Thursday, July 15, 2004

Better voicemail

Working Smart has a great post on how to create a template for your voicemail so that you can update your outgoing message every day.  Here's the template from Working Smart:

Hi, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of Mike Hyatt. Please note you can bypass this message at any time by pressing “1”. Today is [day of week], [date].

  • I am in the office, but I’m either on my phone or away from my desk;
  • I am in the office but will be in meetings all day;
  • I am out of the office on business; or
  • I am out of the office on vacation.

However, your call is very important to me. If you will leave a message, I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press press zero-pound to speak to my assistant, Vicki Parr. Thanks for calling.

Interestingly enough, I actually use a somewhat similar template for my own voicemail with the following exceptions:

  • I never tell people I am on vacation, I am always just out of the office.
  • I do tell people how long I am out of the office.
  • I add this language: "If you leave a message with your name and number, and you have thirty seconds to do so, . . ."  My voicemail system doesn't actually cut you off after 30 seconds, but the ploy works remarkably well in forcing callers to get to the point quickly.  I always ask for a name and number because people still don't leave numbers when they call and still sometimes forget to leave names.
  • I say that I will call people back in 24 hours and I do, always.

One important, time-saving lesson from Working Smart is this:

I started by programming into my cell phone my voice mail telephone number and then all the keystrokes necessary to log in and initiate the “change your greeting” feature. I was able to reduce the sequence of twenty-seven keystrokes to two: I press the speed key to dial my voice mail number once, then, once I'm connected, I press a key to initiate the log-in process.

Automating the process by programming menu choices is an absolutely great idea.  This isn't just limited to the cell phone either; you can do the same with speed dials stored in your office phone.

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