This weekend I had a lot of calls to make. It was a nice weekend, and lots of people weren’t home, or answering their cells phones. After hearing the same, stupid voice mail instructions over and over again, I began to wonder whether or not it is time for those in charge of voice mail programs to alter the messages so we can effectively communicate with one another again.
When someone isn’t available to answer a voice mail the norm is to hear a recording , usually executed by a pleasant, unfamiliar, disembodied voice. The voice will instruct you to record a message or a voice mail by pressing a specific number. Then, (my favorite part) you will hear something like: ” you may hang up. ” Sometimes, you get another options, such as being able to dial another number to get even more options, for which you will need to punch in even more specific numbers or, of course, you may “hang up.”
All of this takes time, and if you have never used a phone before, I guess the details voicemail options might be useful. But most people know by know to leave a message after they hear some sort of beep tone. While I appreciate the ability to leave messages for friends, family and colleagues, some of the voicemail response messages are longer than the messages I’m trying to leave!
When I’m running for a subway or bus, or just about to enter a dead zone on my cell phone, or I’m juggling a coffee and three bags and my phone, I really am not happy to have to sit through what is sometimes up to 20 seconds of “phone options” just to tell my husband I’m going to be late for dinner! And, who amongst us is tired of hearing “you may hang up or..” (show of hands…oh…everybody?!). Most of us already know from years and years of phone calls that we can hang up a phone to end a call — why do we need a disembodied voice to tell us this as if it’s something we’ve never thought of before?
When I was writing my first book, Recruiting Love: Using the Business Skills You Have To Find The Love You Want back in 1996, cell phones were large, bulky instruments and not standard in everyone’s purse or pack. Back then, I cautioned readers not to make their answering machine messages too “cute” or lengthy (busy, successful singles have other things to do besides wait to hear two long verses of “Yo, Ho, Blow the Man Down” to prove the individuality of a sailing buff. It was annoying to callers who just wanted to say “hi.” Now, however, the cell phone industry has found even more ways to annoy you and make money (usually off highly impressionable teenagers). They will allow you to pay for a “service” that puts your favorite songs on your cell phone while callers are waiting for you. Does your boss or your long-lost love or your best friend really want to hear “Toxic” by Ms. Britany Spears or the latest rapper, while on hold? Do you?
Phones allow us to communicate effectively and efficiently. At least they did, when all you could do with them was…dial!
What’s YOUR biggest phone beef? Comments, please (but no spam, thank you)