Press One and Go Directly to Voice Mail Jail

    December 3, 2002

For some people “voice mail” means the voice mail menu system—or “voice mail jail.” You know, when you dial the business number and a voice—not a person—answers and says, “Hello, you have reached XYZ Company. Please listen carefully to the following options.” At this point, you grit your teeth and prepare for an ordeal.

After listening to all the choices, you discover that none of them suits your needs. Several different can reactions occur. You might feel stupid that you can’t figure out what number to press. Or you might get annoyed that you have to go through the list again, wasting precious time and money.

Perhaps you didn’t have difficulty making a selection. You hit a number, heard the line switch over and were told, “All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers…” You know the rest. You know that your call is very important to them so they politely request that you stay on the line for the rest of the day until someone can get to you.

In yet another effort to help the customer without having to have any personal contact is the option to bypass the menu and enter the extension of the person you are calling. The voice tells you politely that if you don’t know your party’s extension, you can listen to the names of all 300 people in the firm and their extensions in alphabetical order. This can send you right over the edge, especially when the person you are calling is named Ziglar.

So what’s a customer to do? Well, if the customers have a choice, they go to the competition. When they don’t, they get mad. When they finally get someone on the line, they lose it. The person on the other end now has an irate customer to handle in addition to everything else.

Why do this to your customers? If you have an automated answering system, call yourself from time to time and see how you like it. Do you really want to establish a firewall between you and the people who keep you in business? If people stop calling, it won’t matter what state of the art system you have, you won’t need it or your basic phone line.

Lydia Ramsey, author of MANNERS THAT SELL, keynote speaker and seminar leader, is a leading authority on business etiquette and protocol. To sign up for more FREE business etiquette tips, click here.