Is Voicemail Dead?

In a word, yes. At least for me. I probably don’t get more than two or three voice mail messages a month. Usually, these are calls from sales people who are prospecting or automated voice mail messages (e.g., a message from Walgreen’s, letting me know that my prescription is ready).

iPhone with no voice mail messages

In my experience, the problem with voice mail is two-fold: (1) it’s more difficult to retrieve a message as compared to the alternatives and (2) it’s more difficult to integrate into my workflow. I hate to listen to a rambling voice mail message. People can ramble via email, too, but email is easier to scan and determine what the sender wants.

Instead of voice mail, I find that people are resorting to one of four methods of communication:

  1. Regular email. This is the best option when you need to provide background or attachments, involve more than one other person in the conversation, or need to retain a record of the communication. But except for spam, I am finding that my email volume is actually decreasing.
  2. Instant Messaging. We are increasingly using this in the office. It is great for direct communication with one person, especially when all I need is an answer to a simple question. It is also less disruptive than calling the other person or walking into their office.
  3. Direct Messaging via Twitter. I use Twitter for nearly all of my one-to-one, direct communications. It is just so convenient. It allows me to use one application (i.e., TweetDeck) to manage all of my non-email communication. However, you have to be aware of the limitations. I have occasionally sent a public message that I intended to be private.
  4. Text Messages via Phone. I use this occasionally with family and friends, particularly if I need to communicate a message that is longer than the Twitter limitation of 140 characters. I also use it when I don’t want to risk accidently sending a public message with confidential or sensitive information.

Beyond all of this, one of the reasons I think voice mail is dead is that my kids and their friends are no longer using it. In fact, they are barely using email. If I want a response from them, I have to send it via a direct message on Twitter or a text message.

Question: What about you? Do you agree? Disagree? What is your preferred method of communication and why?

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