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The Long, Sad Decline of Voice Mail

Voice mail used to be an absolute business essential. A decade ago it would have been hard to imagine any business without a voice mail box (though Shawn Hakl the Verizon business division’s head of new products estimates that 80% of business phones had voice mail before the digital age). Now however, usage of voice mail have dropped to the point that many business (even large businesses) are dropping voice mail for the vast majority of their employees. Coca Cola recently gave employees the option to keep or get rid of their voice mail. The results were stunning with only 6% opting to keep their coverage. And while it was a bit of a cost savings measure, their Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike said that the change was “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity.

Of course you could think that we are being melodramatic. That voice mail is still a big part of the communications landscape and will continue to be. That the companies ditching voice mail altogether are not trail blazers, but outliers, simply looking for a way to cut costs. It would be a valid criticism if this hadn’t been predicted by the techies for years, and if this did not mirror the consumer usage of voice mail.

People Actually Hate Voice Mail

Of course this isn’t everybody, but a lot of people, and especially millennials, hate voicemail and refuse to listen to it. With the rise of text messages, they figure if it is important enough to need a reply, then the person will text. I have actually heard people get angry at a caller for leaving a voicemail. It’s strange, and it is a lot different than only a few years ago, but voicemail is something that has the capacity to bring scorn rather than goodwill.

People Get Anxious When They Have To Leave A Message on Voicemail

I have to admit that I giggled a little bit when I first read this. But then I thought about it and it made sense. I have always hated leaving voicemail messages. It always made me nervous and I would usually stammer something out and regret what I said instantly. For people that view voicemail with contempt, they simply won’t leave a message at the beep. Think that won’t cost you business? Imagine that you are unavailable and your voicemail kicked on. How many millennials do you think are going to brave their fear of public speaking to leave you a message. Every single one of them is a missed opportunity (which coincidentally is why we offer our live answering service so that you never have to miss another call again…).

Voicemail is a Waste of Time

This is the one that hits home for me. I hate when I get a voicemail because it simply seems like a waste of time to listen to it. If the person had texted me, I could read it instantly and reply. But with a voicemail, I have to click and swipe a few times, actually listen to the message, then call back to reply. That takes a lot longer than a simple text.

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