Telephone answering machine services are a necessity in many occupations where the ability to relay a message can be the difference between life and death. There are several types of answering machine services, from the home-use answering machine to the manned telephone answering service. Many modern cellular phones include automated answering machine services that are activated any time service is not allowed with the phone. Many home computers are also capable of recording messages from a telephone when it is not answered by the owner. One advantage that a manned service has over the recorded devices is that the service is able to try the client at several alternative numbers if a matter is deemed important enough to get the message through.
As technology improves, more and more methods of communicating are emerging. This is also true with answering machine services. The tried-and-true telephone answering machine has been improved in both the electronic versions as well as human-manned answering services. Some of the methods that electronic answering machine services have evolved into have greatly increased the effectiveness of the product. No longer is the answering machine delegated to sitting at home or at the office on a desk — the cellular phone typically provides answering machine services within the hand-held phone.
In situations such as conference and staff meetings where a telephone is not allowed, some answering machine services can be programed to send the receiver a message on a laptop computer, informing the recipient of an incoming call and subsequent message. Based on the information received through the Internet notification, the recipient can elect to return the call instantly or wait until after the meeting. Several cellular phone providers are also capable of converting a voice message to a text message or email, thereby allowing the recipient to read the message quietly while in a meeting.
Some of the most sophisticated answering machine services are provided by private services. These manned services are able to receive calls and categorize the messages by the urgency of the call. Another feature of this type of answering machine service is that the service can typically locate the client at an alternative number in the case of emergency, thus providing an almost immediate response to an important call. In some cases, the answering service is able to page the client via a beeper-type device, prompting the client to call the service to be informed of the emergency call or request.