I left a voice mail last week for someone who promised to call me back at his earliest convenience. His voice mail greeting didn’t ask me to leave a time when a return call would be convenient for me. He didn’t say he would call back within four hours or one business day. My call was going to be returned when it was convenient to him.
Now, in the grand scheme of customer service, this type of greeting is not a deal breaker. I’m not sure anyone would slam the phone down in disgust and refuse to do business with someone because of that. But being the nit-picky customer service person that I am, I believe that even seemingly insignificant customer touch points like a voice mail greeting is an opportunity to make the customer or potential customer feel important. And I don’t mean adding the cheesy “Your call is important to us/me” line to your message. That line probably causes more eye-rolls these days than moms and dads do when they speak to their teenagers!
Creating a customer focused voice mail greeting means taking into consideration the person who is calling you. Here are some tips:
- Don’t speak too quickly, too loudly or to softly. The caller needs to be able to understand what your greeting says.
- Change your message if you are going to be away for an extended period of time. Don’t forget to change it back when you return!
- Let the caller know when they can expect a call back or better yet, ask the caller to leave suggested times when he or she will be available. It helps avoid the dreaded telephone tag.
- If possible, provide an alternate contact name and number if immediate assistance is required. The alternative “press 0” is appropriate if you also provide the name of the other person. This saves the caller from having to explain what is needed to the person at front reception.
By the way, the message I left last week has still not been returned. It has been four business days. While the message may not be a deal breaker, no response to the message could be. Perhaps he is away on holidays, forgot to change his message and will call back with an apology when he returns. Perhaps something unexpected is keeping him away from the office. It happens.
When thinking about your voice mail greeting, also think about who can change your voice mail greeting for you (create an outline or script for that person) and pick up and respond to messages left prior to the greeting being changed.
Getting the voice mail greeting right costs nothing except the time it takes to record it, but it can make the difference between a positive or negative first impression. In customer service, we need to create as many positive impressions as we can, so don’t leave that all important first one to chance.