Practical Communication

6 Voicemail Greeting Mistakes That Drive Customers Away

6 Voicemail Greeting Mistakes That Drive Customers Away

One of my personal pet peeves is bad voicemail greetings.

I can’t stand calling someone’s home and hearing a four year old giving a voicemail greeting. Having the whole family on the line drives me crazy too.

In the workplace, it’s voicemail greetings like the ones below that make me want to hang up and call someone else, perhaps one of your competitors?

This is Bob Smith; I’m not available to take your call right now. Leave a message and I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience. BEEP

Hi! It’s Suzy! I’m not available to take your call. I’m either in a meeting, or out of the office, or at a doctor’s appointment, or running an errand, or in the restroom, or I might be on vacation. Leave your info and I’ll get back to you when I get back. BEEP

Hey! It’s Ned. Surprise, surprise! You’ve reached my voice mail. I’m out of town and will return January 5th. You know what to do. BEEP  (Oh, by the way, it’s July.)


The messages above need a complete overhaul.

Here’s why:

IMG_1277They waste time stating the obvious. I know you’re not there, that’s why I’m hearing your voice-mail greeting.

They tell callers they’re not a priority by saying you’ll call back at YOUR convenience.

They leave callers hanging because they don’t say when you’ll return the call, don’t give an alternative to waiting for you, and are outdated- causing confusion as to whether your message is old or you’re going to be gone for six months.


Creating a thorough, effective, voicemail greeting for your office phone is simple. Just include the following:

    1. Your name, department or position, and organization
    2. The date you’re recording the message
    3. What information you need from callers so you can be prepared to call them back
    4. Date or time you’ll be back in the office and returning calls
    5. Whether you’ll check messages during your absence (as necessary)
    6. Contact information for someone else who can help callers in the interim

It sounds like a lot of information, but if you write a script of exactly what to say before you start recording, you should be able to create an efficient, effective message that is only 30-40 seconds long, which is about the perfect length for a voicemail greeting.

If you do, you’ll find the messages callers leave you are more useful AND if you’re away from your office for an extended period of time, you’ll actually have FEWER messages because most people prefer to contact someone else, or call back later, than to leave a message and wait a week for a response.

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