Handling Voicemail Messages

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Voicemails are a great tool to have in this age of technology, especially since the employee may not always be at their desk or may be busy taking calls from another customer. It is important to understand how to retrieve and deliver these messages efficiently so that critical information isn’t lost and the chance to build a professional relationship isn’t missed.

Ensure the Voicemail Has a Proper Greeting 

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When establishing your own voicemail, it is important to have a proper greeting message for your callers to hear. For your personal voicemail, record your own message in your own voice. Include your name, title and department when possible. Many callers already feel as though the call is impersonal once they reach the voicemail and they want to be reassured that they have reached the right person before they leave their information. If you are going to be away for an extended period (i.e. vacation, business travel), it is helpful to include this information on your voicemail greeting so that callers can know to expect a callback once you return.

Voicemail tips:

  • Record your own greeting
  • Avoid automated greetings
  • Include your name and department
  • Give it a personal touch

Answer Important Messages Right Away

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A voicemail can contain several messages at once from numerous sources. Although they can seem overwhelming at times, it is important to determine which messages are urgent and need to be answered right away. Every department is different and will have a different definition of urgent calls, but urgent generally refers to calls that cannot wait too long to be answered or they can cause damage in some form or fashion. This include messages from angry or upset callers, a call from a customer needing answers right away or messages that have gone unanswered for an extended period of time. Urgent calls should typically be answered within 24 hours of receiving them. If you do not have the answers/resources they need, give them a call to let them know that you did receive their message and that you are currently seeking the information they need and will call them back as soon as you have it. If possible, give an estimated time frame for your return call.

Ensure Messages are Delivered to the Right Person

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This can seem like a simple task, but there are many times a message is delivered to the wrong person or delivered to someone that is not able to relay the message, so it is never answered. If you receive a voicemail on your personal line for someone else, take note of the caller’s name, the employee’s name and if the caller mentions what department they are in. If the employee is in your department, then pass the message along by hand and let them know you received it by mistake on your line. If they are in a different department or area, speak to human resources or a company courier as to how you can have the message safely delivered to them. If you are checking a department voicemail that covers several different employees, the process should be similar. Ensure that you record the caller’s name and information, if there is a certain employee they are trying to reach and the purpose for their call. If you cannot return the call, it is important to deliver the message to someone who can so that the message does not go unanswered.

When Leaving a Message for Others

Leaving a voicemail message for someone can sometimes feel like an art form. Many voicemail machines only allow a certain amount of time to leave a message, so it’s important to only leave the essential information with enough details for the recipient to know why you called. When on a voicemail, leave your name and title. Also leave the date and time that you called and the reason you’re calling. Finally, be sure to leave a good contact number where you can be reached and the best time of day to contact you. Try and limit your message to one topic at a time and do not overload the voicemail with various topics.


  • Leave your name, title and department
  • Leave the date and time you called
  • Include the best number and time of day to reach you

Case Study

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Casey was checking the department voicemail system for any recent messages. Several message were not very urgent and she noted that she would call them back later in the afternoon. However, the next message she received was for one of her coworkers, Andrew, and the caller stated that it was urgent to speak with him. Casey wrote the information down and made a note of when they called. First, Casey tried calling Andrew’s extension, but he wasn’t available. Casey left him a brief message stating her name, why she was trying to reach him, and left her desk extension number to call back to. After that, Casey decided to ask one of the team leaders if they knew where Andrew was working today. They told her he was working on a project in sales and told her where he would be. Once Casey found Andrew, she gave him the message and told him it was urgent. Andrew thanked her for the message and told her he had been waiting on this caller all day, so her assistance was very helpful.