I get more comments from callers about my out-going voice mail message than anyone I know. I also know it has brought me potential business opportunities. If you get a chance you may want to see what I’m speaking about (the number is 845-463-3838, if you care to give it a try).
The message on your out-going voice mail can be a branding tool for your business and set you apart from your competition. Yet, few people I know use it effectively.
This issue was reinforced in my mind and for my own personal business strategy last week. I had a discussion with a former client about differentiating his business
The challenge we discussed was a call he received from a business prospect that commented that a call to the competition went un-returned for over four weeks.
This prospect had to also leave a message for my former client and even though it was returned in much less than four weeks, it still took a couple of days.
His out-going voice mail was just like 99% of all voice mail messages. It went something like this:
“Hi, thank you for calling XYZ company, your call is very important to us so please leave a message and we’ll return your call as soon as possible.”
I’m certain this was also a similar message to the competitor that was called first. I told my former client he was lucky to get this new client, for the following reason.
Imagine what kind of expectation was set for the prospect who called my former client. He probably wasn’t expecting a call back inside of four weeks.
But, what about this?
What if my former client had an out-going voice mail message more similar to mine:
“Hi, this is Skip Weisman, thank you for calling. Even though I can’t take your call right now, I promise to respond within 3-hours either by voice or e-mail. Please leave a message with as much detail as possible so we can limit the game of phone tag. Thank you for calling and I look forward to speaking with you soon.”
This type of message does a few important things:
- It is only 15 seconds so it respects the caller’s time,
- It promises a return call in a certain time frame that is within less than a 1/2-day,
- It sets a standard few others in any business or industry offer.
When I suggested to my former client he raise the bar on the standard he sets for his business, he told me, “Wow, I’d like to be able to do something like that, and as soon as we add some more personnel to our team so we can have greater resources to serve those that call!
I stopped him in mid-sentence and said,
“No, you can decide to hold yourself and your company to a higher standard now, so that those you bring in to the firm will be indoctrinated to a higher expectation and level of professionalism, instead of trying to change their expectation after the fact.
“Commit first, and your business will become very attractive to prospects looking for a high quality firm to work with. You say you are better and different from your competition, this is one not so small way you can show it early in the relationship.”
I’ve coached dozens of clients over the past few years since I instituted my out-going voice mail and not one of them has picked up on this standard for their out-going voice mail. When I ask “why?” I get poor excuses such as,
“I didn’t want to commit to something I couldn’t deliver!”
My point is not to make a commitment as mine, a 3-hour turn around. My point is to commit to something, 4-hours, by the end of the day, within 24 hours, 72 hours, etc.
Commit to some higher standard and you will create a market differentiation between your company and the competition.
Let me know what you think of this strategy and what you can commit to.
p.s. – there are few reasons to not return phone calls at the end of your day. You can always call back after hours to leave a voice mail letting the person know you got their message and you are working on getting them what they need, or that you will get back to them by the end of the next day, etc.
The worst emotion in human psychology is “uncertainty.” As such as business professionals we should be doing everything in our power and control to provide our business prospects and clients “certainty” in our approach to solving their problems. Is your out-going voice mail message doing that, if not it’s an easy to way to get started.