Companies big and small are saving money and time by doing away with voice mail. For example, recently JPMorgan Chase canceled voice mail for most of its employees, estimating that the company will save roughly $10 per employee as a result.
If you are thinking of following suit, take this advice:
• Be clear with customers. If you suddenly drop voice mail, customers may be annoyed, especially if they are accustomed to contacting you via phone. Additionally, some could falsely assume that you are eliminating voice mail because your company has financial woes. Minimize the fallout by making an announcement to customers, explaining your decision and offering them alternative ways to reach you; for example, social media, email or instant chat.
• Offer employees a choice. Employees may use voice mail much more often than you think. Others, such as salespeople, need it to communicate with customers. Rather than eliminate it all together, allow employees to opt out of the service. When Coca-Cola did that this year, only 6% of employees chose to keep their voice mail.
• Establish companywide phone hours. Phone calls will always be necessary, as they are better suited for discussions, especially sensitive or difficult ones. Establish hours when everyone will be at his or her workstations and available to take phone calls. Then post those hours for customers and employees.
• Invest in collaboration software. Technology that allows you to share and discuss information in real time keeps the lines of communication open and makes voice mail obsolete.
— Adapted from “Businesses Are Hanging Up on Voice Mail to Dial in Productivity,” Yuki Noguchi, NPR, www.npr.org.