PhoneMail Tips

Opinions from our customers regarding the use of PhoneMail range from "It's Great!" to "Throw it Out!" PhoneMail is a technology that can be used correctly and create a positive image for you and the University, or it can be used incorrectly and create a negative image. This section contains some hints and tips to ensure that callers experience PhoneMail as an easy-to-use technology which improves the way they communicate with you and the University. Effective use of PhoneMail is a mix of awareness, experience and courtesy. Use these tips to develop an appropriate communication style that is professional and friendly to outside callers and to co-workers.

The following topics are covered on this page:

Greeting Examples

For an individual
"You've reached the office of William Peny, Director of Operations. I'm either on the phone or away from the office. Please leave a detailed message at the sound of the tone and I'll return your call. If you need assistance immediately, please depress 0# and your call will be transferred to the department receptionist at 713-743-XXXX. If you'd like to bypass this message next time you call, press 1 at any time to leave a message. Thank You."

For a department
"You've reached the Basketball Office of Athletics. Sorry we can't take your call at this time; however, if you leave a message your call will be returned. Or if you wish to speak to someone immediately, please depress 0# and you'll be transferred to the Athletic departmental secretary."

Know Your Listener

Communication is a two-way process. As a sender, you should keep both sides of the communication in mind when creating and sending a message. Ask yourself: Who is my audience? What attitude do I expect my receiver to have toward my information and what attitude do I want him to have? What action (if any) do I want him to take as a result of my message? Determine the most important thing to tell your caller. Address only one or two topics per message.

Personalize Your Greeting

Callers expect to hear your voice when they call. Do not use the system greeting to provide your greeting. Create your own greeting and change it frequently. If you know you're going to be out of your office all day, don't let your greeting tell your callers that you're away for a few minutes. The manner in which you record your name and personal greeting helps create a climate for positive communication. Although a brief greeting is often best, you need to give callers as much information as necessary to put them at ease. Outside callers uneasy with the technology often worry about which key to press and when to press it, and about how their voice and message sound.

Delivery, Pitch, Tone

The secret of good delivery is being comfortable, conversational, and enthusiastic in your expression. Vary your rate of delivery, pitch and tone for best results. Be sensitive, as a sender and a receiver, to the non-verbal elements of communications: the speaker's emphasis, mood, and tone of voice. The sound, emotion, and nuance of your voice is often as important as your choice of words. Get in the habit of holding the telephone mouthpiece about 3-5 inches from your mouth. Breathe before you begin recording your greeting or message and speak naturally.

Leave Detailed Messages

Avoid telephone tag by leaving detailed messages. If requesting information, make sure your message is complete and concise. Good information helps the recipient respond completely to your PhoneMail inquiry. Practice getting to the point quickly and clearly. Interest in the message is a comprehension factor. Create interest by getting the attention of your receiver in the first few phrases. Be brief. If you're rambling, re-record your message. State the key point by the third sentence. Don't save a surprise for the end of your message.

Select the Right Medium

Talk live or write a memo if the topic is sensitive or complex. When you choose to send a PhoneMail message, on some level you are eliminating other communication channels (paper memo, real-time phone call, in-person visit, fax, electronic mail) as less appropriate or effective. Consider the length of your message, the information content, level of detail, urgency, and confidentiality when deciding which communication medium to use.

PhoneMail Jail

Always give your callers the option to transfer to a person. Some callers dislike "talking" to a machine. Giving them the option of leaving a message with a person is a step towards helping them overcome such objections. Make certain the choices you have selected make sense for your callers and will be easily understood. Anyone serving as an alternative answering point to a PhoneMail user should never have his number forwarded to PhoneMail. If a caller elects to talk to a person rather than leave a message in your PhoneMailbox, he should not be transferred into a second mailbox. No caller should ever be trapped in PhoneMail Jail!

Helpful Hints

Tell people who call you regularly to Press 1 to skip your personal greeting on future calls. Press * to cancel what you're doing; the system will return you to the previous command. You may enter the next command over the system prompts and proceed before the prompting is complete. Remember: Enter your own greeting in your PhoneMail box!






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