September 18, 2014
The telephone is still a powerful business communication tool. And most customers view effective voice mail users as committed professionals who are efficient, responsive and well organized. Ineffective voice mail habits can alter customer perceptions, jeopardize customer relationships, hamper your ability to be productive, reveal disorganized work habits and encourage telephone tag.
The following voice mail tips will boost your productivity while enhancing customer relationships:
When using your voice message system . . .
• Call yourself up! If your message doesn’t reflect a positive attitude and pleasant voice, change it! Your message should sound relaxed and conversational.
• Monitor your rate of speech. Make a conscious effort to depict an image of someone whose enunciation, diction, pronunciation and dialect is clear and easy to understand.
• Ask for specific information. Ask callers to leave a “detailed message” whenever specific information would be more helpful. If you only need a little bit of information, ask callers to “leave a brief message.”
• Provide a “live-person” option. Leave the name, phone number or extension of someone who can help in your absence. Let them how to bypass your message and reach someone who can offer immediate assistance.
• Follow the "sundown rule." Treat callers with the same respect and common courtesy you expect from them. Create a system for returning calls that works for you and stick with it.
When leaving a voice mail message . . .
• Speak in a well-modulated tone. Your vocal tone can account for more than 80% of your impact on the telephone. Use inflection to sound more personable and approachable.
• Deliver appropriate content. Negative messages sent via voice mail can end up being detrimental to you. Be certain that any message you send is one you don’t mind sharing with others.
• Be brief and concise. An effective voice mail message will include a succinct subject and requests for action are carefully conveyed. Limit you recorded message to one or two topics.
• Record special instructions early in the message. Prioritize requests for action. Give specific timeframes for when you need a reply and why. Give the recipient an idea when you’ll be available for a callback.
• Consider the quality of your call. While mobile, make certain your call isn’t hampered by background noise or inaudible reception. Poor voice quality can misrepresent the image you want to project.
Many of us share a love-hate relationship with voice mail. Improving your telephone communication skills and developing good voice mail habits will lead to positive customer interaction.
Jeannie Davis is president of Now Hear This, Inc., a Colorado-based communications training company specializing in professional telephone communication workshops, seminars and keynote presentations. She is recognized by Lorman Education Services as a Platinum Distinguished Faculty member. Jeannie is the award-winning author of Beyond Hello: A Practical Guide for Excellent Telephone Communication and Quality Customer Service and contributing author in Real World Customer Service Strategies That Work. Davis has worked with many Fortune 500 companies and trained thousands of people to maximize the profit- and image-building power of their #1 business communication tool. For additional information, reach Jeannie at 1-800-784-5525 or visit online at www.phoneskills.com.