Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is Voice Mail Dead?

The greatest debate about "what is proper" since etiquette gurus arm-wrestled to decide where the salad fork should be placed is upon us....

"To leave a Voice Mail.....or not to leave a Voice Mail"

While I'm certain that there are many polls and stories and heaven forbid...blogs...out there on this subject - and many are probably about as opinionated and worthless as this blog - I do want to give some context and numbers from a study quoted in PC Mag (September 2012).  It says:

"A new report from USA Today and VoIP firm Vonage confirms what was already fairly obvious: Voicemail is dying.  In preparing data for the paper, Vonage found that the number of voicemail messages left on user accounts decreased 8 percent in July compared to a year ago. The data also indicated that checking your voicemail is an even bigger hassle than leaving someone a voice message. Retrieved messages fell 14 percent among Vonage users during the same period."

So I ask myself...2+ years after this study... "Is Voice Mail Dead?".  

My answer is (in my usual non-committal, afraid of maxims and ultimatums and dictums) depends.

I've asked around my office.  The sales people tell me that when calling clients or potential clients they always leave a voice mail for business related calls - and sometimes for personal calls.  The recruiters tell me that when calling candidates or potential candidates they only leave a voice mail after 2 missed calls or so - and rarely for personal calls.

The average age of my sales people is 40-45.  The average age of my recruiters is 34-40.  Interestingly to me, the average age of managers that my sales people are calling on are 40-50....the average age of tech candidates that my recruiters are calling is 20-35.  

Why do I bring this (age) up?  Because voice mail is for old people of course.  Just kidding....or am I?  

My own voice mail behavior/etiquette  you ask?.....

Well, personally - I HATE VOICE MAIL.  I unequivocally shudder every time I see the flashing light on my office line, or the little mailbox on my cell phone.  Call me lazy, but for me to take the time to dial in to the voice service and enter a password, then click digits and listen to blah blah blah, then click more digits to delete the message I've hardly paid attention too...but just want to get the light to stop flashing - YOU'VE LOST ME!

If you need me and I don't pick up the phone, email me or text me or tweet at me or skype me or IM me...just don't make me expend the effort of clicking through and pretending to listen to your poorly contrived and long-winded voice mails.

Then again - I am an absolute hypocrite.  I will call candidates and clients and leave a voice mail and put them through the same HELL that I just described I hate going through.  But, I do choose wisely who will be the recipient of that HELL.  If I'm calling someone who I think is over 40 - I leave a message, if under 40, I don't.  I'll then follow up on all recipients with an email or text message - depending on if I'm calling a land line or cell phone.  

Why do I leave a voice mail, even if I hate it so much? 
  1. I'm lazy. I ignore the fact that it takes me less time to leave a voice mail than text/email, but the recipient more time to retrieve the voice mail than read a message.
  2. I’m afraid. I was trained as a salesperson to "leave no stone unturned"...meaning I'm afraid if I don't leave a voice mail, it is that one person that loves voice mail and hates email/text messages - and now I've blown it.
  3. I’m an ageist. I think older folks still prefer voice mails to texts.  It gives them the warm fuzzies of the “personal touch”.  Younger folks – you millennials – don’t even bother…tweet, IM, or text me.  Even email is getting antiquated….
Do people actually listen to my voice mail?  I don’t seem to have any better response rate to voice mail than I do text or email. Perhaps I’m not good at creating a message that is concise or important or easy to respond to – as my sales guys say is essential.

Perhaps Voice Mail… no better than a message in a bottle…..DEAD.

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