Your voicemail says it all when it comes to missed calls. Therefore, a professional greeting is key when people leave you a message. People will form an opinion about your style of work just by listening to the quality of your voicemail greeting. And remember, always listen to your voicemail greeting when you finish recording to make sure it's acceptable.
Smile. When recording your greeting, smiling will put some enthusiasm in your voice. Your callers will pick up on it and feel more comfortable when leaving you a message.
Speak clearly. Don't mumble; speak too fast or too slow. You want people to understand your greeting. The way you communicate with people through your greeting is an example of how you communicate with people in the real world.
Identify yourself. A professional greeting is also personal. Speak your name, job title and company name within your message. But be conscious, you do not want to record a lengthy message.
If you are going to be unavailable for a predetermined time, let people know. Example, if you are on vacation for the next two weeks, inform your callers in your greeting that you will be returning calls on such and such date. This way they expect it to take a couple of weeks before you get back to them instead of stewing over why you haven't returned their call.
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Provide an emergency phone number. If you are going to be unavailable for a long period of time, let your callers know who they can contact for immediate assistance.
Listen to your messages and return your calls as soon as possible. Of all the lines of communication available (social media, text, email, etc.,) your callers resulted in picking up the phone to call you because they wanted to speak with a live person. Do them the common courtesy and give them a call back when you first have the chance.
What Not To Do:
Avoid playing music and the long message greeting. People don't have the time nor the patients to sit through a storybook greeting. They simply want you to return their call as soon as possible.
Do not ask people to email you. Sometimes it is easier to discuss important matters or in-depth topics in person via the telephone to ensure solid communication between two people. Although, it is ok to provide your email address within your greeting to allow your callers to determine if the subject matter is email-able. Leave it up to them.
Don't try to be a comedian. Keep it simple and professional.