When was the last time you purchased an answering machine? I bet you can’t remember. I certainly can’t. Do you even know how much they cost these days? I actually had to Google to see that I could obtain one of these basic devices for six or seven dollars.
Not only have I not purchased an answering machine, or voicemail service, but I rarely even leave voicemail messages. It seems I’m not the only one. According to Internet phone company, Vonage, the number of voicemail messages has dropped eight percent (comparing figures from July 2011 versus July 2012). So, what is happening to voicemails?
People just aren’t leaving voicemails, and even fewer people are checking them. Vonage also found that voicemail retrieval dropped 14% (July 2011 versus July 2012).
Texting, emailing and instant messaging are quickly replacing voice calls and messages. Phone calls and the subsequent voicemails are seen as interruptions and are often met with annoyance and apathy. Written messages, on the other hand, are viewed as less invasive. For me, I can respond to a text message or email with a quick, short response, but returning a voicemail always involves more time. Also, by providing written responses, I can clearly outline what I want to say (and attach corresponding documents or images) instead of potentially leaving a rambling response. Plus, an email or text chain helps me keep track of conversations and gives me a way to refer back to these discussions.
When my phone rings, I often let it go to voicemail. Sadly, then I get behind in checking these voicemails. To me, if it’s something warranting an urgent response, I will receive an email or text about the matter. Also, if you’re like me, your business contact information, including phone number, is posted on your company’s website. Therefore, even if you’re not the right person to be contacted, many vendors will call you in hopes of being transferred to the correct person or department. Unfortunately, more often than not, many of the phone calls and voicemails I receive fall in this category, prompting me to avoid my phone in most cases.
Device usage and how we interact is certainly changing. I don’t see voicemails going away anytime soon, but I do think that smartphones may shortly be substituted for desk phones. Social media communication has already replaced certain levels of customer service phone support, and I see smartphones, with texts, chat, email and social media capabilities, becoming the primary form of contact. Just like fax numbers have been replaced with Twitter handles and Facebook page information on business cards, smartphone details will take the place of office phone numbers.
Business not only requires instant, efficient communication, but communication on-the-go, 24/7. We can’t wait until someone is at his/her desk to answer the phone or retrieve a voice message. We need information, answers and problems solved now. Connecting and engagement does not always require verbal communication in order to have a voice. So, like many people cutting the cord on their cable service, go mobile and don’t leave a message. I promise I’ll get back in touch with you.