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It’s Official: We Hate Voice Mail, Survey Finds

Americans spend more than one billion hours annually on voice mail, according to a new survey. And we hate it.

We receive more than 70 billion voice mail messages each year, which has generated a substantial body of anti-voice-mail sentiment. That backlash has been a long time coming; voice mail has been with us for 40 years.

Topping the list of criticisms by users of voice mail is listening to long and rambling messages, cited by 38 percent of those surveyed by market research firm MarketTools.

The second-place irritant, a voice mail sore point for 15 percent of survey respondents, was navigating touch-tone menus in order to access and delete messages. It was closely followed (13 percent) by feeling the need to grab paper and pencil to take notes.

Feeling the need to call the person back bothers 12 percent of users surveyed, with 10 percent saying they couldn’t listen to messages during meetings or in noisy places.

Other reasons identified as causing dissatisfaction with voice mail included “can’t remember the PIN for voice mail,” “difficult to search and find important messages” and “having to listen to long greetings before being able to record a message.”

“Voice mail as we know it is coming to an end,” said Eddie Hold, vice president of connected intelligence at The NPD Group, a market research organization. “Having to dial in and listen to messages is a relatively slow process, especially in an era when instant gratification is demanded.”

[The ABCs of Phone Systems]

Newer methods of communication such as text messaging are faster and more convenient. Users expect the same from voice mail.

“Voice mail has long been an enormous time sink and a source of frustration,” said Igor Jablokov, CEO of survey sponsor Yap, which provides advanced speech transcription services.

Converting voice messages into text, he said, allows users to conveniently access and read their voice messages in a fraction of the time it takes to listen to them.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.