The King is Dead; Long Live the King

It’s hard to believe a “must have” communication technology that was popular when I was in college could be obsolete (as some recent headlines have indicated) before my 25th year school reunion this November. Yes, I’m talking about voicemail.

Voicemail is not dying per se, in that it will be entirely dead soon; it’s being replaced by a multitude of other instant communication technologies that people prefer. For some people, it’s overlooked as a first option to connect, because we’ve moved from the world of non-simultaneous voicemail used mainly with desk phones, to a constantly-connected society.

We communicate using a variety of smart devices via voice and instant messaging, fueled by the broad accessibility and real-time presence of who you want to reach. We’ve changed the expectation of seeking instant gratification of getting a response to seconds or minutes, not hours, thus driving the obsession with constantly using and checking mobile devices for activity.

Avaya gets this, and has solutions that let users control how and when they wish to be reached, in which locations on which devices and when. They can be accessible anywhere, anytime and by anyone, or limit access by time, place and device–even by who.

Simple example: Avaya’s Engagement Development Platform enables bankers to set up business rules to ensure their most important investor customers can always reach them, rather than going to voicemail.

If you’re an investor, you want your banker to respond in seconds, because time is money, and leaving a voicemail is just not an option. By enabling the banker to prioritize their most important callers and ensure they are reachable, they provide “white glove” service to the customers who need it the most.

The message is clear–a voicemail message won’t be sufficient if the answer comes back after the market has closed. To prevent that investor’s account from being closed, this bank gets it. They know the rules of customer engagement are to satisfy the requirements whereby every business is different, and knowing the expectations difference between customers is knowing how to serve and retain them.

Voicemail will continue to be relevant for some organizations. It’s part of their culture and way of doing business. For others, not as much. But the largest group we see are those evolving to solutions that allow ‘fit for purpose’ – meaning, whatever the user and situation calls for, it’s at their fingertips.

We see all ends of the spectrum, and Avaya’s engagement solutions span the spectrum for realtime and non-realtime communications–including leaving text messages to be retrieved immediately, instead of leaving a voice message. For example, people frequently send SMS messages to my Avaya phone number, which also appears on my business card, and it magically appears on my personal iPhone and iPad while keeping my personal number private.

Over the past several years, we have invested in virtually every form of media. We want customers to have what’s right for their business and can provide voicemail if they so choose and evolve their systems to include those alternatives to voicemail. Give employees the power to be reachable when and how they wish to be reached, and they will be more productive. You are the CIO of yourself, and simplicity of making communications available gets results.

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