The concept of going without voicemail may seem ridiculous to some — but is it really that far fetched? Sure, mobile phones come pre-packaged with voicemail already installed, and so do office phone systems; however, do people still like leaving messages? Furthermore, and maybe more significant to the discussion, do people enjoy retrieving their messages?
According to a Vonage report published in July of 2012, the answer is: Not as much as they used to! In fact, Vonage reported a year-over-year decline in the number of voicemail messages left of 8% — and a decline in the number of people bothering to retrieve their messages of 14%. I would say those are pretty significant numbers.
So let’s dive a little deeper into the voicemail process to really see what’s transpiring in today’s business environment. It really starts with the rise of the smartphone and the impact it’s having on the way we communicate. The smartphone is amazing because it gives people several choices of how they want to contact others: Click-to-call, text, email, chat, social media, video, and who knows what’s next… And when they call a business, the #1 way they want to communicate is via phone (so reports Loudhouse in their 2013 Customer Service Ominchannel Survey of 7,000 consumers). However, since they are used to being able to reach people quickly by one of several different technologies they have at their fingertips, they expect the same response rate from their phone call to your business as they get from their interactions with their friends.
So how do you think a prospect, customer, business contact, or anyone else for that matter, feels about being forced to leave a 30 to 60 second message after hearing your 30 to 60 second message (followed by a beep of course) only to assume that someone in your office won’t get back to them as quickly as is required due to the fact it will take you at least 2 or 3 minutes to even login to your account to hear the message (assuming you are even near the phone and see the red light blinking in the first place) and that’s if their message was the only message in your voicemail box? Are you as exhausted as me??? Well so are your callers! And that is the fundamental reason voicemail is on the decline.
So as you build your phone-handling processes, be sure to take into consideration the emotional effect voicemail has on your potential and current customers. While it may seem like the easiest way to run your business, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way to run your business. Removing voicemail from your office is not as difficult as it may seem – and your callers will thank you for it ten times over since they always, always, always want to talk to people and not machines. If you truly maintain a customer-first mentality at your business, read the above paragraph again and think whether or not that’s what you want your customers to experience. Exhaustion leads to hang-ups and a Google search for someone else who can help them – and nobody wins when that happens.