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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | May 1, 2017

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A challenge and an opportunity

A challenge and an opportunity
Denis Creighton

Internet didn’t replace the phone and social media won’t replace the call.

People are communicating more than ever before, and not just by phone. Social networking sites have become primary communication tools for a new generation of digitally aware consumers. So should businesses be ditching the traditional forms of engaging with their customers?

When the Internet was introduced to the general public around 12 years ago, so-called experts warned the contact centre industry that it would soon replace the phone as the way consumers interacted with brands.

Interestingly, what happened was quite the reverse.  The World Wide Web made a mass of information available to consumers.  And what did more information lead to?  More questions, which people wanted answered over the phone.

Internet–enabled communication models are clearly growing their audience base, so it is important that businesses recognise and adapt to these communication trends, whether this is instant messaging, or social media sites like Twitter.  They provide another way to connect and – in these tough times especially – organisations need to connect with their customers.

But how much through this online medium depends very much on the audience.  In the UK, 90 per cent of teens spend time on social networking sites. So for example if your client base has a young demographic – say pay-as-you-go phone users – then you have a big opportunity to connect through a medium that is online based and as instant as possible.

The Internet provides the ability for people to share experiences, generate content, buy products and more. Social networks are becoming integrated communication hubs for a number of businesses and many are even employing a separate work force to respond to the online demand.

Does social media present customer services with an opportunity? Yes.  A challenge? Yes.  Is it the right tool for all audiences? No.

Video didn’t kill the radio star, and social media won’t do the same for the phone call.  The savvy organisation of the future will be the one that identifies the space where its audience is communicating and recognises how to enter it in a way which creates ambassadors for its brand.

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