Making Your Voicemail Work For You

Tags: voicemail, Telephony, Phone Systems, features

Sometimes, you just can't answer your phone - thank goodness for voicemail - but is your voicemail really working for you? Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your office phone's voicemail system.

Tip #1: Call yourself and experience what your callers hear.

So many problems can be corrected by simply listening to how your voicemail sounds to callers. Ask yourself, "is this what I want my callers to hear?"

Tip #2: Recording your name means just that: recording your name.

Your name is not your greeting. When the voicemail system prompts you to record your name and you record it as, "Hello, this is Mary Jones," your callers will hear the voicemail say something to the affect of, "Please hold while I transfer your call to, 'hello this is Mary Jones.'" If you take the advice of Tip #1, you'll be able identify this and similar problems right away.

Tip #3: Know your voicemail's options.

Once the call is transferred, your greeting will play. Here is where you can tell your caller what their options are. Sure, they can leave a message for you but what if you want to give your callers more options than that? If you can give callers another avenue to reach someone who can help them, by all means, give them the option! If you're not there to take the call, maybe someone else can.

Some more sophisticated systems will allow you to record multiple greetings which play based on time of day, holiday or vacation schedule or even based on your caller's Caller ID. Personalized greetings like, "hello Mr. Jones, thank you for your call. Please leave me a message at the tone..." can go a long way in making your customers and contacts feel special. Check with your friendly neighborhood office telephone vendor for instructions on what your voicemail options are or consult your manual.

Tip #4: Voicemail isn't just for leaving messages anymore.

Maybe you'd like your voicemail to take your calls while you do your work or maybe you want to be available even while away from your desk. One way to do this is by giving your callers options to be in touch with you personally. Many modern voicemail systems feature the ability to transfer callers to an off-site destination. If you let your callers know that they're welcome to, "...please leave a message at the tone or, if this is urgent, please press 3 to be transferred directly to me." The call would then be transferred to a pre-programmed outside number. This could be your cell phone or, if your're a work-from-home type, your home office number. (Again, consult your voicemail manual or check with your phone vendor for instructions on how to program external forwarding from voicemail.)

In the above example, you're giving the caller a way to reach you without giving out your cell phone number. This allows your callers more ways to be in touch with you without asking them to hang up and dial another number. Better yet, you don't have to reveal your private numbers to them if they're being forwarded to you by the voicemail system.

Tip #5: Be specific about how you'd like messages left.

It's your voicemail box; shouldn't you be able to request the format in which you'd like your messages left? Greetings that are brief and polite are more likely to elicit a concise and business-like message than one that goes on about where you might be or when you usually take your lunch break.

Tip #6: Know your limit.

Almost all voicemail systems have a recording time limit. There are three reasons for this.

1.) to conserve space on your system, 
2.) to force long-winded callers to re-record their message in a way that is more respectful of your time, and 
3.) to finally cut off that caller who didn't hang up properly after finishing his message.

By following these few tips, you should find that your voicemail actually works for you.

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