Ever since the first telephone call decades ago, people have come up with imaginative, and annoying ways to get others to return their calls.
Telephone folklore tells us of the Legend of Tim. Tim got a new job selling advertising in the phone book. He spent a week making phone calls to hundreds of potential clients, only to get absolutely zero calls back.
He left his name, number and a detailed message, but still no success.
He even tried smiling when he left messages, because that's what everyone says works.
So Tim, started getting creative with his voice mails -- he said just by returning his call, he'd buy you lunch at one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in the city.
Soon, Tim's phone was ringing off the hook, as everyone wanted a free lunch.
Problem is, Tim just started this job, so he couldn't afford to take everyone out to lunch, let alone at one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in the city!
Lesson learned, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
At least Tim left messages. My biggest pet peeve is when someone calls but doesn't leave a message. Sure, I may know who called, because of my call display, but that doesn't tell me WHY you called, how urgent, or anything else.
So, we have two extremes, making radically false promises in voice mail, or simply not leaving a message at all. Neither are the best way to get someone to call you back.
No one can guarantee you a system to get people to call you back, but here are four tips which I find useful:
Keep It Brief
Don't you hate going through someone's long rambling voice message? I tend to zone out or even fast forward or skip messages longer than 30-seconds. Chances are others do too. So keep your voice-mails under 30-seconds, unless you want to be ignored.
Be Polite, Friendly, Energetic and Appealing
If you're tired, down, upset, angry, or just don't sound like you care, why should I call you back? Yes, everyone says to smile when you leave a message, and it does work. But there is more to it than that -- be polite, friendly, energetic and appealing -- out of all the voice mails you want yours to be the one that the person WANTS to call back.
Leave a Specific Actionable Item
If you say "call me when you can," you'll never get called back, because I'm always busy. But if you say "let me know if you're free on Friday by noon today so I can book time with you," then you are being VERY specific on why you are calling and more importantly WHAT you expect them to do.
Always Leave Your Callback Number
Sounds obvious, but with call display, often we assume people know what number to call us back on. But sometimes those displays don't work, or sometimes they display the general switchboard number instead of your specific one, or for any of a dozen or more reasons -- if you don't leave your call back number, you may never get called back. I always repeat my number at the end of the message, so that it's clear, and if they are writing it down, they have it repeated again to confirm they wrote it down correctly.