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How Voicemail Cost a Business $34,000

Categories: ARTICLE.

Sometimes product-market fit slaps you right in the face, just when you’re trying to do something about it.

An explanation…

My Need

My girlfriend (we’ll call her Mrs. YesTrak) is having car troubles lately, so I’ve been in the market to get her something new for her birthday (shh…it’s a surprise). Nothing fancy, just a little compact SUV; safe, reliable, trustworthy, something we can count on for years. The Walter Cronkite of cars, I guess.

Narrowed it down to a few options, and was ready to pull the trigger on a good choice when I came across an article about a new model being released for 2015. Ticked all the boxes I was looking for: high safety ratings, great gas mileage, the right extras and a new, lower price point for an esteemed brand (meaning it should hold its resale value better). Added up, it sounded like a winner. The article said it was scheduled for delivery in September. I wanted to know exactly when, since her birthday is at the end of that month.

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The Search

So, like the 85% of our country with smartphones, I pulled up Google on my mobile, keyword <brand name>. Geo-located search worked perfectly, and the top results were the two dealerships they had in Las Vegas (where we live). One was two miles from me, very conveniently located. The other was 15 miles away, on the other side of town.

Logically, I called the closer one.

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The Pain

Pressed the blue link to their number, my phone dialed, and this was what I heard (verbatim):

“Thank you for calling. This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes. Your call is important to us. Please hold.”

No personalized greeting confirming the name of the business, no cheerful voice to stoke my anticipation. Marketing opportunity lost on their part, but whatever. I held, for 30 seconds, in absolute silence. No info on the latest models, no Foreigner songs. Weird.

Then…

“If you are a new client, press one. If you are an existing client, press two. If you’re calling for the service department, press three.”

Again, totally generic. No mention of the brand name whatsoever, no warm greeting, and still, no human voice. I want to point out that this brand is very much a leader in their industry; I can’t imagine this complies with their standard for franchises.

I pressed one, and…

Was immediately sent to voicemail. “Thanks for calling 702-xxx-xxxx. No one is available to…”

Click.

I leave voicemails for my Mom. My friends. People I already have a relationship with. Not companies I’m looking to buy something from when there’s an easy alternative elsewhere; that’s how the modern marketplace works.

People are busy; they don’t have time to leave a voicemail and pray that you a) check it, and b) call them back before their attention shifts to picking the kids up, making dinner or watching The Bachelor.

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The Answer

Went back to my search results (like a well-trained lemming) and pressed the next blue link to make another call to the dealership 15 miles away. It’s never been easier to find a business today…or to call a competitor if that business doesn’t give you what you want.

One ring, and then…

“Thank you for calling Fletcher-Jones <brand>. Your call is very important to us, someone will be with you shortly. This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.”

Then, smooth jazz.

This felt much better already.

Five seconds later, a live voice picks up. I say I just need information on when a new model is arriving. Five seconds after that, I’m speaking to a sales director. A minute later, he’s telling me the cars are arriving on September 15th, but that they just got a demo model in two days ago if I want to take a test drive.

Long story short: I drove 15 miles, and think I found her car.

RECAP:
Location A: voicemail, no sale.
Location B: live voice, cha-ching!

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Guess which dealership is probably filled with salespeople who grumble that the economy sucks and they never get any leads?

All it took was a commitment to a better customer service experience on the part of one GM for me to overlook distance and convenience. A live voice to establish trust that someone would always be there when I called (even if only to say ‘We’ll get back to you shortly with a qualified answer.’), and to make me a feel just a little more valued as a potential customer then voicemail can accomplish. I’m not buying the Taj Mahal, but it’s meaningful to me. If you say ‘your call is important to us’, shouldn’t you act like it?

If anyone asks, who do you think I’m going to recommend? Probably the dealer with the license plate holder on the back of her present.
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The Moral of the Story

I spend most of my day developing YesTrak to make better phone handling easier for small businesses. Because I live in this world, I just assume that modern companies realize that voicemail is a HORRIBLE solution for today’s caller. 80% of people hang up as soon as they hear voicemail, and that number is only growing. You know it’s true; when’s the last time you called to book a doctor’s appointment or a tune-up and were excited to get stuck in a phone tree and ultimately hear a recorded message? Probably never. When that happens, you feel like someone just frittered away your precious time.

All those marketing dollars spent to make people call you? Wasted if a live voice doesn’t answer the phone. I know this for a fact — because it just happened to me. Again. I bet you’ve nodded your head at least once while reading because you’ve felt this pain, too.

If you want to make sure this never happens to your business, check out www.yestrak.com.

And if you know anyone at Mercedes-Benz of Henderson, you may want to send them that link, too.

 

Zach Beimes

About Zach Beimes

Co-Founder, YesTrak

Zach is a serial entrepreneur, father and long-suffering Atlanta Braves fan with over 20 years of experience in product development and technology. He leads the overall vision, tech/ops and strategy for YesTrak. When he isn't fighting hold times or considering ways we can delight your clients, he's doing the ultimate crash course in on-demand customer service: raising a newborn daughter in Las Vegas.

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Zach Beimes

About Zach Beimes

Co-Founder, YesTrak

Zach is a serial entrepreneur, father and long-suffering Atlanta Braves fan with over 20 years of experience in product development and technology. He leads the overall vision, tech/ops and strategy for YesTrak. When he isn't fighting hold times or considering ways we can delight your clients, he's doing the ultimate crash course in on-demand customer service: raising a newborn daughter in Las Vegas.

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