Article by Robert Rodriguez
Photo by Craig Kohlruss
The Fresno Bee
Fresno attorney Erin Rhames-Childs likes being on the cutting edge of technology. She has the fastest Internet connection, the latest phone, and she’s now leaping into one of the newest trends in business communication: voice mail messages sent directly to e-mail.
No more checking for the blinking red light or flashing message on a desk phone. When clients leave a message on Rhames-Child’s office phone, it’s shipped in seconds to her iPhone.
She can listen to it, save it, or have one of her staff take care of the message.
New technology, the advent of texting and the need for immediate contact are all driving this communication trend.
“I like to be connected, and this helps keep me on the pulse of what is happening,” said Rhames-Childs, a family law attorney. “This really helps us become more efficient and more responsive to our clients.”
For example, Rhames-Childs was in a meeting with her employees recently when she noticed on her mini-laptop that a client had called her office three times within six minutes. It was a serious matter and Rhames-Childs was able to respond quickly.
One of the purveyors of the new communication system is Eric Rawn, president and founder of BCT Consulting in Clovis. Rawn has helped many Fresno-area businesses adopt the new feature.
“The biggest problem with voice mail is that it is an 8-to-5 type of technology,” said Rawn. “It takes so long to log into your voice mail, listen to the message, write down the information and then call them back. It’s just not very effective communication.”
Rawn’s company provides business owners with a digital phone system that can send voice mail messages to e-mail in the form of an audio file. An upgraded feature transcribes the message into text. That function is done by a third-party company, the New York-based PhoneTag, one of several (Callwave, Spinvox and Google Voice are others) in the market.
BCT Consulting is one of the first in the area to combine the new features and provide it locally. PhoneTag president James Siminoff says people tend to respond more quickly to e-mail and a text message than to voice mail.
A 2008 study by Opinion Research Corp. found that those under the age of 30 are four times more likely to respond within minutes to a text message compared with a voice mail, and 91% respond to a text message within one hour.
James Waterman, of SeniorCare Organizational Systems of Fresno, is always looking for ways to become more efficient and provide good customer service. SeniorCare provides service and information on how to care for the elderly.
Voice mail messages are sent directly to Waterman’s BlackBerry, where he can manage the calls.
“It is important for our customers to understand that if they have to leave a voice mail message for someone, that they will get it and someone will call them back,” Waterman said. “And with this system, it increases our ability to do that.”