We've talked before about how no one listens to their voice mail. We've talked before about how, generally, people prefer to text and be texted over any other form of communication. Now we're going to put two and two together.
Over 90% of people who text - at all, for any reason, in any capacity - prefer texts over voice mail. To put that into perspective, as of 2013, over 90% of adults own a cell phone, and over 80% of them text. Sadly, these numbers are skewed by the 65+ crowd, whose generally poor eyesight and often feeble fingers make texting impractical. But if you narrow the numbers down to just the working class, over 95% own cell phones and every single one of them texts.
But why do we prefer texting over voice mail? In both situations, the person checking the message gets a notification and has to go through the same amount of steps to see or hear what was left for them. If you're leaving the message, it's probably easier for you to leave a voice mail after a call than hanging up to text them. (Though that begs the question as to why you would bother calling someone anyway, when you know the person isn't likely to pick up the phone.)
What is it about texting that makes the overwhelming majority prefer it over voice mail? If you're under 25, you've probably never even thought about this question. Why would you? Texting's just what you do. It's how you communicate. Even most Millennials (people roughly 20-45 y.o.) would have a hard time articulating an answer, because texting's just what people do. But for the outliers who might not understand why so many people prefer texting over voice mail, let's be very clear.
1. Voice mail usually takes too long.
Who are the people in this day and age that leave you voice mail? It's your mother - maybe your grandmother - who rambles on, speaking slowly and sporadically for two minutes until you realize she just wanted to check in, at which point you end the voice mail before it's finished playing. Or it might be a client that you're not very close with asking you to do something, or a telemarketer begging you to call them back. No one who's trying to get ahead in life wants to take that kind of time out of their day so someone else can ask them to do something, especially not dozens of times everyday.
2. Voice mail is impersonal.
Think about the people that leave you voice mail. It's either business contacts you're not close to, salesmen wasting their time, senior citizens, or someone who has no other mode of contact for you. If someone close to you wanted to get in touch, they'd either message you on social media or text you. When people see they have a voice mail (if they see it), they automatically know it's from someone who's not close to them and who's over 50. That's not a very good impression to make.
3. Voice mail can be difficult to hear.
God forbid you're around other people or walking somewhere that has noise! How many times have you been on the phone and hung up, or had to leave the room, because things were too loud around you? How many times, back in the day, have you listened to voice mail and had to replay the message several times because the caller either didn't speak clearly enough, or because there was noise in their background? It's really annoying. It's not inconvenient at all. And the comparison - texting - is that you're given a written message with everything you need to know, and the best way to reach the person leaving that message.
4. Voice mail still makes you write a message.
A message should be something given to you that you can instantly run with, not something you have to replay three times and take notes on before it's worth anything. If somebody texts you, you already have a written record of everything you need to know, whether it be notes, someone's phone number, an address, or anything else. And you can carry as many of these easy-to-use, informational messages around with you as you could possibly want!
5. Voice mail carries no urgency.
If it's not urgent, people are going to forget about it. Nothing about a voice mail notification says "This is important, and needs attention right now!" If someone can't answer your call, there's good reason to believe they won't be able to listen to your voice mail for some time either. Rather, with a text, the receiver sees the message as soon as it comes in (or within three minutes), and can choose to pay attention to that message right then or leave it for later.
People prefer to text. If this article doesn't tell you that, watching people walk down the street will. Voice mail was great back in the day, but it's not how we communicate now. It's outdated, inefficient, and actually causes more problems than it solves (just ask Coca-Cola and JP Morgan Chase). Voice mail is dead. If you want to reach someone, and if you want to hear back from them, you need to text.