1. In response to several queries I’ve received this week, I want to remind all of us that voicemail, the message our clients and potential clients hear when we are not available, is our receptionist, our avatar if you will. We need to empower it to both welcome and inform our customers, and work for us so we can focus on the meetings, people or creative tasks that prevent us from answering the phone.
I compare it to having a receptionist answer the phone on your behalf. She (or he) would tell the caller you are unavailable, when you are expected to be available and make the commitment that the call will be returned. At the end of this exchange the client or potential client feels taken care of and has experienced your desire to be of service.
So … it is important that we create this same experience through our voicemail. Whether you are away from your office for an hour or throughout the day, let your callers know what they can expect and when they can expect it.
For example, it you are unavailable to answer the phone throughout the majority of each day, you message could say: “You’ve reached the office of Debbie Smith. Sorry I’ve missed your call. I am out of the office throughout the day but will be retrieving messages at 11 am and 4 pm. I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
This succinct message lets people know that you will return their call, but it is possible you will not do so until the next day. Regardless, they feel taken care of because you have provided them with necessary information. They know what to expect and when to expect it.
While it is important that your voicemail message be created for your clients and potential clients, a message like the one above also gives you control over your time. The structure you create of picking up messages at 11 am and 4 pm gives you the freedom to focus on the people and work in front of you without constantly calling in to pick up messages, or struggling at the end of each day to return eight hours worth of calls.
2. For those of you regularly involved in writing and designing contracts or course material, Gwen Davies of Clear Fresh Words is giving a plain language workshop on Saturday November 19 at The Hub. You can find more details here: Plain Language Workshop
3. For the past several years those of us that share office space at 11 Portland Street have worked with Feed Nova Scotia to create Christmas for a local family. Our wish list for this year arrived on Friday and we have two 10-year-old children that are passionate about music but do not own any instruments. They are asking for CDs and sheet music and all kinds of things related to music, and we will deliver, but we are also wondering if it is possible to give them their best Christmas ever. Does anyone know if there’s a way to organize free instruments for these children? One is fascinated by the guitar while the other is interested in the violin. We have a total budget of $300 but it needs to include everthing, even Christmas dinner, so we are hoping there’s an angel out there that connects children with instruments. Any ideas you have, please send them along.
And one last thought:
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)