What you lose when you send every call to voicemail

Reading time:
Person makes notes in a notebook on a table. A phone sits nearby.

You’re calling your favorite doughnut shop, Sally’s Donuts Galore. You sit through two rings while you tap your feet, eager to place your order for those fresh glazed, glistening, crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on-the-inside, party-for-your-tastebuds-and-everyone’s-invited hoops of fried dough.

The phone rings a fifth time, then a sixth time, and there it is: the recording telling you to leave a message after the tone. 

Sigh. Looks like you won’t be able to place an order today. A wave of disappointment hits you, your dreams of delicious doughnuts dashed.

Okay, I realize I’m being (a tad) dramatic here. But these feelings—the anticipation of connecting with someone over the phone, the frustration when they don’t pick up—can be a total bummer for people who want to get in touch with a business. 

And many times, the stakes are far higher than doughnuts. Imagine trying to call a financial advisor after receiving a scary letter from the IRS. Or a plumber after a pipe has burst. Or an attorney after getting arrested. How would you feel if that call went to voicemail?

Unfortunately, that’s what happens to countless people in need, countless times a day. Many business owners and professionals can’t or choose not to pick up the phone, sending most—if not all—calls to voicemail. In fact: 

But you don’t need statistics. Many of us know the truth from experience: lots of people simply don’t pick up the phone anymore. Why is that? Why are so many callers left hanging?

Reasons you might rely on voicemail

Let’s face it: businesses have plenty of reasons not to pick up the phone. 

Calls take time and energy that not everyone can afford to spare. When you’re busy developing legal strategies, helping patients, editing videos, or doing one of the other 25 things you have to do to pay the bills next week, voicemail feels like a necessary shield from distractions. After a while, keeping your phone on Do Not Disturb mode becomes second nature.

And then there are all the ways in which modern society has conditioned us to ignore phone calls. Maybe you send calls to voicemail because…

You don’t want to deal with robocalls.

If you’re like many Americans, you receive at least two robocalls per week—and if you’re truly unfortunate, that number is much, much higher

We’re living through what some have termed a robocall crisis, and despite making headway in the fight, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) admits it’s “a game of whack-a-mole” with no clear “long-term solution.” 

Stop robocalls for good.

Let’s end robocalls once and for all.

Learn more.

You really don’t want to deal with scam calls.

In addition to all those robocalls, there’s the scourge of scams. Phone fraud remains the number one most reported form of fraud in the United States, accounting for at least $667 million lost in 2019. 

According to the FTC, Scammers prey on trusting people who pick up their phones, often impersonating “the government or a well-known business, a romantic interest, or a family member with an emergency.” 

No wonder people have stopped answering their calls. As the aptly-named user “don’t answer any” points out in the comments of the article linked above, “I have a habit of not answering any call without caller ID or message on my answering machine.”

You don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone, period. 

Even if you don’t receive that many spam or scam calls, you might not love the prospect of answering the phone. That’s okay—not everyone’s a phone person. Many of us prefer other forms of communication, such as text messaging, email, or online chat

So-called “phone phobia” is particularly prevalent among members of younger generations. Approximately 76% of millennials, for instance, have anxious thoughts when their phones ring, and 61% prefer to avoid calls entirely.

It’s not hard to see why. Phone calls can be awkward, stilted, and—when you’re running a business—emotionally charged. Maybe you regularly receive calls from impatient clients or dissatisfied customers. Or maybe you don’t enjoy answering the same questions, trying to sell people on your business, and being “on” all the time.

What happens when you send all calls to voicemail?

All of this raises the question:

So what? 

What’s the big deal with sending people to voicemail? What are you really missing out on by not answering your phone? Well…

You’re missing connections.

Not every call is a time-waster. There could be a potential new customer or client on the other end—or even a potential employee, vendor, business partner, or investor. Indeed, a five-minute call from a stranger can shape the future of your business.

You’re getting an incomplete picture of the people you serve.

A call is a valuable moment to sit back and listen. Listen carefully and you may learn a few valuable insights that curb challenging conversations in the future. 

Remember: many people feel uncomfortable on the phone and prefer to research and connect with businesses through other means. In other words, they might be using the phone as a last resort. 

Next time you pick up a call, consider:

  • Why is this person contacting my business?
  • What is this person looking for?
  • How could I have provided the solution or information this person wants before they reached out to me?

Your customers or clients are going elsewhere.

Missed calls are missed sales. Someone who reaches your voicemail probably isn’t going to try to contact you again or wait for you to return their call. Instead, they’ll reach out to a competitor.

You’re risking a poor reputation.

Think back to the beginning of this article, and the caller waiting on the line, listening to a phone ring—the person waiting to place an order, or speak to their lawyer, or get an estimate for a plumbing job. That person’s feelings matter; their experience matters. Poor experiences can add up and are more likely to be shared, which can hurt your business in the long run.

Consider how unanswered calls can negatively affect sentiment around your business. People may start to think you’re too busy or disorganized to help them.

At a time when many people’s friends don’t even return their calls, we could all use more happiness and personal connections. Make sure calls to your business are answered and you’ll leave a positive impression that stands out among the noise.

That said, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you don’t have to answer any of your calls if you don’t want to—and you can still ensure everyone who contacts your business gets the personalized attention they deserve.

Let Ruby answer your calls for you.

When you use Ruby, you ensure your callers connect with friendly, caring virtual receptionists. It doesn’t matter who the caller is, why they’re calling, or what time they’re reaching out——we’ll answer the phone for you with a warm, professional, customized greeting. 

We do it for over 13,000 businesses every day, serving as a seamless extension of our customers’ brands. Discover how it works.

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All
Title card: Creativity, connections, and client relationships—with Nathan Wilson, The Narrative
Small Business Tips

Creativity, connections, and client relationships—with Nathan Wilson of The Narrative

Illustration of a woman with a lovely voice speaking

How to make your voice sound better

Ruby customer feature series title card: Rebecca Flanagan, Flanagan Legal Services
Customer Feature

Ruby customer feature: Rebecca Flanagan, Flanagan Legal Services

Business handshake: close-up part of two young women shaking hands and smiling while sitting at business meeting with their coworkers
Small Business Tips

Coopetition: how to grow your business by partnering with a competitor

Headsets hangs on powered-off computers in an empty office
Small Business Tips

Worker shortage explained: what 2021’s workforce issues mean for your business

A traffic light sign is nearly submerged by a massive flood—one example of the extreme weather events caused by climate change.
Small Business Tips

Getting real about climate change

Man makes notes in a notebook on a table with a phone
Small Business Tips

What you lose when you send every call to voicemail

An illustration of a phone ringing next to a magnifying glass that reveals text: "Ruby calling…"
Receptionist Tips

Receptionist secrets revealed: 5 tricks to grow your business by wowing your customers

A group of professionals sit in a well-lit office watching a man in a hoodie present and point to a whiteboard
Small Business Tips

How IT answering services help you engage & retain customers

Collage of people on phones with title: Real receptionists. Unreal results. Build lasting loyalty with Ruby.
About Ruby

Getting started with Ruby: what to expect

Female-presenting freelancer wearing elegant sweater and round earrings working in front of open laptop, sitting in cozy home office interior, drinking coffee, browsing websites
Small Business Tips

Does your business really need a website? 6 myths about your online presence

An illustration showing that people who call translate into money for a business, while people who visit a website are left without a next step, and bounce to competitors' websites
Small Business Tips

You don’t leave your callers hanging. But what about your website visitors?

Collage of group of young people over colorful vintage isolated background smiling doing phone gesture with hand and fingers, pantomiming talking on the telephone.
Receptionist Tips

The power of answering the phone in one ring

Ruby logo + Clio logo
Legal Practice Tips

Ruby + Clio = happier clients + more billable hours

Small Business Tips

You don’t have to be the “everything business.”

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the cancelled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner.

Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

The inside scoop on Clio’s latest legal trends report.

Phone Thumbnail 2

10 Questions to Ask a Virtual Reception Provider

Ask the right questions and rate virtual reception services with our handy guide and scorecard!