I called a potential client the other day, expecting to get a direct answer (or voicemail) from my contact — after all, it was a small business that I didn’t expect to have an answering service. Instead, I got the “front desk”. The voice was polite, and on the second pass she asked the standard information, including name and my phone number.  I thought the number was odd, since I was already on the line, but I’m willing to concede the “if we get disconnected angle” (pessimist view: “you’ll feel better when I hang up on you even though we won’t call you back.“)  But it took two tries to get this far.

Her voice had one small problem, and it wasn’t an accent.  The lady spoke with such incredibly speed that I have no idea what she said the first time.  As I reflected on her opening salvo, I’m guessing it included a greeting, the company name, and what she wanted from me, but all I heard was “welcomehelpXYZCorporationthanknumberyou?”  She uses that script hundreds of times I day.  But I only hear it once.  And we’re faced with a great application of Rule #1 — how does the LISTENER want to hear you greet them?

As the opening line of a phone call (or voicemail), it’s especially important.  The listener has to get attuned to a new voice, an unexpected request, and possible distractions on their end.  While your business name makes perfect sense to you, they may be hearing it for the first time.  The same thing is true for leaving voice messages — I’m probably not expecting you (unless my phone already identifies you, in which case it’s moot).   Make sure I can get the information I need.

I know because I’ve been pinged on this several times.   My business name is unexpected and unusual.  If I say it at the pace I think it, a first-time listener stands no chance of knowing what I said.  “I’m calling from MillsWyck Communication” could easily sound like “I call in from ill brick in a new nation” if you aren’t expecting it.

The solution?  SLOW DOWN.  And ENUNCIATE.  When you get to names, business names, and requests from listeners, slow the pace until YOU are uncomfortable.  Then they MAY have a chance of understanding you then.

SLOW DOWN when leaving names and requests.

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