We all know that when we’re at our busiest, regardless of what we do for a living, there’s not enough time in the day to get to everyone’s needs. Most people understand this and are accommodating, provided the voicemail they’re greeted with is informative and actionable. In 2019, where personalized experiences are of the utmost importance, it’s imperative for businesses to prioritize the customer experience and build their strategies around the customer.

It’s also important to make sure you’re creating business voicemail greetings that encourage your customers to leave a message after the beep. There are many ways to ensure this occurs; we’re here to share fifteen tips for optimizing your business voicemail greetings with you.

1. Identify Your Pain Points

Before you even begin to draft and implement business voicemail greetings, your pain points need to be identified. For example, if you’re upset that clients aren’t leaving enough context on a voicemail, make sure you’re clearly stating what needs to be in the voicemail. If your clients are unfamiliar with how your business operates and keeps calling during off-hours, identify what time is best to call and say you’ll respond to messages first thing in the morning.

One way to identify your pain points can be as simple as meeting with your team to discuss what makes their day — and the customer’s day — harder. By anticipating what your customers are struggling to find on their own, you can potentially solve their problems before they leave a voicemail or, at the very least, point them in the right direction. This will help ease your own pain by making the experience easier for the client to navigate, leading to a more organized process.

2. Identify Customer Pain Points

One thing to remember is that it’s not all about you. Yes, you need to recognize what makes your life easier, but you need to make sure you know what makes your customers’ lives more difficult in order for you to determine what kind of actionable voicemail greeting you need them to hear. This, of course, will make your life easier too.

Do they want to sit through an IVR menu that may or may not direct them to the right person? Do they know you’re a one-man/woman team and there’s no reason to sit through a menu? Skip the menu entirely and let them leave a message as quickly as possible. There’s no reason to add any additional steps or make your customers go through leaps and hurdles to leave a simple voicemail. When you identify what your customers’ pain points are, you make it much easier to determine what you want them to do to save everyone from the unnecessary stress.

3. Identify Your Calls-to-Action

Once you identify your pain points, you’ll find it much easier to identify what instructions need to be present in your voicemail greetings. We hinted towards these before, so let’s just break down another example. If you want your customers to leave a voicemail, but you also want them to visit your website for additional help regarding their issue, give them a clear call to action, like a website address they can easily write down while they listen to your message.

Your calls-to-action need to be simple to comprehend and easy to perform while the caller listens. One tip for using effective calls-to-action is to test it out yourself. Can you write down an entire website URL as you listen to it over the phone? Depending on how it goes, you’ll determine whether or not you’re talking too fast or your instructions are too complicated to follow. Adjusting your calls to action can make a significant difference in removing pain points and improving the customer experience.

4. Instruct the Caller on the Process

Now that you know what kind of action needs to be performed to optimize the customer experience while ensuring your day runs as smoothly as possible, you have to be sure your customers know how to perform whatever action you want them to do. Calls-to-action need to be front and center with an easy process to follow when businesses optimize their business voicemail greetings to ensure a smooth experience. People want fast answers when a deadline is approaching, and one team can only handle so much disorganized information.

If you want them to leave a voicemail, tell them right from the beginning, “Please leave your name, reason your calling, and the best way to contact you.” If you want them to call you back during normal business hours, tell them, “Please call back during normal business hours.” If you want them to call back prepared for a lengthy conversation, you can say something like, “Please refer to our website’s FAQ page,” and then provide the URL. Self-service should never be underestimated.

5. Simplify Your Greetings

Now that you know what you want your customers to do when they leave a message, you have to make sure that message is coming off clearly. Run it by a couple of your colleagues and ask them if your greeting makes sense and adjust wherever necessary. If you’re speaking too fast, slow down. Accounting isn’t the most inviting profession.

It’s more important that your callers feel like they can ask you for help on a subject they don’t know too well. A really easy way of simplifying your greetings is by using smaller words. Imagine yourself explaining what you want to a three-year-old. Your customers aren’t stupid, but they’re not going to always be familiar with typical business jargon. Make sure you’re adjusting your greetings to accommodate for the lack of familiarity, unnecessary details, and technical information.

6. Pay Attention to Word Choice (Verbs Specifically)

We’ve mentioned the significance of relaying a simple, easy-to-understand message in your business voicemail greetings, but we need to talk about word choice now. Pay close attention to your word choice in your business voicemail greetings. Certain words trigger certain actions before a person realizes what you actually meant. Here’s a specific example of how word choice can lead to confusion between a client and accountant:

A secretary in a doctor’s office creates a voicemail greeting that says, “If you have a scheduled meeting with us, we could use copies of all your medical documents from last year, so come prepared.” Using the word “could” gives patients the impression that they don’t necessarily “need” last year’s documents. See the difference between “could” and “need”? Your word choice can impact a future meeting significantly. If you want a customer to perform a specific action, you need to pay close attention to how you express your calls-to-action.

7. Speak Clearly

If you’re recording your voicemail greeting during a busy time of the day and there’s a ton of background noise, there’s a chance it might interfere with the call-to-action you want your customer to perform. If you’re not speaking directly into the phone and your voice is breaking up, put the phone closer to your mouth, speak slowly, and read from a script if necessary.

When you’re in the process of leaving an actionable business voicemail greeting, you can’t risk any potential miscommunication. You want to pronounce each word clearly. Be mindful of where you are and what you’re doing when creating a business voicemail greeting. If you work in retail and you’re trying to come up with a holiday greeting, you might want to step away from the endless lines so you can think and speak clearly.

8. Create a Script

Practice makes perfect. Again, another obvious one, but it has to be stressed. If you want your voicemail greetings to come off as genuine, you have to practice. If you simply throw together a greeting that sounds and feels rushed, your customers aren’t going to let you get away with it. You will come off as if you don’t really care, and that won’t convince anyone you’re prioritizing the customer experience.

If your customers feel that you don’t care, they’ll take their business elsewhere. Experiences are the differentiating factor between businesses. Big efforts to improve the overall experience in tiny ways by crafting a voicemail greeting script can make a huge difference when customers are asked by their friends and family how easy it was to work with you. And word spreads quickly in the age of social media. The more positive experiences you offer, even when you’re not available, the more likely those people will call back.

9. Avoid Technical Terms

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that customers don’t have the knowledge and expertise you and your colleagues have regarding your business. Again, the main idea behind a business voicemail greeting is to offer a clear, actionable message. If you’re using technical terms that make sense only to you and your colleagues, you’re going to alienate the customer rather than encourage him/her to leave a message.

One way to avoid this is by writing a script. When you’re writing a script for your business voicemail greeting, make sure to look over it to see if there’s any slang or business jargon that could mean two different things depending on your point of view. If there’s any potential for confusion, revise the script and simplify the language. You can always ask a friend you don’t work with to see if your message is clear as well.

10. Get Seasonal

Holidays are often the busiest time of the year for any business — especially retail. Obvious, right? As obvious as that is, how confident are you, the exhausted employee or business manager, in your caller’s ability to recognize what exactly that means for you? Do you think they understand the torture of working long hours day after day and what effect that has on your mental and physical state? They might, but chances are they’re more concerned about receiving a personalized experience.

Regardless, you have to remind your callers that it’s the holidays, that things are busy, and that in order for you to run your business more smoothly and get to as many customers as possible, you need your customers to leave a detailed message, and you need your voicemail greeting to express that it’s the holiday season and things will be slower. Remaining transparent by acknowledging it’s the busiest time of the year allows customers to anticipate a wait. This helps improve the customer experience and make them feel more welcome.

11. Monitor Sound Quality

What kind of business phone service does your company use? If they haven’t been updated recently, or you haven’t made the switch to a higher-end VoIP phone that typically offers better sound quality, it’s time for an upgrade. The equipment you use can make all the difference. At the end of the day, people are judging your business based on little things like that.

You could come up with the perfect business voicemail greeting, but if the quality is low, meaning there’s static, the volume is too low or too high, or words are getting broken up, you’re alienating your customers and allowing them to think they don’t care based off a very important first impression. And the solution is simple: call your number from your cell phone. How does your business voicemail greeting sound?

12. Monitor Call-Specific KPIs

KPIs like the number of voicemails left can be a great indicator of how well even the smallest of changes make a difference in the number of voicemails received. If you decide to speak louder, keep track of the potential increase or decrease to determine if your changes had any effect.

You can fine-tune this similarly to how companies A/B test their websites, ads, call scripts, and anything else that requires a change. The more elements of a call you look at, the more likely you’ll be able to optimize your voicemail greetings. If you jump right into the greeting without saying “Hello,” go back and make your greeting more personal on the second attempt.

13. Update Your IVR (If You Have One)

Majority of businesses today will have some sort of an IVR system in place to direct callers to the department they need to reach. Unfortunately, a common issue we face is that menus don’t align with what you’re looking for or they don’t align with the current business strategy. How many times have you sat through a menu waiting for the right number to press only to realize you absolutely need to speak to an agent?

Callers aren’t going to spend time sitting through a menu that doesn’t let them, at the very least, leave a voicemail. If a caller knows their party’s extension number, an option can, and should, be “Press 1 to leave a voicemail,” or something along those lines. That way, clients can feel as if they’re expressing their concerns without needing to talk to an agent, and without the agent feeling sorry they couldn’t pick up while they were working on something else.

14. Help Customers Come Prepared

One major pain point for any business is when customers aren’t going into a phone call or meeting prepared. If, for example, you’re a lawyer, you need your clients to come prepared with their documents ready. You also know that there are a ton of papers that need to be organized and filed — often with tight deadlines as well — and it’s imperative for the client to have it all readily accessible.

It’s also imperative for you to relay that message. If a client comes unprepared, you know your time is going to be wasted trying to work around a missing document. To avoid this, make sure your voicemail greeting emphasizes the importance of coming to a meeting prepared with any information that will speed up the process and make your life easier. Highlight some of the most common documents and pieces of information a client will need to bring, so they start off on the right footing.

15. Express Your Accessibility

Here’s a fun fact: Millennials are not lazy — especially when it comes to embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of America. They are the largest group of people in the workforce, and they find it essential for businesses to offer them a personalized experience. If you’re trying to target younger customers, your voicemail greetings need to reflect your desire to work with them.

To do this, you can simply say, “I look forward to speaking with you and resolving any issues or concerns you might have as quickly as possible.” This implies you’re going to read your messages, you’re going to respond to those messages, and you’re going to resolve any issue, regardless of how big or small, the customer has. Acting as a mentor by making yourself more accessible is a great way to improve the overall customer experience. Having your business voicemail greetings reflect this is a great way to show customers where your priorities lie even if you’re unable to get to the phone right now.

The Final Word

Business voicemail greetings aren’t difficult at all to optimize. What it all comes down to is being prepared, knowing what you and your customers need to make every interaction run smooth, making sure your message is easy to understand and clearly expresses your intentions, and remaining open and optimistic.

Business owners and everyday customers know that there will be times — like the holidays — when things get busy. When you’re transparent about why you weren’t able to come to the phone, people typically understand and are much more willing to be patient with your business. If the goal is to encourage more people to leave a voicemail, your greetings have to be actionable and clearly dictate what you want the caller to do. Having a caller go to voicemail is not the end of the world; it’s going to happen, so you have to make the most of it.

These fifteen tips are just the starting point. Some may apply to your business; some might not. However, what makes them all important to pay attention to is how easy they are to implement. They also ensure the customer experience is always the number one priority, which should already be the case if it’s not. Busy moments in the day are not a strong enough excuse to ignore the needs of your customers. These tips will greatly benefit your business when they’re immediately put into use.