I don't know exactly how long - at least eight years now - but I have been a hater of voice mail for quite a while.
Here's the breakdown of ways that exist to reach me, in decreasing order of efficiency for you:
- Call my smartphone
- Text me at my smartphone
- Email (any)
- Call my desk line at work
- Call my Google Voice number (it's in my profile)
- Text me at Google Voice
- Google +mention me
- @mention me in Ingress (I'm Kahomono there)
- Message or mention me on Facebook (you can, but I wish you wouldn't)
- @mention me on Slack (I'm Kahomono there also but I only look at it a few times a week)
- Google Hangouts (the planets really need to align for me to see this in time to act on it)
- Snail mail
- Find me and say Hi!
If you call my Google Voice number, you will have to leave a voice mail... BUT... it will be transcribed by Google and emailed to me, so I will read it and then respond. (So, enunciate!)
If, however, you leave a voicemail at my smartphone or desk line, what I have to do is call another place that acts as a repository of your recorded voice for me to hear in order to know that you called. This is 98% of what I have ever learned from a voice mail: Joe Bloggs called me and wants to talk to me, he wishes I would call him so I can leave him a voice mail telling him that I am agreeable about talking to him too, and maybe someday we'll get to do that before the whole issue we want to talk about is moot. It's a coin-flip whether that happens or not, by the way.
You know that my smartphone has caller-ID. So does my desk line. The phone companies don't even get to charge for that anymore, it's just expected. And both my phones have visual indicators that I missed your call. If I missed your call it's plain that you want to talk to me, and I should call you back. Why would you reiterate this in a voice recording?
On the other hand if you have anything to tell me in a voicemail that goes beyond "call me!" it's more accurate and efficient for both of us if you would type it into an email or any of the other message formats... choose your favorite.
I was triggered to this rant by the note in the WSJ about JP Morgan Chase saving $3.2M by eliminating voice mail for over half its employees. I would love love love if my employer did the same! I can assure them, in my case at least, it adds no value.