Voice Mail Messages: Do You Still Listen?

Do you still leave messages when you get someone’s voice mail? When someone leaves you a message, do you listen to it before you call back?

[Note: there’s a quick one-question survey at the bottom of this post. As long as you’ve come this far, please take a moment to fill it out so that your voice can be heard.]

My answer to both questions has always been yes — and I have always expected people to listen to my messages.

A few years ago I began to encounter a few people who just called me back to ask what I wanted. With some irritation, I’d ask if they’d listened to the message I left, and learn that they hadn’t.

Initially this appeared to be a generational phenomenon — I’m in my fifties, and most of the people skipping my voice mails were thirty years younger. The trend has accelerated, and now includes people of all ages. In the past few weeks a 70-year-old colleague did this, and a 61-year-old Account Executive did not return my call because, he confessed later, “I haven’t listened to my office voice mail in a week or so.”

Now some business heavyweights are beginning to jump on the bandwagon. For example, Coca Cola.  From Bloomberg News:

Forget about leaving a voice mail at Coca-Cola Co.’s Atlanta headquarters. Send a text instead.

Office voice mail at the world’s largest soft-drink maker was shut down “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity,” according to an internal memo from Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike. The change went into effect this month, and a standard outgoing message now throws up an electronic stiff arm, telling callers to try later or use “an alternative method” to contact the person.”

Not some start-up run out of a garage by millennials… this is Coca Freakin’ Cola.

Are we at the tipping point? You tell me. Please take a few seconds to fill out the short survey below.

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Question: When you leave someone a voice mail message, what do you expect them to do? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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3 thoughts on “Voice Mail Messages: Do You Still Listen?

  1. I clicked that I “never” listen to my voice mails. I also don’t leave voice mails. I don’t expect anyone to listen to them. I’ll call back or text if it is important. I also am not in a business that requires immediate replies. Sometimes, I will actually listen to my message… a few days after I receive it, if it comes from an unexpected or unrecognized phone number. Once I get the gist of the message I delete it and make the return phone call. In extremely rare occasions I will listen to a message over and over because I can’t understand the speakers name, or he/she is spouting off the return phone number so quickly that I can’t understand anything being said.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Gail. The phenomenon of people calling and not leaving a message is an interesting one — and has some irony for those of us who’ve been around for a while.

    We used hang up on voice mail with the intention of not being identified — if the prospect didn’t know we had called, we could call back several times a day in the hopes that they would answer. Caller ID has made that approach obsolete — the target would see four or five missed calls from the same number and identify the caller as a pest.

    While preventing the repeated-call-with-no-message stealth attack, Caller ID has made the polar opposite possible: you call, get voice mail and hang up with the overt intention to be identified, and expect a return call.

    Hang around long enough and the world will turn upside down.