5 Reasons People Dislike Voicemail
(and what we’re going to do about it)
VoxAmi. That’s what we’re doing do about it. Today we are pleased to announce the formal launch of a new company called VoxAmi. VoxAmi will be about all things voice, but our first mission is to make voicemail cool again. But wait – why would anyone want to do that? I mean, starting any business from scratch is really, really hard work – but a company focused on voicemail? That’s so old school. Surely we could have found something easier and better to do with our time. More on that in a minute…
But first, just why is it that so many people dislike voicemail?
With such a bad rap – why are 92% of adults in the USA active voicemail users?
The answer: because we must. It’s just a fact of life that your doctor, your mechanic, the kid’s school, your boss, the student loan servicer, etc. are going to call you. We don’t answer their call, so they leave us voice messages. It happens every single day. Amazingly, this 25 year old technology remains the most commonly used consumer voice service, eclipsed only by call waiting. Despite what you may read or hear, the fact remains that voicemail happens. We get them, we leave them, we rely on them.
So why do so many view voicemail with such disdain when in reality, leaving someone a voice message is one of the most natural parts of our daily communications? You see, the issue is not voicemail, per say. The issue is the interface we use to handle our voicemail. These interfaces are old, outdated and they don’t reflect the way we use today’s smartphones for messaging and real time communication.
First, a bit of history…
It was the early 1990’s. The big phone companies were rolling out voicemail nationwide and consumers were buying it like hotcakes. Everybody had to have it – or they had it’s close cousin a shiny new answering machine with cassette tape storage! Of course, being a service from the phone company, their visionary interface for their killer new service was – wait for it, wait for it – the keypad. Press 1 to listen, press 3 to re-record, press 7 to delete.
Mind numbing, but that was the state of the art in the 1990s.
The First Innovation Drought
Then came the first great innovation drought for voicemail. After making it widely available across the USA, the telcos turned their attention to long distance relief, competition from cable companies and competitive carriers, and of course, mobile phones and mobile data. Nothing particularly cool happened to voicemail for over a decade. Then 2007 rolled around. That was the year of the iPhone 3 and Visual Voicemail. Finally, a user friendly way to deal with your voice messages. Suddenly our mobile screens were filled with information about who left us that voicemail and when it was received. We even had a modern-day audio player to listen to our messages in any order we wanted. The new face of voicemail had arrived and it was touch controlled with a tap and swipe interface. Bye-bye Press 7 to delete – or was that Press 9 to delete? No one could ever be quite sure…
The Second Innovation Drought
However, that first era of voicemail innovation was short-lived and the second great innovation drought began. For nearly a decade (OK, 9+ years) there was once again very little innovation in the space. Sure, a handful of companies figured out how to transcribe our voice messages into text so they could email them to us or present them to us in an app. But these efforts are largely business oriented and are an expensive luxury that remains out of reach for most. Consumers don’t have no expense accounts!
Finally, in the fall of 2016, Apple again created a little movement in the space by adding voicemail transcription in iOS 10. The voicemail interface itself is little changed, but now, if you own a late model iPhone, you can tap the voicemail message again to see a transcription of your message. Progress!
Back to Today.
So after nearly two decades we have enjoyed only two innovation high points: Visual Voicemail and Transcription. Hardly ground breaking momentum given the incredible pace of innovation in the rest of telecom. During the same period, the rest of the communication technology world moved forward at warp speed. Smartphones, unlimited mobile data plans, WiFi calling, the rise of messaging, etc. all leveraged huge technology advancements to provide innovative features, enhanced capabilities and new pricing models. Perhaps most notable has been the rise of messaging. Messaging has become one of the most used and stickiest apps on our smartphones. It’s how we communicate with ‘Friends’ today. But for those outside your inner circle, for your doctor, your mechanic, the kid’s school, your boss, or your student loan servicer, voicemail continues to remain a fundamental part of our daily communications.
Back to the Future.
Which brings me back to why we decided to started VoxAmi. The answer is simple. We can make voicemail cool again. It was cool 25 years ago when it first arrived on the scene and it is still here with us today – waiting to be cool again. To make that happen, VoxAmi must do three things really well:
- Address each of the Top 5 Reasons People Dislike Voicemail with real and simple solutions
- Maintain an unwavering focus on the ways that people actually use both messaging and voicemail in their daily lives
- Provide a fresh, new interface that is intuitive to our modern messaging generation
Yes, VoxAmi will propel voicemail into the modern messaging era and we will make it cool again. We’re going to fix the outdated interface, give users control over their own voice messages and bring voicemail into the modern messaging era. It will take a lot of hard work and it will be a long journey, but our ambition is to take the pain out of your daily voicemail experience and hand control of your messages over to you, the consumer. More on all of that and the launch of our YouVOXX app in an upcoming article.
Until then, let us know what you think! Got a voicemail story to share?
Let the journey begin!