Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Voicemail hate rant o' death

Many of you may know, currently I'm working as a receptionist.

I don't hate my job by any means, but there are certain... annoyances that develop over time when answering the phone so many times a day.

Right now? It's voicemail. It really shouldn't be such a chore, but it is. There are many reasons why. When I offer someone the option of voicemail, there are a few common responses.

1) It really shouldn't be so difficult to decide whether you want to leave a voicemail for someone. It's pretty straightforward.

"I'm sorry _______ is not available right now, would you like to leave him a voicemail?"

The proper answer options are "Yes" or "No". (Pleases and thank you's are optional, I'm pretty lenient there)

I should not have to hear

"Umm... hmmm... ermm... well...."

This does not require thought process. Do you want to leave someone a message asking them to call you back or just let them know something very briefly, or do you want to hang up and try again later? No moderately functional person should have to restart their brain to answer this question.

2) I should also not have to hear

"Well, can you give them a message for me?"

No, I won't. Do you know why? Because I'm a receptionist, I'm not their personal assistant. You should know this because I answer the phone with "Abtech, this is Me" not "Personal desk of ______ how can I help you?" If I were to take a message for you this involves steps like me writing it down, me leaving the desk to wander the office and find the person that you're too lazy to leave a simple voicemail for, potentially not find that person, potentially lose the message and I'm not going to do that for you because then somehow I would be liable for your poor choices in life.

Of course there's the odd person that thinks I should just email the message. Well guess what that leads into? That means if the person you're trying to reach doesn't check their email often/soon enough then you're not only going to be pissed at them for not getting back to you, but somehow it's going to be my fault and I'm not going to fall into that trap, I refuse.

So leave a voicemail. Or don't. You can also call back if you are that afraid of leaving an imprint of your voice on a mechanical recording device. I don't care.

3) "Well do you know when he'll be off the phone?"

No, I don't. Do you know WHY I don't know this? Because most customer calls, like your own, are not scheduled. Someone just happened to call in before you and frankly I don't have a sign-in sheet where I make sure to tell them that they only have fifteen minutes to talk because I magically know when you are going to call in and obviously that takes priority because life is all about when YOU decide to do everything.

The follow up to this is usually an equally annoying question like "When do you suggest I call back in?" There is no right answer to this because if I answer this and they call back and the person they're trying to reach is still on the other line, or stepped out for lunch, guess who's fault it is? Mine. Because I suggested when you should call in again. Do you know what the really easy solution to this problem is?

LEAVE A VOICEMAIL! That way they can simply call YOU back the moment they're available!

4) "Well maybe YOU can help me."

No. I can't help you. In fact, if I could help you, I wouldn't be answering phones and would probably be paid a lot more than what I get now. So since you have simply continued making noise with your speaking hole and not letting me answer with a glib "prolly not." I get to sit through you explaining a really convoluted, lengthy explanation about something which I don't understand at all and frankly at the end of this? All I'm going to say is, "Yeah, sounds like you need to talk to ______. Would you like to leave a voicemail for him?"

5) "But I just talked to him fifteen minutes ago"

Do you realize that once you hang up with someone they pretty much start doing something else? They don't think "Oh gee, maybe that person I just hung up with will call back so I'm going to wait thirty minutes by the phone and not accomplish anything else. It's not like I have other customers or and paperwork to do."

I honestly have no real good response to this without sounding disrespectful. Usually I just say, "Okay...." or "I'm sorry." then sit through an incredibly awkward silence that lasts about five seconds but feels like so much longer all because you can't seem to comprehend just what can be accomplished in fifteen minutes - like walking out of the door to take a lunch. Guess what? If you leave a voicemail, they can call you once they return.

6) "Can I hold?"

To be honest, sometimes this isn't a problem. However when the person they're trying to talk to said, "Tell them I'm on the other line, send them to voicemail" this means that you will simply be put on hold and every time it rings back I will pretend to have tried their line again only to offer you voicemail again. This usually lasts a few rounds before a) the person finally runs out of time and leaves a voicemail or b) the person just hangs up on their own after they realize being on hold sucks, it's bad enough when you're forced to do it, why would you subject yourself to that by request?

7) "Well if you just give me his cell number I can try that."

No. Idiot.

There are few exceptions to the "JUST LEAVE A VOICEMAIL" rule. Such as "You don't understand, his son is in the hospital bleeding from his eyes and a few other random orifices." Something like that I will impose upon anything else that salesperson is doing and make every effort to get a hold of him. Some question about paperwork simply is not on par. In that case just leave a voicemail. Or not. Either way stop talking to me.

Thank you and have a nice day.


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