How Good is Your Greeting?

Talk about making a first impressions! Often, the first exposures your customers and prospects have of your business is what they hear on your voice mail greeting. Is it caller-centric, clear, focused, helpful and professional? When was the last time you heard it or changed it?

If you’re not sure, call in and hear what they hear. If you like what is says about your personal and business values, style and personality… fine. Leave it alone. If not, might be time for a tweak. These Best Practices can help tell callers what they want to know and not waste their time.

Does this one sound like you?

‘Hello, this is Ralph Schmoozer, president of Ralph Schmoozer and Associates. I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now. I’m either on the other line or away from my desk, but your call is very important to me. Please leave me a message with your name and number at the tone and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you and have a nice day. (69 words, 40 seconds)

What did you hear?

  •   … President of ‘ – who really cares? Probably not your callers. Let go of the ego. Instead of your title, add a brief branding statement so every caller knows what you’re all about. Useful information … for you, if not for them.
  •  ‘I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now …’ – why apologize? It’s not your fault that they called when you weren’t available. Useless information and a waste of the caller’s time.
  • ‘I’m either on the other line or away from my desk …’ – who cares? Not a complete answer anyway. You could also be in the bathroom, out for a smoke, taking a power nap or simply avoiding them because Caller-ID told you who it was. Useless information and a waste of the caller’s time.
  •  ‘But your call is very important to me ... ‘ – how do you know? It could be a wrong number, an unsolicited telemarketer or your mother-in-law. Contrived attempt at courtesy. Useless information and a waste of the caller’s time.
  •  ‘Please leave me your name and number at the tone … ‘ – after 20 years of voice mail, do we still need to tell callers what to do? Do you really care about doing business with people who aren’t bright enough to know to leave their name and number? I don’t. Useless information and a waste of the caller’s time.
  • ‘And I’ll get back to you as soon as possible … ‘ – what does this mean? Since you didn’t define return call expectations, you leave it to the caller to do so. And very likely it will be a different definition than yours would have been. Better to say nothing or give the caller a reasonable expectation of when they should expect you to call back.

Like this one better?

‘Hello, this is Ralph Schmoozer with Schmoozer and Associates, your one stop shop for small business technology needs. Please leave me a detailed message and I’ll return it within four business hours. Thank you. (34 words, 20 seconds)

We already know which one is shorter, but which one projects a better image of the business and the person? Which one is more courteous and caller-friendly? Take a few minutes to enhance the quality of your voice mail greeting today. I’ll be calling you soon to find out how you did.


  1. Jim Smith
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Phil, I loved this article — a great reminder and a confirmation that, for once, I’m doing the right thing. My greeting is about 20 words, but then, before they get the beep, I offer a quick tip or breathing exercise. MOST of the message I receive begin with, “Jim, thanks, I really needed that. I feel much calmer now. Oh, and here’s my message, yadayada..”

    So to add to your article: We can also use voicemails to train people, give them a gift, or reduce their stress!

    • Phil Stella
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Jim, thanks so much for your comment. Glad my rant worked for you. And great idea to use voicemail to add value to callers. Thanks again for being such an engaged reader.

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