As the race for corporate efficiency continues and companies look for ways to get more from their employees without breaking the bank, one technology worth serious consideration is voicemail-to-text or visual voicemail which allows voicemail to be read instead of heard.
While this may seem like a trivial technology at first, the ability to be talking with a caller and receive voicemail messages as text while still talking is an amazing productivity booster. A busy executive can be on the phone while forwarding voicemail messages as action items via e-mail. Others in an organization can respond to these voicemails while the executive continues speaking.
If they choose, the executive can respond themselves via e-mail or SMS to callers without ever picking up a phone.
The only downside of the systems on the market may be the slight lag in time it takes to receive transcribed messages. Generally twenty minutes is about as long as it takes to receive messages via e-mail but short messages can be received in a few minutes.
In addition, if callers have accents or poor English, the messages may not come in clearly.
In my testing, even when you are dealing with difficult accents (those you just can’t help but imitate to your friends, relatives and/or colleagues), you will get the gist of the message.
I have written about SpinVox and SimulScribe before… Both services transcribe voicemail but SimulScribe also has applications designed for mobile devices which actually download the voicemails as audio files for easy listening while offline.
In this way, SimulScribe provides unified messaging functionality allowing a person to listen to voicemails on an airplane, subway or anywhere. This is something that just isn’t possible without unified messaging technology.
As a user of such services it seems I never have time to call in to hear messages. Furthermore, I consider the sending of a voice file to a mobile device an essential feature of such services.
A more recent entrant into this space is GotVoice and I had a chance to speak with the CEO of the company Curt Blake who tells me his service also has the ability to send voicemails as audio files to mobile devices. The GotVoice differentiator Blake points out as being most important is being able to work with more phone systems than others.
The company has PBX interconnectivity which also allows additional functionality such as the ability to text back messages from your mobile device which can be delivered to the caller via text to voice technology. When you receive a call you can even have your response go to a caller’s voicemail – without ringing their phone. Generally you would want a return message to reach a person in real-time but there may be those cases when you want to purposely have a lag in a person’s response to you.
Taken one step further, users of GotVoice can also set up subscriber lists and send voice broadcasts to phone numbers and e-mails.
The service supports most PBXs and all SIP-based varieties and boasts 60,000 free users to date.
Regardless of which service you choose, voicemail to text/visual voicemail is a fantastic productivity booster. I would imagine that students and smartphone users should also want to try the technology out for themselves. It is one of those really fantastic productivity enablers you just don’t expect to be so useful. Once you try one of these services you will wonder how you ever lived without them.