May 24, 2022

Eight Best Practices in Your Voice-Mail “Away” Message

“Hi, this is Kevin. I’m away from my desk right now but ..”

Sound familiar? A good Away message saves you time, makes the best use of your schedule and serve as a claim service booster. A lame Away message causes time management headaches, erodes your professional image and spawns customer frustration.

Voice Mail

Let’s look at eight best practices in designing your Away message:

1. Project! Does your Away message sound interested and energized or flat and bored? Like it or not, callers may draw inferences about you, depending upon what they hear when they get your recorded Away message. Like it or not, fair or unfair, callers are forming impressions of you. Make it a good one by projecting energy and attention to detail in your brief voice-mail Away message. Claim professionals are constantly trying to build and reinforce their credibility and their personal “brand.” You do not do this if you record your Away message when you are angry, fatigued or distracted. You do not have to take a course on Method acting, but project vibrancy in your Away message!

2. If you intend to change it daily, do so daily! Keep your message current. When I call somebody, get their voice mail message, and their message is clearly out of date, it tells me they are not on top of their workload or business. That is not the kind of impression a claims professional wants to make. If you plan to change your greeting every day, (“Hi, this is Kevin on Monday, March 19th …”) discipline yourself to do so daily, even if you’re out of the office. Otherwise, have a “generic” greeting not pegged to a specific date and does not force you to change the date every 24 hours.

3. Allow a bail-out option for those who want to bypass the voice mail greeting. Many people calling the claims department are repeat callers, people who call you again and again. Indicate what button they press or what commands they use an order to shortcut having to sit through your message for the 1000th time. They will appreciate this. Also, if there is number callers can press in order to be connected immediately with a living breathing human being, include data.

4. Keep it short! I don’t need to know your life’s story or travel itinerary. I have heard voicemail greetings that go on and on for minutes. Who has time for that? I once made the mistake of asking an elderly aunt about her diverticulitis. Before I knew it, she was demonstrating to me how her ostomy bag worked! (One school of thought that you never ask an elderly person, “How are you feeling?” This may lead to an ultimate Snickers Moment — you’re not going anywhere for a long while!) Nowadays we call that “TMI” – Too Much Information. Keep your Away message short and sweet.

5. Leave emergency or urgent contact information. Claim files never get sick and they never go on vacation. You, however, occasionally do. If callers have an emergency or an urgent matter that simply cannot wait until you get back – not unusual in claim departments — leave the name and phone number of your backup. Arrange such a backup before you leave for your vacation, business trip, et cetera. If you are out of the office sick, dial-in and leave those instructions remotely. Engage in “swap” agreements within the claims team so that you cover for other people when they are out and they reciprocate when you are out.

6. If you aren’t checking voice mail, say so. Sometimes you may be in locations where you cannot access voicemail. Maybe phone connections are scarce or temperamental. Perhaps you want to unplug from work, clear your head and not be a slave to checking voicemail regularly. To calibrate customer and caller expectations, do not be afraid to flatly state that you will not be checking voicemail during the time you’re out.

7. State when you’ll be back. Let callers know when you will be back in the office. This also calibrates their expectations as to when they will hear back from you. You might even consider adding a day or two as a cushion, which leads to the next point….

8.Calibrate the “official” return to office date. Let’s say you have been out of the office during the week of March 12 through March 16. You will return to the office on Monday, March 19 but you know you will be swamped that first day back with catch-up e-mails, returning phone calls, claim team meetings, etc. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with stating in your voicemail message that you will be back in your office on March 20th or March 21st. Notice you did not say that your first day back in the office was March 20th or March 21st. This gives you March 19th and perhaps March 20th to dig out and get current. Without this, I have literally had situations where, 20 minutes after arriving at the office on March 19th, an attorney would call me to follow up on something that she had left a message on during the preceding week.

Assess your own Away message. Does it reflect positively upon you as a claim professional? Is it concise and helpful?

Maybe you have other best practices in this realm. If so, you can call me with them, though – when you phone– you may get my Away message….

(By the way, you can now AUTOMATICALLY receive the weekly Claims Coach blog columns by subscribing on my website!)


  1. Maybe one more to add…get it professionally recorded. While it’s not obvious at first, a professionally recorded voicemail greeting is a way to do everything you’ve listed above – have great quality of voice, make sure your script is accurate, reflect on details. Plus, if you’re away from the office for an extended period, a professional voice over can help boost your image, although you’re unavailable:

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