Voice-mail is an important part of every business. Whether you have just one phone line, hundreds of lines, or just a cell phone, it’s essential for your company’s voice-mail greeting(s) to communicate in an effective and professional manner. As in most cases, how you say it is as important as what you say, and here are some important things NOT to do with your voice-mail greeting:
1. Don’t have music in the background. Yeah, it was cool in high school. Even I admit using Depeche Mode in the background of my outgoing answering machine message, but for your business, keep the music off! Music is effective for promotional telephone on-hold promotions, but not for voice-mail messages. (Did I just admit to liking Depeche Mode?)
2. Don’t use an answering machine. What?? Are people still using answering machines? People can tell when it’s an answering machine – the white noise, the poor sound quality. An answering machine is unprofessional, and c’mon, it’s not that expensive – for about $15 a month you can get a simple voice-mail service from your local phone company.
3. Don’t record a new message every day announcing the date. We’ve all heard this one before, “Hi, this is Kate. Today is Monday, May 3rd and I will be in the office most of the day, so if you’ve reached this message I’m assisting other clients…” I still don’t get the deal with people changing their outgoing message daily. The biggest issue I have is that in most cases, I hear the wrong date on there, which means the person forgot to change their greeting.
I have heard people say that the reason they do this is that it gives the caller the impression that they are on top of things. Well, I can see that point, but I think that this small benefit does not outweigh the pain of having to change your greeting every day. And if you forget, which obviously happens a lot, now you’ve accomplished the exact opposite by looking like a clueless schmo who forgot to change his/her greeting.
Keep it simple – one greeting done professionally is enough. (An exception is if you’re out of the office for several days. A helpful “I will be out from March 3rd through the 10th, if you need assistance please contact Brenda at extension 110” is appropriate and shows that you care.)
4. Don’t make it difficult to connect with a live person. For the more complex auto attendants, make it easy for callers to connect with a live person. Getting stuck in an endless maze of greetings is extremely frustrating – you don’t want your callers experiencing that.
5. Don’t let your mailbox get full. The worst thing your callers can hear is, “I’m sorry, but this mailbox is full” just as he/she is about to leave a message. This really says that you are extremely unorganized and now also unreachable. Do everything in your power not to let this happen!
Voice-mail is a great tool that has allowed us to be there to greet our callers when we can’t be there in person. Use it effectively, and it can enhance your business!