Crest for Policies 

Policy J4
Policy Name:  Email, Telephone, and Voice Mail Usage
Responsibility for Maintenance: Information Technology

Date of most recent changes:  March 28, 2016

I. Policy Statement 

Telephone, voicemail, and email systems are resources and tools provided by OCC for the facilitation of communication in order to conduct College business. It is important for all to behave in a responsible, professional, ethical, and legal manner in using these resources and tools. Appropriate use, in general, means respecting the rights of other users and the integrity of the physical facilities, as well as all pertinent license and contractual agreements. Employees will use good judgment in personal use of these tools and such use will not interfere with work.

Employees are responsible for properly managing their email accounts and are expected to understand that the email system is for transitory correspondence and is not intended to function as a personal, departmental or project related electronic filing system or data repository.  Employees are responsible for routinely reviewing the contents of their mailbox in its entirety, deleting data that no longer has significance and for moving data that should be retained to an appropriate alternate storage location.  The college has fiscal responsibility to eliminate unnecessary file storage and apply efficient practices for retaining email data. 

The following procedures apply to the College email system; data is automatically purged with the retention schedule outlined below:

  • Junk email after 14 days
  • Drafts folder after 14 days
  • Sent items after 365 days
  • Deleted items folder after 14 days
  • Inbox after 365 days

OCC generally does not monitor email however employees should have no expectation of privacy and be aware that the system is not private. OCC reserves the right to monitor, access, and disclose email information as appropriate and to prevent certain protocols to maintain security, prevent unauthorized access and protect the environment from viruses and other potential risk factors.

Upon request, OCC may grant retirees in good standing the privilege and benefit of using the OCC email system. This is extended to employees retiring from full-time, permanent positions and who have worked for OCC for at least ten years. Retirees who meet these qualifications must sign a Retiree Email Account Request Form, obtain approval from Human Resources and comply with the procedures specified on the form.

II. Reason for Policy 

To ensure that telephone, voicemail and email tools are consistently used in an effective manner for conveying accurate and timely information both internally and externally in support of the College’s enterprise, as well as a community relations tool that helps to promote the College’s character, mission, and priorities.

III. Applicability of the Policy 

This Policy applies to all members of the OCC campus community.

IV. Related Documents 

V. Contacts  

Subject   Office Name   Title or Position  Telephone Number  Email/URL 
E-Mail Information Technology Chief Information Officer (315) 498-2399 
  Management Services   (315) 498-2566 

VI. Procedures 

Department supervisors and academic department chairs are responsible for providing information regarding OCC’s policies and procedures regarding telephone, voicemail and email systems usage to all full-time and part-time employees and to encourage and monitor compliance.

  • Inappropriate use of voicemail and/or email as a substitute for human contact;
  • Failure to update voicemail and email greetings to better assist those we serve;
  • Inappropriately lengthy voicemail and email greetings;
  • Other uses or misuses of communication technologies that compromise the effectiveness and efficiency of College operations.

Email Usage Standards and Guidelines 

The following standards and guidelines apply to use of the email system.

Email Usage 

Electronic mail (email) is a widely used communications tool to facilitate college business. The following guidelines are intended to help assure productive use of this technology.

  1. Consider whether email is the correct medium for your message as opposed to face-to-face meeting, telephone, regular mail, etc.
  2. Emails should contain only appropriate business-related content.
  3. Include a short descriptive subject line that aids the recipient to understand the topic and follow the same rules of writing as you would use in any document.
  4. Send the email message only to those who need to receive it and when you use a “Reply All” function, make sure you really want everyone to get your message.
  5. Avoid using all caps. 
  6. Email is not private and is easily forwarded on to others. Avoid sending confidential information by email.
  7. Laws that apply to copyright, discrimination, harassment, defamation, and privacy for written communication apply to email as well.
  8. Do not forward chain messages or reply to spam email. Be wary of hoaxes in the guise of virus warnings.
  9. The email system has the capability to automatically append a “signature” at the end of each email. Your signature should include name, institution (Onondaga Community College), position/title, phone number and email ID. (In OCC’s Outlook system find this function from the Inbox by going to File=>Options=>Mail=>Signatures).
  10. Your signature should include your contact data. It is inappropriate to include personal statements as part of your signature.

Telephone and Voicemail Usage Guidelines 

A phone conversation is usually the first contact a person has with Onondaga Community College. The telephone is a simple and effective method of portraying an image of professionalism, trust, and good relations. A professional attitude on the telephone or voicemail reflects a positive image of the College. Remember, your voice is you. Every time you make or receive a telephone call at work, you are representing yourself and your department.

Telephone Fundamental Rules: The following rules should be used when using the phone:

  • Answer incoming calls by the 2nd or 3rd ring.
  • Answer your phone when you are available to take calls. Using voicemail to avoid personally answering your phone is unacceptable.
  • Always identify yourself and your department. (Management Services, John speaking. How may I help you?”).
  • Speak clearly; put a smile in your voice.
  • If the caller has not identified him/herself, ask, “To whom am I speaking?” and use his/her name during the conversation.
  • Focus your full attention on the caller. Learn to listen without interrupting. Be as helpful as possible.
  • Personally handle as much of the transaction as you can. If you can’t address the caller’s needs, connect the caller to the appropriate individual.
  • If you need to leave the line to obtain information, give the caller the option of waiting or being called back.
  • If you must put a caller on hold, get back to him/her within 30 – 45 seconds. Thank the caller for waiting or assure the caller you will call back by a specific time and stick to it.
  • Always return calls within 24 hours. Failure to return calls is unprofessional and harmful to College relations.

Taking Messages: A message should always give the caller’s name, company, phone number and, if necessary, the best time to return the call.

Speakerphone Etiquette: Always ask permission of the other person before talking to him/her on the speakerphone, and always identify other people in the room.

Transferring Calls: You own the call placed on your line until you find the right party who can handle the caller’s request. When transferring calls observe the following:

  • Transfer callers only if you are certain that you cannot help the caller, and you are reasonably sure the person to whom the caller is being transferred can help the caller. Become familiar with the functions of other departments and individual responsibilities. This will aid in a correct transfer.
  • Give an explanation of why you are transferring a caller. Avoid expressions such as: “Just a minute” and “Hold on.”
  • After explaining to the caller that you are unable to answer his/her question, ask the caller if you can transfer the call to the appropriate individual or office.
  • Always give the caller the phone number and name (person and/or department) of the person you are transferring him/her to.
  • Do not blindly transfer calls.  Stay on the line until someone answers and advise that person about the name and nature/reason of the call transfer. If that person cannot handle the caller’s query, then ask for the caller’s name and contact information so you can call back with the correct department and contact information for that department.
  • If the caller seems annoyed about being transferred, suggest a callback rather than risk poor customer service. Unknown to you, the caller may have been bounced from one wrong number to another.


To utilize voicemail as an effective means of communication, be succinct when recording your personal greeting and when leaving a message in another mailbox. Proper use of the telephone and voicemail system can result in a more productive working environment.

Fundamental Rules: The following rules should be followed when using voicemail:

  • Check voicemail messages regularly. Return calls within 24 hours.
  • Voicemail should not be used to screen calls.
  • Calls should not be forwarded to voicemail unless absolutely necessary. Good judgment should be used.

Voicemail Greeting: When recording a greeting always include the following:

  • Establish a standard greeting for your office or department. (See below)
  • Identify yourself and your department.
  • Indicate whom to call for “immediate assistance”. This should be a live person and not another voicemail box. Please indicate your name and the hours of operation for the department.
  • Notify callers when on vacation or on extended leave. When appropriate, let the caller know whom to contact in your absence.
  • Greetings should not include personal “tag” lines containing messages of a spiritual,philosophical or a personal (non-business related) nature. 
  • To achieve a uniform presentation to the public, voice mail greetings should begin with:

“You have reached (your name) in the (department) of Onondaga Community College.”

  • The remainder of the greeting could be tailor-made for each individual employee/department. The following is a suggested greeting:
    “I am not available to take your call right now, but your message is important to me. Please leave your name and number with a brief message (that will help me to handle your request or to reply more quickly, etc.).”

If it’s a recording for a department function, i.e. transcript requests, faculty questions about report deadline dates, etc., then a customized message should be made to give callers more information or direct callers to another extension, or perform another step to accomplish their goals.

To maximize the features of our voicemail system and keep us in a positive light, no caller should be left in doubt about the disposition of his/her call. Reassurance should be given that each call to this campus is being taken seriously and handled efficiently.

To withstand scrutiny, voicemail should be accessed each day and acted upon quickly. If one is on vacation, or away from the phone for an extended period of time, a clear message to that effect should be placed on the phone and then changed immediately upon your return.

Leaving a Message: When leaving messages (voicemail or otherwise) consider the following:

  • Speak clearly and identify yourself (name and business).
  • Keep messages brief. Requests for information that are complete and concise allow the recipient to quickly and accurately respond to your call.
  • When leaving a voicemail message, keep content of the voicemail appropriate for business.
  • Stating the date and time the message is left is a good idea.
  • Always leave a direct call back number and repeat numbers slowly. This will allow the caller to more easily and correctly return the call.

Approved by OCC Board of Trustees April 3, 2006

Updated and approved by the President June 29, 2009

Updated and approved by the President June 19, 2015

Updated and approved by the President April 20, 2016

Updated and approved by the President March 28, 2016