Lake Superior Vacation Communications Wish List

I love the North Shore of Lake Superior and for the past 20-plus years I’ve spent the week of July 4th in a cabin situated just a few feet from the water. This part of Minnesota is known for its spectacular views, long hiking trails into the forest and along the lake, quaint towns hugging the shoreline, and peace and quiet where a telecommunications geek like me can unwind.

So, why in the world would that geek be sitting down to write yet another blog article about unified communications, SIP, voice over IP, or all of the above? Well, I had a long day of biking, hiking, and playing my ukulele at the water’s edge and I need a little unwinding from all that unwinding. Besides, my wife is off with friends at a knitting circle and this seems slightly more productive than watching a movie on my iPad.

My mind wanders while walking through the woods and some of that wandering gets me thinking about things that I would love to see come true in the world of communications. Since I am a fairly practical fellow, these aren’t far-off-into-the-future ideas. Instead, they are technologies that may be just around the corner. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that someone has already developed a prototype that he or she is close to springing upon the world.

Wandering Thought Number One

I’ve said this before, but I am not a fan of voicemail. Sure, leaving spoken word messages is a necessary part of the modern industrial workplace, but I don’t like leaving them and I don’t like listening to them. I would much rather leave a concise email or send a text message than a one-minute-ramble that I am sure the recipient won’t listen to in its entirety.

Why do I think that? Because I often tune out after the first ten seconds of any message left for me.

While I don’t see voicemail disappearing anytime soon, I long for a tighter integration with other applications. For example, I dislike having to set an out-of-office message in Microsoft Outlook and then dialing up my voice mailbox to do the same thing. I want to set it in one place and one place only.

I appreciate that my voicemails now end up in my Outlook inbox, but let’s take it one step further. How about running some speech analytics software on the messages to create subject labels and categorize them by type? Wouldn’t that be cool?

Wandering Thought Number Two

I run a SIP client on my iPhone and it works perfectly fine, so why can’t it be my primary telephony interface? Instead of having to start the SIP client and bring it into the foreground to make calls, why can’t it override the standard IOS cellular interface — that green and white phone icon on the bottom of the screen. I want my SIP application to take its place.

Yes, there are still times when I will need to make cell calls (e.g. 911 and loss of a data signal), but those cases are increasingly uncommon. 99% of the time I would be perfectly happy to use my SIP client and I want to do it with less hassle.

Wandering Thought Number Three

As you may have gathered from my voicemail comments above, I don’t like waiting. Listening to a voice message takes too much time. I can scan the written words much faster than it takes someone to speak them. The same holds true in many other places – especially call centers. I hate music on hold or listening to an endless stream of a company’s commercials while I am waiting for an agent to come on the line. While I realize that sometimes I have to be patient, I want the experience to be less painful.

My idea is this. Whenever I have to wait for an agent, I should be given the opportunity to go back to when I was doing and dynamically be informed when the agent is ready to speak with me. Perhaps I get a text message five seconds before the queued call is answered. Perhaps it’s the ability to turn off the annoying music on hold so I can concentrate on something else while I wait. Perhaps I am immediately placed into a call-back queue that I know will be honored.

My point is this. I want more control over the entire experience. Make my wait more pleasant and I can guarantee you that I will be a more pleasant customer once someone is ready to speak with me.

Back to Vacation Mode

There you have it. Only a true geek would think about such things while hiking amongst tall pines, aspen, and birch trees, but you already knew what you were dealing with, didn’t you?

For those of you here in the United States, have a happy Fourth of July. Stay safe and I’ll be back next week with more fun and games.

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