Friday, April 03, 2009

Voice Mail Challenged

Reading this NYT article on voice mail becoming passe helped me feel a little better about the 20 odd unheard voice mail messages in my work phone at any given time. I will login and purge the messages every once in a while but VM is possibly the worst way to get my attention. I can do email or chat in a heartbeat and have a great turnaround time with both.

I have thought about my reluctance to check VM messages and come up with the same conclusions as many folks referenced in the article. There is too much time lag, it takes far too many steps to get to the message, some messages are way too long winded and become irrelevant by the time you get to them. Even on my cellphone, when I see a voicemail my first instinct is to call back to see what that person needed. It takes an effort to not do that and check their message instead.

What is more heartening is that VM usage reluctance puts me in the majority :

Research shows that people take longer to reply to voice messages than other types of communication. Data from uReach Technologies, which operates the voice messaging systems of Verizon Wireless and other cellphone carriers, shows that over 30 percent of voice messages linger unheard for three days or longer and that more than 20 percent of people with messages in their mailboxes “rarely even dial in” to check them, said Saul Einbinder, senior vice president for marketing and business development for uReach, in an e-mail message.

What would be helpful though is for VM messages to play on computer or phone on the click of one button with ability to fast forward, skip, rewind and the rest. I used to have a Vonage phone a while ago, and they had a neat VM feature that allowed you to play the VM files online without having to dial a series of numbers. You did have to login to your account though. Taking that idea a few steps further could make VM more relevant and useful to our times.

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