Are You Anti Voice Mail?

2009 April 9
by Grace Boyle

When I call my good friend, Jacqueline and she doesn’t pick up, I definitely opt out of leaving her a voice mail. I know it gets lost in the 5 others she hasn’t checked from last week on her Blackberry. However, I know that if I send a quick text, DM on Twitter or Facebook message that I will get a quick reply. Sound familiar?

The New York Times recently wrote a piece, “You’ve Got Voice Mail, But Do You Care?” which reiterated this common theme that we live in an age of instant gratification. It’s a burden to hit the playback button or (gasp) have to dial into your password and wait for the her drone-like voice, prompting you to the next step.
The article showed research 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.”

On the flip side, research showed that “91 percent of people under 30 respond to text messages within an hour, and they are four times more likely to respond to texts than to voice messages within minutes, according to a 2008 study for Sprint conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.” I’m not surprised.

Is it Generation Y that is driving the voice mail away? My mom always says, “Did you get my voice mail?” I say, “No, but I saw you called.” Oops, sorry Ma.

This shift away from voice mail probably is a generational divide, in which younger people are substituting text for talk, while my grandparents and parents leave long, lengthy voice mails. Yet, I gotta stick up for the voice mail. I still think they’re important and as impatient as I can be, as much as I’m a texting fan, there are those times when it’s nice to hear someone’s voice or they need to tell you something specific or even just say hello.

So, I wonder, are voice mails going to become obsolete? Do voice mails take a back burner to other immediate forms of communication in your life?

Photo Credit: Post Gazette, Anita Dufalla

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  • http://www.fishdogs.com Craig Fisher

    I love this post. In my business I reach out to clients and job candidates all day long. I have to employ different methods to communicate with different people. It becomes a game of tracking who responds to what. I now typically leave a voice message and follow up immediately with an email or text. Does that sounds more productive? Well, it works. Great post Grace.

    Cheers, CF (@fishdogs)

  • http://www.cowgirlswest.blogspot.com Jacqueline Malan

    Grace,

    what a great post. It is so interesting because checking voicemail only takes a matter of minutes yet, I seem to wait a day or so before checking, when sometimes it may be urgent.

    I don't think voicemail will become obsolete, you're right human to human contact/conversation is nicer

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Craig, that's very interesting. You need to reach your client and job candidates so I believe that a voice mail is sufficient. To me, a voice mail denotes as something important so in your case, I agree with what you're doing. Good call by leaving an email or text, it verifies what you're doing and that you expect a reply. Thanks for your comment and RT's Craig!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Jacqueline you know when I call you, you just don't want to listen to the voice mail! However, when someone is checking in or has something important to say I really truly believe that the human contact and conversation piece is important.

  • http://cassandrajowett.squarespace.com cassandrajowett

    I hate voicemail. I hate getting voicemail and I hate leaving voicemail. I just tend to ramble on to people in voicemails, and when I have to listen to them it eats up the minutes on my phone.

    I would much rather someone email or text me saying, “Call me” and I'll call them as soon as I can.

    In business, however, especially for first contact, I see how it's a good thing.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Cassandra I laughed to myself because it's so true, I always ramble on or I know that leaving the voice mail is sort of pointless. This is my practice as well-if it gets to their voice mail I will not leave one (unless it's urgent) but I will leave a text saying what I had to say.

    I think with business though, it's almost like spam if you call and don't leave a voice mail. Maybe that it's. Voice mails have become formal…

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Such an interesting topic! I definitely think some Gen Yers and most teenagers have almost completely switched over from talk to text. On the one hand, text messages can be sent instantly and without making much noise, so there are certain situations where texting is just easier and more convenient. However, I agree with you that voice mail shouldn't completely disappear. Just like there are things that probably shouldn't be written about on a blog, there are also things that should not be sent in a text.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Sam like being in middle school and being broken up with over text or IM? 😉 I definitely agree, when there's something serious to be said there's a time and a place for text. Really good point!

  • http://politicoholic.com Nisha

    Yeah, I tweeted about that NYT piece the other day and it seems like the overwhelming reaction all across the internets is that everyone hates voicemail. Then again, we're tweeting and blogging with fellow internet nerds, so of course everyone who we talk to is going to agree that we love text-based communication more than voicemail. But yeah…I agree. I never check vmail until I feel its absolutely crucial; then it becomes torture because I have to go through all the old messages to get to the newest one…

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Nisha that's interesting you found the piece too. It's obviously relevant and although I don't think about how little I use voice mail, I couldn't help but notice what other affects it was going to have on communication. I would be interested to see someone who isn't on Twitter and doesn't blog … their reaction to voice mail's, although I believe it has to be somewhat similar!

  • http://mattwilson.tv MattWilsontv

    Hi Grace, I like when people leave me voice mails because then I don't have to actually talk to them if it's not important. I do this for business, but if it's someone I really want to talk to ( a friend, hot girl, etc) I'll call them back and skip the voice mail.

    VM is nice when people need to actually tell me something.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Matt this is the reoccurring theme “VM is nice when people need to actually tell me something.” Very true and I don't think a text can be denoted as important or formal as a voice mail ever can be.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hi Grace, I like when people leave me voice mails because then I don't have to actually talk to them if it's not important. I do this for business, but if it's someone I really want to talk to ( a friend, hot girl, etc) I'll call them back and skip the voice mail.

    VM is nice when people need to actually tell me something.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Matt this is the reoccurring theme “VM is nice when people need to actually tell me something.” Very true and I don't think a text can be denoted as important or formal as a voice mail ever can be.