Attracting new customers is in the details — like your after-hours voice mail message.

I just called one of my clients BEFORE business hours. I knew the engineer was in, but the main phone lines were closed – so I got this after hours message.

“The office is currently closed. Please leave your name and a message.”

This was recorded by a sort of stern sounding man and I have to say that I was a but put-off. I know this sounds ridiculous, it’s just an out of office voice mail for a manufacturing company, but quite frankly, they didn’t sound as “friendly” as they SAID they were or as they SAID their customers knew them as. In fact – I wouldn’t say that this is a magnetic out of office message at all.

What’s the purpose of an out of office or after-hours message?

The intent of an after hours message is to not have your customer listen to ringing that no one answers — there’s something strange and scary about that. So, an after-hours message is a great solution.

If the customer is calling you — it means that they want something. They either have a task item on their list that they’ve chosen to resolve while your office is closed or they have a question. Once you put yourself into that context, you can appreciate how important it is to give them a great experience and make sure that they have an effective way to accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

This means that your out of office message needs to do the following:

  1. Answer in a friendly voice.
  2. Tell them who is answering the phone and what their role is in the company “Hi, this is Jane Doe and I’m the customer service rep for ABC company”
  3. Tell them WHY they’ve reached voice-mail “Our main phone lines aren’t open right now” – People are calling from all kinds of time zones – so there’s nothing wrong with not having your phone lines open.
  4. If they know the extension and can enter it — tell them so.
  5. Chances are, there are a couple of people who should get this call. Designate them and provide their extensions in the message so that the person can ACCOMPLISH what they set out to do. “Try extension 123 to reach John Doe, he may be in the office right now or you can leave him a message and he’ll return your call within 8 hours. or you can send him an email with your request or question at and he will respond that way.

This isn’t rocket science and it’s a small, but VERY important detail. You may not realize it, but it’s little things like this that create a wonderful impression on your prospects and customers. Remember that VERY few people take the time to think about who their ideal customers and prospects are and what’s important to them.

In a world where setting yourself apart is getting harder by the minute, recording an engaging after-hours message will not only grab your ideal prospect or customer into your pipeline, it will build your brand and reputation as an organization who “gets” their customers.

Sample Out of Office Message to Adapt for Your Organization

Thank you for calling (YOUR COMPANY NAME). This is (NAME) and I handle (AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY) for the (COMPANY OR DEPARTMENT OR GROUP). Our main phone lines aren?t open right now, but you might find some of our team members hard at work anyway. Try extension (NUMBER) for (NAME) or extension (NUMBER) for (NAME). If they don’t answer, please leave a detailed message and they will get back to you within the next business day. You can also send (NAME) an email at (EMAIL ADDRESS).

If this is an emergency, please call (ENTER EMERGENCY CONTACT INSTRUCTIONS) Otherwise, please leave a detailed, confidential message after the tone and I will return your call as soon as I am available. Thank you.

By the way please check out our web site at www.yourwebsite.comfor more information.

You can easily adapt this message to your organization. And, while you’re at it — HAVE FUN with it. Here are some ways that you can customize your messages to make them fun:

  • If you are going to be at a trade show or event — leave that in the message. Give them the name of the show, the location and your BOOTH number.
  • Are you launching a new product or service? ?Tell your customers about it. Give them the name and web site page of your latest product or service to check out.
  • What’s the latest problem that you’ve solved for a customer — that other customers might have — give us an update in the message and tell us what to do if we have the same problem.
  • Do you have a tag line or something that you’re known for — insert that into the message so that your prospects and customers hear it again and again.