The answering machine is more than 35 years old, and voicemail’s been around over 25 years. Before I even dig in to the topic I’m writing about, I still get a kick out of messages that start with “Hi, I’m unable to get to the phone, but if you wait for the tone…” Are there really people out there on the other end thinking, “Wow, when did Bob get this magical system that answers the phone when he’s not around? That’s NEAT!“ So maybe we can all “jump into the 80s” and tighten up our greetings a tad?
As many people know, most voicemail systems allow the caller to skip over the greeting and jump straight into leaving a message. If you know this, you probably also know that between the 4 major US carriers, there are three completely different voicemail systems. Furthermore, you probably don’t remember which of your friends are on which carrier (unless you only have 2 friends). So even if you do remember than the * key skips for Verizon customers, you get a little hesitant to push it since it goes into “enter PIN” mode for Cingular (er, AT&T?) and you aren’t quite sure if Jimbo is still IN your network or not.
So I’ve got my handy-dandy little system that actually works all the time, and it works like this:
- Step One:
Get a box.Push 1. If your friend is on Sprint (or possibly Verizon, but not always), this skips the greeting and you are done, skip to End. IF you hear a message that says “One is not a valid option” skip to Step Three below, otherwise continue to Step Two.
- Step Two: Push *. If your friend is on Verizon, you’ll hear the beep, and can leave your message. Skip ahead to the end now.
- Step Three: Push #. This works for both Cingular and T-Mobile subscribers, and you’re all set to go.
- End: Go ahead and leave that message (which, ideally speaking, really only says something like “Hi, it’s Freddy, I’ll be available for that meeting after 2pm, call me back” and not something like “Hello there Gregory, it’s Marjorie Simpson calling you back from the voicemail you left me earlier today. Regarding the meeting, I will be able to join at 2pm, but only for about 45 minutes and then I have to jump onto the call with the guy from Amazon, and that’s gonna go another hour or two, but then I’m freed up again. Also, I did want to let you know that I got your email regarding the shipping confusion, and let me explain to you in detail what I meant…“).
Hope this helps!
ps – By the way, one other little voicemail etiquette thought while I’m at it: if you are leaving your phone number for someone, leave it s-l-o-w-l-y! Assume that while you say the area code they are just fetching a pen. And these damn wrong number dialers. What the hell do we do about them?