I’m sure that you, like me, leave and get tons of voice mail messages. It’s often a waste of time, especially in the business world, as you frequently don’t get a call back and the information will be shared again if you do actually speak with the person. But I always try to listen to the message and try to read between the lines.Heard one today; goes something like this: “Hi, you’ve reached the phone mail for Joe Bloe from Idaho. I’m either away from my desk or on another call. If you’ll leave a message with your name and number, I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.” So what’s wrong with that? It’s repeated in thousands of messages around the globe every day. But I’m glad you asked.It violates Rule #1. I couldn’t care less whether you’re on the phone, away from your desk, attending to personal needs, visiting your great aunt Bertice, robbing a bank, or your battery is dead. All that matters to me is that I didn’t get you, and I need to talk with you. So what do I get for my efforts? A promise that you’ll TRY to get back with me as quick as you can. But since I left messages yesterday and you didn’t return them, I can assume that your ability for speed is less than 24 hours, which is beyond my own tolerance. In other words, since I’ve heard this message three times, you’ve only made me mad, and I still need to talk with you.Wording a message that is focused on the caller might go something like this: “I’m glad you called and I look forward to exchaning information and ideas with you. I’ll need your name and number, but if you leave it, I’ll call you back within one business day. Really.” Of course, you should do what you say, and you might need to alter the message if you get a bunch of sorry sales calls that you never intend to call back, but the focus is different, and people will know it immediately.Another thing, if they can tell after five words what your message will say, you probably need a new message. Make it different. Make them smile. Get their attention. The positive feeling they get will likely carry over, especially when you do what you say and give them the value they need/want.

Get callers’ attention with a message that works (for them).

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