The other day I called a client and the receptionist told me he wasn’t in, so I asked her to transfer me to voice mail. She told me the company didn’t have voice mail because the owner thought it was too impersonal. I wanted to ask her if she used an IBM Selectric instead of a computer, or carbon paper instead of a copier, but I kept my thoughts to myself.
Voice mail is invaluable to most companies, but is only as effective as the person using it. Consider these 5 ways to make voice mail more effective.
1. Help callers save time
When you record your voice mail message, let the caller know within the first few seconds whether or not he or she can bypass it. Long, boring messages are annoying, and most of the time callers don’t listen to them anyway. Instead of wasting callers’ time by making them listen to a long message, give each person the option to go straight to the tone.
2. Communicate clearly
Your outgoing message should be short, simple, and professional. Don’t forget to include your website address to help callers get more information about your company. Also include your e-mail address to give callers another way to contact you. If you notice that you get the same question day after day, add that answer to your voice mail.
3. Check your message
Don’t assume that your message is flawless. After you record your message, listen to it to make sure there aren’t any unwanted background noises and that your voice sounds clear. One of my clients didn’t realize that her dog was howling in the other room while she recorded her outgoing message. A few weeks later, one of her friends filled her in and she recorded it again while siting in her car.
4. Stop playing games
At the end of your message, ask the caller for the best time to return his or her call. Make sure you do the same when you leave messages for others. This will help you avoid phone tag, and if you don’t want to talk to that person, you can call during the times they said that they wouldn’t be available.
5. Be selective
Not all voice mail systems hold an unlimited number of messages. Instead of saving all of your messages, do something with them. After you write down or enter the message and number, erase it. Otherwise, callers may get a message that your voice mailbox is full.
How do you make your voice mail more effective?