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Do's and don'ts can make voice mail more efficient

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Southwestern Bell has provided the following tips for using voice mail effectively at work and at home.

For those leaving messages:

?DO make sure to leave the "vitals."

a) your name (Don't assume that the recipient will always recognize your voice.)

b) the company you are calling on behalf of, if calling from work

c) reason for the call/requested information

d) most direct number at which you can be reached

e) date and time of day

f) when you need to hear back from the recipient (if required)

Whether at work or at home, DON'T include too much information or jump between subjects. It's OK to pause for a moment if you have momentarily lost your train of thought. Better yet, see if there is a function to erase your message entirely and then call back when you are better focused.

?DO organize your thoughts in advance.

At work, make messages short and to the point. A general rule of thumb is one subject per message. This usually assures a faster response.

At home, think about the best way to reach your friends and family. If you need to convey urgent or sensitive information, you can mark the message urgent or use the voice-mail system to simultaneously page the person you are trying to reach. Consider developing an action plan for using voice mail to reach household members in an emergency.

Whether at work or home, DON'T just pick up the phone and decide what you need to say as soon as you hear the beep. Nine times out of 10, you will end up sounding disorganized or unprepared.

?DO make the subject of the message meaningful and appropriate. Use voice mail at work as a tool to ask specific questions or relay important or timely information.

Use voice mail at home to send group messages to family and friends when planning get-togethers, family picnics, carpools, etc.

DON'T send messages at work that are better suited for a written format. While detail is good, don't explain an entire procedure or give formal approval via voice mail unless you are faced with unusual circumstances.

When at home, don't send group messages to family and friends that are more appropriate for individuals. Using the group-send option is not appropriate when you are sending holiday greetings or condolences.

For voice-mail recipients:

?DO provide an informative greeting.

At work, try to update your greeting daily. A personal greeting stating both the date and your current availability (or lack thereof) is preferred to a general personal introduction.

You should also include an option for callers to talk to someone immediately in your absence (i.e., dialing "O" for the operator or an alternate extension), as well as an option to leave a message without having to listen to your entire greeting (i.e., "Dial 1 to skip this greeting and leave a message.").

Of course, it is always a good idea to review your greeting each time it is updated.

At home, provide a clear, concise greeting. Whether you opt for the automated greeting to maintain privacy or you prefer a more personal greeting, you should always keep the greeting simple.

At work, don't use the automated greeting many systems provide as an alternative to a personal greeting. Most callers find this impersonal and are often left questioning whether you are actually checking your messages on a regular basis.

At home, don't use the greeting as a platform for your favorite song or a cutesy introduction. One representative of the household should provide the introductory greeting, including instructions for leaving messages in specific mailboxes. Each family member can provide their own personal greeting in their individual mailboxes.

?DO manage messages well. At work, respond to and delete messages promptly. Also at the office, always try to return voice mail within 24 hours. It is important to let callers know that you check your voice mail frequently. Also, don't forget to prioritize return calls depending upon call urgency.

Whether at home or work, don't use your voice mail as a filing system. Pay attention to how you use storage space.

If you save only your most important messages, you may spend more time enjoying the benefits of the service and less time weeding through your messages.

INSET CAPTION:

It's OK to pause

for a moment if you have momentarily lost your train of thought.[[In-content Ad]]

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