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  • Writer's pictureWes Burwell


How many of you can imagine a world without cell phones? Yet again, how many of you can imagine a world without voice mail?

It may be hard to imagine such a world, but I want to assure you that there was a time when there were no cell phones and no voice mail. As a matter of fact, this was the business world I entered after completing college.

My first job was with a Fortune 500 firm, and when we were out of the office and wanted to check our messages, we would call the office and ask for the message center. When you reached the message center you would speak to a lady who had a circular rolodex in front of her with a slot for messages for each employee. When you reached her, she would go to your slot and pull out a certain number of pink sheets on which were written your messages.

If we fast forward to today, we are aware that things have vastly improved. We now have cell phones so that we can now check messages on our own devices. In addition, when we call for an individual, we are not forwarded to a message center. Rather we are forwarded either to them or to their voice mail.

Today if we’re calling for someone that is not available, we normally hear some type of recorded voice mail message indicating that we are free to leave a message at the sound of the tone.

As with all things, some voice mail messages are better than others. However, there is one voice mail message that I frequently hear that I place at the top of the list as the worst voice mail message ever.

The message I’m referring to is the one that states to the caller that “I’m not available, but you may leave a message and I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience,”

Now you may be asking why I think this is the worst voice mail message ever. To answer that, let’s assume you have a severe toothache and call to schedule an appointment with your dentist. I’m wondering how you would feel if the receptionist told you that the dentist was not available and that he would call you back at his/her earliest convenience. Upon hearing this you might be thinking “obviously I’m not that important to them,” and you would also be somewhat frustrated with your dentist.

As another example, suppose you’ve had a high fever for days and have been experiencing chest pains. Again, I ask how you would feel if you called your doctor’s office, and after communicating the issues you’re facing to the receptionist you were advised that you would receive a call back at the doctor’s earliest convenience. I don’t know about you, but I would probably be wondering when I would become enough of a priority for him to call me back (like most of you, I would also immediately find another doctor).

Now if your current voice mail message states that you will return calls at your earliest convenience, you probably were not aware of the message being conveyed. However, now that some light has been shed on the matter, I would suggest that if your current voice mail message is the worst voicemail message ever, do yourself a favor and destroy it, bury it, and let never it be resurrected.

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