When was the last time you checked your voicemail? Or, better yet, when was the last time you left a voicemail only to wait ages for a return call? Leaving a voicemail feels like dropping a stone into a bottomless pit. The chances of someone hearing and returning your message feel miniscule. Most people hate both leaving and receiving voicemail.
Not that long ago, though, voicemail was the latest in keeping-in-touch technology. Most Gen X and older folks remember a job where the morning routine always included checking and returning voicemails. As email and text messaging became more ubiquitous, the lowly voicemail fell out of favor. The chance to talk to a human person in real time became the realm of a 24/7 answering service.
But why did the voicemail fall out of favor? Why do so many people say they hate voicemails? Here are a few reasons:
No One Is Good at It
Think of the last voicemail you listened to. Was the person eloquent, practiced, and poised? Or did they ramble and mumble and maybe forget to leave their number? For many people, leaving a voicemail feels just like speaking on stage. They get the same nerves and brain farts as you might get when asked to speak with no preparation.
People Don’t Listen to the Message
Often, people will see they have a voicemail and call back without listening to the message. Then the caller has to repeat their entire message a second time. This feels like a frustrating waste of time. No one wants to go through all the stress of leaving a message, only to have it ignored.
Red Blinking Lights
When answering machines and voice mailboxes were new, that little red blinking light felt exciting. Someone had something to tell you, and they didn’t want to wait for you to get home. How fun is that? In our current hyperconnected state, that little red blinking light (or the red message indicator on your smart phone) feels like just another source of stress.
Recording the Greeting
How do you sum up your entire self in a short outgoing message? In the case of a business, that outgoing message might be the first contact a customer has. It takes practice, time, and possibly an acting coach to get the tone of the greeting just right.
It is better, maybe, to hire a 24/7 answering service. This way, every incoming caller gets to talk to a person in real time, without the anxiety of leaving a message. They can ask questions and get assurance that their message will be seen and returned.