Why I am “Very Hard To Reach,” or “How to Use Voicemail”

Many times over the last several years I have been told that I am “a hard guy to get a hold of,” “very hard to reach,” or “a hard guy to track down.” I admit, if you are a salesperson peddling a product I have no interest in, I won’t always return your call. Actually, I probably won’t return your call. If you call repeatedly, the frequency with which you call will be inversely proportional to the amount of time that elapses before I press “delete” in my voicemail.
Sometimes, these comments come to me by way of clients or customers of mine. Usually they come from former clients or customers of mine, if you get my drift. What these people are really saying is “I do not know how to use voicemail.” I know this to be the case because sometimes I will look back at my caller ID logs and see that someone has called me 4 times in the last two days, and left a number of voicemails that approaches 0, and is certainly nowhere near 4.

I have news to these people who accuse me of being “hard to reach.” I am one of the most accessible people in this state. I have voicemail. I have email. I have a pager. I have a cell phone. I have an answering machine at my house. At one point I had another cell phone in my car. And the only info I ever give out to anyone is mybusiness phone number. Why? Because I check it. When I get a call at the office it forwards the message to my cell phone. If I don’t answer, it goes to my pager. I do not give out my cell phone or pager number to people because they do not need it. Apparently this is one of the reasons I’m “hard to get a hold of.” The fact that I have actually simplified things seems to confuse people though.
If you call the office looking for technical support, and I am not available, my voicemail greeting even tells you how to transfer to technical support so someone can help you more quickly. Of course, this process requires pressing two buttons (sequentially, not simultaneously), and this seems to throw a lot of people off because I regularly receive voicemails from clients who are having technical issues which could be addressed by any of my staff, but for some reason, these requests wind up in my mailbox. Despite the fact that my voicemail has, for years, said, “If you require any technical assistance with a computer, network, or website, press…” People don’t hear that. They also don’t hear the part where I say “I will be out of the office until…” and go ahead and leave messages which go unanswered until I return, at which point they have thrown a conniption because I dared to not be checking my voicemail while I was on vacation or away on business (despite the fact that I clearly stated that I was on vacation or away on business and not checking voicemail). Unbelieveable.

This is right up there with the people who call, listen to an entire voicemail greeting (sometimes as long as a minute), hear the tone, and then hang up! I love getting those 4 second voicemails with nothing more than breath and the *click* of a hangup.
It is clear that these people need a primer on voicemail, and of course, being the helpful guy that I am, I’m happy to help!

Here’s a synopsis:

Pick up the phone

Dial the number of the person you need to reach.

If you reach a voicemail system,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Immediately press 0 to get to an operator, then hang up in a huff when you get the operator’s voicemail, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Call me at home. Despite the fact that your issue is not remotely urgent or even important, and get on my “good side.”

Call my parents’ house, and ask them how to get a hold of me, because at age 35, I love getting a call from my mom telling me that so-and-so is trying to reach me.

Listen to the greeting and follow the instructions given.

When you reach the extension of the intended person, if the person is not available, and you receive his/her voicemail,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Listen to the greeting and follow the instructions given.

If the voicemail contains information, such as a vacation notice, or instructions on how to get immediate help with your issue,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Follow the instructions given to receive the help you are seeking.

Leave a brief, descriptive message. State your name, your telephone number, and what it is you need. Note, what you need is NOT a phone call, so do not say “hey Peter, call me.” That’s meaningless. If you leave me a voicemail and all it says is “call me,” be prepared to receive your own *click*, either on your voicemail or answering machine or even live if you answer the phone, because if all you needed was a call, then I’ll happily call you. And hang up. If you need something, tell me what it is, and I’ll call you back as soon as I can with the information, and the cycle of Eternal Phone Tag can be broken!

See how easy that is?