I'm advocating for each small business out there to ditch their ridiculous and irritating voicemail system. Unless you are a super large company, quit pretending to be larger than you are - or more important than you are - and just answer the phone.
You'll stand out from the crowd and most likely offer MUCH better customer service. Your customers will be happier as well. NO ONE likes to wade through the slog of your voice mail prompts and the offer of other languages. Just pick up the phone and say, "Hello, this is Susan, how can I help you?" Then actually HELP someone find what they need or who they want to talk to and do it quickly. Time is money and you are wasting client time and not making any friends, by making them wait endlessly to speak with someone who can help them.
Granted, there are probably a few companies that really need a voicemail system...but thinking about it more carefully... AT&T didn't have one for decades. They used live operators. It worked for them and it can work for you. Next, put a person on the phone who is pleasant and helpful. We all understand that employees are hard to find, but surely you can find someone with a clear voice, level head, and a smile in their voice.
In the future, perhaps AI will help us here. We can then ditch our voicemail system because it's antiquated and never has worked well. We can get a computer to answer the phone in any gender or accent we'd like. Personally, my smart phone uses a British male and I like to pretend I have this super smart guy at my fingertips who is always willing to help.
Here's a perfect example: calling a television station recently, I knew my brand new representative's first name but could not remember his last name. I got their voicemail system and it fed me into their employee directory and guess what, you were to plug in the first few digits of their LAST name to get through to them. I wanted to buy advertising on their station and could not get through to anyone and ended up hanging up and sending an email. It took twice as long if not longer.
Consider the fact that this same station used to have a wonderful receptionist who knew everyone and everything at the station. I often wonder what happened to that brilliant woman. I'd like to have her working at my place.
Finally, call your office and listen to your voicemail system and think of ways you can improve it. Surely you can find someone in the organization who can answer the phone as you ditch your voicemail system.
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