The classic case is when I receive a voice mail that delegates me to some task. The person leaving the voicemail will, invariably, then assume that I will complete the task UNLESS I RING THEM BACK. Now, I must interrupt my workflow to listen to the voicemail, possibly ring the person back, or email a reply and begin the discussion as needed.
From my perspective, this has created work for me AND the caller. The caller will need to track that I have received the message, and will action it. And, as the receiver, I will need to confirm acceptance and then plan to add this to my schedule.
The more I think about voicemail, the more it seems like OLD technology. Historically, the only way to get a message to somebody was:
- leave a message with the receptionist
- write a letter and post
- write a fax and send
- keep calling until you got through
- leave a voicemail
In recent years, we have seen all of these ‘technologies’ pass away. There are very few companies that still have receptionists, and faxes just do not get from the machine to the addresses in most companies. The only survivor today from this (dinosaur) category is voicemail.
I find the process of listening, evaluating and responding to voice mail is time consuming. And since a voicemail is, by definition, low priority, I will most likely respond to you by email. If your message is high priority, you will call me back.
Since I am most likely to respond by email, I have to transpose the request into an email reply. That is bothersome too, and subject to inaccuracy.
Email and SMS
Now we have email and SMS and I think these are direct replacements for these processes.
Think of SMS is a kind of short form, but very fast and ultra portable email. You can send me a message like “Pls call me urgently”, or “Need that info by tomorrow”. I think of SMS as high priority messages.
I only check my email infrequently because it is non-realtime communication. Typically I check my email about four times day when I have some unstructured time to read and evaluate (typically during a coffee break). I schedule my email time and make better decisions because I concentrate on ‘doing email’. I do not interrupt my work every time an email arrives in my inbox because it isn’t running.
I may not answer the phone
Leaving a voicemail implies that I did not answer my phone. If I don’t answer my phone, there will be a reason, please don’t be offended. I could be talking to someone, or concentrating on something. I hate taking calls while in the toilet, and will rarely interrupt a meeting just to answer the phone.
I feel it is reasonable for you to call me again, when it is convenient for you. This also saves you receiving a call from me when you are busy.
If you want to contact me and I am not answering the phone, please send me a text, or better still, send me an email. If your phone doesn’t do these things, then you should go and get one that does. It is a much more efficient way to communicate.
Do you think I am being unreasonable or odd ?
APPENDIX – Disabling Voicemail on the iPhone – O2 / Great Britain
If you want to switch off your voice mail dial 1760.A recorded message will confirm its is disabled.
If you need it for a short time, switching voice mail back – dial 1750.
If you want a miss call alert (So you receive a text to let you know that some one has tried to dial you and you didnt answer, you wernt in range, phone switched of or you was on another call then dial 1710 (Remember changing to miss call alert will automatically switch voice mail off)
If you want to extend your ringing time before diversion to voicemail then dial the following:
The above code will extend you ring tone to aprox 30 seconds which is the maximum.