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The missing function in mobile voicemail

Have the mobile operators overlooked how customers use the Forwarding To Voicemail function when a call is not answered? If someone calls your mobile and you don’t answer, the call is forwarded to your voicemail after a few rings. I find it very irritating that I can’t set the time to more than 30 seconds before the call is forwarded.

There are a number of situations where 30 seconds is simply too short, for example: If you are in the middle of a noisy street you might not hear the signal immediately. If you are at home and don’t take the phone with you when you move to another room or floor. The phone might be tucked away in a zipped pocket, or a woman might have the phone in a handbag. Smartphones are larger and clumsier and users often don’t want them in their clothing but put them away in a briefcase or bag. And if you want to read the display to see who is calling and then think for a few seconds about whether you want to take the call even more time is consumed before answering.

Personally, I prefer to use a ring signal that vibrates for the first 15 seconds. However, this is impossible as it only leaves 15 seconds to take the call if you miss the silent vibration signal. I have been prepared to switch to another operator to get a 45, 60 or 90 second ring signal. Unfortunately all the Swedish operators I checked (Telia, Tre, Tele2, Telenor, Halebop, Djuice) do not offer more than a 30 second ring signal. (I haven’t checked this for other countries.)

This is yet another example of how companies in the tech sector that invest huge resources in market research, focus groups and customer segmentation can miss the basics. The giants in the industry compete so intensely with the latest advanced technology that they devote more attention to their competitors and new cool features than on their own customers.

As I have said before, the problem is that the industry does not understand the customer’s micro situation and the context in which he or she is using the product. Since voice is still the most important revenue source for the operators, any improvement in this service will have a direct impact on the bottom line. The operators are mistaken if they view voice as a boring cash cow with low status that is impossible to improve or develop. Just look at Google Voice to get an idea of the potential for improvement.

This article has previously been published on my Swedish blog.

1 comment to The missing function in mobile voicemail

  • Noor Azlen

    An interesting experience, indeed!

    The fact that Voice Mail service exist to complement ‘unanswered’ calls, shows another angle how Telcos offer various services to get the mobile phone user to ‘retrieve’ the calls. Of course, there are other call notifications; Missed Call Alerts, sending SMS, or simply ‘call back’!

    Any which way, the idea is to get mobile phone users to stay longer ‘on-the line’!