Continuing my rant about communication:

I was shocked today when I called a number to speak to a customer. I had been trying the number and left a number of messages on the voicemail. After a few days of this I received a call from my dispatcher to say that the customer was unhappy at not hearing from me. I asked if they had left another number, they had and I called it.

I explained that I had left a number of messages, the customer’s reply shocked me; “Oh yes, she’s not in this week, her phone keeps ringing, it’s a bit of a nuisance really.”

I wondered at this, surely if a member of your team is not in the office surely it goes without saying that you would arrange for their calls to be dealt with and their voicemail screened. Even better, if you are not going to be in the office should your voicemail message reflect this and offer an alternative number to call?

I have often felt that if a job does not need to be attended to for over two weeks it probably doesn’t need to be done at all. People who call those numbers feel as though their contact isn’t valued and voicemail, which has a pretty poor reputation, takes another smack in the kisser.

The company I work for has guidelines about voicemail. They advocate recording a new message each day, which should contain the day’s date, a brief message about availability and a promise to return calls.

Whilst I don’t follow this strictly, one day being much the same as another, and I only usually record another message if I am not at work.

There is an etiquette about voicemail, it is not good to include music, neither should you get each member of the team / family to speak on the message, that is truly sick-making. Before recording the message you should plan what you are going to say, keep it short and don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

When you get back to the phone or come off another call check your messages and respond to them. I am amazed at the reaction of some customers when I call them back within minutes. The usual expectation is that a voicemail message will need to be followed up within an hour and that people generally don’t deal with voicemail messages.

As I work exclusively on a cell phone I get a text message whenever I have a new message. I then take the next quiet moment to dial in and pick up the message. If they require a reply I make the call while the message is still fresh in my mind. I have seen people laboriously note down the details of each message on paper, then call back when they have listened to all the messages. That’s a great way to mix up your messages. If you reply to each message as you listen to it you can deal with each one then move on.