They will then forward the messages to you in the format of your choice – e-mail is popular.

In this world of increasing technological solutions (many of which I really like, by the way), I think we need to be careful that we don’t lose the human touch.

What do you think?

Adrian Swinscoe is Director of RARE Business - adrian@rarebusiness.co.uk


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