Voice Message PLUS++

Voice Message PLUS++

Best Practices: Messages that encourage action.

Hungarian Telephone Factory 1937 Budapest

Persuading the Caller to Leave a Message and Wait for You

Taking the time to craft and then deliver a compelling voice message isn’t a trivial thing. For many it can be difficult or they misunderstand it’s impact, but it is worth it.  If your auto message is responsible for losing 70-90% of those calls that you can’t pick up in time, and phone leads makes up 20-30% of your initial leads, that is huge.  Think of your voice message as a business asset or tool to bring in revenue (because it is) and invest the time and effort to improve it like any other asset you own.

Why the Right Message Matters

Why does the right message matter? After all, our message is “technically correct”?

  1. Informing and a compelling invitation to do something are very different.  Is your message simply informing, or does it have a compelling message to engage the caller get them to leave a message?
  2. Does your message contain well meaning key phrases that triggers the “gag” or “hang up” reflex? From our statistics, once you speak those word, in mid message, they hang up almost in unison and never call back. (at least not recorded in that month).  Avoiding these phrases or keywords can keep them engaged and more likely to commit.
  3. Most of all it matters, because you paid ($2-9 per click- Adwords/ Bingads) for them to get to your website and find your phone number in the first place. If they hang up now, there goes your money, and they may never come back again.

Best Practices – Compelling Message

What compels a caller to leave a message and then wait for a call back?

Besides the following techniques, there are two main things people look for:  Competence and character.  From your voice message (their first impression of you) they will attempt to judge if they can trust you and your firm and if you can get the job done, or answer their questions thoroughly.  What a tall order that is.  Here are a few techniques that can help.

Boost their confidence that they have reached the right number:  Deliver your name loud and clear.  Use keywords they are expecting to hear from a bankruptcy attorney’s office:  bankruptcy, free evaluation, attorney, law firm name,etc.

Clear expectation:  Let them know your hours, and when you might be back in the office.  If you can, under promise and over deliver a response time.   “Someone will be with you within 20 minutes…” etc.  Then you or your staff call back in 5.

A desired benefit or result: They are calling you because they have a need.  In your message let them know that by leaving a message, they will have that need filled. Example: “Leave a message and Attorney Bob will answer your questions.”

Assurance that their concerns and questions are important. (in tone, implied or stated. Be yourself and don’t imitate a robot message.)

And then keep it short and to the point.

 Avoid the following:

Don’t state the obvious:  Example:  “we can’t come to the phone..”  it’s kind of obvious because you didn’t.  Avoid wasting those valuable seconds.

Avoid poison trigger words:   No matter how innocent, or technically correct some words or phrases are, they trigger the “gag” or “hang up” reflex and you lose an opportunity.  Example: “We might be out of the office” gives the impression that you “ are out of the office”, and “click” (hang up),  I hear it every time. Statistics show that when a person is listening to the message, when that phrase is hit, the phone clicks off and more than 90% of those callers never come back (at least in that month of monitoring).

Long winded messages (under 30 sec is tolerated,  20 sec better): Keep it simple, but complete your goal (getting them to leave their information and a request).  Refining your message and keeping it short is tedious.  Sounding normal after attempting to record it 20 times is also a challenge.  Have someone else objectively listen to it.  What was their initial reaction?  This step is worth it.

Tone of desperation:  It is polite to say please and thank you, but be careful not to plead. Focus on letting them know you can and will help them if they need your help. Confidence overrides fear and desperation.

 Crafting Your Own Messages

Use the following examples to help you come up with your own branding, personality and warmth only you can provide.  There is no “one way” to deliver a message, but there are good practices that invite interaction and convince a caller to wait for a call back.  Use the strategies above to craft your own messages.  (busy, out of the office, on the other line message, etc.)

Example 1 

(This one is best during Office hours)

Baker Law Office, this is John.  Leave a message and we’ll help you shortly. (or… as soon as possible).” (positive and upbeat)

Why this one works so well.  Also consider using your own words:

  1. Clear Introduction. “xyz Law office” or you could say “attorney xyz”
  2. The simple name humanizes the message. (that you are an attorney or bankruptcy related is now assumed with the intro.)
  3. Simple, direct call to act – “leave a message”.
  4. benefit/ result oriented –  “help you shortly”.
  5. The message is short and doesn’t give too much time for the person to double think their response, so they may be inclined to take the action suggested as long as they are confident that:
    1. they are talking to the law firm they saw on the website.
    2. It is during business hours, or they may, or may not act.
  6. This message also doesn’t seem desperate.  It’s just straight forward, taking action.

 Example 1

“Hi, you’ve reached Attorney Alex Finders.   Your call is important to us. Please leave your name number and a brief message, and I’ll/ We’ll  return your message and answer your questions. If you have reached this message after normal business hours (9-5, m-f), we will contact you first thing the next business day.”

Example 2

“Welcome to the New Orleans Bankruptcy Center.  You’ve reached attorney Jim Finders.  Please leave your name, number and a brief message, so I can help.  If you have reached this message after normal business hours (9-5, m-f), we will contact you first thing the next business day.”

Example 3

“Hi, you have reached the Wally Law Firm. Please let us know how we can help you… and the best way to reach you. If this is after hours, we’ll reach out to you the next business day. Thank you for calling Wally Law Firm. To get the fastest help, leave  a message.”

Example 4

“Hi this is Attorney Glenwood.  To get the fastest help possible, leave a message with your questions and the best way to contact you. If this is after hours (9-5), we’ll reach out to you the next business day. Thank you for calling Glenwood Law.”


Bad Example


Thank you for Attorney Inc.  We are currently out of the office or with another customer.  Please leave your name, number and a brief message and we will get back with you as soon as we can.

Why:  poison key phrase “out of the office”… almost a certain click to hang up.  Also short and too the point, but leave out too many unanswered questions:

  • when will you be open again?
  • will I ever get a call back?
  • Does anyone there care about us to leave such a simple message?


ACTION:  Now reflect on your own message and make a few key changes:

  1. What is its purpose?  Is that what you intended?
  2. How long is your message?
  3. Does it use any foreseeable words that would cause them to hang up?
  4. What is the benefit or result in your message?
  5. What other principles can I consider from the list above, or ideas we have?

APRIL 21, 2015 by Feleni Siufanua
Feleni is a user experience designer, and account manager at Sebo Marketing

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