It’s hard to imagine anyone reading this hasn’t at some point dialed a phone number and experienced a recorded greeting rather than connecting directly with the person they were calling.
More than likely you listen to the person reciting some kind of a script that says, “You’ve reached so-and-so, I’m away from my desk or busy, please leave a brief message including your name and number and I’ll return your call.” Some people identify their job title, the organization they work for and the date. Sometimes you hear further instructions, such as in the case of an emergency or other helpful numbers.
Having had experience myself on both ends; (listening to others and making my own messages), like you I suppose, I certainly get a vibe right off the bat as to whether the person I’m calling is positive, upbeat and engaged or bored, barely awake or checked out.
My wife is a great example of someone who always sounds enthusiastic and upbeat. Even though she leaves the same basic message on her phone each day, she changes it up so callers know whether she’s available that day, in meetings, out of the office and who to call if you need to speak to someone and can’t wait. She even says that the other person she’s referring you to will be happy to take your call and provide assistance. When she leaves her greeting, she smiles and while you can’t see that smile, it sure comes across to the listener who’s calling.
Me? I too leave a message that’s upbeat and shows some personality. I know it works because when I do speak to people who have left messages for me, they often chuckle and make some positive comment about the message. When I in turn listen to their messages they are leaving for me, I hear them similarly laugh a little and they almost always sound positive in the process.
I remember in my days as a Caseworker with a large caseload of social assistance recipients leaving a unique message on my phone every day, and having fun in the process. I figured that many of the callers who didn’t reach me live would listen to the message I left in its entirety before leaving a message, and that most of those calls would be people needing me to do something to provide financial assistance. In other words, I thought about the majority of people that would call, and envisioned the state of mind they would be in. No client would for example be calling just to say hello and see how I’m doing like a friend might.
So in picturing my majority of callers, I thought about that message and thought that an upbeat, positive voice on the other end, smiling and enthusiastic might just put a smile on their face too, and in so doing, might even release a few chemicals reducing their anxiety and stress. It worked. Well it worked for the majority. There will always be sour people who go about their lives just looking for happiness to squash in the hopes of bringing others down to their level instead of deciding to elevate their attitude.
I had people calling me and laughing; happy to hear a voice with some personality in it even though the nature of their call was serious. Sure I would help them; they came to know that. So the issue of receiving help if it was in my power to give it wasn’t the issue. So I figured why not speak with someone for help who is positive, happy and upbeat instead of someone who sounds monotonous, robotic and devoid of some personality? In short, I was branding myself each day with that message on the machine that while providing the same essential information was done with vitality and varied.
Mondays for example I see as the start of a new week with new possibilities and a chance to start fresh. Tuesdays is a day to build momentum for the rest of the week. Wednesdays is the day you can evaluate how you’re doing and you’ve still got time to make the rest of the week a positive. Thursday is the ‘hang in there’ day; or the day to make sure you don’t overlook an opportunity because you’re concentrating on the arrival of Friday. Friday itself is a day to sum up the week, finish with a burst of energy.
Holidays? What a great reason to vary that plain old message. I still use accents and an assortment of voices to wish my callers a happy Valentines or St. Patrick’s day. At Christmas the voice callers hear sounds remarkably like Santa inviting callers to leave a message for Kelly and that he’ll get back to them soon. Halloween is fun to because…well….you get the point.
Look, what I’m saying is that injecting a little personality into your morning greeting takes so little effort and the return can be impactful on your callers. I know I’d rather start a conversation with someone who is light and happy, smiling and chuckling a little rather than having someone just launch right into their needs with anxiety, trepidation and be so matter-of-fact.
Different environments dictate how you should leave a recorded message – I get that. I just think it’s important to envision your audience and put yourself at their end.