Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When Reaching Out Isn't Easy

I get calls from prospective new clients all the time, and being pretty busy, usually they get my voice-mail.

Most are intelligent enough to leave their full name, company, and a number where I can call them back. That is most . . .

Just the other day, I received a voice-mail from a potential client, almost immediately I knew I may have trouble getting back in touch with this person. The voice-mail sounded like it was left by a person on a speaker phone, it was ‘tinny’ and the person on the other end sounded somewhat distant.

Whenever someone leaves you a message while they are on speaker phone, it says “hey, you’re not important enough for me to stop what I am doing and leave a proper message.” Also, speaker phones are hardly private, so unless she expected to get me immediately on the phone, and had others with her for a conference call, it is rude to be using her speaker phone.

Actually, it is rude to call someone you have never talked to before, and put them on the spot by placing them into an instant conference call with others you have never met before.

This potential client’s voice-mail included her first name, company name, a phone number and an extension to reach her. Sounds like all the right ingredients are in place for me to call back without any problems.


When I called back, I immediately got the company’s automatic answering system, which was tres high-tech, saying if I knew the person’s first and last name, I could say it into the phone, and be connected to that person. Problem is, I only had a first name and an extension.

So my only option was to enter the extension and hope for the best. The best – the best – not even close. The phone rang a few times, and then the automatic attendant kicked in saying: “the person at XXXX extension doesn’t subscribe to this voice messaging system, transferring your call to the operator.”

So, I was unable to leave a message, but at least I wasn’t left hanging – I was sent to the company’s operator.

The company’s operator said in order for her to transfer my call, I’d need a first and a last name, or an extension. So I gave her the first name and extension.

I was transferred again, to the exact same message I got before: “the person at XXXX extension doesn’t subscribe to this voice messaging system, transferring your call to the operator.”

As the phone dialed and transferred back to the operator, I hung up. What else could I do?

I had a first name and an extension that took me nowhere. I’m surprised the phone number I was given actually was the right number.

Makes me shake my head in wonder – in such an age where voice-mail is so common, how can there still be people out there that just don’t know how to leave a proper message?

I deleted this person’s voice-message from my voice-mail, as it didn’t get me anywhere. Hopefully, if this person is serious enough about getting in touch with me, she will call back. And, if this person has the misfortune of having to leave a voice-mail, maybe she’ll leave one with contact information I can actually use.

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