Don't underestimate the value of a good speaking voice. Customers often form their first -- and maybe last -- impression of a company within seconds after listening to the receptionist on the telephone. Yet few companies pay more than lip ser-vice to training the vocal cords of their operators.

If you want sound advice, consider a book that customer service professionals recommend: Change Your Voice, Change Your Life (Harper & Row, $8.95). Author Morton Cooper offers helpful tips and exercises to get rid of, for example, a whiny or nasal tone, and to create a memorable "voice image." To order the book, call (800) 638-3030. -- Susan Greco

* * *