Since UNC-Chapel Hill started providing the service last summer, some 400 campus phone customers have opted to add a feature that enables them to receive audio voicemail messages via email.
ITS began offering unified messaging as a convenience to campus faculty and staff members who receive their telephone service from the University. (Given students’ preference for mobile phones, the campus does not provide telephony services to students.)
Sherry Wallace, Director of MBA Admissions at the University’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, was one of the early adopters of the voicemail-via-email service on campus.
ITS offered unified messaging as a trial first to Kenan-Flagler and a few individuals elsewhere on campus before rolling it out University-wide in July. Most Kenan-Flagler faculty members and staff members are now using the service.
With her audio voicemails coming to her work email account, Wallace said, “I find I am able to respond and get to those calls so much easier.”
More convenient to check voicemail via email
She travels frequently for her job and is often out of her office. While away, she typically checks for work email on her mobile phone or laptop within five minutes of getting out of a meeting. Checking voicemail used to be cumbersome—dialing her number and plugging in a password when prompted. Also, some places—such as an airport—were too noisy for calling in for messages. For that reason, she checked her work landline for phone messages less frequently than she monitored her email.
Now it’s convenient, easy and fast to check voicemails along with written messages whenever she reviews her work inbox. “Now my response time to a voicemail message rivals my response time to an email message,” she said. “I feel it has helped my efficiency so much.”
In addition to their base phone bill, University departments pay a one-time fee of $25 per phone line for unified messaging. The fee covers the University’s set-up costs.
Impossible to predict adoption level
There’s no way to estimate the number of faculty and staff members who ultimately will choose to enroll in the voicemail-to-email feature. ITS is not advertising or pushing enrollment in the service.
“It’s not meant for everyone,” said Cheri Beasley, IT Manager of ITS Communication Technologies. Because of privacy concerns, it’s not a fit for people who exchange sensitive, highly confidential information like that governed by the federal HIPAA protections for health information and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, better known as FERPA.
Same-day activation for most customers
To receive unified messaging, phone customers submit an online service requisition and provide billing information at https://itsapps.unc.edu/telreq/. In most cases, service can be activated the same day. Set-up takes a little longer for phone customers who do not use the University Campus Exchange server for email.
ITS chose to roll out the service this year now that most of the campus has transitioned to Voice-over-Internet Protocol, which has been a major telephony upgrade for the University.