Of course, the best customer service is to have any person answer any phone ringing. But if you’ve decided that voice mail is acceptable, does your voice mail greeting sound something like this: “This is (My Name). I am either away from my desk or on the phone. . . ” or “You have reached the office of . . .” or “You have reached the desk of . . .” If yours sounds like any of those, then your voice mail greeting is costing you business.
Be your customer:
- In a phone conversation, there are two people on the line – your customer and you. With your greeting, of the two of you on the phone, who are you saying is more important – you or your customer? If you have one of those “I am either away from the desk or on the phone” you’re saying to your customer, “I’m so important that I have to tell you where I am even when I’m not here.” Now really, do you think your customer cares what you’re doing when you can’t take his call? Really?
- Do you really want your customer to think that you believe your office or your desk are animate objects that actually answer the phone on your behalf? Your customers don’t want a relationship with your office or your desk. They want one with you.
- When your customer calls you, do you think he really wants to get your voice mail?
Remember, the customer is paying for his experience, not yours. Whatever you think is your reason you give on voice mail for not answering the phone, whether you really are away from your desk or on the phone – your experience – is still perceived as an excuse by your customer for not being there – his experience.
So what should it sound like? How about something like this:
“At Your Service, this is Your Name, Your Position for Your Company. I apologize that I’m unable to take your call personally at this time. Press the one key at any time to begin recording. My email address is SPELL OUT YOUR NAME @Your Company. If you wish, please leave your name and number and the best time to contact you, and I will return your call. Thank you for calling.”
“At Your Service” . . . It’s a reminder to your customer that you understand what your role is in the business relationship. And it will certainly differentiate you from your competition.
“I apologize . . .” What the customer is hearing is: “Since I’m not here to speak to you as you expected, I want to apologize. . .”
“ . . to take your call personally . . .”. Customer service is all about relationships. Given a choice, people would always prefer to buy from people they know, like, and trust. And people like and trust more those people who personalize the experience for each individual customer.
“Press the one key. . . ” so that they know what to do on future calls.
“My email address . . . “ Rather than play telephone tag, many callers who can’t connect with you on the phone will send an email immediately after hanging up.
“Thank you for calling.” People also buy from people who want their business. How do you show someone you want their business? Just say “Thank you.”
There is one group who will read this and say to themselves, “Boy, that’s over the top. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s only voice mail. I’ll just stay with my greeting.” There is another group who will read this and will say to themselves and others who work in their organization that they will adopt my VM greeting example because it removes a potential customer dissatisfier. They understand that they cannot begin to truly satisfy a customer until they remove all the potential dissatisfiers. That second group makes every effort to remove any potential dissatisfiers, even what they believe may be a small one because they “think like their customer.” And if it’s a big deal to the customer, it’s a big deal to them. And that second group, well, they’re competing with the first group for the same customer and differentiating themselves from their competitors. Which group are you in?