How to Use Voice Mail More Efficiently

Have you ever called someone only to be told that, "Mr. Busyman is not available, would you like his voice mail?" Of course you have. In fact, Jeffery Mayer, in his informative book Time Management for Dummies, tells us that almost 80 percent of all business calls are not completed on the first attempt. If the vast majority of business calls require leaving a message, doesn’t it behoove us to know the best way to leave a voice mail message? Even more importantly shouldn’t we know the best way for us, and our staffs, to take messages?

In today’s competitive business environment we cannot afford to offend any customers by failing to return calls. We must be able to communicate with our clients and our vendors in the most efficient manner possible. Here are a few tips to use with voice mail:

( When leaving a message, or recording a greeting, always take a deep breath. This will give your voice more volume and will help slow down your speed of conversation. It is very important that you speak slowly, with a clear, strong voice.

( When leaving a message, always say your name and phone number at the beginning and at the end of your message. You should also spell your last name and any other words that may have an unfamiliar spelling, such as cities, streets, or company names.

( Always smile while talking on the phone. Believe it or not it really comes through the telephone.

( Tell the callee when you will be available for a return call. This helps eliminate telephone-tag.

( Leave as much detail as possible. For example, "This is Joe Prospect at Wannabuy Company, (352)378-7730. I am calling in reference to your proposal #780. We would like to know how much it would cost to add two more telephones to this quote. I will be in until 5:00 P.M. today. Joe Prospect, P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t at Wannabuy Company, (352)378-7730." This message would allow the callee to have the pertinent information at hand when the call is returned, saving both parties time.

( If at all possible, when setting up a voice mail system, leave the caller an easy way to speak to a person. "At any time you may press ‘0' to speak to an operator." This will avoid customers being trapped in your system, otherwise known as Voice Mail Jail. If customers get trapped in Voice Mail Jail too often, they tend to escape by going to your competitor.

( Use announcement boxes on your system. Always let the caller be able to choose an announcement box that has routine information such as mailing address, fax number, business hours, etc. . . . This saves the caller and your company time.

( Change your message often. If you are going to be out of the office until Thursday of next week, put that on your message. Let the caller know when he or she can best reach you. If possible, tell the caller to talk to your assistant if the message is urgent.

( Always call into your voice mail system to see how it sounds. Is the voice good and strong? Is the voice speaking at a good speed? Are the menu options logical?

( Most importantly--return your calls. Check your mailbox regularly and return the calls promptly. After all, how many times will you leave a voice mail message to someone who fails to return your call?)

Larry Nazworth

Jacksonville (904)562-2100
Gainesville (352)260-0100
Ocala (352)547-3230