As part of opening up the technical support phone lines for LandlordMax a couple of months ago, we’ve chosen to let customers leave us a voicemail rather than waiting on hold on the phone until someone becomes available. I believe this is the best solution for us, and we call back pretty quickly.
That being said, we get all kinds of voicemail messages. Some are great and some are not so great. Unfortunately sometimes the messages are just too hard to decipher and we can’t call back. So today I’m going to share with you the keys to leaving a great voicemail. And this applies to both personal and business voicemails. In no particular order they are (other than the first three):
Introduce Yourself Clearly
First and foremost start your voicemail by stating your name and phone number before you start leaving your message. This really helps give context to the message. Although you may know who you are, don’t assume the other person knows who you are right away. Not only that, but if you start talking about a prior history and the person taking the message doesn’t know who you are or what history you’re talking about, then they’ll have to re-listen to the voicemail at least twice (maybe more) before fully understanding it.
Imagine that you’re the receptionist at a doctor’s office and you get a voicemail such as: “Hi. After all I won’t be able to make the appointment for tomorrow at 3pm that you scheduled earlier for me”. If you heard just that odds are pretty high you might not be able to put two and two together and figure out who the caller was. Not only that, but if there’s more than one person handling the voicemails, then the person listening to the message might be the other receptionist who has no idea of the history. Adding “Oh and my name is ….” is very helpful, but it would be even better if you could put it first. Without looking back, can you remember what time the appointment was at? Probably not, you’re too busy just trying to process the message that you have to go back and re-listen to it.
Another good reason to state your name and phone number first is that generally when you transcribe voicemails to paper you write the contact information first. It’s easier to sort and take notes if you have several voicemails to call back. This is true for both personal and business voicemails.
Speak Slowly And Repeat Your Name and Phone Number
When you leave a voicemail, say your name and phone number slowly!! Remember that although you know your name and phone number by heart, the other person doesn’t. If you rip it out at mach 10, it’s very hard for the person taking the message to decipher it, never mind write it down. We’ve all heard voicemails where the person says the number so fast we have to hear over and over and over and over again just to get it down on paper. Avoid this at all costs!
If you have an odder name like mine (Stephane Grenier), take your time to articulate yourself and say it clearly. If you quickly muffle through your name, especially in a low voice, the other person has very little chance of getting it right. This is especially true if you’re offended when people incorrectly say your name. The good news is that you don’t have to spell it out, you just need to pronounce it clearly.
Raise the Volume of Your Voice
Speak louder than usual. Some connections are terrible. Maybe your phone has a lower quality microphone. Maybe the other persons phone is of lower quality. Maybe the person taking the message is in a louder environment. Speak up. Don’t be shy. It really helps. On several occasions we haven’t been able to return calls because we just can’t hear the person. They speak so low or softly that we can barely make out anything. Combine that with someone who says their phone number really fast, and there’s no way you can decipher the voicemail.
Don’t Assume Caller ID
Just because caller ID is everywhere, don’t assume you don’t need to leave your phone number. The number you call from can be blocked. The person transcribing the voicemail might not have access to the caller ID information. And in many cases the phone number displayed through the caller ID is just wrong or inaccurate. This is especially true if you call from a business and all calls just display the main phone number for the business.
Don’t Assume Previous Knowledge
Having already mentioned this, don’t assume the person taking the message has any history of your previous conversation. Especially in a business environment. Even if it’s a direct line to the same person, they’re probably dealing with multiple people on a daily basis. It’s not personal, it’s just the way it is. We humans have limited memory capabilities, so let’s help each other out. By giving a context, you’re also helping yourself.
Don’t Assume I Know You Just By the Sound of Your Voice
Generally you can get away with this for personal voicemails, especially with close relatives and friends. but definitely don’t assume this in a business environment. And even with friends and family, don’t assume it. Maybe when you left the voicemail there was a lot of background, you had a cold, my phone isn’t very good, etc. Remember, assuming makes an a– out of u and me.
Leave a Phone Number That Can Be Called Back
If you want someone to call you back, make sure you leave them a number they can call you back at. Just today I got a voicemail from someone asking me to call them back. When I tried, it said: “This person is no longer accepting any calls”. I can’t call them back. Similarly if you call a business, leave a number where you can be reached during the business day. And vice versa for a personal voicemail to a friend to call you back at night.
Avoid Background Noise
As mentioned before, if at all possible, when you leave a voicemail try to keep the background noise to a minimum. You never know the sound quality that will come out the other end, so why make it harder for the person taking the voicemail.
Always Leave Your Phone Number
This one is much more true for business than personal voicemails. Just because we’ve talked on the phone several times before, it doesn’t mean that I have your phone number readily available. Just imagine you’re a banker and someone left you a voicemail to call back about the interest on their mortgage but didn’t leave their phone number because you’ve had several back and forth calls. Now for some weird reason you can’t find their phone number in your notebook (it’s there but you can’t find it), what do you do? You can then look it up on their mortgage application form, which hopefully it’s there. If not you can always look them up in the phone book. You have so much to do, maybe you’ll just call them back later this afternoon since you have to digg for it. As you can see, as the effort to find your phone number climbs the odds of getting a quick call back drop. And who knows, if you’re very unlucky, they may never be able to call you back! By leaving your phone number you can make returning your call that much easier. And we all know the easier it is to do something, the more likely it’s to happen.
Obviously there are other things you can do to improve your voicemails, but just these will make an incredible difference. If I had to keep it down to a sentence, I would say: “Always say your name and phone number clearly, slowly, and loudly”. At the very least, you’ll get a call back!