Digital Business: Out With the Old, in With the New?

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In the business world things are changing fast. They’re witnessing the convergence of traditional and digital channels and it is disrupting the way a business operates. But are we too quick to think that other traditional channels are to be disregarded?

Digital business is the number one initiative for many business and it is woven into most dialogue from advisory Gartner. So what exactly is it? Gartner defines digital business thus:

“Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. It promises to usher in an unprecedented convergence of people, business and things that disrupts existing business models – even those born of the Internet and e-business eras.”

A paradigm shift from the prosaic to the solution of the complex. Like the analogue television, it’s the shift to settle with the times. Quite simply, it’s because of all the digital technologies that customers use, which facilitate their interaction with a business – things like live-chat, email and social media.

For example, according to a UN report, internet users are expected to hit 3 billion by the end of 2014 which accounts for about 40% of the world’s population. Other reports show that globally, smartphone usage has passed 1 billion, and will be doubled in 2015.

In fact, by the end of 2013 there were more mobile devices on earth than there were people. At the 2014 Apple Developers’ Conference, Tim Cook announced that more than 75 billion apps had been downloaded from the iTunes store. By 2017, app downloads in general will be at almost 270 billion.

Today, we see that businesses are taking advantage of these trends. Most businesses have apps for their customers, from mobile provider usage apps to banking apps (in fact, banking transactions via smartphone apps had doubled in 2014 to 18.6 million transaction.) digital business

It’s the world’s new modus operandi, and for those businesses that aren’t catching on and facilitating customer interactions with digital technologies, their customer service strategies are going to fall behind – shape up or ship out.

This begs the question, what impact does digital business have on the voice channel – one of the most frequently used, and preferred traditional channels.

Recent reports by Dimension Data have shown that by the end of 2016, customers will commonly be using up to seven different channels in addition to the telephone.

So is this the demise of the telephone? Hardly. The voice channel is still a customer’s preferred method, and most used method for fast fixes to complex, sensitive, and exhausted problems.

Echoing the sentiments from these reports, every call into your business is now a crisis call. These calls are a customer’s last resort, as they’ve exhausted all other options available to them, and their contact reason is simply pressing.

With the many digital contact channels available – even with live-chat being the most synchronous – when a customer physically calls your business, it’s a Code Red. And it’s crucial to get a successful outcome.

Agents therefore need to be highly skilled to deal with these kinds of calls, and so suitable technological adjuncts are required to assist them to deal with customers optimally.

Where does the voice channel fit in a digital business environment? Voice is now digital and it is now data because of the technologies that can glean the voice channel and convert that audio into consumable data.

Businesses can extract actionable insights from this data and do it in real-time. Now, everything is digital. Sure businesses are migrating away from strategies and technologies that are now thought of as prosaic and lacklustre, but the thing is you don’t get rid of what works, you improve it.

While waving adios, we are simultaneously ushering in a new wave of digital technologies, but they’re not necessarily replacing ‘old’ ones like the voice channel. Since its invention, the telephone has been a part of business and will continue into the future. For the most part, new technologies are adjuncts, the voice channel may be changing, but it’s still the same. After all, we’ve got our social media accounts, but we still call our special someone on their birthday.

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