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How Voicemail Works – Helping you Get the Message

To find out how voicemail works, press 1. To discover the history of voicemail, press 2. To understand the glossary of voicemail terms and definitions, press 3. And on it goes. Sometimes, we’re thankful there are only single digits on the phone, or the options may be even more multiple. But voicemail has its advantages, too.

In this article, we’ll see how voicemail works, with both its advantages and disadvantages. There have been some very innovative uses developed for voicemail. Let’s look at them one at a time.

The basics of voicemail

When voicemail was created, the answering machine was currently taking care of that job. But voicemail had many advantages over an answering machine. For example:

  • There’s no equipment to buy.
  • You don’t have to replace worn-out tapes.
  • It doesn’t need electrical power.
  • It answers your phone even when you’re on a call.
  • It provides much more privacy.

So, at the time of its inception, it was a pretty good idea, especially when compared to the limited answering machine. Here’s what voicemail can do:

  • It allows users to retrieve, send and manage voice messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any touchtone phone in the world.
  • It can store an unlimited number of voice messages.
  • It records messages of up to 5 minutes in length.
  • Incoming calls can be diverted to voicemail: - on ‘No Answer’, - on ‘Busy’, - on both ‘No Answer’ and ‘Busy’ or - immediately (without ringing).

So you can see how much more versatile it is than a common answering machine.

How voicemail is accessed

Voicemail is designed as a series of steps. Voicemail systems, by way of automated operators, lead you carefully through the process, so you don’t need a lot of paperwork to figure them out. First, you need to set up your mailbox. You’ll be given your own access number to get into the system where you can create your personal greeting – what the caller hears when your voicemail clicks in. All the personal settings you set up are protected by a password of your choosing.

Besides setting your personal greeting, you have other options to set up as well. You’ll need to specify the number of times your phone rings before an incoming call is answered. You may have a notification option that, when activated, calls your pager to tell you that you have a message waiting.

Most residential phones don’t have a lot of options for the incoming caller. They just listen to your personal greeting, and leave a message at the sound of the beep. This is the simplest form of voicemail.

Business voicemail has many options

Business voicemail systems are more sophisticated than simple residential voicemail. They usually consist of an entire voice messaging system, complete with many features. With these advanced systems, businesses can keep in contact with their customers 24/7. The system is, in effect, a personal, digital support staff, helping you manage your communications whether you’re in the office or not. Here’s an example of some of the benefits one of the new unified messaging systems offer you:

  • You’ll have your own 800 number that’ll connect you to your voicemail, allowing you to access your messages no matter where you are.
  • Your voice messages will be forwarded to your email inbox, allowing you to store as many as you want, indefinitely.
  • You can listen to the messages stored in your email – they’re converted to clear audio messages – even when you’re away from the office.
  • Faxes can be received and stored in your computer. When you’re out of the office, you can retrieve your faxes by phone and send them to print on any nearby fax machine.
  • Your voicemail system will simultaneously call up to 3 different phone numbers in an attempt to “find” you when a caller is trying to connect to you. The caller is privately announced to you, so you can choose to accept the call or sent it to voicemail without the caller knowing.
  • You can use your personal toll free 800 number like a calling card and make long distance calls.
  • You need only one phone number with this system. All your messages and faxes can be routed to that one number, because the system is programmed to recognize and accept all types of calls, and direct them as you choose.

Voicemail helps humanity

So business and residential voicemail customers are all set. But what about those who need to stay in touch but don’t have a phone? There’s a surprisingly large number of people in this category, for example students and homeless people who are looking for housing or employment. This need was recognized by a Seattle-based company called Community Technology Institute. Their program Community VoiceMail (CVM) provides training and technical support for Community VoiceMail across the U.S.

Bard Richmond, Chair of CTI Board of Directors, says, “We’ve worked hard to give the homeless and phoneless a way to connect themselves to jobs and services by using voicemail technology.” CVM operates through community-owned computers that mimic home answering machines, enabling clients to receive calls back from potential employers and landlords. In 1997 alone, more than 12,000 people met goals of finding employment and housing, receiving health care and social services, as well as creating a safe haven from domestic violence. And this system is being duplicated across the country.

So voicemail can be very beneficial if used in the right way. In fact, CVM is a wonderful example of making the best use of a resource. And you can use this resource to its greatest advantage. Get voicemail and take only the calls you want. Get voicemail and access your calls when you’re on the road. Get voicemail and receive your faxes from anywhere. See – there are a lot of benefits to voicemail. That’s why we compiled this information – so you can feel confident in getting voicemail and enjoy all its features with a smile on your face. Get the message?

About The Author

Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing free voice messaging, internet phones free calls and Sony video projectors. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This article on "How Voicemail Works" reprinted with permission.

© 2004 - Net Guides Publishing, Inc.

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