Time to Make-over Your VM Greeting

I’m getting  really tired of ranting about this issue in ‘Communicate ‘Confidently!’. Unfortunately, the problem still exists and I wonder if I’m the only communicator who cares. So, here I go again … and don’t try to stop me.

Talk about making a good first impression! Often, the first exposure your customers, prospects and colleagues have of you and your business is what they hear in your voice mail greeting. Is it caller-centric, clear, focused, helpful, lively and professional? When was the last time you listened to it?

If you’re not sure, call in and hear what they hear. If you like what it says about your business values, style and personality… fine. Leave it alone. If not, it might be time for a make-over.

These Best Practices can help tell callers what they want to know and not waste any of 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 the ego.
  • Instead of your title, consider 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 … ‘ – really? How do you know? It could be a wrong number, an unsolicited tele-marketer 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 30 years of voicemail, 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 up 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 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 more positive 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.