Monday, June 11, 2007

 

How to get 80% fewer voicemails

Special thanks to Tim Ferris for inspiring this tip with his fantastic new book.

Until a couple weeks ago, I regularly received 6-8 voicemails almost every single workday. A few were from people I truly wanted to hear from, but many were sales calls from vendors, ad reps and others interested in selling me something.

I don't have time to return 6-8 voicemails a day, especially from vendors I don't yet know. But it's always really bugged me that I basically ignore most of these calls. They might actually have something I need, but I don't have time to do the weeding out.

I also got in the bad habit of just letting my phone ring most of the time, and letting it go to voicemail. If I didn't recognize the inbound number, I'd just ignore the ringing. This was in part to avoid the cold calls, but it was also to avoid the interruptions.

But now, with one simple phone feature activated two weeks ago, I get 80 percent fewer voicemails and am responding to 100 percent of inbound messages to me (yes, even from unknown vendors and ad reps).

That phone feature is Call-Forward. Except for when I'm expecting an important inbound call, my work phone now always forwards calls direct to my voicemail.

This means that when you call my work line (give it a shot at 425-952-5664), you'll be sent immediately to the following message:

Hi, this is Matt from HouseValues. You'll get a much faster response from me by sending email to matth@housevalues.com. If you do leave a message, please leave me your name, number, email, and the reason for your call. Thanks, and have a great day.

My phone still rings a lot. But I get very few voicemails. I also get very few emails from the cold callers. The emails I do receive typically get a response within 24 hours, sometimes with a polite "no thanks", and other times with a note that I've forwarded their information to a more relevant person within the company.

What about all those callers who used to leave a message, but now don't send me email? If they can't bother to change communication channels, then they probably don't have anything worth interrupting me for.

This simple change has allowed me to condense the time I spend sorting through inbound information, and also allows me to focus that time on a channel (email) on which I'm far faster and more productive.

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