Management Tactic #6: Say Your Phone Number Like You Just Learned It

I get a lot of voicemails on my office phone. I’m up from my desk a lot, and it seems there is a 100% chance that people will call me when I’m in the bathroom (which is in my office, so I can hear the phone ring).

When I listen to voicemails, I always have a pen in hand and a sticky note stuck to the desk. I’m poised. I’m ready. I take notes about the message.

And then, inevitably, after short messages and long, drawn-out messages alike, the caller will rush through their phone number as if it’s the least important part of the message.

Obviously, that could not be further from the truth. The phone number is by far the most important part of the message. Even though it’s just a number that you (the caller) know by heart and have said a million times, the recipient of your message has never heard it before. And even if they have–if you called the other day–they may not still have it. Never assume they still have it.

I offer a three-step process for leaving your phone number on voicemails:

  1. Tell the person that it’s coming (and tell them what kind of phone it is). “My cell phone number is…”
  2. Speak the number like you just learned it yourself. Say it slowly. So slowly that you kind of sound like an idiot. Trust me, the person on the other end of the phone will thank you.
  3. Before you hang up, think for a second if you said your number like an idiot. If not, repeat it.

Any other suggestions on how people can improve voicemail messages?

0 thoughts on “Management Tactic #6: Say Your Phone Number Like You Just Learned It”

  1. Absolutely! PLAN AHEAD! We are all busy. We are all in our proverbial bathroom when you call. When you pick up the phone to call someone, expect the voicemail moreso than you expect the person. Know what you are going to say. Stick to the crucial points and spare me your ums and yeah-sos and anyways.

    1. Who are you? (And you know if your name is hard to understand or spell, so just spare me the effort and spell it for me – slowly, like an idiot.)
    2. What company are you calling from?
    3. If you have a question I can obtain the answer to before calling you back, ask it – it saves us all time.
    4. If I left you a message with a question you have the answer to – leave it – same principal.
    5. If you are cold calling me, call back when I’m back from “the bathroom.” I’m not calling you back. No one is. Your only hope is to get me on the phone.
    6. Wrap up with a synopsis. “Again, this is Jane Doe with XYZ Company and I can be reached at [slow, idiot like phone number recital].”

    And for the receiver of the voicemail, it’s always good practice to use the sundown rule – call the person back the same day. Even if you are too busy to address whatever it is they called for, it is just good practice to build a reputation of being a reliable, helpful and timely professional.

    Is that kind of what you were looking for?

    Human Resources Manager
    XYZ Company

  2. Those are excellent additions to the first few rules I put forth in my post. The end is really important too–receiver etiquette. I like the sundown rule a lot.

    As for point #5 about cold callers, every once in a while I get a voice mail from a cold caller that ends with, “If you’re interested in our service, give me a call back at…” I don’t call back, and then a few days later they call me and we have the following awkward conversation:

    Cold Caller: Hi, I left you a message the other day regarding our squirrel-bathing service.

    Me: Yes, I got the message.

    Cold Caller: I hadn’t heard back from you.

    Me: That’s correct.

    Cold Caller: So would you like to schedule a time for us to come out to your property?

    (at this point my mind explodes)


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