Admittedly I’m being very liberal in my use of the word “protectionist”, which means “someone who upholds the economic policy of restraining trade between states”. But for the past few years, a similar philosophy has surfaced in our daily business lives. In an effort to protect our time, we are limiting our connection with customers, colleagues and those with new opportunities. This is not only occurring in large organizations, but in all businesses, revealed in a recent tweet from Menna Riley, of Ignite Event Management.
Here’s Menna’s tweet:
@thephoneladyca Do you have any tips for ‘horrible’ people like me & my business friends who hate checking voicemail? I’d like to ask people to just text or email but the PR practitioner in me just can’t bring myself to do it 11:09 AM – 8 Jan 2018
This “hate” of voicemail is widespread. Why? Because: listening to messages takes time; people often ramble; they don’t provide a return phone number; we have to transcribe the information; the call’s subject is not on our priority list; anyone who’s important knows we prefer email/text; etc. etc. etc.
Checking voicemail is something we are abandoning because we are all overwhelmed; we are all experiencing decision fatigue. We are scrambling to stay focused on our priorities and, well … we are becoming protectionists, building borders around our time and activities, saying “no”.
I get it – I really do – but voicemail remains a valid way for our clients, potential clients and those with valuable new ideas to reach us. Some of them prefer to pick up the phone. Some of them want you to hear the sound of their voice. In fact, their tone of voice can be essential to clear communication.
Choosing to abandon voicemail is about us, not about the client who prefers the phone, or the salesperson with the amazing idea. And if there is one thing I know to be true about owning and running a business … it’s not about me! I must be open to the needs and preferences of my target market. Voicemail, email, text, social media, Google Docs, Dropbox, messaging systems like Slack … if our clients are using these mediums, then we have to include them in our business activities.
There are new alternatives surfacing almost daily to help us manage all these options, to support us in not becoming protectionist. Those who are struggling with voicemail can choose one of the numerous “voicemail to email” or “voicemail to text” options and still retain the ability to listen to the message when tone of voice is essential.
Think of it this way: When you are the customer or the salesperson with a worthy opportunity and a company limits your ability to connect and have a conversation, how does it make you feel? What is your perception of that company and its brand?
I believe that in order to grow and uncover new options in our rapidly changing world, we have to be open. Limiting the ways people can reach us will ultimately limit our ability to thrive.
What do you think?