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.