Voicemail. Its entire purpose is to ensure that, when a call is missed, the customer (or potential customer) is able to leave a message and have their query answered at some point in the future. Chances are you cannot be by your phone 100% of the time, and voicemail gives customers a way to reach you.

How Effective is Voicemail?

Certainly voicemail is better than nothing. You do not want a phone to ring indefinitely, as it leads to frustrated customers and potentially a loss of information for your business. But companies that rely on voicemail to answer calls when they’re not around – both during off hours and especially during normal work hours – are putting themselves at risk for lost business and poor customer satisfaction.

Allowing calls to go to voicemail causes a variety of problems, including:

Shopping Around

Depending on your industry, the phone call you receive could be a potential new customer that’s shopping around for your services. Imagine that a potential customer is calling you and two competitors. You don’t pick up, but your competitors do. By the time you respond to the phone call, chances are the potential customer has already made a decision to use a different company.

Customer Service/Support Failures

With customer support, failure to answer a phone call can be very damaging for customer satisfaction. Usually if a customer calls you they need answers now. If you’re not there for the customer it will cause negative thoughts, and the longer you take to call them back the more those negative thoughts could turn into long term issues.

Branding Issues

Marketing is only one way to build your brand. How you interact with every person that comes into contact with your company is another. Those that find themselves on an answering machine, especially if the answering machine is difficult to use or irritating, are immediately going to see your brand as unresponsive and unavailable. That can have a lasting effect on your branding efforts with the consumer.

The Long Term Implications of Voicemail

Voicemail is certainly better than nothing. But “better than nothing” is not good enough. Your company has an obligation to be available to all customers and potential customers that may call your business. Although hiring enough people to answer phones all day may not be feasible, there are answering service companies you can hire 24 hours a day, and companies that regularly receive phone calls may want to consider them.