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Recording a professional voicemail greeting for your business is not the same as recording a voicemail message for your smartphone.

Your friends aren’t likely to care what kind of message you record – just so they can leave you a message.

But your customers do care about your voicemail and will form an instant opinion of your company the moment the greeting begins. In fact, they may or may not do business with you based on that experience.

That’s why it’s important to follow these five guidelines when writing your professional voicemail greetings.

Validate The Caller

Your opportunity to serve a customer begins when they pick up the phone to call your business. The first sentence of your voicemail message not only sets the tone for the caller’s experience but done right, should keep them on the line.

After you identify your company and/or yourself, you should thank the customer for calling. The caller could have dialed the number of any of your competitors but instead, they chose you. Communicate warmth and gratitude.

The goal here is to make them feel welcome and glad about their decision to call your company.

Give Helpful Information

Have you ever called a company and immediately been instructed to ‘leave a message’ or to ‘please hold … your call is very important to us’?

Professional voicemail greetings like this don’t sound so professional. In fact, it makes you wonder if you dialed the right number and feels impersonal.

At the very least, your voicemail should mention the name of your business, offer a brief ‘thank you for calling’ and then provide appropriate information such as office hours and perhaps a website address for more information.

If possible, take it a step further and give callers a direct way to contact you by offering a cell-phone number and/or email address.

Give them little to go on and they may never call back.

Keep It Short

Callers may be disappointed if they can’t reach you. Don’t turn that disappointment into frustration by making them wait through a long and detailed professional voicemail greeting.

Get to the point. Keep your greeting between 10-30 seconds.

This is a case where less is more.

Use Words That Connect

The goal for your professional voicemail greeting is to save your company time and money. But don’t forget that those callers are important to your business. So when writing your greeting, be sure to use words that connect with their needs and problems.

You want to keep callers on the line so you can either connect them to the appropriate person or encourage them to leave a message. And the best way to connect with a caller is to make sure the call is about them not you.

Use the word ‘you’ more than the word ‘we’. Address their needs, not yours.

Make your customers feel like you care about them and they’ll do whatever you want.

Motivate Callers to Action

Once you’ve connected with your caller, you should motivate them to stay on the line and/or leave a message. To do this, you have to remind them of how you can help solve their problem.

Determine the top three reasons customers call your company and write to those pain points. They’re calling you to find solutions. Make sure they know you understand their problem and can help them solve it – if they just hold or leave a message.

In Summary

In this digital age of texts, tweets and posts, it may seem natural just to hit ‘record’ and start your message.

However, when you take the time to develop strategy and write your professional voicemail greeting with guidelines like these in mind, your customers are more likely to call you again.

And again.