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Business Voicemail Etiquette

Rave Uno
A voicemail message can make or break business contacts. Learn the proper ways to leave voicemail, or record a good message for your voicemail system, here.
Maintaining a business-like manner is important in all facets of corporate life. The voicemail message you leave, on someone's machine, is equivalent to a handshake in today's business world. Think about it.
Would you like it, if you call your company's accounts department, and the voicemail message went "We are closed, call tomorrow"? Or if a colleague, John Smith left you an urgent message, but did not give his extension number? There is etiquette for voicemail, and it is important to know the difference between casual and corporate voicemail rules.

How to Leave a Professional Voicemail Message

Voicemail etiquette guidelines to follow, when recording or leaving a voicemail on someone's machine
  • After the message plays, pause for 1-2 seconds before speaking.
  • State your name, organization or company's name, your specific corporate department, if any, and telephone number. Do so clearly and slowly.
  • State the date and time of your call.
  • In a few words, describe your reason for calling. Keep your recording brief and to the point. Do not ramble.
  • If necessary, leave the best time for the person to call you back, or mention that you will be available at any time.
  • At the end of the message, repeat your name and phone number slowly.
"Hello, this is Ellen Myers, from XYZ Wireless Ltd, Accounts department. My phone no is 810-203-2232. This call is with reference, to your leave application for the 5th of April, 2011. There are a few minor details to be discussed. Please call me back on receiving this message, on my extension 810-203-2232. Have a nice day".

Dos and don'ts of leaving a voicemail message:

  • If you are calling someone for the first time or it's a really important call, write down what you are going to say. Do not go "umm" and "ahh.." on the message.
  • Be specific and brief in stating your purpose.
  • When calling someone you have never met or don't know, mention a mutual acquaintance or colleague, if any, to bridge the gap.
  • Cover all grounds, leave alternate or home phone nos and even email addresses, so you don't' miss a reply to your message.
  • Avoid slang, personal references and casual language.
  • Don't be stiff and detached sounding, be pleasant, with a clear tone.
  • Do not exhale into the phone, as it can be heard on the recording.

How to Record a Professional Outgoing Voicemail Message

Some business voicemail greeting etiquette rules, to record the perfect professional voicemail message for your inbox:

1. State your name, department, organization and extension or telephone number.
"Hi, this is Barney Mosby with the HR department of Kringle Electronics, at 820-233-1234".
2. State that you are not available or at your desk, and other relevant information.
"I'm currently not at my desk".
"I'm sorry I could not receive your call at this time".
"I'm not in the office today, December 20th, 2002. I will be returning on January 10th 2003". 
"From the 1st of April to the 3rd of May, I will be unable to answer your call on this number".
3. Ask people to leave an appropriate message with the necessary information.
"Please leave your name, telephone number and details of what I can do for you".
4. Provide complete and concise contact information. You can leave the name and phone no of a colleague or secretary, who can assist the caller, in your absence.
"If you require assistance immediately, please contact (Name) at (Telephone Number)".
"I'll call you as soon as I return".
5. Let them know when you can return the call. Email addresses can be left as an alternate contact source.
"I will not be able to return your call for another hour".
"You can email me at xyz@abc.com".
Voicemail greeting example:
"Hello. You have reached Michael Quantas, Central Library at 872-233-2322. I'm sorry I cannot answer your call at the present time. Please leave a message at the tone. I will call you back as soon as possible. For immediate assistance, you can call Sophie at 123-123-3432. Thank you for calling. Goodbye."
Familiarize yourself with your voicemail system's commands and features. Options like attendant, paging and call forward, make it easier for your callers to record messages and keeps you up-to-date. Keep your messages brief, no one likes listening to long stories over the phone.
Do not let messages pile up on your machine, empty your inbox from time to time. Be prompt in replying to messages, try to do so on the same day that the person called. These small courtesies just add to your good impression. With the proper business voicemail etiquette, you are a complete professional, in every way.