We’ve all experienced it. I call it Voice Mail Jail!
You call a business and, instead of a human, you get the Auto-Attendant. The Auto-Attendant is a system designed to streamline incoming calls and get callers the help they need as soon as possible. But when you call most businesses that use an Auto-Attendant it’s anything but helpful.
Scenario: Call most businesses and the first thing you hear isn’t hello. It’s “Please listen carefully as our menu has changed.” That’s fine when your menu has changed. But companies leave that message on their Auto-Attendants for weeks, months or years since the message was actually changed, It’s maddening. Don’t do this. I’m going to show you a better way in just a minute.
Then the caller – perhaps a prospective customer – is forced to sit through a litany of prompts and commands that have no baring whatsoever on the reason for their call. Here’s one command that’s are driving your callers crazy and costing you money.
“If your calling from a Rotary Phone, please stay on the line.”
Really? Do you know one person who still has a Rotary Phone? No. So drop that right now. And if, by some bizarre chance, someone calls you on a Rotary Phone, they probably can’t afford your product or service or are so eccentric that you may have to explain what “Next Day Shipping” is.
And please, please, please do not let your receptionist or nephew record your message. Believe it or not, callers can sense your professionalism and sincerity by the tone of the voice and the way that voice delivers your outgoing message.
Whether you’re a one person business or a Fortune 500 Company – your outgoing message should never be longer than 20-25 seconds. While there are exceptions to this rule, after 10 seconds or so the caller is getting bored. Or upset. Or both. Especially if they were upset with your product or service and are calling for support. The best way to resolve this issue is to rearrange your message so the caller gets an answer to their question or (heaven forbid) complaint as quickly as “Humanly” possible.
Okay. I promised to show you a better way to script your outgoing phone message. Time to deliver on that promise. Here’s a sample of an outgoing voice message you can use on your Auto-Attendant that is sure to work better than you one you may be using now.
But first, the number one reason you should change your outgoing voice-mail message or Auto-Attendant is TIME.
By delivering a professional, concise outgoing message you’re showing respect for your customers time. It’s a subtle, but valuable part of your message. What you’re really saying with a well scripted and professionally delivered message is… “We respect your time!”
Feel free to adapt any or all of the message below to your personal needs. Here’s how your message should look/sound. I’m going to break down each part of the message and describe it’s importance or lack thereof.
“Hi and thank you for calling Frank Eriksen Voice Services. We’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Total elapsed time to this point 6.1 seconds) Most callers are just calling to see if you’re open and/or what your hours are. Don’t make them listen to your entire outgoing message to find that out. Tell them right upfront.
To speak to a live operator (or person) press 1. (Total elapsed time to this point 8.5 seconds.) Get the caller to a live person as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner the caller get’s their problem solved or question answered and makes a purchase or gets off the phone, freeing up that line for another call and allowing the person who took the call to get back to work or help another caller/customer.
For Customer Service press 2. (Total elapsed time to this point 10.5 seconds.) Here again, you’re showing respect for the callers time. “You want customer service? Here it is.”
For our sales department, press 3. (Total elapsed time to this point 12.4 seconds.) Callers who want to buy, want to buy right now. Don’t make them wait.
For technical support, press 4. (Total elapsed time to this point 14.2 seconds.) Nothing drives a customer as crazy as when your product or service isn’t doing what they paid for it to do. And nothing makes them crazier than having to sit though a mind-numbing poorly scripted and recorded outgoing message. At this point your callers thinking, “Just put me through to someone who can help me, darn it!”
For all other calls press 4. (Total elapsed time to this point 16.2 seconds.) This is mostly for customers calling in with non-immediate needs. They’re willing to wait, but not long. Get to this call within 10-15 seconds or your customer starts getting testy.
To hear this menu again, press 5. (Total elapsed time to this point 18.2 seconds.) Hey, sometimes your customer/caller gets distracted while calling in and they miss part of the message. Offer a way for them to hear it again.
If you’re calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line and tell us how it’s possible you still have a rotary phone.
Okay forget everything after “press 5”. Just a little levity. But think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t a little levity in your outgoing message go a long way in building your business relationships. Well, not so much if you’re a funeral home. But – if used correctly – and in an appropriate manner – a little fun is like a breath of fresh air when compared to the billions of boring, stale, impersonal, unpleasant, intelligence insulting outgoing messages being pumped into customers ears this very minute. Is it happening to one of your customers right now? If so, I’m here to help.
Also, I want to encourage every business owner to record their own company message. Few do this. Why not? If I’m the CEO of a major company or the owner of a Mom & Pop grocery store, I want my customers to know that I care. And nothing says “I care” better than the voice of the CEO herself/himself answering the call or voicing the outgoing recorded message.
My friend David used to be the CEO of a major medical referral call center. The first day on the job he told the receptionist, ”If anyone calls and asks for me, put them through immediately.” He also instructed his receptionist to never ask any caller, ”Can I tell him what this is about?”. His philosophy was, “If a customer wants to talk to me – I want to talk to them.” What a great attitude for a CEO. Many CEO’s or company Presidents think if they did that they’d spend all day on the phone. Not so. And nothing is more aggravating to a caller than having to explain why they’re calling and/or what they’re calling about.
Again, it’s respect for the callers time. David knew that his customers time was just as , if not more, important than his. His philosophy of “Every Customer Counts” helped him resurrect a dying company. Five years after he took over as CEO, that comatose company was sold for millions! David got a nice chunk of the selling price. All because he put customers first.
Imagine you call a company and have a problem or issue that wasn’t getting solved. So you call the CEO to vent your frustration. In most cases you’d never get through. But if you did speak to the BOSS and he/she solved your problem – would you ever buy that particular product or service from any other company again? You’d be a customer for life. That my friend is the real purpose of “Customer Service” and “Every Customer Counts”. To attract and keep a customer — for life!
So my question to you is this. Is your outgoing message to callers/customers helping them become “Customers For Life?” If not. I’m help to help. Call me (Yes, I actually answer the phone.) and let’s see how we can make your Auto-Attendant and Voice Mail System the best in the business. And keep your customers out of Voice Mail Jail forever.
You can reach me at 303-961-2467. My website is www.frankeriksen.com.