No Jitter, one of my favorite telecom blogs, reported that Coca-Cola recently deleted 94% of their corporate voicemail accounts. What is missing from the article is the fact that Coca-Cola is on a Microsoft Lync system, where voicemails are stored on the Exchange Server (making it into a Microsoft case study.) I am certain that Coke’s IT team was thrilled that they didn’t have to deal with tens of thousands of voicemails every day getting stored on their servers.
That quibble doesn’t change the core issue that voicemail is potentially on the outs in the US. Vonage reports year over year declines in voicemails being left even as usage increases – not only do we all hate checking voicemail, we hate leaving voicemail too. Overseas, we do not see the same rate of voicemail implementation as we use here in North America. For example, Chinese cell phones rarely have voicemail included and users prefer texting in any event.
For customers, we can offer a variety of choices. For Mitel MiVoice Office 250 (former Mitel / Inter-Tel 5000) customers, the voicemail is baked right in, so whether you turn the voicemail on or off is just a matter of preference. Same goes for the Zultys MX systems – both it and the MiVoice Office have not just built in voicemail, but built-in Unified Messaging, where voicemail messages are sent to email accounts. Same goes for our cloud offerings, where voicemail is included.
For the Mitel MiVoice Business and our NEC systems, voicemail is entirely optional. Now, keep in mind that with the MiVoice Business, we would still want to add some voicemail capabilities in order to provide automated attendant functionality. In most phone systems (our NEC DSX and NEC SL1100 systems are exceptions) the automated attendant uses the voicemail to store and play messages to callers.
If you do forgo individual voicemail, I would suggest the following tips so that customers know you have not gone out of business.
- Forward calls after hours to an automated attendant greeting that states your hours of operation and directs callers to your website or an email address
- Use Google Voice and forward calls from your main number to back up cell phones after, say, 4 rings (24 seconds).
- Barring using the Mitel voicemail transcription service available for the NuPoint Messenger, consider using Google Voice’s excellent transcription service to copy voicemail to email as text via a company-wide, shared voicemail.
- Consider using ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) to play custom messages and hold music to callers instead of ringing when they call a main line. Then, after a preset amount of time, play a custom message directing callers to your website or email. This provides a far more professional image to callers, and can be accomplished pretty inexpensively with all of the systems we sell.