By using a 24 hour answering service—with real people answering a company’s after-hours or overflow calls—businesses can glean as much information as possible from messages. In business as in life, listening better nearly always profits.
Some strange facts about communication: The octopus can express itself by changing color. Honeybees relay important information through intricate dances. The platypus is the only mammal known to have the abilityto communicate through electrical impulses. We humans communicate through a number of methods. The bulk of what we say to each other, 55%, conveys through body language. Tone of voice expresses 38%. The remaining 7% of interpersonal communication is carried through words alone.
So without body language, which accounts for well over half of human communication, a voicemail expresses roughly 45% of a caller’s intended message. Even that’s an optimistic estimate. What about static? Background noise? Accents? Dropped calls?
Once more, for emphasis: Words carry fewer than one-tenth of a message’s intended meaning.
This point was driven home for me the other day. I received a text from a friend with the alarming words: “911. Call ASAP!”
Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the message until late in the evening, hours after she sent it. Only after I’d awakened her, her husband and their newborn baby did I discover that the message regarded not a terrible emergency room tragedy, but a book signing by my favorite author that she’s stumbled upon earlier in the day.
Misunderstandings like these happen all the time when we rely on words alone to carry a message. That’s why your message delivery system must be clear, precise and efficient.
A voicemail system, while relatively convenient, can lack clarity and precision. When a customer leaves a message asking you to call back as soon as possible, what do they mean? That evening? The next business day? What is their definition of ASAP?
A 24 hour answering service, on the other hand, can be customized to remove as much ambiguity as possible from callers’ messages. Customized scenarios and scripts can obtain specific information in a courteous, professional manner. Remote associates—a company’s second set of ears—can gauge a caller’s intent and decide upon appropriate courses of action.
Maybe we can’t express ourselves directly through electroreception. But as far as non-platypus message-taking goes, answering services are the next best thing.