Does Your Voice Mail Over Promise?


When I call you, your voice mail usually says, “You have reached the desk of XXX . I am on the phone or away from my desk, leave a message and I will call you back”.

So what is wrong with this?

Are you really on the phone or away?  Maybe you just don’t feel like talking.  Maybe you are sitting at your desk meeting with someone.  Maybe you are actually getting some work done?  So are you misleading the caller?  On purpose?  I am going with no!

Are you going to call them back?  Maybe.  But you just told them you would! And many of you say “right away.”

How could this be made better?

(Now I must admit that this took quite some time to refine and my wife was instrumental in helping me until it was just right for me)

Here is my voice mail message:

Hi. You have reached the phone of Eliot Weissberg.  I am unable to take your call right now.  Please leave a detailed message and I would be happy to call you back if needed.  If you need immediate assistance you may call xxxxx at xxx-xxx-xxxx and they will be happy to assist you.  Thank you very much and have a great day”.

Now let’s look at the difference.

Hi – Yes! a greeting!

You have reached the phone – These days calling one number does not necessarily mean a desk (do you EVER call forward?).

I am unable to take your call right now – Meaning I might be here, I might not, but it should not matter because I am not answering.

Please leave a detailed message – Do you enjoy the “It’s Joe, call me” – No!  You really want a detailed message right?

I will be happy to call you back if needed – Most people give an implied or implicit promise that they WILL call back even when MOST of the time they don’t need to.  So why over promise?

If you need immediate assistance then… – Yes, some people really do need help right away.  Please give them a Plan B.

Thank you – It is just nice to hear and nice to say.


Guide – Setting and managing expectations is really providing a valuable customer experience.  Don’t over promise and under deliver.

Action Item – Tune up that voice mail.  Make it work for the caller and make it work for you.  Show them that you care and make sure their expectations are managed and met.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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5 Responses to “Does Your Voice Mail Over Promise?”

  1. 1 Shawn Tabor September 21, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Incredibly timely information! I am going to use this to not “overpromise” in my voicemail. Thanks!

  2. 2 David Adams August 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

    These articles are fabulous..short, to the point, and immediately able to be implemented. I had the pleasure of spending a week with Eliot and getting to know him and I am very confident in his industry insights and advice. Thanks Eliot.

  3. 4 Brent Robertson August 24, 2009 at 8:09 am

    And, there lies the opportunity. Is there something you can promise that is different from anyone else? Is there something about that client touch-point that can make a big difference with little effort. We have a restaurant downstairs from our office called Agave They make the guacamole right there at your table. Don’t get me wrong, the quac is great, but no different then if they made it in the back. Because they make it at the table as a spectacle, it becomes ritual. Rituals get talked about and remembered. I hear almost 3 times a week, “Wow, your office is above Agave?, They make the best guacamole right at your table”.

    You want your clients telling your stories too. So what is your simple, remarkable touch-point or ritual?

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