Does anyone remember life before voice mail? Here are tips to make voice mail work for both the caller and the "callee":
* Encourage callers to leave detailed messages.
* Tell callers how to bypass your greeting (such as "Press the # key") to leave a quick message.
* Instruct callers how to review their message, or how to transfer to an operator.
* Update your greeting often to reflect your schedule and leave special announcements.
* Check your voice mail regularly.
* Return all voice mail messages within 24 hours.
* Answer your phone when you are at your desk, unless you are meeting with someone or genuinely need to be uninterrupted.
* Leave your e-mail address, fax number, or mailing address on your greeting if this information will help callers reach you.
* If you need certain standard information from callers, use your greeting to prompt them for it.
* Remind callers to leave a phone number, especially for frequent callers that may assume you have it handy.
Follow these tips when leaving a voice-mail message for someone else:
* Speak slowly, and repeat your name and phone number at the beginning and end of the message.
* Spell your name for recipients that may want or need the correct spelling.
* Leave a detailed message, not just your name and number.
* Keep your message brief--60 seconds or less.
* Give your message a headline, so the listener can quickly judge its priority.
* Enunciate carefully, to communicate professionalism as well as to make certain your message is clear.
* Be specific about what you want, to avoid prolonged phone tag.
* Don't leave messages when calling from places with high-volume background noise.
* Don't leave a series of repeat messages with the same information. Leave one detailed message, and follow up with a fax or an e-mail.
* When using a cell phone, consider whether a bad connection or interruption could be a problem. *
Source: Customer Service for Dummies, 2nd ed., by Karen Leland and Keith Bailey, IDG Books, Worldwide.
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