Embarq adds voice mail service to entice fixed-line customers

As it struggles to retain fixed-line customers who've been abandoning landlines in record numbers, Embarq yesterday announced it was offering customers a new service that allows them to screen voice mail as callers leave it.

When a caller starts to leave a message, the customer is notified with a distinctive ring, and EMBARQ VMESSAGE displays on the customer's Caller ID. When the customer picks up the phone they will hear, "EMBARQ Call Screening is on; to speak directly with the caller, press any key." The customer then hears the calling party's message as it is being recorded and can press any key to speak with that party.

Voice mail on landlines is now used in about one third of U.S. households, says Yankee Group. That's an 18 percent in 2003, and landline voice mail is rapidly replacing answering machines as the de facto home secretary of choice.

The new service is designed to retain customers by making their home phone service more appealing, Harry Campbell, Embarq's president of consumer markets, told the Wall Street Journal. "The ability to screen calls, and answer them if they choose to, is actually pretty important, and it's one of those things you can't do on your wireless phone."

For more:
- see the Wall Street Journal story

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