Endless voice mail greetings


I’m not a huge fan of voice mail, but I understand it’s not going away anytime soon. With that said, I am constantly amazed at the absurdly long greetings that accompany some people’s outgoing messages. Worse, many voice mail systems make you listen to a ton of rarely-used options before you can simply leave a message.

Here’s an example. Say I call John Smith and he’s not in the office. I might get his greeting that says: “Hi, you have reached the voice mailbox for John Smith, Senior Widget Engineer at Acme Corp. I’m either in a meeting, or on the phone, or out of the office, so please leave a message with your name, telephone number, account number, and the nature of your call so I can you back soon.” Then, you hear another voice from the phone system, which chimes in with: “To leave a voice message, just wait for the tone. To page this person, press 5. To try another extension, press 6. To dial the operator, press 0.” All told, I have heard this little charade go on for as long as two minutes. That’s just absurd, and it’s a waste of the caller’s time.

To fix this, start by shortening your outgoing message. Virtually everyone knows how to leave a message these days, so you don’t need to hold their hand the whole way through. Something like “This is John with Acme Corp, please leave a message including your account number and I’ll call you back” would do just fine. Then, tame the computer demons by getting rid of all those options that nobody uses. The last time I checked, a simple “beep” would do the trick.