Listen To Your Voicemail

Apr 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

As a staffing firm, we’re reaching out to new people on a daily basis. So, in the age of caller ID, when our phone number is unrecognized by the person we’re calling, you can imagine that we leave a lot of voicemails.  Due to the many referrals we get, and with the wide use of cellphones, most of the time we place our first call to someone’s mobile number. 

From a professional standpoint, I’m absolutely astonished by how many people do not listen to their voicemails. They then call our office and, when the receptionist answers, say, “I’m returning a call from someone at this number.” As a professional, is this really the best you can do?

Now, let’s take a step back and see how the average person gets to this point.

Most modern smartphones show voicemail length. Personally, if I have a voicemail from someone I know in which the length is less than eight seconds, it’s likely a message asking me to call back. Quite frankly, if all a friend of mine wants me to do is them call back they wouldn’t even leave a voicemail; the missed-call alert is message enough. This seems to be the norm within my circle of friends. An exception would be if I were expecting them to provide me with some quick information. But nowadays, if they were going to provide me with a brief amount of information, they wouldn’t leave me an eight-second voicemail; they would send me a text. If someone I know left me a voicemail 20 seconds or longer, unless it’s a chatty friend, they probably left some information beyond just asking me to call them back. Keep in mind that this is what I can reasonably deduce from someone I know.

Now, what if it’s a call from someone I don’t know. If a call comes in from someone I don’t know and they don’t leave me a voicemail, I don’t return the call. I don’t have the curiosity or the time to bother calling someone I don’t know who didn’t bother to tell me why they called. I don’t call the number and say, “Yeah, you called me. Who is this?”  Like I said, I don’t have the curiosity or the time.

What about someone who calls me whom I don’t know, and I see that they left a voicemail? What I apply to this situation is a revolutionary new time-management technique: I listen to the voicemail!

What I don’t understand is why people have their voicemail set up to accept messages, and then they don’t listen to them. If you’re not going to listen to them, why not be courteous to your callers and disable your voicemail so that they don’t waste time leaving a message that you’re not going to listen to anyway?

Now, having said all of this, here’s what perplexes me: Let’s say you get a voicemail from a number you don’t recognize, you don’t listen to the voicemail, but you call the number back. If the person who answers says, “Hi, this is Dave Kushan,” then you can probably assume that Dave is the one who called you. So, at this point, when you say, “Hi, Dave. This is Jane Doe. I had a call from this number,” it’s reasonable to think that Dave will know who you are.

But when you don’t listen to the voicemail and someone answers the phone and says, “Good afternoon. Thank you for calling Healthcare IS,” it’s reasonable to assume that this is a receptionist. This is someone who answers the phone for the calls that come into a company’s main number. Here’s a tip for some of you who may be unaware: Receptionists do not have a real-time list in front of them including every call made by the people who work within the organization. So when you say, “Um, someone from this number called me,” what do you expect this person to do? All of you out there who do this, really, I mean really, what do you expect this person to do? 

So, at this point, if you call and get a receptionist, the best thing for you to do is to hang up. You know why? Because the receptionist is going to ask your name and then the company you called is going to know that you call back numbers you don’t know, and don’t even know why they called in the first place. This is just not something most successful professionals do. Go to the president of your company and ask if they spend time replying to calls they receive from people they don’t know on their personal phone. I’m sure I’ll be wrong a small amount of the time, but I’m also sure that without a double and any scientific evidence, most of them don’t. They may call to see who answers, but they certainly don’t call, get a receptionist, and ask that receptionist who in that company called for them. 

This is what you do because you have a voicemail set up to receive messages that you’re not going to listen to. Some of you’re thinking, I’m too busy to listen to these messages. Really? But you are not too busy to call back people you don’t know? If you listened to the message in the first place, you would find out most of the time the 30 seconds it takes you to listen and decide whether or not to call back is far less time than calling in the first place.

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General, David Kushan


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