Lydia Ramsey reflects on her experience with a local restaurant and offers some timely advice for users of voicemail.
I recently called a local restaurant to place a take-out order for lunch. The phone rang numerous times before a perky voice answered and said, “You have reached our restaurant. Our hours of operation are 11 AM to 8 PM Monday through Saturday. If you give us a call tomorrow, we’ll be happy to help you.” Well, hello, it was already “tomorrow.” It was Monday and after 11 AM when they said would be open and happy to help me.
After trying several times in hopes that someone would pick up, I called the owner of the business next door to ask if she knew whether the restaurant was open. She told me that she had walked over earlier to pick up something for her lunch and had encountered a sign on the door saying they would be closed all week for vacation. Sadly it was not possible for me to see the sign through the phone so I was left in the dark.
This particular restaurant does a large take-out business. It was important for their customers to know about the vacation closure. Obviously no one thought about changing the greeting on their voice mail before heading out the door for a week of rest and relaxation. Translation: no one gave their customers a moment’s consideration.
Voicemail is a valuable business tool that should not be overlooked. The greeting feature is one of its most useful. You can change your greeting anytime you choose to keep it fresh and to keep your customers up to date. No matter what kind of business you own, consider changing your voicemail greeting as necessary. The point is to maintain strong communication with your customers and make them aware of any changes to your hours or days of operation, an upcoming move or any additional products or services.
As a solopreneur, I change my voicemail greeting on a regular basis. If, for instance, I am going to be out of the office for a several hours and unavailable by phone or email, I let my callers know. My temporary voicemail greeting might say, “Hello. This is Lydia Ramsey. I will be out of the office today between 11AM until 3 PM. Please leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I return.”
If I am going to be away for a longer period, I not only tell my clients how long I will be gone, but I also let them know when they can expect to hear from me. In some cases I share the name and phone number of my assistant so they can have access to a live person in my absence. (And by the way, I am careful to say my assistant’s name and phone number slowly, repeating each twice so the caller has time to understand the name and to write down both name and number without having to dial back in to replay my greeting.)
It’s a matter of good business and customer service to keep your voice mail greeting fresh and up to date.
I suspect that the restaurant in question had more than one unhappy customer when they returned from vacation. I decided not to join the list of complainers. I am sure they got the point from enough other people.
Lydia Ramsey helps organizations attract and retain clients through the simple practice of modern manners and the basic principles of courtesy, kindness and respect. © Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved.