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Has Voicemail Become the New Fax Machine?

How do you want to get your messages?

Voicemail to Email MTS

You might still use voicemail at home to keep in touch with friends and family about your weekend plans. But for business, do you prefer another way to get your messages?

It might only take a minute or two, but when you’re rushing between meetings and cramming another action item on your list, that blinking light on your desk phone might become a distraction in an already hectic day.

Voicemail is still relevant in most business toolkits, and for good reason since it’s such a personal and effective way of connecting. But people’s love of newer, faster and arguably easier technologies is coming to the forefront.

M.I.T. research fellow, Michael Schrage, likened office voicemail to fountain pens or transparencies in a Harvard Business Review article. This was back in 2013, and already by that point companies had been taking note of the shift in voicemail usage. Imagine stepping into a meeting and flipping on an old-school projector these days?

Coca-Cola was likely the first major organization to make the break from traditional voicemail. In November 2014, the company told employees at its massive Atlanta, GA headquarters that traditional voicemail was going away. According to a Bloomberg Business article, use of Coke’s previous office-based voicemail system had been declining, especially among younger employees. Now instead, you can text a fellow employee or find some other way of connecting. Coke said they wanted to “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity.”

U.S. financial giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. followed suit in early 2015. About 65 per cent of its retail division’s 135,000 employees had voicemail deactivated as a cost-saving measure.

This isn’t to say that voicemail is over. But with every trend, there comes a point where the scales start to tip in the direction of innovation, and your business can take note to stay ahead of the pack.

Voicemail to Email

Many telephone companies offer a “voicemail to email” service that stores voicemails as a digital audio file attachment within your email folder. You can sort, file, delete or keep your message just like you would an email. And it’s a way of getting to your voicemail when you can’t get to your phone.

Some smartphones offer substitutes, including text versions of voicemail. In the U.S., Google Voice will let you read transcripts of your voicemail message, add notes, download or share voicemails. And most smartphones will list the name of callers next to the voice message. This lets you choose the messages to answer now so you can set aside the others for later.

Unified Communications

If you are looking at upgrading your office phones, you might want to consider a Unified Communications (UC) system to improve efficiency and replace traditional voicemail. Manufacturers such as Avaya or Panasonic now offer UC systems that join together voice, messaging, email, video and more.

Whether you have a smaller size office or over 1000 employees, UC systems are extremely scalable. Staff can handle their business communications on the device of their choice – laptop, landline, mobile phone or home phone – and use a combination of wired, wireless or broadband connections.

Improved Communication

If you just don’t have the finances right now for a technology upgrade, consider these voicemail etiquette tips to save everyone some time, money and make your work life a little simpler. These tips will also help make that blinking light on the desk phone, or red dot on the smartphone, a little more welcome on the other side. 

Be concise – State your purpose quickly and get into further detail when they call back. If you hear yourself rambling, stop yourself and re-record your message.

Don’t be too concise – Don’t say, “Hi, this is Brian. Call me.” They’ll wonder which Brian? (I know several). And what is so important? Give the person an idea of why you’re calling to reduce the irritation and improve your chance of getting a callback.

State your availability – Let the person calling know when he or she can reach you. Simple stuff, but often missed in a message.

Speak clearly – How many times to you have to listen to a mumbled voicemail over and over? Don’t be that person.

Leave your callback number – The person you’re calling may not have quick access to your number, so provide it early on in the message and make sure you slow down when you’re giving your digits.

Ask yourself if the voicemail is necessary – If it’s not that important then don’t leave a message. Send an email they can quickly skim and get back to you.

Want to learn more about a solution for your business? Learn more about our MTS Voicemail to Email solution.

Brian Kozak

Brian Kozak is a Winnipeg writer who has been working online since 1997 when he developed content for Manitoba’s Flood of the Century website. Recently retired from MTS, he keeps his finger on the pulse of current tech trends. He's long said goodbye to the fax machine and overhead projector, but needs more time to think about ditching his trusty fountain pen.

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