What’s the probability that the next time you call someone at the office, that you’re going to get voice mail? I’d say it’s pretty high. And if you’re like most of us, you might be making an assumption about voice mail that might have been true in its early days, but couldn’t be further from the truth today.

The assumption is that voice mail is the SECONDARY point of contact for the caller and that YOU will be the primary contact. I’m not so sure that this is true any more. These days it seems that voicemail has turned into the PRIMARY contact and you have become the secondary contact. The only exception to this might be if you’re calling someone on their cell phone.

Re-thinking the voice mail message

Given this new assumption that the first thing any caller is likely to hear is your voicemail, what’s the best way to make a great first impression?

  1. Smile! A first impression STILL starts with body language. And even though you can’t SEE someone’s body language over a voice mail greeting, you can HEAR it. So be happy, smile and literally pretend that it’s your most favorite person in the world at the other end of the line. This makes a HUGE difference.
  2. Changing your greeting. Should you change your greeting daily? This is your call. I keep my greeting the same because I’m usually around AND my cell phone is my business phone. But if you have multiple phone numbers and you’re often out of the office or are in a business that requires people to know where you are — by all means change that greeting. The idea is to be YOURSELF as much as possible – even when it’s NOT you.
  3. Record YOUR OWN message. I really can’t believe that I have to say this – but I still run into voice mail greetings that are GENERIC. This is a sort of “incomplete” way of dealing with voice mail. Leaving the generic greeting either says that you don’t care or that you don’t know how to change the greeting. From the people that I know who do that — neither is true. But it just seems that way. Another peeve is that some people have a secretary record their greeting. This seems wrong on so many levels. A voicemail message by definition is YOUR voice — it’s not the same as having a secretary.
  4. What to put in the message.
    • Your name, title or department, company name and extension.
    • If you change your message daily – include the date, your status (I’ll be in meetings most of the day) and when they can expect to hear back from you.
    • The best way to get in touch with you — this might include email, text or calling during specific times of the day. This way, people will know what to do.
    • What information YOU need. There’s nothing more annoying than getting a message that says “This is Joe, call me” – Tell the callers what you need from them – sometimes a detailed message doesn’t seem to do the trick – perhaps something like “Let me know how I can help you” might work. This way the call isn’t wasted.
    • An alternative action for immediate assistance. Provide a name and an extension to another person that can help the caller if you aren’t available.

I’m sure you have your passions and peeves about voice mail — share them HERE ! ?Please be sure to include your name and a link so I can give you credit!