Why Does Voice Mail Still Exist?

by Colin Berkshire

There is an increase in frustration regarding voicemail. The last big upgrade was unified messaging which means the messages now arrive in our email. But that is not enough to eliminate the frustration.

It would be better if the Voice mail system also transcribed the audio into text which was displayed in the body of the message. This is tricky technology, but does exist – Google has offered it for years.

With smartphones and laptops and ubiquitous desktop computers we all have ready access to email, and all email readers can handle embedded audio. Only a small part of the enterprise and consumer population still require a separate system (Voice Mail) to hoard messages and to need to learn.

Personally, I find Voice Mail telephone audio interfaces archaic to use. The menus and commands differ with every brand. You can’t customize the digits to do what you want. And, the functionality is minimal. I can scrub, pause, archive, and forward audio faster on my smartphone. Why use a phone and dial?

For a while I was impressed with “Visual Voice Mail” such as Apple’s iPhone. But now I don’t see any point to it, either. It’s another place to look, another user interface to mess with, and it’s just redundant. Just attach the audio and send me an email. Really.

If you really don’t want email, there’s a few options to eliminate it. You could just tell the admin that you prefer a busy signal and ring no answer. But the better way is to simply change your outgoing message to “I don’t accept voicemails…. please send me an email at [email protected] or send me a text at NNN-NNN-NNNN.

I’m also surprised that companies don’t give out their email addresses in phone trees.

When a department can’t take my call and wants me to leave a voice mail message why don’t they give me their email address?