Your Telephone Message Says a Lot About You

April 3, 2015

Most people record their outgoing message without realizing what it says about them. In the old days, waaay long before voice mail, when telephone answering machines first came into being, I was one of those people who didn’t realize what my message said about me.

My very first outgoing message played upon the image of a happy dog wagging his tail and I recorded it in a perky voice. It said: “Hi, there. I hate to brag but this machine is so intelligent it thinks it’s human. When it hears your voice, it becomes so excited that its recording tape goes into action. It has such a wonderful memory that just by a flip of a switch it repeats your whole conversation word for word. Where else can you get such an enthusiastic response? Try it . . . you’ll like it. At the sound of the tone, leave your name, telephone number, and message, and be recorded for posterity.”

I got a lot of comments about my message. One day, I answered my phone and a man said, “Oh, I didn’t want to speak to you; I just wanted to hear your outgoing message.” I offered to hang up and let him hear the message but he declined.

Another call I received was from a newspaper reporter wanting to do a story on my answering machine’s message. This time I declined. And still, another incident was when my friend and I were waiting in line to be seated at a restaurant and I was telling her about the comments I was getting on my outgoing message. A man who was standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to tell him what my message said.

Those were the early days when you could have fun with your answering machine. It was so new that most people didn’t have them and so it was a novelty to hear an electronic device taking down your message. Nowadays, it’s serious business and it says a lot about you. It especially says a lot about the business you are representing.

Not too long ago, I called a company during business hours and I got a recorded message that said, “Please leave your name and number and I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience.”

My first reaction was, “WHAT??” So I dialed the long distance number a second time to be sure I was hearing the message correctly. I couldn’t imagine a company’s outgoing message saying that they would return my call at THEIR earliest convenience, so I called the number a third time. And, yes, I had heard it correctly the first and second times; it did say that my call would be returned at THEIR earliest convenience.

That outgoing message said a lot about the company. I hung up and placed my order with another company.

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