I read an interesting article recently from the Harvard Business Review entitled Time to Hang Up on Voice Mail. It resonated with me as I have long been moving down this path without even realizing it. So I am coming clean – I am a sporadic voice mail listener. I am an even less frequent voice mail giver. Who wants to listen to a two minute message? I certainly don’t want to leave one, though in full disclosure I many times do because I am crappy about being succinct on voice mail. But guess what, I don’t care if you listen to it – just call me back.
That the technology is in decline is no secret. In 2012, Vonage reported its year-over-year voicemail volumes dropped 8%. The number of people bothering to retrieve those messages is down 14%. And that was nearly two years ago.
In fact, I will go even further to tell you our VOIP phone system has made me even worse. All my voice mails get emailed to me as an attachment. The subject line includes the caller ID. If your caller ID is blocked or somehow obfuscated, there is a pretty damn good chance I will never listen to it (or minimally not much past 3 seconds). In fairness to myself, the volume of cold calls I get each day is pretty large. I would get nothing done if I took or responded to everyone (as a business consultant once suggested I do). Even with this convenience, I rarely use the voice mails as much more than a tickler to call someone. In fact, the content of the voice mails is rarely anything more than that at the end of the day anyway.
At Delphic, we have all but abandoned internal voice mails in favor of some combination of IM, email, text or our task system. Sure truly urgent needs may end up in a voice mail – along with every other medium – but even those are likely to end up on a MOBILE phone voice mail and not the company phone.
In fact, I will disclose a dirty little secret. Probably about 1/3 of our employees do not even have a phone! It’s not that we are unwilling to do so, it’s frankly because for some subset of employees in non-client contact roles, they very rarely use them. But it is not just their role, but unlimited use mobile plans as well as our open floor plan further negate the need for a phone. We would provide one to anyone who asked but we simply do not get requests. Anyway, an interesting tangent to the topic.
Do you still use voice mail?