10 Tips for Taking Effective Phone Messages

In today’s computer-orientated business world, the telephone is still an important tool for connecting with your customers. There are few things more annoying than being handed a half crumpled piece of paper with semi-legible scrawl on it and being told that it’s a message from someone. You should not have to spend precious time trying to dicipher a message, or trying to track down the writer to clarify something.

Time is money. Here are some tips on how to take a proper, accurate telephone message.

  1. Write it down on a piece of paper, preferably a phone-message pad. Don’t scribble it at the back of an envelope or a bill. Don’t write one message at the edge of another one.
  2. Make sure there is lots of space on the message pad. If you try and jam too many messages on the same sheet, chances are you will not be able to decipher the message later.
  3. Make sure you have a working pen and a back up. If the pen stops working in the middle of the call, you shouldn’t be putting the caller on hold to go searching for a replacement.
  4. To avoid confusion, include important details, such as: the caller’s name, company and telephone number, with area code. A message with the name of the caller and the company name, will help you understand it better. Needless to say, a telephone number comes in handy when you need get back to the caller.
  5. The date and time of the call is essential. This will help you recall the conversation. The date and time will be important if need to support a process for certification or legal reasons.
  6. When writing the information, make sure to ask for correct spellings. This is particularly important in ensuring you have the correct name of the caller or company.
  7. Note whether the message is urgent. This way, the message recipient will know how quickly to respond.
  8. Before you hang up, read the message details back to the caller, to make certain that they are correct.
  9. Initial the bottom of the message. This way, if clarification is required, you can be contacted directly.
  10. Once you’ve taken the message, make sure to put it some place it is sure to be found by the recipient. Have a common location for the pick up of message or place it in a location where it will be seen.
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Sample Voice Mail Templates

Voice mail is one of the most frustrating aspects of telephone communication; just below navigating automated phone menus. If voice mail is used properly, it can be a highly effective tool. The trick is to ensure your messages clearly communicate all the information need, but no more.

Here are some tips for leaving good voice mail messages along with half a dozen temples you can customize for your own use.

  • Write down your voice-mail message before you start. It is easier to read from the page than to try and ad lib.
  • Have custom greetings for different circumstances: in meetings, on vacation, business travel, etc. Update your greeting when appropriate.
  • Remeber to be professional. You can never be sure who will be calling you. Leave the humourous messages for your home phone.
  • Tips for leaving a good out-of-office message

Basic message – limited detail

Hello!  You have reached the voice mail of <name>. Please leave a message after the tone, and I’ll contact you. To return to the receptionist, press <number> at anytime.

Basic message – detailed

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing. Today is, I am in the office, but I’m either on my phone or away from my desk. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Hello, this is <your name> of <company or department name>. I’m not available to take your call, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I will get back to you as soon as I can. If you would like to speak with my assistant, please dial <number>.

In meetings

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am in the office, but will be in meetings all day. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Out of office on business

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am out of the office on business. If you wish, you can contact me via my cell phone <number> or by e-mail. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Vacation message

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. I am out of the office on vacation until <date>. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

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