Friday, April 25, 2008

Hack Your Desk Phone With A Relevant Voicemail Greeting


By Matt:

Last month Jon offered some tips regarding how he uses his desk phone at work (or better, how he doesn't use it). Personally, I don't care to leave the "Send Calls" button on permanently and opt instead to decide on a case by case basis whether or not the call needs to be answered, but I'll let you review his post and decide for yourself.

Today, however, I want to tell you how I recently improved my office phone voicemail greeting that I implemented to cut down on voicemails and increase efficiency by redirecting traffic to my email. This is my new greeting...
Hi this is Matt. The best way to reach me is by email at myemail@mydomain.com. If you have an urgent need you can call my cell phone at ###-####. If you would like to leave a voicemail here, you may do so after the tone.
On the surface this doesn't sound too earth shattering, so let's break it down:
  • First, I tell people that the best way to reach me is by email. This communicates the most appropriate way to garner my attention and solicit a quick response. Why email? Text based emails are easy to process and give colleagues the opportunity to outline their issues and needs, going into as much or as little detail as necessary. A voicemail on the other hand is a crapshoot - you never know what you'll get, and more often than not it ends up as a rambling six minute message that goes into excruciating detail, which you then have to listen to four times because the caller talks too fast, or mumbles, or is drowned out by the sound of an electric bandsaw from the construction next door.
  • Next I explain that if they have an urgent need they can call my cell phone. This sounds like I'm simply inviting more phone calls, but I'm not. This is really a redirect - the phrase urgent need forces the caller to make a value judgement: "Is my need urgent?" I wager that most people will consider their needs important, but not urgent, and therefore will not call my cell but send an email instead. This option is comforting to the caller though; they aren't merely left to send a faceless email but instead have my mobile number at their disposal which in effect makes me appear even more available if a situation does arise.
  • Finally, I offer the opportunity to leave a voicemail at my desk phone. Sometimes people just want to leave a message, and while this isn't ideal for me, my desk phone is ultimately my responsibility. I give this as the last option for a couple reasons, which leaves the caller with two impressions: 1) That this is not the best method to reach me, and 2) By leaving a message the caller must concede that what he has to convey is really not that important, and that to escalate his need he should (you guessed it) send me an email.
To be clear, this is not some lame attempt to avoid interaction with people. I do some of my best work by walking around the office talking to people, but if I'm in the midst of plowing through critical tasks I do everyone a disservice in taking time to field random phone calls. Also, as a person who is susceptible to a high degree of meetings, this method minimizes the instances where I come back to the desk with a boat load of time-waster voicemails.

Take charge of your phone and don't let the blinking red light rule your life. By filtering incoming calls with a relevant voicemail greeting you empower both yourself and your colleagues to get more done.


4 comments:

Michael Henreckson said...

That is a really great strategy! Sending people to email makes a lot of sense, and the fact that you give other options works for people who don't feel as comfortable emailing.

Caleb said...

great idea and well thought out. I may try this and let you know how it works for me. Of course, different work environments will have greater success than others. I like the whole idea of being in control of your phone and, consequently, your time.

Matt @ Corporate Hack said...

@ Michael @ Caleb: Thanks for the comments. If you implement something along these lines, let me know how it works out... anxious to hear of others putting this into practice, and if you have tweaks that work better for you, pass those along as well.

voicemail greetings said...

Wow, that's a wonderful idea and I never know that I can use my desk phone for voicemail greeting. Thanks for sharing this great idea and I will try it for sure next time.