A small thing, but a big thing – really. Hey, I’m not perfect, but I need to rant.

Here’s message for small to medium sized businesses: First impressions are soooooo important! Even the big companies get it wrong sometimes.

So admittedly, I’m a little biased. But when I call businesses, and I hear the most boring, most dreadful voicemail system (IN THE WORLD) I am…..deflated.

Maybe it doesn’t matter to some people, but surely it is plausible that voicemail systems can influence perception about businesses. Many businesses give the wrong impression with bad voicemail systems. Think about it for a minute.

Even if you can’t afford to hire a professional service or pay for a professional voice, put some love into it people!!! Customers are calling! At minimum, find your most dynamic employee and get him/her to do it. Gee, maybe a little creativity might help. Give customers something interesting to hear when they call. You don’t have to be a comedian or the voice of God, but pllllleeeeease do more than this:

“You’ve reached the voicemail system for {BUSINESS}” (Gee, well no kidding?!!!).

“Your call is important to us” (That’s debatable – there’s no human being taking my call)

“Please leave a message after the beep and we will get back to you” (DUH…unless you have been living in a cave or you’ve not picked up a phone in the last 30+ years, most people know what to do after the beep. You don’t need to waste valuable airtime telling them).

You’ve heard it all before…the-nothing new-nothing interesting-just neutral-no value-add, boring-what-everybody-else-is-doing-syndrome.

Think of voicemail as an opportunity or even better, a 10 second commercial. Create something memorable. And if you can’t do that, at least come up with your own tag line in the voicemail. [“Thank you for calling {BUSINESS}, where we’re working so hard, we can’t even answer the phone. We promise to call you back when we take our next coffee break.”]

And if you’re going to put customers on hold, here’s an opportunity to produce something that emphasizes your company’s brand, products and/or services. With all the recording software and royalty-free music available, surely it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to make something special for your company? Don’t just give your customers dead air.

I’m not saying that voicemail systems will make or break a business. But it sure will help shape perceptions!