A friend and I recently had a conversation about the ubiquity of flowery BS language that is used in business. For example “We built our business on the foundation of individualized personal service for our customers.” Well, duh. Doesn’t every business want to brag about how much they love their customers? My friend observed if he ever saw a website that said “We hate people but will help you anyway”, he would give them his business just for being honest.
What if instead of answering the phone “Thank you for calling XYZ company”, they said “XYZ Company; this is John. What do YOU want?” And their voicemail message would say “We can’t come to the phone. Please leave a message and we will call you back when we feel like it, assuming you speak clearly enough that I can understand what your phone number is. And don’t expect us to look up your number if you don’t give it to us. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just be honest in our voicemail greetings? Right now the voicemail on my cellphone says something boring and professional like “I’m not available to take your call. Please leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I’m able.” But some days I would really like it to say something like this:
“You’ve reached my voicemail. Most likely this is because I am too busy to talk on the phone right now. It could also be I saw your name on the caller ID and sent you to voicemail because I don’t have time for your bullshit. We both know I’m probably not going to call you back because I will get distracted as soon as I listen to your message and forget that you even called me, so why don’t you just hang up and send me an email or a text message, and I will get back to you whenever I have a spare moment. Probably next time I use the bathroom. If you haven’t heard back from me in 24 hours, feel free to try again. Have a great day!”
“This is Kari’s voicemail. If you are listening to this it’s because I didn’t answer the phone. You know why? I don’t like to talk on the phone. Before you leave a message consider carefully if this is really the best option. Unless someone is dead or in the hospital, you’d probably be better off texting or emailing me. If someone IS dead or in the hospital for god’s sake don’t tell me in a voicemail; hang up and call me back until I answer.”
But I can’t because I am a grownup, and I am terrified of offending people. If I were to suddenly become independently wealthy, I might just do it. I can picture it now:
Reporter: “You just won the $100 million jackpot! What are you going to do next?”
Me: “I’m going to change my voicemail greeting!”
Now it’s your turn to weigh in, friends. What would your honest voicemail message say?