There are those who argue that if email had been invented first, the telephone would never have gotten off the ground. While that may be a little far-fetched, ask yourself: if voicemail had never been invented, would the world be better off?
Coca-Cola asked itself that question and decided the answer was yes, so it is ditching voice mail at its offices. It's not a cost-saving measure, it's just intended to increase productivity, Bloomberg reports.
Internal callers -- Coca-Cola's employees -- are being encouraged to use email or text. Some might even walk around the corner and get in a little facetime. We would mention gathering around the water cooler but maybe they don't have those at Coke's offices. Soda machine, maybe?
External callers -- customers, suppliers and such pests as customers and reporters -- instead of the infuriating voicemail tree, will get a message suggesting they use "an alternative method" to contact the department or person they're looking for. Then, they will hear the sweet fizzing sound of the dial tone.
While Coca-Cola may be one of the biggest companies to banish voicemail, it's far from the only one. Increasingly, companies have voicemail but simply don't use it very much. Employees and suppliers know each other's direct smartphone numbers and either call or text when they have something to say.
Besides annoying callers, voicemail is a soul-deadener for the poor souls who must start or end their day wading through 30 minutes of more of messages that, most likely, should have been directed to someone else anyway.
What will be the last company to pull the plug on voicemail? Our money is on Verizon, which has perfected the art of the voicemail tree that leads nowhere except to a website that takes you in circles. It is, after all, when you get right down to it, still a telephone company and voicemail seems deeply encoded in its DNA.
Years ago, when working as a consultant, this reporter counted a few telephone companies among his clients. It was not unusual for voicemails from various Dilberts to come in faster than I could listen to them, meaning that I never actually accomplished anything other than listening to voicemails complaining that nothing was getting done on our various projects.
Which, when you come right down to it, is exactly what's wrong with voicemail. And maybe the phone company.