When was the last time you listened to your voice mail message on your mobile phone? I’d wager a bet (if I were a betting person) that you haven’t listened to it or updated it since you got your phone. If you run a business, chances are you advertise your mobile number for people to be able to contact you on. It’s on your business cards, your advertising material, and your website. So you must want people to be able to contact you on it! For many customers and clients, contacting you via your mobile phone may be the first contact they have with you and your business. So, it stands to reason, you want to give a wonderful first impression.

Here is a little personal scenario that happened last week. I wanted to give a business, some of my business; a client of mine was after something unique, and I thought this particular business would have been perfect.  I rang their mobile number and after a few rings it went to their voice mail.  Well, it wasn’t their voice mail, it was the standard message, you know the one.

“The number you called is not available, please leave a quick 10 second message and we will convert your message to text and send it as a text message for you.”

So, what did I do? I hung up and took my business elsewhere. We all know how notoriously bad audio to text conversions can be. You only have to look at spell check on mobile devices, you think you have said one thing then before you know it, you’ve posted it or sent it, and it says something totally different. If you have voice-to-text on your phone, use it, see how it construes your words, it’s not perfect.

If you haven’t already done so do a little exercise. Set your phone stopwatch going, and see how much of a message you can convey in 10 seconds, without sounding like a chipmunk. All I can convey is my name and mobile. It’s impersonal, unfriendly and tells the person you have called absolutely nothing. They have to ring you back, (maybe get your voicemail) find out what you want, then possibly come back to you again because they needed to go and research something before they give you an answer.  The quick 10-second message has now caused double the work for both of you.  Not a win win!

Below are my recommendations, for creating a remedy to the “Leave a quick 10 second message.” Just remember, if you are an undertaker, your voicemail message should be totally different to that if your business is running children’s birthday parties. Be relational to your prospective client or customer; below is simply a guide.

How to leave a clear and directional message.

  • Listen to your current voice mail message, what do you hear? Is there background noise, the TV or radio, kids playing or dogs barking? If there is, record a new one. Find a nice quiet space to do this. (Don’t use the toilet, the echo is undeniable.)
  • Write down your message, don’t try and wing it and don’t try humour unless you are a stand-up comedian. If you’re stuck for an idea, see my example below.
  • Keep your message brief. There is nothing worse than listening to someone ramble on before you can leave a message.
  • Here’s a tip: People don’t care why you can’t take their call, they simply care that you will return it and that you give them ample time to convey their message.
  • Make sure you turn off the television, radio or any other background noise that you can control.
  • Put on your friendly voice; smile when you talk.
  • Your message could be something like “Hi, you have reached [name] from [business name]; I’m unable to take your call right now. Please leave your name, number and message after the beep, and I will return your call as soon as I can.”

Your message can be whatever it is you want it to be. Just remember, for every caller that hangs up on your 10 second leave a message voicemail, that’s business you may have lost forever. You will never know.

I’d love to read your comments. What do you think about voicemail?