5 January 2008

Voicemail is a two-way street

Incoming Call!

I called someone on their business phone and their voicemail greeting said, “Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you”, but they didn’t identify who they were. I had never met the person so had no idea by that message if I had the correct number. As a joke a co-worker suggested leaving the message, “Hi, call me back”.

Recording your Message

A good tip for recording your voicemail greeting would be to write it out beforehand and then read it when you record it. The following should be included in your greeting:
  • Your name, title and who you work for, but you could also include your company name.
  • You should let people know if you are in that day and, if so, that you will return the call when you return to your desk.
  • If you are on a planned time off you should give the dates you will be away and leave the name of someone to contact in your absence. Please don’t dead-end your voicemail! Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean your company is. You should also plan with your team who will be taking calls during your absence. Don't surprise your co-worker by choosing them without asking first.
  • If you are on an unplanned day off you have the option of changing your own voicemail message from home, or you can have a co-worker do it from the office on your behalf.
  • Consider using the "temporary" out of office voicemail greeting. This way you don't have to change your original message each time and it automatically comes off on the date and time you want.
  • A suggested voicemail greeting would be: “Hello. You have reached the voicemail of [name, title]. I am either on the phone or away from my desk at the moment. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible".

Leaving a Message

One day, my sister picked up her voicemail messages to learn that she had five messages. She got her pen and paper ready only to find out that each message was a "hang-up". She wondered who was trying to get in touch with her, but couldn't do much about it since a message wasn't left. She got home that night to her husband telling her that he had been trying to reach her and he wondered where she'd been all day.

  • Please don’t hang up, or if you prefer not to leave a message, hang up before the beep so the person does not go to the trouble of retrieving the message only to get a hang up
  • State your name, number and purpose of your call. If you leave the purpose for your call, many times the person will be able to get the information for you and even if they get your voicemail when they return the call, they can leave the information on your voicemail. This avoids telephone tag
  • I personally like it when people leave the date and time of their call, however, there is always the option of turning on the date and time stamp on your voicemail
  • Repeat your phone number at the end of your voicemail, especially if you are calling from a cell phone. Cell phones are not as clear as land lines and it is sometimes hard to make out what the person is saying

Voicemail is great if used properly.

By Patricia Robb and Lynn Crosbie

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