Let’s say you need a plumber. You don’t know one personally so you turn to Google. Your search returns a long list of plumbers in your area and they all sound like what you’re looking for. You call the first one on the list. It rings and rings and rings. You hang up.
You call the second one on the list. It’s answered by a robotic sounding voice that says ‘thank you for calling, we can’t take your call, please leave a message.’ It doesn’t say ‘thank you for calling Jerry’s Plumbing’, which is what you were expecting. Have you called the right number? You’re not sure. You hang up.
You call the third number. It’s answered by a friendly, professional voice that thanks you for calling Pete’s Plumbing, and apologises that nobody can take your call right now, but Pete and his team are more than likely out on a job. The voice assures you that Pete will call you back as soon as he can, and invites you to leave your name, number and a short message. You decide that Pete’s Plumbing sounds like a professional business you can trust and you leave Pete a message.
What can we learn from this? Your voicemail greeting may be the first impression a potential client gets of your business. So it’s important to a) make sure you’ve got one and b) make sure it’s a really good one! Your client needs to know that they’ve called the right place and be certain they are leaving a message for the right person.
Many people hate hearing the sound of their own voice when they hear it recorded. If you’re one of them, I bet you’ve put off recording your voicemail greeting, haven’t you? Or maybe you’ve done it, but you hated doing it? Let me tell you – that will come across in your voice….Your caller will pick up that you were uncomfortable – and it might make them think that you sound unsure. Not the first impression you want to give – am I right?
You might be tempted to use a computer-generated AI voice to read your message. I would suggest you don’t. AI voices are not known for sounding warm, friendly and approachable – and I assume that’s how you would prefer your business to come across to your clients? Here’s a before and after sample of a voicemail greeting that I recorded for a local company to replace their AI version. See which you prefer…
Having a professional voicemail greeting is a very cost effective way of improving that all important first impression. A voice over artist will be able to record your message in an acoustically treated space (no barking dogs, or office chatter, or other unwanted background noise). They will also be able to capture the vibe of your company – are you an upbeat dynamic marketing agency, or a no-nonsense down to earth tradesperson, or a serious yet sympathetic and friendly solicitor? A voiceover artist will tailor their delivery to suit your company.
If you have a number of employees you could have the same voiceover artist record everyone’s voicemail greetings to give you brand consistency.
As well as a voicemail greeting, you might also want to consider having an out of hours message for when your business is closed. You can use this to tell your customers when you will be open to encourage them to call back then – but always give them the option to leave a message too. Don’t forget you may need to change your opening hours for Christmas and other bank holidays, so you may need more than one out of hours message.
If there are ever times that customers are put on hold, what do they hear? If it’s silence that can be very disconcerting – they will wonder if they are still connected and may hang up. Nobody enjoys listening to a computer-generated version of ‘Greensleeves’ (I’m sure we’ve all heard it), so don’t use that! Do not be tempted to use a feed to a radio station (unless you are the radio station) because that’s not legal. It’s also illegal to use any music without the correct licence, so don’t be tempted to play your favourite artist down the line.
A voiceover artist will probably be able to point you in the right direction of some suitable royalty-free music – or even source it for you. A couple of sites that I like are Storyblocks and Audio Jungle.
If your customers do experience any amount of time on hold – don’t just play them music. Use the opportunity for marketing! I’m sure you’ve heard numerous on-hold marketing messages in the past advertising the company’s latest special offers, or giving information about their products and services – so why not do the same? You could also encourage callers to visit your website or give them an email address to contact if they would rather not wait.
If you have a large company with lots of different departments then you may need what are called IVR (interactive voice response) prompts. I’m sure you’re very familiar with these – if you call your bank you probably interact with an IVR system. You will be asked to select a number (press 1 for accounts, press 2 for sales etc), and you may be asked to say why you are calling in a few words. The system will then ‘speak’ back to you and attempt to get you to the right place.
I have recorded voicemail greetings, IVR prompts and on-hold sales messages for probably hundreds of businesses now. They range from well-known companies like Holiday Inn, Heineken, and Ricoh Photocopiers, to small business of all types, including my own accountant D&K Accounting.
Click here to hear some samples of my work in this field.
If you’d like me to be the voice of your business too, then please get in touch – I would love to help!