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Voicemail For Therapists: 6 ways to improve your message and hang on to that client

It's impossible to be available to answer the phone when a potential client calls. But first impressions really do matter.

So if you're a therapist, how can you ensure your voicemail message leaves the right impression and encourages them to actually leave a message?

Well, here are 6 ways to improve your voicemail message so you don't lose that client without even knowing it. 

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Are you losing clients without even knowing it?

Some time ago, I ran the Lincoln Counsellors Network which was basically a chance for therapists in the area to meet up and connect with peers. 

We got together once a month, had a monthly subject to discuss, had guests come and share their expertise. And then we went for lunch. 

I loved the Lincoln Counsellors Network!

From time to time, I’d contact local therapists to invite them along.

And I can't tell you how often I’d call and no one answered, leaving the phone to just kept ringing.

Or there would be no answer, and then the generic message that came with the phone would click on. 

Which I guess doesn't really matter when friends or someone you know calls. 

But imagine you are feeling troubled and need some help. 

Maybe you've nervously browsed the web to find a therapist you like the look of - one that has both experience in the issues you're dealing with and also seems approachable and warm.  

It might take a while to pluck up the courage to call that number.

Maybe you've kept the number in your diary for a couple of weeks, and every time you go to dial the number your hands shake and you put the phone back down again.  

Until eventually, you pluck up the courage to ring and make an appointment and nervously dial the number…

Ring ring.

No answer. Oh.

Or

Ring ring

No answer, then generic mobile phone voicemail message. Oh!

Do you leave a message, not really knowing if your confidential, personal message will get to the right person?

Well, I wouldn't!

No, you feel let down and go to the next person on your list.

So you could be losing clients without even knowing it. Ouch! 

Another head/desk moment

First impressions matter

Your client is looking for a safe place to go and talk through their difficulties. It's the job of the therapist to make this process as easy and welcoming for them as possible. 

So if their first impression of you isn’t a good one, it has an impact - and they might just go to the next person on their list. And obviously, you don't want that to happen. 

Your potential clients need to know that if they leave a voicemail message, it reaches the right person and that it will be confidential. That only you will hear it. 

So it makes sense that when clients want to use your services - which for some people takes a whole lot of courage to pick up that phone - you provide an amazing experience for them.

6 ways to improve your voicemail message

1. Have a dedicated phone just for your business.  

It's not expensive to get a mobile phone and a SIM only pay as you go deal.  In fact, I just fired up Google and found a basic phone that included £10 credit for just £14.99. That could last you months.

With a dedicated phone, your voicemail message can be specific to your private practice.

This has the added bonus of making it easy to 'switch off' work' for the day and achieve a better work/life balance.

2. What to say in your voicemail message

Your voicemail message should be short, clear and to the point. You need to confirm they've reached the right place, that the message will be confidential (make sure it is) and what action you want them to take next.

Before you speak take a deep, calming breath and speak slowly and clearly, especially if you have an accent. And keep it short. Practice saying it out loud a few times before you record it. 

An example of a simple voicemail message:

Hi

You've reached the confidential voicemail of ________ , therapist.

I'm unable to answer your call at the moment, so please leave your name, phone number and a short message I'll return your call as soon as possible.

Thank you

Depending on who you work with, you may wish to include instructions on what to do if the caller is in crisis, like visit their GP, call The Samaritans, go to the emergency department at the hospital or call 999.  

Or you could direct them to a crisis page on your website with contact details of helplines etc. Make it simple for them to find, so something like www.yourwebsite.com/crisis, which is easy to say in a voicemail message. 

Take a look at mental health charity Minds website for inspiration
 

3. Friendly and professional

Remember, first impressions count so you want to sound both warm and professional.

TIP: When you record the message, stand up as this will make you sound more confident.

And smile! Smiling softens the voice and gives a warmth to your message.

4. Check and reply

Some clients will have a shortlist of people they want to call, so you may not be the only one they are considering. It sounds obvious, but make sure you check your messages regularly and reply as soon as you possibly can.

It's frustrating to discover you've lost a client simply because you weren't quick enough to get back to them.

5.  Use a service

If you work full-time or have other commitments, it might not be easy to stay on top of your calls and messages. So it could be worth considering using a call answering service.  

Basically, it's like having a receptionist to answer your calls and take messages.  

There are many services out there at all different price ranges. Some are specifically for health service providers and as such have a better understanding of the need for confidentiality.

TIP: Questions to consider asking are what training they receive and how they handle confidentiality.

6. Password protect your voicemail

Protect yourself and your clients by adding a password.


It's time for action!

My challenge to you is to look at the process around how clients contact you, and make it as simple and user-friendly as possible. 

And for more help with giving a great first impression, check out episode 78 ‘Why smooth onboarding helps the therapy process, with Kim Simmons’ 

You can't help people if they can't get in touch with you so please, don’t lose that client.

And if you'd like some help attracting more client enquiries, check out the Grow Your Private Practice book. Find it on Amazon

Her chapter on Imposter Syndrome is a must

Victoria Telfer-Smith

Seriously, it is written like Jane is talking to you in the room.  

I love it and am a super fan! She gives you all you need and more.

For example, her chapter on Imposter Syndrome is a must, everyone will benefit from it and the tips on how to deal with it. Not to mention what clients really want and how to get them to your business.

Denfinitely buy this book if you want a profitable practice!

Grow Your Private Practice book, for counsellors and psychotherapists

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Jane


Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.