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Back in June, financial services firms JP Morgan Chase announced that it was getting rid of voicemail for those employees who were not customer facing. It was, the company said, part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting drive that was hoped will save around $2bn in annual expenses by 2017.
Gordon Smith, chief executive of JP Morgan’s consumer banking operations, said that the company would save $10 a month for every employee who decided to get rid of their voicemail service. While it might seem small fry, for any organisation with hundreds or thousands of employees the savings can add up. Patricia Wexler, a spokeswoman for the bank, told Reuters that the consumer division of the bank expected to close 65% of its voicemail boxes, which it expected would save about $3.2m a year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much resistance to the decision.
"People started raising their hands. They started volunteering, ’Please take my voicemail away. It’s annoying, it’s redundant, I never use it anymore,’" said Wexler in an interview with npr.org.
$3.2m is quite a bit to pay for a service that a lot of people don’t use. When you think of the effort that goes into carefully assembled governance strategies and hard-fought supplier negotiations, this is a relatively simple piece of demand management. Or, maybe more accurately, truly understanding how internal customers work.
JP Morgan isn’t the only company to recognise the savings potential here. Drinks giant Coca-Cola took similar steps and found only 6% of its employees wanted to keep theirs.
Today desk-top voicemail is pretty much redundant. Employees today have mobile phones (with voicemail), email, BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp. All of these are much easier and more efficient ways to get hold of people than an answer phone message, which you have to log on to, press a few buttons - followed by the hash key - only to listen to a muffled message which almost inevitably turns out to be one of your colleagues who has mistakenly called you from their pocket on the way to the shop.
If you haven’t got rid of it already, what are you waiting for? Switch off that annoying light forever and while you’re at it, get rid of the fax machine. No one sends those anymore either.
In an age where businesses are trying to save time and money there is no reason to pay for something on a wide scale that is practically obsolete as a technology, costs a lot of money and wastes peoples time. This isn’t just voicemails we’re talking about, but they’re an example of potentially careless, easily addressable spending.
The question is: if procurement isn’t asking questions of its business counterparts like, ’why do you need that?’, ’is there a better way we could do this?’, or ’are you going to pick up those messages?’...well, then, who is?
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.