Telephone Specialist Offers Tips For More Effective Voice Mail

Telephone Specialist Offers Tips For More Effective Voice Mail

Chicago Just as a showroom or the demeanor of a salesperson creates an impression of a kitchen and bath design firm, so, too, does its telephone voice mail system.

"A well-designed system is fast, easy to use, cost effective and, most importantly, 'caller-friendly,'" says Maria DeMarco, director of California-based Pacific Bell Voice Mail. "Pinball phone systems drive callers crazy."

They can also drive potential customers away, DeMarco notes, suggesting that the key to implementing a friendly voice mail system is keeping your caller in mind, whether you're planning a simple voice mail system to take messages or a sophisticated "voice processing" system that allows callers to select from a wide-ranging menu of recorded information.

"Some companies approach voice mail as a way to reduce head count, and that's a good side benefit," says DeMarco. "But the real benefit is for customers. A well-designed system becomes a productivity and customer-service tool."

DeMarco, working with the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), offers kitchen and bath design firms  the following advice for designing effective, user-friendly voice mail systems:

  • Stay on top of it. Update your voice mail greeting frequently, stating the date and informing your callers that you check messages frequently so they have confidence you'll actually get the message and return their call.
  • Avoid "voice mail jail" the frustrating situation that develops when callers are bounced from message to message, and have enormous difficulty reaching a live person. If possible, give callers an easy way to reach an available receptionist at any time. If it's after business hours, be sure to switch to an alternative greeting so that callers know any message 
    they leave will be returned the next day.
  • Keep greetings and instructions short. Voice mail systems should have greetings that are no more than five seconds long, and instructions that are no longer than 15 seconds long. If they're any longer than that, callers tend to get impatient.
  • In and out fast. Provide the important, or most-requested, information first. That allows people hear the instructions quickly and conclude the call sooner, something that will leave them feeling good about calling your company.
  • Limit the number of menus and options. Move from the general to the specific, but offer no more than five choices at any time, and don't make people wade through too many levels before they get the information they need.
  • Encourage two-way dialogue. Ask callers to leave a detailed message or request for information, so that you're ready to respond as completely as possible once you return the call.
  • Sound as natural as possible. Don't use speaker phones, or rely too heavily on written "scripts," since they don't sound as friendly. In addition, be sure to avoid background noise when recording greetings.