Are you making the most out of your voicemail system?
As Joe Walsh of The Eagles once sang:
So I got me an office, gold records on the wall.
Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call.
Life’s been good to me so far
How many times have you called someone only to be greeted by a message that says: “Hi. You have reached Joe. I am unavailable. Please leave a message.”
What is wrong with this greeting?
First, if you don’t know Joe you have no idea if you have reached the right person or even the right organization. Second, you have no idea Joe is unavailable today, tomorrow or for the rest of the year. Third, you have no idea how often Joe checks his messages. Fourth, you have no idea when, if ever, Joe returns them. Fifth, there is no option presented to go around Joe’s voicemail message and speak to a real person.
Your voicemail greeting speaks to your client when you can’t – so you need to make sure it says everything it should. To be of maximum assistance to a caller, your voice mail message should:
- Open with your name and title so that callers are sure they reached the correct voicemail.
- Be updated on a daily basis, including details of your schedule (but not your life story) if you expect to be unavailable for part of the day (“I am in meetings all morning”).
- If you are out of the office, indicate if you are checking voicemail or e-mail messages, and when you expect to be back (especially if you are away for an extended period).
- Always give callers an option to transfer to a live person, either your assistant or the receptionist. This is important if they need immediate assistance. And remember to adjust messages if both you and your assistant are out of the office.
- Encourage the caller to leave a detailed message – yes you shouldn’t have to say this – but it will help pry out a few more facts from callers that are reluctant to say much. This help you learn exactly what the caller wanted without having to call them back.
- Lastly, state your policy with respect to how quickly voice mail messages will be returned (e.g. “ I return calls within 24 hours”, “…by end of the next business day”, etc.). Set a time that fits you, your practice and clientele – and make it very clearly known to your clients at the time of retainer so you can set and control their expectations.
By spending just a little time crafting your daily telephone message, you can ensure that life is good not only for you but also for your clients.
(Hat tip to our colleague Pete Roberts at the Washington State Bar Association for passing along this nugget).