As the busy holiday season is in full swing for all of us culinary business owners, I am not able to answer all of my phone calls. Not a big surprise there. Needless to say, many clients and potential clients have to leave a voicemail instead. While a voicemail might seem like an insignificant thing, have you thought about the impact it can have on your business?
Oftentimes, your voicemail is the first impression people get of you and your company (besides your website).That’s why it needs to be the very best that it can be. Have you ever called a company and received the voicemail message and thought “Wow…does that person even like her job?” A powerful voicemail message can make a positive impression on callers or immediately alienate them. The tone of your message reflects how others perceive your personal brand. Their perception of you is their reality of you. Every little detail matters as it relates to your personal brand or image and that includes your voicemail. You have to stand out every day in your business. There are nine tips to brand your voicemail message that will help you come across professional and collected:
- Silence – Record your message in a quiet, well-insulated location such as your closet in your home. You would think that this first one does not need to be said, but I promise you it does. No one needs to hear your kids screaming in the background or your dog barking. How professional does that sound? Background noise and echoes are distracting and your potential client will not stay on the phone to leave a message. A quiet background tells your clients that you created the message in a professional environment in a well thought-out manner and not as an afterthought while you were on the go. Have you called yourself lately? Listen to what you hear.
- Smile – When people hear a smile in your voice it makes for a much more pleasant customer experience. Service with a smile makes your clients happy. Let your clients know you are happy to get up and go to work every morning and serve them. Make them feel like you have been waiting for their call all day.
- Be YOU – Well maybe not. If you are typically a happy person then let that come through on your voicemail. Let them know the personality behind your company. If you are not a happy person, wait until you are in a good mood. Avoid recording your message when you are sad or tired. When I am tired, my Texas accent is really bad and I sound like Forrest Gump. The emotion that you feel will come through on your voicemail. Being overly cheerful and using your cheerleader voice will come across as insincere. Open or close your message with something you would normally say during a conversation. Don’t fake anything because your clients will know. Be honest with yourself and have someone else give you their honest opinion on your voicemail message. We have talked about your smile and authenticity on your voicemail. Let’s talk about keeping your message upbeat and brief.
- Never apologize – Never begin your voicemail with an apology such as: “I’m sorry I’m not able to take your call because we are either with a client or in the kitchen right now.” Instead, let them know you are unavailable and would be happy to return their call as soon as you are able.
- Brief – People do not have time to waste. I know you don’t like it much when you call a place or business and the recording of the person on the other end gives you their life history. Get to the point. Keep your message short. It conveys that you value your clients’ time. You will lose clients with lengthy messages especially moms with small children and busy professionals. Who is our target market again? Busy moms and professionals.
Next, when it comes to branding your voicemail you should identify and question:
- Identify – Make sure to identify yourself and your company at the start of your voicemail message. New clients will want to know that they have reached the right place.
- Question – Let your client know what information you need from them. Sounds obvious, right? Well unless you ask for it they will not leave it. Let them know you need their name, phone number, email address (think about your list and some people prefer email) and a possible best time to call them back. It is also a good practice to let your clients know when you will get back to them. Something like “your call will be returned within the next business day.” Or you can say, “we are normally in the kitchen until about 3 pm and we return calls between 3 and 5 pm.”
- Rehearse – What you want to say and what comes out of your mouth are sometimes two entirely different things. Rehearse your message and use cue cards if you need to. I usually have to do mine about three times before I get it right. You want to appear polished and organized when clients call.
- Update – Just like you need to keep your website updated for Google to find you, you have to keep your voicemail fresh and updated. Does it frustrate you when you go to your favorite grocery store and they have moved things around? Mine has a huge cheese department and I have to ask every week where they moved a particular cheese. They do this to keep things refreshed and interesting for their clients. Also, remember to update your message before you go on vacation and to change it after you return.
Your voicemail is just another part in your business and brand as a whole. Make it great! I promise you that the more professional and friendly your voicemail is, the more clients you’re going to receive because you left them with a good impression.
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