When thinking about brand experiences that impact sales, voicemail is probably not on your list. Yet, even if calls are no longer your preferred type of communication, poor phone habits can damage relationships with clients, prospects and critical contacts – leading to lost business.
In our work helping companies improve brand experiences, we’ve noticed more and more companies dropping the ball with how they handle voicemail. Is your team guilty of any of these brand-damaging mistakes? If so, there are changes you can make so that voicemail is an asset, not a liability.
Sometimes a brief conversation can accomplish something faster than an email exchange. If a customer calls and leaves you a message, address it as soon as you can to show that you value them and their time. Failure to do so signals to them that their concerns – and by extension, their relationship with you and your company – are not that important to you. And if you’re not interested in prioritizing them, why should they remain interested in doing business with you?
If you’re unable to return the call quickly (or have good reason not to), at minimum, acknowledge the message via email (or text) with a plan to handle the matter. Timeliness speaks to reliability, which is critical for building trust and loyalty.
When someone calls you, it’s often to address something quickly. Imagine then the feeling of trying to get in touch with someone and hearing their voicemail greeting, only to be followed by an automated announcement, “The mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages at this time. Goodbye.” It’s frustrating, annoying and feels a bit like being hung up on.
A chronically full mailbox signals laziness and lack of concern for people trying to reach you – and can lead to lost opportunities. The prospect who needs help quickly and calls you, but can’t leave a message, is much more likely to go to a more accessible competitor. This isn’t just due to circumstance. Why should they trust you with their business if you can’t stay on top of something so small and simple? What if, as a client, they need a response fast and you’re not reachable? Inbox management – voice, text and email – is a basic, yet critical piece of maintaining reliability, trust and a positive brand experience.
As obviously bad as it sounds, a negative trend that we’ve seen getting worse is ignoring voicemails altogether. Not returning a phone call is like not responding to an email – it’s ghosting, which is disrespectful and rude. This obviously negative brand experience is just plain bad for business, waving a big red flag that you – and your company – don't care about the caller.
You can miss referrals, customer questions and new opportunities. The now annoyed caller doesn’t know if you listened and will take action, or not. If they feel like they don’t matter – or that you can’t be relied on to follow through – it’s often enough for people to take their business elsewhere and let others know about their negative experience with your company.
Whether your team members use an office landline, work or personal cellphone for business calls, it’s important to consider how people are greeted when no one picks up their call. Outgoing messages should clearly confirm who a caller dialed. A quick restatement of the phone number is not enough; let people know they’ve reached the right person and company. An overly casual approach can create confusion which is not the impression you want to make – particularly with prospects and customers.
Remember, a great brand experience begins with a hello, whether it’s the main line receptionist or the voicemail of the head of a division. Recorded greetings should positively reflect your brand identity, not muddle it.
Communication has evolved, and for many, phone calls and voicemail now feel intrusive and like more work to deal with than email and direct message. Even so, employees have a responsibility to manage voicemail promptly and professionally. Strong communication practices are foundational to proving you’re reliable and building trust in relationships with any stakeholders.
At Point Road Group, we help companies deliver a consistent, positive brand experience through their people. Communications habits are a critical part of this, whether by phone, email or live, virtually or in-person.