Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Life with Voice Mail

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Life with Voice Mail

Article excerpt

You either love it or hate it. You either use it or hide behind it. Depending on your perspective, voice mail technology is either a great help to our real estate business or just another source of aggravation.

The bottom line

Used properly, voice mail can increase your production. Yet, for many of you, it is driving clients and prospects to your competitors! Let me explain.

A large regional management company had recently implemented a voice mail system. The company's structure is such that every out-of-town property has an assigned manager and an accounting support person who interact directly with the property's owner. One day an owner needed an answer pronto for his banker regarding a monthly statement. Sitting in the property manager's field office, he made call after call to the home office. Every call was answered the same way; "You have reached the desk of --. I'm either on the phone or away from my desk. Leave a number and I'll call you back." BEEP! The owner left message after message continually receiving the same greeting.

Two days later the owner of the building was so furious that he stormed into the office of the firm's president and screamed for 12 minutes about his inability to get the information he needed. The president did what you would do. He said, "Come on. We'll go to Linda's office right now and get this straightened out. You are a very important client to us and this is totally unacceptable."

Walking into Linda's office intending to impress the client with the firm's ability to react and solve problems, the president screamed, "Where's Linda?" The reply was meek and to the point. "She's on vacation all week, why?"

Here's the sad part of the story. The building owner decided that this was the last straw in what had been a tough relationship. (What office building property manager when the building is 30-percent vacant doesn't have a strained relationship?)

"I am canceling my contract with you and when you get your s-- together, let's talk." The account, by the way, carried an average annual fee of $42,000.

Two days after this happened, the company instituted voice mail training. Many of the techniques for using voice mail are the same as those for responding to any message or request. Be prompt, be polite, and remember that serving the customer is your first priority.

However, there are some simple ways to make voice mail a more effective tool for your business. …

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