Last week I was talking to a friend who had a terrible experience with a company that counted her as a client. When she called her contact there, she was told that the woman was unavailable, and was directed to her voice mail. The outgoing message said that the woman would be in a meeting until 10am, so my friend left a message. When she had not gotten a response by the late afternoon, she sent a follow-up email. Still, nothing.
The following Monday, my friend tried calling again, only to get the same message on the woman’s voice mail. She left yet another voice mail and sent another email as the issue was urgent. Desperate to get assistance before the end of the day, she called the company again before 5pm and was told by the receptionist to leave a message—again! My friend explained that she had, and was told—wait for it—that the woman in question had been out sick since the middle of the previous week.
How frustrating! This just illustrates how a lack of communication and good business sense can tarnish your image and even cause you to lose clients. The woman should have updated her voice mail and email auto responder to reflect that she was out while providing an alternate contact for pressing matters, and the receptionist should have informed my friend and other clients earlier that the woman was out, and offered to direct her to someone who could help in the interim. As it was, my friend came out of the exchange feeling ignored and like she had gotten the run-around.
If your voice mail message says that you are out until, say, 10am, people will expect you to get back to them right after 10. If you go on vacation and change your email to send an auto-responder alerting people that you will be out until the 9th, one of the first things you should do when you get back is turn off the auto-responder. Otherwise people will be confused and unsure if they’re going to hear from you. And if you are out sick or in meetings all day, update your status to reflect that, but provide information for a secondary contact for urgent issues.