Never Listen to A Rambling Voicemail Again (Really)

Editor’s Note:  This is the second in our new series about how to effectively use voicemail in your business-building process.

MikePughBy Mike Pugh, Vice President, Marketing,  j2 Global Inc.

Voicemail might be negatively affecting your business.

According to a 2012 essay in Psychology Today, “The True Cost of Multi-Tasking,” when you’re frequently interrupted from your primary projects at work – for example, having to stop and listen to voicemails – those distractions can sap 40% of your productivity.

Each voicemail you get might last only two minutes (although they sure feel longer when you’re listening). The 40% productivity drain doesn’t come from the actual time spent listening. It’s the mental energy you spend playing (and replaying) a well-intended but rambling voicemail, trying to figure out what the customer actually needs. It’s the frustration of frantically looking for a pen when the caller suddenly blurts out a detailed order at the 90-second mark. It’s the intellectual energy you spend transcribing a prospect’s misdirected voicemail so you can pass it on to the right colleague for attention. And then, of course, recomposing and getting back to work.

These frequent distractions help explain why, according to a 2013 survey by virtual phone solution provider eVoice®, 75% of small business owners won’t share their personal phone numbers with staff – and only a third of entrepreneurs actually listen to voicemails from business contacts. It doesn’t matter how smart your phone is… if the voicemail messages you receive aren’t.

But what can you do? You can’t cut off voicemail service on your business line. And you can’t just ignore your messages. So how can you minimize the disruptive effects that voicemail– both important and not – can have on your flow at work? One simple solution: switch to a virtual phone system. Here are just a few benefits of this cost-effective cloud-based technology.

You can read your voicemail.

Say you run a small accounting firm, or graphic design office, and you spend much of your day in meetings with clients. The last thing you want to do with a paying client sitting across from you is interrupt the conversation to answer calls. A good virtual phone solution actually transcribes your voicemail and sends it to you immediately as text and email – so you can glance down (discretely) and read the text on your phone, or even view the email transcription on your computer screen.

You can protect your personal numbers.

As a busy professional, it’s often difficult to draw clean lines between work and the rest of your life. So you might find yourself giving your personal numbers to clients, vendors or employees. With the right virtual phone solution, you won’t need to. You’ll get a toll free (or local) number for your business – or keep your existing number if you’d prefer – and have it forward to your home phone or your personal mobile. Your caller will see only your business number displayed, even if the advanced call routing feature forwards the call right to your home phone. Who needs to know?

You can share your voicemail.

A 2012 Forrester Research study (Q4 Global Executive Buyer Insight Online Survey) found that only 29% of executive-level buyers said they’d respond to an inquiry they received by voicemail. One reason they gave was that voicemail is harder to share with colleagues. Another virtue of the voicemail-to-email feature of a good virtual phone service is that you can simply forward the message (or even just the relevant portion) to colleagues as a text or email. That sure beats writing summaries of long-winded voicemails.


 About the Author: Mike Pugh is vice president of marketing at j2 Global Inc., a Los Angeles-based provider of cloud-based communications services including eFax® and eVoice®. He can be reached at