"There's not anybody who really cares about using voice messaging
the way I envisioned it." According to Gordon Matthews, the inventor of
voice mail, he never anticipated that his automated message system would be
used to confuse and frustrate business callers. He didn't foresee how many
ways businesses could devise to misuse his system.
When asked what aggravates them most about modern phone communication the
majority of people will say that it is voice mail. Pressed for details,
they explain that it is the automated answering process that companies use
to screen and direct calls that bugs them, not the basic messaging-taking
Companies are spending large sums of money to antagonize their customers
and it only seems to get worse. When a person needs help with a problem
and can't reach another human, the situation deteriorates rapidly. Using
the numbers on your touch tone pad is fine when you want to verify your
bank balance, pay a bill or have a dry newspaper delivered; but when your
pipes are backing up, your new computer just crashed, or a tree just fell
on your brand new SUV, call processing may not be the answer.
There are advantages to an automated system. It saves money in salaries
and benefits. It prevents old-fashioned phone tag by allowing people to
leave detailed messages in their own voice with clear and correct
information. Voice mail crosses all time zones so people can leave and
retrieve messages at their convenience.
The disadvantages are that people can hide behind voice mail, often the
prompts are confusing, working through the menu can be more time-consuming
than speaking to a "live" person, and some people just don't like talking
If your company uses an automated system to process calls make sure it
provides the best customer service by following these suggestions:
Voice mail can be either an incredible asset to your business or an
incredible pain for your customers. Don't force innocent people to spend
their valuable time in your voice mail jail.
- Keep your greeting short and sweet. (No one cares that your menu options
have changed. They only want to know what options they have now.)
- List your menu options according to popular usage.
- Tell callers how to reach another human early in the process.
- Think twice before using voice mail for customer service issues.
- Survey your customers from time to time to see how they feel about your
voice mail system.
- Try calling your own system occasionally and find out first hand what
your customers are experiencing.
© 2006, Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved. Reprint rights granted so long as the article and by-line are reproduced intact and all links are made live.
About the Author
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site http://www.mannersthatsell.com