I used to wish I had a secretary or admin, if only to answer my phone!
These scenarios may sound familiar to you:
- You’re in the middle of writing up an assessment or report – and the phone rings.
- Or, you finally take a vacation, and you keep getting phone messages that require a response – because your business is your brand, after all.
- Or, you find yourself in meetings all day with not a minute to return a call.
- Or, any of a dozen other scenarios where your time, on any given day, is committed, or just not your own.
But the phone doesn’t stop. And you feel like you need to answer – or reply quickly…
I have found a solution that takes about one minute a day and works even better than having (or paying) someone to answer your phone! As follows:
Change your voice mail system’s outgoing message, each day.
It’s so simple and honestly takes about a minute. Manage callers expectations about when you might be able to get back to them and that way you won’t feel pressured to call them back immediately – that HIGH pressure, particularly when you won’t be able to call them back right away.
Hi. This is Joan Advocate. Today is Tuesday, May 14. I’ll be out of my office at client appointments all day and may not be able to return your call until tomorrow, Wednesday. Please leave your name, number, and the reason for your call, and I will call you back as soon as possible. Thanks for calling ABC Advocates.
Hi. This is Joan Advocate. Today is Tuesday, May 14th. I’ll be in the office all day but have several conference calls scheduled. Please leave your name, number, and the reason for your call, and I will call you back between meetings. Thanks for calling ABC Advocates.
Hi. This is Joan Advocate. I am on vacation and away from my desk from now until Monday, May 20. If you need help before then, please dial my colleague Anthony Advocate who is helping my clients during my absence. 555-555-5555 Or, if you prefer to speak to me when I return, leave your name, number, and reason for your call, and I’ll return your call after I return. Thanks for calling ABC Advocates.
Or – whatever you think is a good message and good information to leave with your callers.
The keys are this:
- Your outgoing message is brief, polite, and to the point. Callers won’t listen for longer than that.
- They know what to expect, or at least close enough to know whether they need to try to call someone else.
- They appreciate that they won’t wait forever wondering if you will ever call them back.
- You haven’t given them enough information to pin you down to a promise, but you have provided enough to help them decide what to do next.
Take that vacation – relax and have fun!
Do your work uninterrupted. You can return the call when you’re ready!
Attend to those meetings. Don’t worry about your phone!
This sort of messaging is great client service because it manages expectations, and takes the pressure off you, too. Just as important, it’s practically cost free.
And – if you’re feeling particularly organized – you might do the same for your email, using the auto-response feature, too.
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