Recall the last time you called a business and got a voice mail instead of a live person. Were you inclined to leave a message? Did the person or business you called represent themselves well or were you so turned off by the informality of the message you decided to keep looking for a more professional service provider?
Your insurance agency’s voice mail message says a lot about the rest of your business, and is often an insurance prospect’s first interaction with you. So, it’s critical that you make sure the voice potential and current clients hear is pleasant, professional, and informative, not informal and childish. You might be asking what we mean by informative but it's simpler than you think. Of course, you want to avoid cluttering the message with unneeded information but simply adding the name and extension of the person they are calling, a professional title, or department and company name will show more depth than just your name and saying "Hi you've reached Joe Smith Agency, please leave a message and we'll return your call shortly."
Tips for recording a your insurance agency VM message:
- Apologize or Sympathize - State you are sorry to have missed the person’s call, but want to speak with him or her and will return the call as soon as possible.
- Ask for Details - Ask the caller to leave a name, call back number, and a time they will be available, or an email address if they prefer to be contacted that way, so you won’t end up playing phone tag all day. Additionally, asking the reason they are calling might help you determine if it requires an immediate response and avoids wasting part of the next call to find out why you are needed. If you have an assistant, they might be able to help answer questions in your absence for a quick service to the client.
- Change Your Message Daily - If you tend to be away from the phone a lot during the day, you may want to change your message daily to include the date and your availability on that day. This shows that you are always in tune with your schedule and that you are keeping your clients in mind even when you're not available. It can get tedious, but a simple alarm on your phone could help you schedule this each day.
- Use a Different Voice - This can be tricky but if you are a smaller operation and especially if your unique voice tends to overshadow your message, have a friend or colleague record your VM message. It can show that you have more structure to your organization but also allows you to select a voice to fit your insurance agency brand.
- Have a Backup - If possible, some phones allow you to record multiple messages. Having a few backups will require an upfront investment in time but it will be easier to change quickly. Depending on when or what you are working on, you may need a different message. This can be especially useful for weekend messages.
Just as important as recording your own voice mail message, is leaving a voice mail for your clients. If a caller took the time to leave you a voice mail, they are interested in your products and service but what happens when you call back and start the dreaded game of phone tag? Here are some tips to help get a response to the message you leave your clients.
Tips when leaving messages for insurance prospects:
- Leave Complexity Behind - Avoid telling the whole story in 20 seconds or worse yet a 75 second information dump. Keep them interested by offering snippets of what you intend on helping them with but be sure to cite their question if they've asked one in their message to you. Also, simply closing with "please call me back" doesn't cut it anymore. Make the prospect want to call you back to find out how you can "save them money" or an "interesting thing" you "noticed" on their current or expect policy.
- Avoid Everything Else - This one should be obvious but you'd be surprised how many people try to multitask when leaving a message. Hearing papers shuffling or a keyboard being used is an instant turn off to clients. I won't even go into eating or chewing. When leaving a message, make sure that is what you're focusing on.
- Be Slow and Concise - The ideal message should be about 20 - 30 seconds and should address only one topic at a time. If your insurance prospect raises multiple questions, always look to the first question as the reason they are calling as it's usually the most important in their mind. After you've addressed that, let them know you have answers or have done/will do some research to answer their other questions also. If the client knows you are looking into something for them, they are less likely to cut the communication cord.
- Repeat Yourself - Once you've introduced yourself and provided the necessary information, always end with repeating your name or agency and your phone number when applicable. If your message is short enough, repeating your number twice cannot hurt. Today many people are using cell phones only and there are times when the digital signal gets interference and lucky you, it usually happens when your leaving your call back number.
- Mention Other Methods - If you cannot connect the first time and have their email address, tell them that you will send them a quick email summary if you have answers or additional questions. Just be sure to send the email if you mention it.
- Mention Referrals - If someone has referred you, always mention that up front as a way to break the ice. The client will know why you are calling and it may help you get a call back if they trust the referrer.
- Set a Time - Many people will not call back because they envision a long winded conversation with an insurance agent about the most boring topic ever! Try saying that you need about 5 -7 minutes of their time so they know that you're not going to absorb them into a conversation about insurance products and "sales". A common and similar tactic is to say "I only need 30 seconds of your time". Though people get what you mean, it's never true.
Just as important as the content in your call is the impression left on the caller. To make sure your message is going to be a good one, be sure to smile when you speak. The caller may not be able to see you, but he or she will be able to pick up on your attitude from the tone of your voice. Happy people are a lot more enjoyable to interact with than unhappy people. You should also be sure to speak clearly. If your voice sounds mumbled, have somebody else record your voicemail for you.
After you record your message, it’s a good idea to play it back to make sure it sounds good to you. If your first voice mail greeting doesn’t turn out the way you planned, record another one. If the second one isn’t good either, keep on trying until you get it right.
Your voice mail message may be the first impression a potential client has of your business, and you want them to think favorably of you from the start. Insurance is a tough business and you want to make sure prospects - and current clients - will consider you to be an agent they can trust and feel confident about.