While sitting at my desk the other day I had a question and I knew just who to call for the answer. I made the call and after a few seconds of ringing I was transferred to voicemail. I immediately hung up and called the next best person I could think of for a response. Again, ringing and voicemail. I immediately hung up again. After calling 5 people with the same ringing then voicemail routine I hung up the phone and thought about what I had just done. I didn’t leave a single voicemail. I had five opportunities to leave a message and wait for someone to call me, but I didn’t. Why?
In my case, I know that I am impatient. If I don't get a live person to talk to, I give up and keep looking for a live person. What is important about my behavior is what do I do next. I switch to another communication channel. I will check an instant messaging application to see if I can get someone to chat with or I will text the person via mobile phone. Finally, when all else fails, I will send an email message. Why email over voicemail? Because I know that email is frequently seen immediately on a smart phone and offers a chance for the person to quickly and discretely respond wherever they may be without forcing them to engage in a verbal conversation.
I am now conditioned to avoid voicemail and switch to other channels because I am successful with this approach and generally get the live person on the other end and the answer that I am looking for. I also know that I prefer to offer my assistance over IM, text message, and email when I am "either on the phone or away from my desk." How about you?