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Every week, I talk with a dozen or so business owners--usually on the telephone. The conversations are fodder for my writing mills.
It is amazing how many calls to small businesses go unanswered. The caller is shunted off to voice mail, or, worse, the ringing goes on and on. I'm left to wonder if the place is out of business.
There was a time when I left voice mail messages, requesting a call back. When I found that most of these went unanswered, I stopped.
These days, unless I get a live person when I call, I simply hang up and go to the next business person on my list. I can get back to that business at another time.
In business, the telephone is a principal means of communicating with clients and customers. You have a telephone for THEIR convenience, not yours.
Example: Marge is a therapist. She works alone, and when she's in a session with a client, she lets calls go to her voice mail. First time callers as well as on-going clients are understanding. So is Marge. She checks and returns voice mail messages many times each day. To do this takes time, so she leaves a half-hour open between scheduled sessions with clients. This gives her a chance to return calls as well as make notes and get ready for her next appointment.
Example: When I had my own businesses, I knew intuitively that telephone calls were important. It might be a new referral calling, or it might be an existing client wanting an appointment or additional services. I insisted that all calls be answered promptly. And I checked up on my operation by calling in when I was away.
We have many ways to communicate, but the telephone is the most indispensable. It connects your business with the outside world. Always answer your phone! Promptly! Nicely!
If you must use voice mail, check out your messages and return calls. After all, you never know where the next order or client or customer will come from.