This past week I was delighted to hear from Daniel Huang, a Wall Street Journal reporter covering the banking sector, and honoured to be included in his report on the elimination of voice mail by several major U.S. banks.
Coca Cola made the same move at the end of 2014 (And in Ottawa, the Canadian federal government has begun pulling out landlines, replacing them with cellphones through an agreement with Rogers Communications Inc.)
This is just a glimmer of what’s ahead in terms of phone communication.
At J.P. Morgan Chase & Co’s consumer and community banking unit, voice mail is currently being removed from employees who don’t deal directly with clients, such as those in operations or technology. The plan is to save $3.2 million a year by not incurring the $10 per month per employee cost of voice mail. When a phone is unanswered there will be a generic message such as “You have reached J.P. Morgan Chase; the person you are trying to reach is unavailable to take your call. Please try your call later.” Employees will be encouraged to use email, texting and cellphones.
Here are some of the questions that arise for me:
1) While it has been awhile since I’ve worked in a big corporation, I do remember the importance of communicating with the technology department. Without voice mail, will some issues go “unheard” for too long? Or will tech staff be left to juggle more email, text messages and cellphone calls than are reasonable – or even humanly possible?
2) If staff without voice mail are available by cellphone, are they going to slowly end up working more hours, i.e. the tech person in Boston is now available to the San Francisco office at 3 pm Pacific Time?
3) There can be so many “gaps” in email and text communication, so much room for either misinterpretation or misunderstanding. In my own world, clarity has often been achieved through the tone of voice and explanation left in voice mail. Without this, will some issues require more time to resolve? Will some issues never get resolved? And will some small issues fester into large issues due to inadequate communication?
4) When we eliminate one avenue of communication, what is the true impact over time? Obviously there is an immediate monetary saving, but are there losses in the long-term that will cost more than those savings?
What questions arise for you? What is your reaction to the elimination of voice mail? These aren’t isolated incidents. This is a trend worth thinking about, discussing and watching. I’m very interested to hear your thoughts.
Enjoy your phonework everyone!