Managing your voicemail may seem like a minor issue, but the way you receive and respond to telephone messages left by clients can carry important implications for your business.
"If you have a lot of clients or prospects calling, that message has an impact on your revenue stream," says Mary Jane Copps, a communications expert known as The Phone Lady in Halifax.
Voicemail creates a communication gap in two ways: there is a gap in time between the caller leaving a message and you returning the call; and there is a psychological gap that leaves the client wondering if you will respond to his or her message.
Here are three voicemail strategies you can use to close that communication gap:
1. Update your voicemail message every day
Your outgoing voicemail messages can be generic or automated. Or it can be personalized to demonstrate a level of engagement that will give the caller assurance that you have received their message.
Updating your message daily shows a heightened level of care on your part. This step indicates that you check your messages frequently, that the caller's message will be received and that you will do your best to return the call.
"The very best thing you can do is to create a dated message, so that your clients or prospects know that you are working today," Copps says.
The best time to record an outgoing message, Copps adds, is the night before. Your voice is stronger later in the day — as opposed to first thing in the morning — and you usually have time to make a thoughtful message.
2. Consider including your cellphone number in your voicemail message
Being away from your desk doesn't mean you have to miss a call. Adding your cellphone number to your voicemail message gives the caller another way to reach you, which can further close the communication gap.
If you are a veteran advisor, you might prefer to give your cellphone number only to selected clients so that you have some control over incoming business calls. But, Copps says, newer advisors may find it beneficial to give all clients and prospects every opportunity to reach them.
3. Receive voicemail directly to your inbox
Technology allows you to receive voicemail in your email inbox. For example, Microsoft Outlook 2010 can direct email, voice and fax messages to your inbox through its Unified Messaging features.
This way, even if you are on the go, you don't have to miss a potentially important telephone message. When enabled, the system will send the voicemail to you in Windows Media Player format, so you can then listen to the message anywhere you have an Internet connection.
If you know that 25% of your clients' calls are urgent, Copps says, you probably would benefit from that voicemail-to-email access. You can either receive the messages yourself or have your assistant review them before forwarding them to you.