Voice Mail Is Whipping Boy of Office Communications

Ann All

So, it's (sort of) official, thanks to Michael Arrington's indictment. Voice mail is the whipping boy of modern office communications. Voice mail has been almost totally usurped by e-mail, which itself is being eclipsed by newer tools like instant messaging and Twitter.


Among the knocks against voice mail, writes Arrington: It takes longer to listen to messages than to read them. You can't easily forward or respond to voice mail, so it's a collaboration killer. It's just not a part of the normal workflow for most folks. People who leave a voice mail often feel guilty about it, as do those who never listen to their messages.


Near the end of his post, Arrington mentions several services, including Spinvox, Jott, PhoneTag and Yap, that convert voice mail to text and then shoot it to you in an e-mail. Mobile carriers will also convert voice messages into text, for a fee.


These services remind me of the conversion services some payment networks offer to retail merchants, which allow a cashier to convert a check into a debit transaction at the point-of-sale. When I was covering the electronic payments beat, there was a debate over whether this would catch on before those stubborn check-writers finally died off.


Arrington concludes by saying he thinks people will eventually only listen to voice messages when they come from certain special loved ones, when it's desirable to judge them for tone or emotion, or when they just aren't transcribed properly. What do you think?

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Jul 10, 2008 12:56 PM James Whatley James Whatley  says:
Admittedly, I'm somewhat biased... :)But I think voicemail as the world knows it right now, is evolving. I'm not sure if Mike has tried SpinVox, (I wrote a response here http://blog.spinvox.com), but I'm happy ot extend the same courtesy to you. Drop me an email and I'll set you up - see for yourself! :)On the special loved ones front - I love reading voicemails from my girlfriend because I can actually hear her voice in my head... if that doesn't make sound too much like a crazy person! ;)Cheers, James WhatleyEditorSpinVox Blog Reply
Dec 29, 2008 11:23 AM James James  says:
Um, it's by no means official. Voicemail remains an efficient way to transfer information for mobile people who don't want to type long text messages on their tiny awkward phone keypads. Some people drive cars, ride bikes, do things that don't allow them to text and email 24/7. Leaving voicemail is simple and retrieving it is easy as holding down a single button. Everyone has cell phones. Voice communication isn't going anywhere. If you don't listen to voicemail because your time is "just too valuable," make sure to let callers know in your outgoing message, or get a voice-to-text service. If you constantly get long pointless annoying messages from a few bad apples, tell them to stop or just hit the delete button when you hear their voices. Don't ignorantly punish yourself and everyone else. The people I know who think their time is too valuable for listening to voicemail have no problems calling 5-10 times without leaving a voice OR text OR email message. Talk about annoying. Reply
Oct 21, 2009 12:50 PM Cory Wright Cory Wright  says:

I think people will still listen to voicemail, but managing it is the bigger issue.  Between smartphones and texting, I think people want to get the summary of what's being said and then choose what to do next.  Transcription is also very good at presenting callback numbers that are left within the voicemail.  You just touch or click a button and call the callback number -- much easier remembering it or writing it down (impossible to do in a car).

But come on, we'll still listen to family voicemails.  Intonations don't convey at all over text.

Oct 21, 2009 12:51 PM Cory Wright Cory Wright  says: in response to Cory Wright

And if you want to try out another service out there that does exactly what you talk about and also has a free lightweight desktop application as well to manage voicemail, check out http://www.talk2.us/trial


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