Phone tag is one of the most frustrating games you could be playing with a customer, especially when it comes to something important that you both want to discuss right away.

When your customers call, they expect to get a person of some variety, whether that’s you or your staff, so when they’re forced to leave a message it can get sticky. In fact, many won’t leave a message to start with.

Research firm Telecompaper found that 84 percent of your 20-29 year old demographic won’t even bother to leave a message; overall, about 75 percent of callers will hang up when they get your voicemail. So, really, phone tag is a two part problem for business owners.

Better Ways to Handle Messages

If someone bothers to leave a message on your voicemail, you should take it very seriously considering how many other leads you’ve already lost by not having a human available to answer the phone.

Truly, the better solution is to have someone manning your phones all day or even 24 hours a day. Employees can be costly, but a live answering service can be an affordable option since they only charge for the calls they handle. Many small businesses don’t realize they can partner with an answering service company and reap the same benefits as having a full queue of operators, but these services virtually eliminate the frustration that is the game of phone tag.

Answering services have several tools that can help them find you, no matter where you are, and push your caller through to you so they’re not forced to leave voicemail after voicemail.

These are just a few ways answering services can help you give your customers the best service possible:

  • Follow Me. Follow Me is a service that many answering services offer that can find you no matter where you happen to be. You provide a list of phone numbers where you’re likely to be located, in the order in which you’d like them called. For example, you might use your cell phone, your parents’ landline, your best friend’s home phone and the number of an organization where you volunteer. When someone calls who needs you right away, Follow Me will ring these numbers in order (or simultaneously, if you prefer) until you answer. Phone tag eliminated.
  • Professional message relay. Sometimes phone tag really happens because the caller doesn’t give you enough information to go on, so you have to keep calling back and forth to solve the problem at hand. When you have a phone professional taking messages, they ask the right questions and provide you with a complete picture of the caller’s needs so you can be fully prepared when you make that initial return call.
  • Providing customer support. Not all callers who get stuck in the phone tag cycle really need you to help them. They might be just as good with someone else, provided they had the information needed. This is where your answering service comes in. They can act as a customer support queue with the information you provide, so simple customer requests can be handled right away instead of forced to a voicemail to be serviced at some unknown time in the future.

If you’re tired of playing phone tag with your callers, it’s definitely time to make a change. Since you can’t be everywhere at once, a phone operator who can be is the next best thing. Hiring an answering service can be a cheap solution.