How to Transform Your Voicemail into an Effective Medium of Communication

"Hi this is Randy. Leave me a message after the beep and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks and have a great day."


This is an example of a typical outgoing message that makes callers feel like they really are talking to a machine. Now, we've all heard this cookie cutter message about a zillion times, but honestly ? it hurts me more with every call.

This doesn't make a voicemail message bad. It simply means that the voicemail is not totally leveraged. So, for the sake of your callers and my ears, I want to share six techniques that will transform boring, robotic voicemail into an engaging, fun and personable medium of communication.

Have you ever left a message on someone's voicemail who obviously recorded their greeting in a car?

"Hi you've reached the voicemail of Sandra?HONK! I'm away from my?LOOK OUT LADY! ?right now, but I'll call you back when I ?SCREEECH! ? my office. Thanks."


Messages like these will make your callers feel unimportant. Messages like these will show your callers that you don't care enough about them to spend 10 minutes recording a clear message. Therefore, the first rule of transforming your voicemail is: get rid of the noise.

When you go into your office or home - shut the doors, turn the music and TV off, and record your message in absolute silence. Remember, your voicemail is a medium of communication ? and any noise that comes between two individuals is considered a barrier. Even over the phone.

Now that you've locked yourself in the closet with your phone, it's time to figure out what you're going to say. What's more, how you're going to say it. So think of your business cards, website, letterhead and promotional materials: what makes you stand out? Is it the slogan? The phrases? The company name?

Unfortunately when it comes to voicemail, people just seem to go through the motions. They throw some generic message together and it stands out like a needle in a stack of needles. But keep this in mind: everyone has a voicemail. Everyone. So what are you going to record that will allow your callers differentiate you from all those other "I'm away from my desk" people out there?

Great example: I used to sell furniture at a family-owned liquidation warehouse. Every week, the owner would rerecord a new voicemail with one or two items that were an amazing deal. She did this so her customers - even without walking into the store - knew their prices were the lowest.

I've always wondered why voicemail messages can't be fun. In search of an answer I recently consulted my Sprint PCS handbook. I found the following passage under the section "How to Record Your Outgoing Message":

"When recording outgoing voicemail message, remember to sound as unfriendly, boring and bland as possible. This will guarantee maximum robotic presence in the minds of your callers."

Not bloody likely.

I have a friend whose greeting says, "Hey this is Jeffery. Leave me your 16 digit American Express Card number and I'll get back to you soon. Thanks!" Believe it or not ? at least three people a day actually leave their credit card numbers for him! In fact, the first time I called him I gave him my card number too! Guess that explains the $2,000 bill on my statement.

The advantage to a message like this: it shows your true colors. And people love that. So, unless you actually are a robot ? in which case I'd love to meet you - don't sound like one. Sound like you. People like and want you.

If you call either of my phone lines, this is what you'll hear:

"Hello, my name is Scott ? and you have reached Front Porch Productions. Sorry I missed you; but leave me a message and IF you tell me your favorite cereal, I promise to call you back! Thanks, and we'll talk soon."

Now, I'm not exactly sure what prompted me to record voicemail message about cereal. But to my surprise, my callers' responses underwent a complete transformation in regard to their level of engagement.

Some people told me about their favorite cereals, others discussed breakfast as a whole. Some callers said they didn't care for cereal, while others reminisced about childhood memories of delicious breakfast treats that were longer on the market.

It's amazing how people open up when they are asked a question that is a) open ended, b) fun and c) universally easy to answer. What's more, once personal preferences are revealed via self disclosure ? trust, rapport and common points of interest will develop in the relationship. Not to mention, it's easy to leverage their message as a great ice breaker when you return their call!

Now that you're ready to rerecord your voicemail, there's only one thing left to do: smile. I know, it sounds so simple. So clich?. So Dale Carnegie. But say the following sentence aloud: "I'll get back with you in 24 hours."

Ok, now?say the following sentence WITH A SMILE: "I'll get back with you in 24 hours!"

Did that make you feel silly? Maybe.

But did that sound totally different? Probably.

And will that make your callers actually feel your smile through the phone? You better believe it.

There are two reasons to record your outgoing message with a smile. First, it will sound like you actually took the time to record your message instead of quickly spurting out a few words on the drive home from work. What's more, people will sense that you do care about their call.

Secondly, you never know who's going to call for the first time. Imagine getting a phone call from a new referral that has potential to stimulate a lot of business. She leaves a message and awaits your follow up. Now, odds are if you met them for the first time in person, you'd be smiling so much your ears would get crowded. Likewise, if your voicemail is the first time they hear your voice, speaking your smile is a great way to make a first impression. Even if you're not there!

Your voicemail is a tool that has fantastic conversational potential. Just because you have a voicemail doesn't mean you can't make people feel like they're talking to you. By recording a friendly, engaging and memorable message, you will literally be able to hear the smile in your callers' voices.

You might be the greatest conversationalist in the world, the most talented salesman or the friendliest volunteer in your organization. But if your voicemail sounds like its own unfriendly, unrelated entity, it's like missing a piece to an important puzzle.

Here's another way to look at it. Let's say your organization has a marketing plan that includes billboards, brochures, newspaper ads and flyers. Now, what happens if the brochure uses different colors and slogans than the other three outlets? Bingo. It diminishes the consistency between mediums.

EXTENSION?of your personality. Use words, phrases and vocal tones that make your phone come alive with individuality.

REPRESENTATION?of your organization. Briefly mention your slogan, service or a new way you can help people.

When you rerecord a voicemail that is different, fun, engaging, friendly and consistent with you or your business's personality, here's what will happen:


  • Be hand up feeling glad they called you

  • Smile, even laugh as they leave a message

  • Separate your voicemail from the other 1000 they call every week

  • Tell their friends about your voicemail

  • Feel a connection because their first interaction ? even if it was with your voicemail ? made them feel comfortable and engaged.

    Make your voicemail an effective medium of communication today!

    © 2005 All Rights Reserved.

    Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at

  • Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

    However, in the world of business, this clich? may not necessarily be true. Sometimes it... Read More

    Profit from a Customer Service Recovery Program

    A client recently said to me: "Most days things seem to run smoothly; but whenever... Read More

    Your Voice Print

    "Mountains are built one pebble at a time and climbed one step at a time."... Read More

    Dont Work with Jerks: How to Recognize a Difficult Client Early

    Five minutes into the call I knew this client was going to make my life... Read More

    Make An Action Plan To Improve Customer Service

    Customer Service is a critical factor for keeping your clients coming back and ensuring they'll... Read More

    Can Three Words In Websters Dictionary Be The Key To Customer Loyalty?

    Are you concerned about customer loyalty? Are your customers so loyal that they will stick... Read More

    CRM - Its Relevance

    In today's demanding economy, the first line of any business during economic uncertainty is to... Read More

    Whats The Customer Service Buzz About Your Business?

    If you're a regular reader of my column you know that my number one pet... Read More

    The Sellers Creed

    I will not make sales. I will make Customers.I will target the heart of my... Read More

    Say It With Humor

    When you own a business, you may find yourself in situations that may be a... Read More

    E-Business?s Best Friend: eCRM

    From Ebay to the smallest home-operated start-up, e-businesses of all sizes struggle to accurately answer... Read More

    Putting The Serve Back Into Customer Service

    Good service is easy to spot and hard-to-find. Mediocre service occasionally stands out but only... Read More

    Are You Satisfying Your Customers?

    The latest report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (Michigan School of Business) reports the... Read More

    Create a Positive, Upbeat, Can-Do Workforce and Dazzle the Customer with Your Caring!

    Given the choice of dealing with a positive, upbeat employee with a "can-do" attitude or... Read More

    Cultivating the Trust Factor

    In today's highly competitive economy, it is difficult to maintain a significant market advantage based... Read More

    Find Out Where Your Firm Stands in Today?s Customer

    Looking For Ways to Improve Sales and Customer Relationships?Find Out Where Your Firm Stands in... Read More

    Dealing with People - Words to Avoid

    You probably realise how the wrong tone of voice and negative body language can cause... Read More

    Customer Service: Everyone is Fighting Their Own Personal Battles

    Relationships... Money... Health..The Past...Failure..Mental and Spiritual Battles..Time Constraints...Professional pressures..At any given moment you, your clients,... Read More

    First Contact: The Source of Customer Loyalty

    With customers being smarter, more cost conscious, more product knowledgeable and more demanding, improving customer... Read More

    Tips for Curing Bad Customer Service

    Bad customer service is everywhere these days - unmanned front desks, surly servers, clueless staff,... Read More

    How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch!

    Welcome to the inaugural issue of Human Tech Tips -- Tip #1. How do we... Read More

    Basic Levels of Consumer Integrity that Presently Permeates Society

    Reality is not always pretty. But here is a tad bit of it for you... Read More

    Customer No Service - How to Lose a Loyal Customer!

    So today was the day where I almost stopped going to my favorite supermarket here... Read More

    One of the Secrets of a Great Customer Experience

    A few weeks ago we conducted our annual "Customer Experience Study Tour" in London England.... Read More

    Customer Service - A Sweet Essence

    First let us specifically define customer service. It is the performance of a duty or... Read More

    How to Provide Instant Customer Service

    Customer service is an essential component of any business. Clearly, if you work alone your... Read More

    Customer Service: Why Bears Make Bad Customers

    Every business owner should have a picture of his or her ideal customer. When I... Read More

    Modern Call Center Solutions - Keeping in Touch is the Key

    Call center solutions solve a range of age-old problems. As far back as ancient times,... Read More

    Importance of Good Customer Support in Online Computer Peripherals Shops

    Looking for hi-fi computer peripherals? Finding it tough to decide on the product you need... Read More

    Customer Service, the Internets Primary Neglected Business Concern

    Customer service is everything to a business. Just look at big, successful retail chains: They... Read More

    10 Customer Service Quality Statements to Measure up Against

    It might sound quick and simple, to say how well your business does in satisfying... Read More

    Handling Customer Complaints

    Even the best business will receive an occasional customer complaint. Knowing how to resolve these... Read More

    Stellar Customer Service in 10 Simple Steps

    If you're like me, you've had plenty of experience with BAD customer service. Just think... Read More

    Does Your Customer Talk Back To You?

    What is your customer saying about you? Do you really know? Does your customer really... Read More

    Hit The Jackpot With Customer Complaints

    Our most powerful instinct is to avoid customer complaints, but they may be the best... Read More

    How Do You Create Customer Loyalty?

    Another sad fact of life is that these days, very few customers are loyal. Most... Read More

    Customers - What They Really Want - 6 Secrets of Customer Service

    What customers really want can be divided into two areas.Firstly - they want the core... Read More

    Proofs of Delivery and Logistics: Speeding Throughput and Avoiding Pitfalls

    It should be a straightforward business scenario: making sure that the delivery documentation from the... Read More

    Increase in Customer Sales = Increase in Customer Service

    One of the most popular questions asked in online business forums or even by my... Read More

    Mexico: Online Ordering?Dont!

    I got it into my head sometime in December 2004 that I wanted order a... Read More

    Customer Loyalty

    Loyal customers are the foundation of almost every business. Going the extra mile to provide... Read More

    Is Your Food Establishment Clean?

    Is your restaurant, bar or hotel clean? I mean really clean. I don't mean "do... Read More

    Customer Service: Stop Sabotaging Your Customer Relationships

    If you've called for customer service recently you're familiar with this recorded message "This call... Read More

    Complaints Are Actually A Good Thing!

    Nobody likes to get complaints. They make you question your judgment, they can ruin your... Read More

    How to Easily Increase Your Profits

    Do you remember the last time you went into a shop and the person 'serving'... Read More

    Customer Service Is Dying - and Im Not Feeling So Good Myself

    Have you ever called a company and been greeted with the phrase "Hold, please"? How... Read More

    Poor Customer Service - Are Your Customers Driving Away Other Customers

    Every customer you have is a word-of-mouth advertiser for you. Unfortunately 90% of this free... Read More

    DONT Give Your Customers What They Want!

    One of the mantras we hear repeatedly in business is "The customer is always right."... Read More

    Create Win-Win Deals With Your Competitors

    In the competitive world of the 20th century, we generally viewed competitors as the enemy.... Read More

    What Do They Want Anyway?

    You want customers. I want customers. We all want customers. And traffic alone is not... Read More