The First Impression

All of us need to give more thought to our outbound voicemail message. Why? Because for our clients, customers, donors and prospects our voicemail is our receptionist. It is vital that this “receptionist” welcome our callers and contain our desire to be of service.

In a workshop this past week I was asked “How can we make sure we create the best message for our voicemail?” It was the first time I’d been asked this question and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Below are a few guidelines to consider, and you can add your own suggestions in the comment section.

1. Use the notion of a real-person receptionist as your guideline. If you had someone answering your phone for you, how would you instruct them to greet each caller? What information would they provide?

2. Change your message daily to let your callers know you are working today, you want to connect with them today, you are thinking about them and their needs today.

3. If it’s impossible for you to create a daily message, consider a weekly one. This will at least prevent people from hearing the same message over and over and over and over and over …. .

4. Record your message the night before. In the morning we can often sound dry and scratchy. Also, it’s not difficult to fall behind schedule in the morning, causing us to create a message at top speed.

5. Breath deeply before you start to record and make sure you smile. This will allow your voice to sound calm and happy.

6. Keep the message brief. You don’t have to include every detail of your day. You want to let your audience know about your availability and when they can expect a return call.

7. Allow the message to work for you as well. For example, by telling callers “I’m in a workshop throughout the day today but will return all calls tomorrow” I can focus on my workshop participants while still delivering service to my callers.

8. When you need to provide an alternate contact phone number – perhaps to another member of your team, or to your cellphone, make sure you say the number at the same speed it takes you to write it down, and then repeat it so your caller can verify they’ve written it down correctly.

9. Use a landline to create your message. Cellphones are prone to producing echoes, static and even unintentional silence.

Enjoy your phonework!

0 thoughts on “The First Impression”

  1. Great advice as usual, Mary Jane! I love calling your office and hearing the daily updated voice message as it offers real time information, something we are all accustomed to but never provided in a voicemail. (This is something I do with auto-response, since I’m in and out of the studio a lot. I can give my clients a good indication of when I’ll be back to address them.)
    As a voice talent myself, I would definitely support your recommendations, especially smiling before you record, as well as, writing the “script” thoughtfully, personally, yet professionally. And, if you don’t think your own voice is professional enough, you might consider hiring someone to record it for you!
    In any case, voicemail is worth taking a moment to polish as one would with any other marketing effort!
    Thanks for all the GREAT advice as usual!

    • Thanks, Natasha for these comments. And yes, of course, people can use voice talent, like yourself, to improve the experience their clients have with company voicemail. And I’ll add that today I listened to a voicemail that was done so quickly – it leaves the impression that the person doesn’t want to talk to you, won’t ever have time to return your call. It is so important to speak in a calm, measured way.


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