Way back in the world before computers and cell phones, one of my favorite funny lines from TV was WKRP salesman Herb Tarlek assuring a client that everything work out OK

Del, goshdarnit I’ve got to go, but if you need anything, anything at all, I’ll be in my car somewhere.

Back then, if you didn’t stick around to see what happened, you really didn’t know.

Are you still using 1980’s Technology for Phone Calls?

herbtarlek[1]Now that we have voice mail, cell phones and instant messaging, we don’t have to be tied down to a location. Herb Tarlek can leave the remote broadcast in the hands of Dr. Johnny Fever and the crew, keep the phone on and get more done.

There’s a lot of places where we need to be. Many relationships that can grow stronger when you show up with more connections and more business, we end up with more of these opportunities.

Yet, many end up sitting at a meeting with their phone or computer tuned into someplace else. After all, it still takes time to check in to voice mail, email, Twitter and wherever else people are trying to reach you.

Rethinking the Multiple Points of Contact Theory

I’ve talked to many a busy person who comes up with one way or another to manage all these contact points. If you have an assistant screening, you can get down to one point of contact, but that isolates you.. sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Others drop one medium for another. This week, I’ve seeing announcements that a new service is great and a user suggesting that no on try to reach them on the old one “cause I won’t be checking in”

That may work for some, but I’m convinced that the future of marketing, business and living is to Listen and Love.. I want to know when people are reaching out to me, filter out the noise and respond to real human to let them know I care, and what I can do to help.

I think the answer is a universal in box. Google has several initiative in place for this, Google Buzz in our Gmail accounts, search for just about everything, and Google Voice to replace voice mail.

Here’s how it works:

Most of my calls end up going to voice mail, with Google Voice, they are instantly transcribed and available to view and respond to… right in my Gmail account.

While I’m getting a lot less calls as people learn to reach me via email, buzz, Twitter or blog post comments, there are still a few that pick up the phone every time they think of it. With a universal in box, I can respond quickly.. often sending back an email before I get off the conference call I’m on or while waiting in line at one of those 3 minute intersections here in Vegas.

You can import contacts and forward numbers, so Voice can be integrated with just about any other system you’ve been using. It’s free. Some suggest Google is using the massive data points gained from transcribing messages to improve voice recognition and search algorithms. So I suppose you don’t want you billion dollar secrets left on a Voice Mail message (even if it’s a old fashion answering machine)

Last I checked, Google Voice was still BETA, but it pretty easy to get an invite and may well be open for all now.