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As Communications Preferences Shift, So Must the Strategic Choices Communication Pros Make
Over the past decade, the way businesses in the United States utilize telephones has undergone a remarkable transformation. As technological advancements continue to shape the corporate landscape, traditional telephone usage has diminished significantly, as have business practices around telephone use. Cold calling, once a common practice, is now often seen as intrusive and impolite.
With the evolution of communication technologies and shifting cultural norms, the role of telephones in corporate settings has undergone a profound shift. IT managers responsible for upgrading phone systems are discovering that the number of users who rely on and require traditional phones has dwindled considerably. What are the implications of this changing landscape?
WHAT TECHNOLOGIES ARE WORKERS USING TO COMMUNICATE NOW?
In recent years, the adoption of alternative communication technologies has skyrocketed, replacing traditional telephone usage in many business contexts. Tools such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration platforms have emerged as workers' preferred methods of communication. These technologies offer greater convenience, flexibility, and efficiency, allowing employees to connect and collaborate seamlessly across different locations and time zones. As a result, the telephones' role as part of routine business communication has diminished significantly.
Alongside technological advancements, cultural norms surrounding telephone usage have also experienced a significant transformation. For example, cold calling isn’t limited to sales calls. Just picking up the phone and making an unscheduled call within your own company is almost taboo. Consumers and professionals alike prefer more personalized and less disruptive forms of communication. And if it’s a conversation - scheduled. The rise of spam calls and telemarketing has further contributed to the negative perception of traditional phone calls. As a result, individuals are increasingly hesitant to answer unknown calls, creating a barrier for effective telephone outreach.
As IT leadership tackles phone system upgrade projects, they often face the realization that the number of employees who rely on traditional phones is significantly lower . While a smaller telephony footprint might make systems migrations less labor intensive, this shift necessitates a more strategic and comprehensive approach to data analytics. How many different ways do we interact with our customers? COOs and CIOs must now consider a range of factors, including the prevalence of alternative communication channels, employee preferences, cost efficiency, and scalability. Employee preferences have come to influence the labor market significantly in recent years as C-level executives have realized that the work-from-home lifestyle is here to stay for myriad office jobs types. Many CEOs who demanded their workforces to return to the office have had to face high levels of turnover as more workers have more choices. The economy has put the employee in the driver’s seat.
As landline telephone usage declines, businesses must adapt their communication strategies to align with the changing landscape. Platforms like email, instant messaging, and collaboration software enable real-time communication, document sharing, and project management, fostering efficient teamwork and reducing reliance on phone calls. For internal communications, companies should encourage the adoption and integration of alternative communication tools into their daily operations and ensure that these non-telephone-centered solutions include quantifiable and reportable data. After all, we are familiar with Pearson’s Law which states, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."
When reaching out to potential clients or business partners, it is crucial to personalize communication to reach its intended targets. Email allows for tailored messages that provide relevant information and demonstrate an understanding of the recipient's needs. It’s easy to cast a generic, wide net to masses with automated responses. But current tools also allow customization. By focusing on personalization, businesses can establish stronger connections and increase the chances of successful engagement.
Obviously video conferencing has become a preferred method for conducting meetings, especially in remote or distributed work environments. It allows for face-to-face interaction, non-verbal cues, and screen sharing, creating a more immersive and collaborative meeting experience. Investing in reliable video conferencing tools can enhance communication and foster stronger connections with team members and clients.
Facing a decline in traditional telephone usage, businesses can leverage legacy PBX analytics to shop and select automation tools to streamline communication processes. Advanced analytics can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and communication patterns, allowing companies to tailor their outreach strategies more effectively. Automation tools, such as chatbots or email marketing platforms, can assist in managing routine communication. PBX reports can show internal calling volumes, external calls, inbound vs outbound. These reports should help to identify sales vs support calls, normal operations vs abnormal events and over time, seasonal patters, such as retail shopping spikes, or family vacations. Based on these analytics, the appropriate alternate communication solution can be chosen to suit each need. For example, internal calls might be reduced with an instant messaging solution. Customer support calls, might be better suited with a CRM solution or a website with predictive or live chat support.
HOW WILL VENDORS RESPOND TO THIS SHIFT IN USAGE?
As we navigate the evolving landscape of telephone usage in US-based businesses, it will be interesting to watch how pure voice service providers adapt to this transformative shift. Obviously, the large carriers reduce their cost with a smaller legacy infrastructure footprint and shift focus toward data and internet-focused revenue.
But with the decreasing demand for traditional phones, hardware manufacturers are bound to feel the impact, requiring them to reassess their product offerings and diversify revenue streams. Additionally, the reduced end-user base and the decreased need for copper and SIP trunking present fiscal challenges for value-added resellers (VARs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs), prompting them to seek alternative avenues for generating revenue. The market’s response to these changes will shape the future of communication technologies and services. The most agile and innovative service providers have an opportunity to influence and color the solutions on the near horizon.