By planning ahead, we can create voicemail messages that allow us be more efficient and make a good impression on the caller.
Here are 5 tips for creating an effective message:
- Daily message. Each morning, create a new message. Include your name, today's date, and when you will be returning calls. The extra minute you spend each day doing this allows you to focus on the tasks that are most important to you without phone distractions.
"Hi, this is the voice mail for Sue Henry. Today is Wednesday, February 24. I have appointments throughout the day and will be returning calls between 11-11:30, 2-2:30, and 4:30-5 pm today. Please leave your name, how I can help you, the time slot you'd like me to call you back, and the best number to reach you at that time. I look forward to talking to you then. Make it a great day!"
- State the date. This eliminates confusion on what day you will be returning the call. When we get a generic message and we don't hear back on something that's really important to us, we'll call back again to see if we can "catch" the person. Stating the date in the message assures the person you are in the office and at work that day. They'll wait for your return call instead of calling you again and again...
- Set your alarms. After determining when you will be returning calls, set an alarm to notify you when you need to check your phone and messages. I like to set my alarm for 10 minute prior to when I've agreed to return calls so I have a chance to listen to the calls and make notes on what the person needs. Have all the information together BEFORE you make the call. This will save you from fumbling through a stack of papers and sprinkling your messages with "um's".
- Organize return calls. Make a note of who you need to call during each time slot, the best number to reach them at, and what they called about. Acquire all the information the person requires together BEFORE you make the call. Have their file handy in case you need to access other data during the call. This will save you from having to call back.
- Making the calls. The people you call back will be impressed with the efficiency of your response. This is a great opportunity to build trust and credibility because you are returning the call during the time frame they noted. If you do happen to get their voice mail, leave the answer to their question if there's enough time. If not, then let them know you'll try again between _________ (the next time slot you are returning calls in)
- Turn off your phone. If you just can't help looking at your phone each time it vibrates with a call or message, turn it off! Use a different timer to alert you to the times you've set aside to listen to messages and return calls.
I felt uncomfortable stating that I had appointments throughout the day when I wasn’t meeting with anyone. But once I realized that the “appointments” were with myself to focus on my business, I was ok with it. If I was doing something with my family or a friend, it was ok to call it an “appointment”. No further explanation was necessary.
When I first started this, I felt a bit awkward. Were people going to get angry because I didn't answer right away? Would it leave a less-than-professional image?
But those fears were unfounded. My callers appreciated knowing when I was going to return their call and trusted I would have the answers to their questions with our first call. This method saved us both time!
My subconscious knew that I'd set a timer to look at my phone at specific intervals so even when I turned it off, I was able to focus better and get more work done in less time. And, the quality of my work improved as well.
If phone tag and message interruptions are distracting you from building the business of your dreams, try this for 2 weeks. I think you'll be surprised at the powerful effect this one idea will have in your business!