Who Answers Your Phone

My Shingle talks today about who answers your phone, person or machine.

In the past, I have always opted/advised that a human should answer your phone. It’s important to have the human touch. Even the phone companies realized this, …

… advertising “Reach out and touch someone.” They found that the impersonal, mechanical aspects of their new invention (voice mail) was having adverse consequences in business.

If you’re not available, then ask the caller the question: Do you want to go to voice mail or do you want to leave a message with me for Ms/Mr Lawyer? This question gives the caller the power to make the decision. In a world where we have very little power, this empowerment is important.

Carolyn makes a good point, however, in that many lawyers practice in a solo environment and don’t have the resources to spend on a receptionist.

There are other options: A Virtual Assistant is a reasonable cost and can provide other services as well. An answering service might provide the human touch that we’re looking for, but consistency and high quality are hard to find. Thus, many lawyers are using voice mail as the best, last alternative.

Suggestions: Answer your own phone when you are in the office. The caller will appreciate getting through right away and not think the less of you. Keep your message very short and to the point: Please leave your name and phone number and I’ll call you back shortly.

In recent times, I’ve come to the conlusion that speed of response is more important than the initial human touch. Thus, in your voice mail message, tell the caller when you will call them back: Within 24 hours, within 90 minutes, that day or whenever … But state your policy and honor it. That certainty and the speed of response will be appreciated and overcome most of the challenges of voice mail.


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