Everyone is entitled to a vacation, but the timing of your summer holiday may be less than ideal for some of your clients and colleagues. Keep their needs in mind when preparing your out-of-office voicemail message, says Mary Jane Copps, owner of The Phone Lady in Halifax.
Outgoing voicemail messages are typically an afterthought and are recorded quickly just a few minutes before you run out the door, Copps says. But your message should be crafted carefully, so callers are informed of key details regarding your absence.
Here are four tips on creating a clear, effective message:
1. Don't list too many dates
Mentioning several dates can muddle your message, Copps says. When you try to provide information on exact vacation departures, callers may become confused. For example, instead of saying that you're heading out on Friday, July 24 and returning Wednesday, August 5, just be straightforward: say that you will return to the office on August 5.
"The most important thing for the caller to know is the date that you will be back at your desk," Copps says. Your client doesn't need any more dates to remember.
2. Be honest about your time
Some people feel guilty for going on vacation, Copps says, and may say that they will be checking voicemail occasionally — yet they may have no intention of doing so.
Once you have left the office, you should enjoy a break from business. So, be honest on your voicemail. Just say that you're on vacation and that you won't be checking your voicemail until you're back in the office.
3. Provide contact information
You may wish to provide your email address because it will be easier for clients to reach you electronically than over phone. However, emphasize that email is only for emergency situations.
Otherwise, provide the phone number of a trusted colleague or assistant who can handle queries in your absence.
4. Speak slowly, and smile
Enunciate clearly when delivering your message. If you speak too quickly — which you may tend to do because you're getting ready to rush to the airport — you'll leave your caller scrambling to write down information or, worse, calling back multiple times to fully take note of your message. So, make sure to slowly articulate important information.
And sound happy, Copps says. Taking a vacation is a positive action and can only improve your practice in the long run. Callers will be listening to your message while you're away, so make it sound like you're enjoying yourself.