Like many professionals I spend a lot of time in meetings, on the phone and traveling and as a result, I receive a lot of inbound phone calls that end up with the caller having to leave a message.  I’m very happy to be receiving phone calls rather than emails.

However, phone messages often including details that need writing down – numbers to back on, names, addresses, times of appointments etc.  That is a problem because I can listen and think… or write and think – but not all three at once!  So writing down a name or a phone number whilst listening to a message is near to impossible.  For the same reason, I rarely take notes in a meeting.  So in the case of phone messages, I have to listen to the message several times to get the details right and if I have 3 or 4 messages to “decant” after a couple of hours of being unavailable, that can take some time.

Worse, not all messaging systems let you scroll back a few seconds to listen to a snippet of the message again, so this usually means listening to the whole message over and over.

My solution to the voicemail problem

But I’ve found a solution!  It turns voice messages into text and sends them to my phone by text.

So how does it work?

It was complicated to setup but it works very well:

If my phone is engaged or doesn’t answer then it diverts to my Skype account and the message is then left with Skype.  That bit is fairly easy, all you have to do is tell the phone what number to divert calls to if you are unavailable.

Skype can offer a “proper” phone number, so I use that.  Skype also offers a voicemail service called “SpinVox” that converts messages to text and then sends it to my mobile as a text.  That way I can even see who is calling me in the middle of a meeting.  Equally, any phone numbers are usually display with a clickable hyperlink – so calling someone back becomes very easy.

The service is not perfect or inexpensive.  However, it has transformed my ability to respond to inbound voice messages – and my clients and colleagues definitely feel the benefit of that.

Another approach, for those lucky enough to have the option, would be to divert your mobile phone your PA.