18 August 2017
Voicemail is Still Relevant
If there’s one thing about voicemail that’s on the upswing it’s the growing disdain for a once crucial piece of communication technology.
Mention “voicemail” to anyone under the age of 30 and you’re likely to stir up some negative reactions.
Millennials grew up with texting. Today, daily usage of texting continues to increase while use of voicemail declines.
Folks under a certain age don’t understand the pain that came with voicemail. We used to physically attach a separate machine to our already bulky analog phones for the privilege of playing back voice messages.
The New York Times reported that an etiquette school teacher includes “voice mail skills” in classes because “she often finds them lacking polish.”
80% of Calls Go to Voicemail and 90% of Voicemails Never Answered
80% of calls go to voicemail and 90% of 1st-time voicemails are never returned (InsideSales.com). That statistic makes it clear that for service providers and business, voicemail has become an obligation and an expense.
In fact, some large companies like Coca-Cola have eliminated voicemail entirely. They did this to cut costs and increase productivity.
There are still some obvious needs for voicemail. For example, customer service employees need to use it on a daily basis. Even job seekers need to field calls and voicemails from potential employers.
Some people never even properly set up their voicemail system. Sometimes their mailbox is full because they never listen to messages they received. The reality is that if someone wants to hear your voice, they’ll answer your phone call. Otherwise you’re better off sending a text or an email.
Obviously, there are currently a handful of generations of people coexisting. Children are our future but their parents and grandparents are still using voicemail. Voicemail is still semi popular but the fact that so many people ignore it makes it a missed opportunity.
We can make voicemail relevant again for everybody. But to do this we must leverage it with other communication tools.
Make Responding Easier, Less Frictional
Voicemail is often a single use message. Instead of the message living only in a voicemail system, it needs to be brought into a new conversation. These conversation systems could be text, Slack, email, etc.
To resurrect voicemail the emphasis needs to change from mail to multimedia messaging.
In its current format voicemail seems outdated because it’s slow and annoying. You can text a person in the same amount of time it takes to leave a voicemail. Plus, you cut the tedious steps that come with leaving a message (i.e., calling, ringing, no answer).
Texting is faster for both parties involved. Instead of the traditional scenario which forces someone to enter in a PIN number, and on and on it goes.
No wonder people think that voicemail is pointless.
Visual voicemail was a good step forward to reduce the friction of receiving messages but it doesn’t solve the problem completely.
These are the top three issues and opportunities that I see with voicemail:
- Voicemail is a vital business tool but, it’s irritating.
- Voicemail allows you to be more expressive and display more emotion. It does this in a way that email and text do not allow but, it’s time consuming to use.
- The consumer loses out if a company eliminates voicemail completely for online messaging. People need to talk to people but people also need to avoid people until they are prepared to talk to them.
Messaging vs Mail – Where Efficiency Meets User Experience
There was a time when many customer service jobs were outsourced to foreign nations. The consumer backlash was one of deep frustration. The same thing will happen if companies drop voicemail.
Instead the future of voicemail is a win-win for businesses and consumers. One that combines efficiency and a quality user experience.
Alexander Graham Bell replaced the telegraph and Morse code. He did this with a modern marvel of voice transmitted over copper lines. But now we’re sick of listening to each other and want to read instant messages.
Voice is still driving efficiency though, with voice recognition technology. When you’re driving, voice is the safest hands-free way to communicate.
If you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, then speech to text is perfect for you. We don’t even have to type out our own text messages anymore!
The current voicemail system has failed because it is not easy to send, receive, or re-use. The delivery of a voicemail should not be the end of its existence.
Voicemail that becomes a new conversation, is accessible anywhere, and shareable on different platforms and in different formats is the type of voice messaging that will survive in the future. It will span generational gaps, and solve problems with its unrivaled expressive capabilities.