Mike Landman

Mike Landman

Observations On Business. Maybe a Little Preening. And A Few Lessons Learned.

Voicemail Really is Silly

People who know me know that I hate voicemail. But my friend Suizo puts it in a nice perspective:

Where is the intersection of technology and “human behavior change”?   
I always thought it was a short gap between the introduction of a world changing technology and the evolution of how we use it. Apparently not with voicemail.
How much longer do you think we will keep explaining to people how to leave us a message on our voice mail?  I wonder when we will get to the point that we don’t have to:

A. Point out the obvious and
B. Leave instructions like this:

“Hello, You have reached Joe Schmoe”

–I know, I called you.

“I am not able to take this call right now…”

–Really?  Is that why I am in voicemail?

“Please leave me a message…”

–Yep, get it.  Been here before.

“…after the tone…”

–Shew!  Good thing he explained that! My 22 years leaving voice mails and I STILL don’t understand the order of operations for this process.

I would love it if the phone just rang three times then beeped.

1 Comment

  1. James Mason

    Uh, Oh. . .SOMEBODY is cranky! I suppose, Mike, that everybody who ever left you a voicemail did exactly what you wanted them to do.

    Me, I’m not so lucky. Most people give me FAR TOO MUCH irrelevant information, but I still want to “ease into” the demand sort of sweetly, so I DO do the following:

    1. Hi, it’s James. . .. (the point here is to tell them who you are, just in case they misdialed–which happen a LOT–or else some other bad thing happened).

    2. Regrets for not being here (again, warming them up for the coming demand; what’s wrong with being civil?)

    3. “Please leave your NAME, the TIME YOU CALLED, your PHONE NUMBER and a BRIEF MESSAGE. . ..(the thing is, almost NOBODY ever leaves all these elements. .. let’s look at each of them in turn, shall we:

    a. Name: Because I know lots of “Hi, James!” who don’t LEAVE their name, and wonder why I don’t call them back. . .I don’t have every single voice in my life memorized, Sheba, that’s why. My Mom, my Sister, my Dad, and the dog. . .that’s about it. . .and I’m not so sure about my Dad.

    b. The TIME you called: Because I may have already talked to you, or called you on another matter. The research says that 80+ percent of the calls we make are to the same general group of people. What if I already called you at 2:15, and you forget to tell me you left me a voicemail at 2:00. If you timestamp your message, I can probably just erase it, and not have to wait until the END of the message which is when my machine timestamps messages.

    c. Your Phone Number: Hey, I’m really smart, but I don’t always have my phonebook with me, and my cell may be in the car. Just leave the bloody phone number. . .what’s wrong with you?

    d. WHY you’re calling me, anyway. I don’t even call my Mom back just for a casual chat. . .I’m on the phone more than I want to be anyway. . .unless I know why you’re calling, you just wasted a call, because I won’t call you back unless I know I need to. . .I’ll just wait until the next time I talk to you to see what you wanted. It’s totally up to you.

    By the way, my message only takes a few seconds to listen to. . .if you’re too important to give me 17 seconds, perhaps it’s not worth calling me in the first place.

    Still think Voicemail’s Silly?


    p.s. I prefer to stay unevolved when it comes to voicemail, regardless of what you and Suizo think. I still send handwritten letters, too.


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