Branding is a vital aspect of business planning, no matter what industry you are in. Positioning your brand as a leader in your market has a lot to do with customer perception of your company’s personality. No doubt your business is already developing a unique personality, but communicating that personality to your customer base is what’s really important. This can be accomplished through things such as your signage, advertising, web copy and voicemail greeting.

The Importance of a Cohesive Image

The most important element of branding is continuity. If your logo and color scheme evoke images of toddler birthday parties, but your web copy is full of stuffy phrases and technical jargon, your branding won’t make sense to your ideal customers. Once they see this brand confusion, they may take their business elsewhere. In the same way, if your overall image is friendly and outgoing but your voicemail greeting is a number-reciting robot, callers may wonder if they have reached the right company.

Your Personal Voice and Your Brand Voice

The term “brand voice” often refers to a tone that recurs throughout company publications and not to an audible voice. However, any time clients interact with audible materials, such as videos, television ads, in-person consultations or telephone messages, they should hear that same, consistent brand voice. If you run a one-person business, such as a consultancy, that means your personal voice.

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Because your voicemail system is likely individualized for each person on your team, each person should create his or her own recorded greeting. This helps callers to connect with the individual and makes them more likely to leave a message instead of hanging up and moving on. Have your company-wide voicemail greeting recorded by someone with a pleasant, welcoming voice. As each person records his or her personal message, the following points should be kept in mind.

Quiet on the set! Background noise is distracting and unprofessional. It can also make the recording difficult to understand. A recording studio is not necessary; all you need is a quiet office.

Just breathe. Recording a voicemail message that possibly hundreds or thousands of people will eventually hear can be nerve wracking. Remember to take a deep breath before beginning and to breathe naturally as you speak. Prepare your speech. Although you should keep your message brief, make an effort to write out a few thoughtful phrases ahead of time. This will ensure that relevant information is not left out and can help minimize the inevitable “ums” and “ahhs” that come as you are trying to think of what to say. Do a practice run. Just like any other form of public speaking, you should rehearse what you are going to say until your voicemail greeting slips off your tongue easily. When you have your thoughts clearly in mind, you can focus on your tone of voice and friendly style.

Smile! It’s true: people can hear a smile. Unfortunately, it is also true that people can hear unhappiness and boredom. If you are nervous when you record your greeting, it may come across in your voice as lack of interest or ineptitude. On the other hand, if you start off with a smile and a burst of enthusiasm, you will come across as a happy and helpful person to do business with.

Ask for specific information. The most useful voicemail messages are ones that convey adequate information. When a caller leaves a message that simply asks you to return the call but leaves out vital information such as his or her name and phone number, you can’t do much for that person. On the other hand, if you know you need specific information from each of your callers, ask for that information in your outgoing message. For example, instead of saying “leave a message,” say something like: “Please leave your name, phone number, account number and the best time to reach you.”

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Provide options. If you don’t check your voicemail often, or if it is easier to reach you via text or email, say so in your greeting. If you have a colleague who is available to handle emergencies, include that person’s name and phone number as well as information about when it would be appropriate for the caller to contact him or her.

Let callers know what to expect. Update your outgoing greeting when you are going to be out of the office and include information about when you will return, whether or not you will be checking messages while you are out and whom to contact in case of emergency.

Play back your performance. Always listen to your voicemail greeting after you have recorded it. It may be painful to listen to your own voice, but if something needs to be changed, it’s better to know right away. Still stuck? Check out a few samples of voicemail greetings that we have created to get you started.

People who call your business, whether potential customers or existing clients, should hear your brand voice loud and clear even when you are not available to answer the phone. Taking the time to record an appropriate, professional voicemail greeting will pay off in brand positioning and customer retention.