Upgrading My Standard Messages

I thought it was about time to overhaul my standard voice mail greetings. I’ve been following the same procedure for several years.

An Office Telephone - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MotoEd, Image #101363

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MotoEd

I generally update my office phone message daily. I liked providing the current date to let callers know that I was checking my messages regularly. But that has proven to be more trouble than it’s worth.

So, I have now gone to this greeting:

Hi, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of Mike Hyatt. Please note: you can bypass this message at any time by pressing “1.” I’m sorry I am not available right now; however, your call is very important to me. If you’ll leave a message, I’ll get back to you at my first opportunity. If you need faster service, please send me an e-mail at mhyatt at thomasnelson.com or press “0,#” and speak with my assistant, Vicki. Thanks.

Note that I am trying to redirect people to e-mail. This is much more efficient to me than playing the inevitable phone tag, going through the usual chit-chat when we finally connect, and then getting to the reason for the call. Granted, sometimes calls—or even face-to-face meetings—are necessary. But in my experience, 90% of calls or meetings could be better handled via e-mail.

My cell phone greeting is similar, except that you can’t bypass the message by pressing “1”:

Hi, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of Mike Hyatt. I’m sorry I am not available right now; however, your call is very important to me. If you’ll leave a message, I’ll get back to you at my first opportunity. If you need faster service, please send me an e-mail at mhyatt at thomasnelson.com or call my assistant, Vicki, at (555) 555-5555. Thanks.

A few days ago, I wrote about trying to break my e-mail addiction. It is working out remarkably well. However, I have now shortened by auto-responder message. I want to set people’s expectations, but I don’t think I need to go into the long rationale I was previously providing. Here is my current one:

Hi,

I have received your e-mail message. However, I am not currently online.

Just so you know, I generally read and respond to e-mail twice a day—usually in the middle of the workday and then again before I leave the office. I do not check e-mail in the evenings or on weekends.

If you need faster response than this—and your request is truly urgent—call Vicki Parr, my assistant, at (555) 555-5555 or call my cell phone.

Kind regards,

Mike

Changing these messages is part of my continuing quest to be more productive and yet get people what they need.

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  • michael

    I understand what you’re trying to do, but I think I’d get annoyed if after emailing I was told to call, which then instructed me to email.

  • michael

    I understand what you’re trying to do, but I think I’d get annoyed if after emailing I was told to call, which then instructed me to email.

  • Kyle Olund

    Mike, have you included your signature in your out-of-office (or, rather, working-offline) message? I noticed that when I just set this up for myself and tried it out, I received the note but without my officially-sanctioned and required signature.

  • Kyle Olund

    Mike, have you included your signature in your out-of-office (or, rather, working-offline) message? I noticed that when I just set this up for myself and tried it out, I received the note but without my officially-sanctioned and required signature.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Kyle,

    If you will send me a message, you should get back the message I am sending out. I couldn't insert the graphics, but the signature information block is there.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Kyle,

    If you will send me a message, you should get back the message I am sending out. I couldn’t insert the graphics, but the signature information block is there.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://thetalkingtoaster.blogspot.com/ Lisa Rollins

    Mike:

    Thanks for posting something about how you use VM. I find phonecalls to be almost as time-consuming as email, partially because all “outside” calls in our building are anonymous (the phone doesn’t have caller ID), so you don’t know if the call will be from someone who has a 3-minute question or from someone who will take up 40 minutes of your time. You also can’t predict how urgent something truly is until you pick up the phone (with email, you can at least scan it and decide to deal with it later).

    As someone in an assistant position, I am trying to strike the balance between being helpful and getting things done. Sometimes it seems that people feel I am the only person who can answer their questions because all other resources are out of the office or unreachable at the time. This can lead to a whole day of helping other people (which I truly find great joy in), while not checking a single thing off of my To Do list. So I am using the guideline of “How stressed out do I feel at the moment?” to judge how responsive I’ll be on any given day. Unfortunately, this isn’t consistent day-to-day, but I don’t know how another way to strike a balance between “being at everyone’s beck and call” and “working from home virtually.”

    I’m getting ready to start the twice-a-day email-checking and I am uninstalling AOL IM from my computer (which I have always felt was a waste of time). I feel that educating people to appreciate the productivity that I get from responding less quickly to their needs is an uphill battle, but I am ready for a work-life-balance revolution.

    I also joke that I have been watching a lot of dog training shows on TV and have become convinced that greater discipline leads to greater happiness. When people know what the guidelines are, there is less mystery to life and therefore less to worry about (not to compare people to dogs, but I think there’s a worthwhile principle to be found there).

    Thanks for giving us the permission to try out something like this at Nelson.

  • http://thetalkingtoaster.blogspot.com/ Lisa Rollins

    Mike:

    Thanks for posting something about how you use VM. I find phonecalls to be almost as time-consuming as email, partially because all "outside" calls in our building are anonymous (the phone doesn't have caller ID), so you don't know if the call will be from someone who has a 3-minute question or from someone who will take up 40 minutes of your time. You also can't predict how urgent something truly is until you pick up the phone (with email, you can at least scan it and decide to deal with it later).

    As someone in an assistant position, I am trying to strike the balance between being helpful and getting things done. Sometimes it seems that people feel I am the only person who can answer their questions because all other resources are out of the office or unreachable at the time. This can lead to a whole day of helping other people (which I truly find great joy in), while not checking a single thing off of my To Do list. So I am using the guideline of "How stressed out do I feel at the moment?" to judge how responsive I'll be on any given day. Unfortunately, this isn't consistent day-to-day, but I don't know how another way to strike a balance between "being at everyone's beck and call" and "working from home virtually."

    I'm getting ready to start the twice-a-day email-checking and I am uninstalling AOL IM from my computer (which I have always felt was a waste of time). I feel that educating people to appreciate the productivity that I get from responding less quickly to their needs is an uphill battle, but I am ready for a work-life-balance revolution.

    I also joke that I have been watching a lot of dog training shows on TV and have become convinced that greater discipline leads to greater happiness. When people know what the guidelines are, there is less mystery to life and therefore less to worry about (not to compare people to dogs, but I think there's a worthwhile principle to be found there).

    Thanks for giving us the permission to try out something like this at Nelson.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jpyshny jpyshny

    Mike,
    For your mobile phone:
    At the very beginning of your outgoing message, leave instructions for how to bypass this message: press * for Verizon, 1 for Sprint, # for AT&T, and # for T-Mobile.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jpyshny jpyshny

    Mike,
    For your mobile phone:
    At the very beginning of your outgoing message, leave instructions for how to bypass this message: press * for Verizon, 1 for Sprint, # for AT&T, and # for T-Mobile.

  • Kelvin99

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  • Kelvin99

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