The telephone hotline. It’s almost as old as e-commerce itself and for a great many online businesses our old friend the 0800 number is the primary channel for one-to-one communication with customers.
But times change and so do the habits and preferences of consumers. For today’s smartphone-enabled customers, the voice call is just one of a number of communications options and a mounting body of evidence suggests that messaging is often the preferred option.
This has profound implications for online businesses. Put simply, if you’ve built a customer-engagement strategy that is based solely on 0800 numbers and call centres you could be swimming against the tide.
The Messaging Revolution
Here in the UK most households retain a landline – only 15% are mobile according to Ofcom – but that statistic disguises a sea change in usage. The Ofcom market report for 2013 notes a 3.9% decline in overall voice call minutes and although this mainly reflects lower fixed line usage, the number of mobile voice connections also fell in 2013 along with the number of texts. Instead, smartphone users are turning to alternatives such as instant messaging and e-mail. Continue reading