The holidays bring many things: candy canes, presents, festive decorations and voicemails by the truckload. If you’re taking time off for the holidays, you can expect the people calling you will hear your voicemail message. Help both the caller and yourself by following these tips and make your message as painless as possible.
Prevent Voicemail Overload
Here’s a simple way to dissuade callers from leaving multiple messages while you’re away: State in your message when you’ll be back and if you’ll be checking your messages while you’re gone. If you won’t be checking your voicemail messages but will be checking your e-mail, consider stating your e-mail address. But be careful when including dates in your voicemail message—you have to remember to update it as soon as you return. It does not reflect well on you if someone calls on January 4 and hears, “You’ve reached John. I’ll be back in the office on January 2.”
Even when you’re not on vacation, the caller should know when to expect to hear from you. Use your voicemail to reflect your schedule. For example, if you are never in on Thursdays, say so in your message.
Detailed or Brief? Some people prefer voicemails that are short and to the point so they don’t have to listen to a 10-minute message. Other people prefer detailed voicemails so they don’t have to call the person back for more information. Let your voicemail message reflect which person you are: explicitly state if the caller should leave a detailed or a brief message.
Do It Yourself
Record your own message. Nobody wants to listen to a robot tell them how to leave a voicemail, nor do they want to hear a highpitched, female voice when they’re trying to reach John Doe (or a deep, male voice when they want Jane Doe). If you’re not going to put the effort into recording your own voicemail message, how can the caller expect you to put in the effort to call them back? “Do it yourself” also applies to listening to your voicemail message. Call your own number. Is there a lot of static? Are you mumbling or slurring any words? Does the tone of your voice sound harsh or bored? You won’t know unless you call.
When Voicemail and Emergencies Collide
Imagine this: Your customer has a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. They call your number and hear, “Hi, this is Jane. I’ll be out of the office today. Leave me a message. BEEP.” What’s the customer to do? Your message should let them know how to reach a live person, whether it’s the operator or another co-worker who knows how to handle your work when you’re not around. If you have a cell phone for business, let the caller know they can also reach you on that number.
Bad voicemail messages create problems for both the caller and you. Use these tips and make everyone’s holiday a little more merry.