Voicemail – forgotten? Neglected? Doomed? Or a key part of a complete user experience?

Voicemail – forgotten? Neglected? Doomed? Or a key part of a complete user experience?

Reports of the death of voicemail are premature. Yes, usage is changing, and certainly fewer people use it – but 10% of your customer base is still a significant number and, business users continue to find value in the service. We can help you evolve your voicemail systems to ensure continuity and flexibility.

Voicemail is declining – but it’s not yet a terminal decline

Voicemail seems to have been around for years but reports that it’s on its last legs seem a little premature. Yes, it’s true that millennials don’t seem to like it very much. Publications as eminent at the New York Times and the Guardian have reported this trend at various times over the last few years – and doubtless will continue as the tipping point in the workforce (more millennials than other generations) approaches.

Yet despite these prophecies, voicemail continues to have a role. Why? And what is this role in the evolving workplace? We’re working with several operators on voicemail replacement projects and there is a common factor. The number of people who continue to use voicemail is declining. Usage rates are somewhere between 10 – 15% across a customer base, both for residential and business customers.

For a large number of users, voicemail remains an important tool

So yes, voicemail is declining in absolute terms. But it does remain a key part of the communications experience. Here’s why. First, despite the shift in the ages of the business workforce, it’s going to be a long time before the mix has shifted entirely to millennials and subsequent generations. People who started their careers in the 80s and 90s, still have many years of service. Voicemail must continue in some form to support their needs, even while they eagerly embrace other ways of doing things.

Second, there’s a difference between voicemail that’s associated with an individual or a business phone line and one that’s associated with a department or team. You may not be bothered to listen to a message, but a message to the sales department should have sufficient commercial interest to demand that someone pays attention to it.

Combined, these two factors matter. It may well be true that voicemail is no longer a ubiquitous expectation, but it does remain a key foundational service, regardless of whether its only used by 10% of the user base. 10% of several million is still a large number.

Important – but perhaps not indispensable

Voicemail, then, is important, if not as universally indispensable as it once was. Now, we’ve also noticed that a number of legacy providers have moved away from this sector, leaving platforms orphaned and operators with inflexible, one-size-fits-all solutions to a problem that is, like everything else in the network, changing rapidly. Put simply:

  • You need voicemail
  • Not everyone uses it
  • You need different kinds of mailboxes, for individuals, roles and teams
  • You need to be able to adapt voicemail services, as user behaviours change

This demands a flexible approach. A common requirement we see is for a pool of mailboxes that can be allocated to any user, when required. That makes sense – and also promotes much more efficient use of resources and also a more cost-effective approach.

Flexibility for the next 10 years

Many legacy platforms do not offer this level of flexibility; worse, many are approaching end-of-life. Yet, we can expect voicemail to be a requirement for another 10 years or so – sure, it will continue to lose ground, but it’s too early by far to get rid of it altogether. Rather, it will likely continue to evolve, through greater integration with other channels, even if the absolute number of mailboxes continues to diminish.

In our industry, 10 years is a long time. So, if you are faced with the challenge of maintaining and enhancing voicemail to suit new usage patterns and models, while confronted with EoL solutions, you should talk to us and see how we can help you? Reports of the death of voicemail are certainly premature: yes, things are changing, but not so fast that you can afford to terminate your voicemail offers yet – and certainly not for business customers.

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