Your voicemail greeting, while only half a minute or so of recorded chatter, can make a huge difference when dealing with customers. You’ve already missed their call, so it’s important to craft a polished and professional recording to ask for their message. Your voicemail greeting directly represents your business, and if something is amiss, it may drive a customer to contact another business altogether.
Know Your Audience
Yes, recording a voicemail greeting is your big debut. The stage may be a bit small (a few square inches of plastic and electrodes), but there’s still a specific audience to satisfy. Always focus your voicemail greeting on the nature of incoming calls.
If you’re leaving a general greeting for the entire company, for example, it makes no sense to leave your name as part of the message. The customer base of your company should also affect the tone of your business voicemail greeting. An accounting firm needs a no-nonsense tone, while a company that sells party supplies would likely benefit from a lighter and more upbeat sound.
While this process may seem insignificant, it is actually important because someone (maybe even you) will have to return the call. As with all types of calls, there is etiquette involved in voicemail greetings. The call may be from a potential new client who’s inquiring about your services for the first time. That means your voicemail greeting will be their first interaction with your business. Make it a good first impression.
The call you just missed may have come from someone phoning in to complain. The caller is probably irritated enough already that no one answered. Now, he or she is forced to leave a message about a negative subject — something they’re probably going to have to describe again once their call is returned. The last thing you want is to exacerbate the problem with a breezy message that could imply that you don’t care about their dilemma.
At the very least, you’re missing a call from someone with whom your company will have an ongoing relationship. Even the most loyal customers want to hear a business voicemail greeting that reinforces their wise decision in working with your team. Small reminders such as this are critical to retaining and maintaining happy customers.
Types of Greetings
Whether you’re recording a message that will be heard by your own staff or by outside callers, you’ll want to explain why you’re missing their call. For example, if your greeting will be played when you’re already on the line with someone else, be sure to include that. Callers will know that you’re actually in the office and that they can expect a return call relatively quickly. They also may decide to try their call again a bit later without leaving a message.
Maybe you’re recording an “out of office” greeting for when you’re on vacation or at a seminar or convention. If this is the case, be sure to let the caller know when you’ll be back in the office to return calls. Let them know whether you’re remotely checking your messages or returning calls when you get back. You may also want to include the contact information for anyone who’s sitting in for you while you’re gone.
What to Include
- An actual greeting, such as hello or hi
- Your name, your department, and perhaps your company name (depending on whether it’s a direct outside call or not)
- Why you can’t take the call (out of town, on the line with someone else, office is closed, etc.)
- An invitation to leave a message and information on when you’ll call back
- If applicable, what to do if they need immediate assistance
- Gratitude for the time they spent placing the call, such as saying, “Thanks for calling”
What Not to Include
- Stating the obvious, such as the call being important to you, since the customers of a properly run business should already know this
- Directing callers to leave their name, number, and reason for calling because most people have already figured this out
- Too much information that is not relevant to the caller and lengthens the recording, which should be about 20 seconds long
Rehearsals (and Dress Rehearsals)
Before you record your greeting, warm up by listening to some professional voicemail greeting examples. Do an internet search and you’ll find tons of them online. YouTube allows you to hear audio clips so you can get an idea of proper intonation, tone, and speed.
Some people are shy about others listening to their recorded voice. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. Many people hear their own voice and can’t believe what it sounds like. Before your greeting goes live, let a few co-workers listen to it. You might even want to have a contest for the best voicemail greeting and have everyone provide ratings.
Take constructive criticism in stride. The goal is to help each other form the strongest possible team. The ability to take advice from co-workers is one that sets apart stellar employees from those who refuse to improve.
Don’t ever hesitate to change your voicemail greeting to adapt to changing times. For instance, if you find yourself getting regular messages for someone else at your company with a similar name, change your message to direct them to the right person. It’s not passing the buck — it’s allowing customers to get the help they need as efficiently as possible.
If you consistently get calls and messages from people who should be speaking with a different person or department, alter your greeting to help them, too. Often, callers have to navigate a “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” directory tree and wind up on the wrong branch. Gently placing them on the correct one saves time for everyone involved.
It may only be a short recording of your voice, but never forget that your voicemail greeting is a direct representation of both your company and you. With this in mind, even the most hesitant of staff members can record a voicemail greeting that’s sure to go triple platinum.