I'd be remiss if I didn't draw attention to the story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal Online entitled One Home For Your Voice Mail.
The story led off with Google Voice, aka the service formerly knows as GrandCentral started by former clients and very good friends Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet, which remains in a very tightly controlled Google Beta. It also included GotVoice, You Mail and PhoneTag, another company run by a good friend, James Siminoff, which many may know of as Simulscribe as well as UK export, Spinvox.
The key to these services is less clutter and less diffusion with regard to your voice mail, but of the services only Google Voice goes beyond taking and transcribing the message, in really making the attempt to eliminate voice mail all together. The service tries to find you first if you want to be found.
How well does it work? Take this real world example.
I'm in London. Someone calls my USA 858 area code number or my UK number. Both point/are forwarded to Google Voice. One of my destination settings is my USA Truphone number (a 415 area code number). Google Voice routes the call to Truphone which when I'm not on WiFi forwards the call to whichever SIM happens to be inside my Nokia E71 at the time, wherever in the world I may be. Net net, I paid nothing for that international transport of the call.
To be transparent, Google Voice/GrandCentral + Truphone. Both are currently or have been agency clients, and both solve the problem of staying in touch and easily being connected.