“If You Know Your Party’s Extension…”
often tell me, “I hate voicemail!” As we talk further, I find that
it’s not really voicemail they hate, it’s the automated attendant.
That dull, monotone recording that is supposed to “welcome
callers.” Is there
anyone reading this who will disagree that the first voice one hears
when you call a company sets the tone? Why on earth do companies put a
dull, monotone, robotic message on their automated attendant?
our recent survey of ‘What bugs you on the telephone?’, the
automated attendant is now the second most frustrating ‘bug’ to
the American public, coming in right after “being put on hold”
which remains the number one frustration!
So, let’s make sure that you don’t bug people in the way
you use voicemail.
Automated Attendant: The
automated attendant is affectionately labeled ‘the groaner’
because that’s what most people do when they hear the lethargic,
“Thank you for calling XYZ. If
you know your party’s extension, please dial it now.
Blah, blah, blah.”
you’re the caller, it’s important to realize the moment you hear
the “Th....” in “Thank you for calling,” you can normally
press zero and bypass the dull, robotic, monotone introduction to the
company. In most cases,
you’ll reach a person. If
you make repetitive calls to one person, learning their extension will
expedite your future calls.
you’re using an automated attendant at your company, please remember
that you’re not married to the ‘voice’ that came with the
machine. The greeting can
be recorded to reflect the mood and style of your company, which by
all standards should be upbeat, bright, and friendly.
one of the first things you need to consider if you’re using the
automated attendant is to re-record the initial greeting that came
with the machine. Have one
of your bright, happy, friendly-sounding employees be your ‘voice of
choice.’ Make it an
'American Idol' type contest.
recording should be as conversational and friendly sounding as
possible. Of course, it
should be recorded with a big smile.
Also, you might consider hiring a professional voice-over
expert to record your opening message to your callers.
It’s well worth it.
friend of mine recently wrote her own automated attendant message and
recorded the opening message to her callers herself.
She made it sound as though you were on a theme park ride.
Very clever! Part
of the problem with the automated attendant is the dull, somber
sounding voice. Call your
own system and then ask yourself if that’s the voice that you want
welcoming your callers. If
Greeting: Do you
feel as though you’re missing a few messages on your voicemail?
It could be the way you greet your callers.
Your greeting to the caller needs to give useful information.
If you’re using the standard: “Hi, this is Bob and I’m
not here right now,” well duh, that’s not news.
Re-think your greeting.
your personal voicemail message greets the caller, you’re obviously
away from your desk or on the phone.
So use those very precious moments to be creative and give the
caller pertinent information. No
one wants to hear where you’re “not.”
They need to know where you “are.”
a sample: “Hi, this is Nancy Friedman, in the sales department. I’m
in a staff meeting until 3:00 p.m.
Go ahead and leave a
message. I do check
messages often and calls will be returned.
If you need me sooner, please call my assistant, Valerie, at
extension 41 and she’ll find me for you.
Thanks and have a super day!”
important on a greeting is to let the callers know when you will
return. It’s nice to
know where you are, but callers need to know when you’ll return.
And it’s a good idea to always leave an escape valve.
Otherwise, your callers are thrown into ‘voicemail jail.’
This particular tip does mean you’ll need to re-record your greeting
daily. It is about an eight-second job that can be done from anywhere
in the world.)
you’d prefer not to do a daily recording of where you are, that’s
okay too. Use a generic
message. Start your
message off with the positive: “Hi, This is Nancy in Sales. I am in the office all week and will return all messages.”
phrase “I’ll return your call as soon as possible” is not necessary. It’s
obvious. If you are one of
those folks who just don’t return calls, then you’re fibbing!
So if your voicemail greeting says: “I’ll return your
call,” do it or don’t include it in the greeting.
indicate most people will leave a message if they hear you check your
machine. Our surveys also
show callers respond to a friendly, happy greeting much better than a
blah, blah, dull one. So
be sure you’re smiling when you record your greeting.
you’re going to be out of the office for longer than a day, we
suggest you let your callers know that.
We’ve seen salespeople lose important clients because calls
weren’t returned in a timely manner.
They had left a generic “I’ll return your call as soon as
possible,” and didn’t.
you call someone and hear the “I’ll return your call as soon as
possible,” you might consider zeroing out and finding out if the
person is actually in the office.
We’ve done that several times and found that the person left
a ‘generic’ message but was in Hawaii for a two week vacation and didn’t bother to change his greeting or
check his messages.
Message: This is
your opportunity to be great. Leaving
a message on voicemail for someone is your electronic business card.
You’d probably be pretty embarrassed to hand someone your
business card with the wrong phone number, or one that was all messed
up, wouldn’t you? Then
why leave anything but a great voicemail message?
when someone goes out to lunch, to a long meeting or is gone for a few
days and comes back to their office, they hear something like this:
“Hello, you have 52 new messages.” Yours is somewhere in there.
It needs to stand out. You
have a lot of competition.
are three kinds of messages to leave: poor, average, or great:
Message: “Hi, this is Bob, give me a call.” Have
you ever had this one? You
probably have. It’s
maddening, too. Bob who?
I know three Bob’s. And
from where I’m calling, I’m unable to bring up his phone number.
The poorest of the poor.
Message: “Hi, this is Bob, call me at 555-1012.
I need to ask you something.” So
ask it – on the message you leave.
Voicemail is asynchronous communication.
Since so much information flow these days is one way, use your
message to get the ball rolling, leave enough information to move a
process forward. Chances
are when the call is returned the answer will be included.
Message: “Hi, Nancy. This is Bob Smith, Acme
Distributors. I’d like
to get together with you to discuss the proposal I sent over the other
day. There are some new
ideas to talk about. I’m
in and out of the office myself, but please call my voicemail and
leave me a time we can meet, or call my secretary Debbie at extension
22, and let her know the time. Either
way is fine. I look
forward to seeing you. Again,
it’s Bob with Acme at 555-10-12.
great message has all the meat necessary to do business.
Plus, the phone number is repeated at the end, twice and
slowly. Notice too, it’s
clustered. We didn’t say
1-0-1-2. We used 10-12.
It’s an important technique that makes it easier for the
other person to remember your number.
the person you’re calling gets a lot of voicemail messages, so in
order for yours to be ‘heard,’ be great – not average.
Also, upbeat, friendly messages are far more apt to be returned
first. So again, remember
to smile when you leave a message.
your options. Various
voicemail systems will allow you to play back what you recorded and
offer an opportunity to re-record.
Take that option. Don’t
hesitate to use these options because it can save you a lot of
remember, sometimes people go on vacation and forget to say so in
their greeting. Or their
mailbox may be full. Check
in with the receptionist and ask if the person is in the office, or
ask the receptionist if your contact has an assistant you can talk
with. Whenever possible,
do leave a voicemail message, too.
Since voicemail is obviously here to stay, we might as well
make it work for us, not against us.
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