Eighty percent of communication between a business and its customers takes place over the phone. It is no wonder both large and small companies invest in a good virtual receptionist service to respond to clients’ needs immediately. However, some calls go unanswered for one reason or another and get redirected to voicemail. Voicemails have been touted as an excellent solution for businesses that want to give customers a pleasant experience, but the opposite is sometimes the case. 

What happens if calls go straight to voicemail?

Most customers that contact businesses on the phone expect it answered immediately and their query sorted. But what happens when they are told to leave a voicemail instead?

  • You lose a potential client

Customers have many businesses fighting for their attention, making it hard for them to narrow down on a particular one. So, if they sift through all the competing information and choose to call your business, they are ready to buy. But, if they are not attended to immediately, they are likely to select the next best option resulting in a lost prospect. 

  • Your marketing efforts get wasted.

Like many businesses, you have invested in marketing your product or service to prospective clients. When clients see your adverts and call your business, they want an immediate response. If they are always redirected to voicemail, they are likely to hang up, resulting in wasted money spent on marketing. When the loss of business is calculated compared to marketing, the result is usually thousands of dollars. 

  • You miss an opportunity to answer questions.

A customer may only be one question away from making a purchase but needs clarification from your company. If they get a voicemail instead, their questions remain unanswered, and the chance of converting them into a customer is lost. Although some voicemail services give answers to FAQs, customers with out-of-the-norm questions may still feel dissatisfied. 

  • You miss a learning opportunity.

Many customers are willing to engage longer when a customer service representative picks up their phone call. Interacting with customers on the phone can quickly reveal their needs and how you can respond to them. However, with voicemail, a business loses the opportunity to get feedback on their product or service, introduce new products to customers, and learn more about competitors. 

  • You reduce personal interactions with customers.

When customers believe that they have your full attention, they begin to trust you and building rapport is much easier. Besides responding to their questions, it is possible to pick up personal information that can be a starting point for your next interaction. With voicemail, such interaction isn’t possible because the customer is limited in sharing information with the business. 

  • You earn dissatisfied customers. 

In business, you must constantly interact with customers that aren’t happy with your service or product. Some will leave negative comments on your online platforms, but some decide to call and air their grievances. When they get a voicemail, they are likely to get angrier and leave a worse comment online than was intended for other customers to see. However, picking up their call allows you to calm them down, offer support or even give a refund, which retains them as a customer.

  • Your customer feels insignificant.

Whether they want to complain, give feedback or appreciate an excellent service or product, customers feel unimportant when asked to leave a voicemail. First, they have to navigate through several menus before being allowed to leave a message. Alternatively, when their phone call is picked up quickly, they are likely to feel valued and give a positive review. 

  • Your customer experience is hindered.

Businesses whose customers have a positive experience each time they interact do their best to pick at least eighty percent of calls. When a customer is assured that their call will be responded to in time, they begin to see a business positively and even recommend them to others. But with voicemail, the customer’s experience is robotic and may put them off from interacting with your company ever again. 

  • Losing customers by redirecting them to voicemail

Voicemail may be the go-to solution for businesses that want to connect with customers, but it may sometimes lead to the loss of clients. Some of the ways businesses lose customers through the use of voicemail are highlighted below.

  • They don’t leave a message.

Voicemail requires a caller to leave a message concerning their inquiry to be responded to later. However, some customers follow the prompts but don’t leave a message resulting in the loss of a potential client. You will know a call was made to the company, but with no message, follow-up is impossible. 

  • The message gets distorted.

The voicemail messages left by customers may be unclear or vague, making it hard to respond appropriately. If you choose to follow-up for clarification, they may be unavailable to pick your call. Alternatively, they may not leave their contacts even when directed to do so, which means they can’t be followed up and converted to a sale. 

  • They get an irrelevant response.

Many customers go through all the prompts offered by a voicemail service, hoping to get a response. If the replies don’t answer their exact need, they will likely hang up and look elsewhere. 

  • They hang up midway.

For customers looking for responses by a human being on the other side of the phone, finding voicemail prompts may make them hang up immediately. When customers hang up, efforts to trace them for further information on their inquiry will not be possible, leading to a lost client. 

They opt for the competition.

When a customer is choosing between two companies and decides to inquire further on the phone, and yours goes to voicemail, and your competitor has invested in a customer service team that handles calls, they are likely to go with your rival. 

Overall, using voicemail to handle customer inquiries may do more harm than good to your customers and the overall outlook of the business. If possible, opt to have an in-house or virtual receptionist respond to calls immediately to retain and attract new customers.