European Businesses Cite Communications Technology Improvement As Key Factor To Surviving Recession

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Companies cite perceived decline in quality of communications with customers, partners and suppliers during the downturn

Guildford, UK – Research published by Avaya today shows that the level and quality of communication within European businesses, and between them and their customers, partners and suppliers, have worsened significantly during the global economic downturn. Seventy percent of all companies which have been impacted by the downturn confirmed that at least some aspect of communications had been negatively affected, with the trend set to influence the European economy further if no action is taken.

The communication downturn can be seen on all sides. 55% said internal communications have deteriorated, 52% that communications with their own customers have suffered, and 41% that communications from suppliers have worsened. In contrast, of the European companies that claimed to be unaffected by the downturn, only 29% have experienced some form of decline in communications capabilities.

“It’s clear that the downturn has exacerbated existing communications issues for businesses and, with the recession prompting customers to switch loyalties more quickly based on price considerations, customer service and communications are vital to regain confidence and market share,” said Michael Bayer, President, Avaya EMEA. “This report shows that companies should reassess the effect of the downturn on their internal and external comms, invest in the areas which will have most impact on the bottom line, and develop appropriate policies and procedures.”

The positive side is that the downturn has increased awareness of the need to incorporate social media technologies into the customer communications mix. The survey shows that among senior managers in Europe 55% are making more use of technologies like smart phones and instant messaging, and of social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn than they did 18 months ago. Interestingly, they also seem to have adopted these new communications media more readily than more junior employees (34%), who are normally portrayed in the media as the early adopters.

“It seems that in Europe, management is making a leap to embrace these new technologies, which is an encouraging sign for the prospect of better ‘full-circle’ communications across employees, customers and partners,” continued Bayer. “We’re seeing a lot of requests for integration of these social tools into the communications infrastructure, particularly in contact centres, and it’s not surprising. Our flagship Avaya Aura™ and Avaya Aura™ midsize solutions, for example, allow our clients to integrate communications across all of these stakeholders more efficiently and more effectively with a far faster time to investment return than traditional communications technologies.”

The Avaya Aura and Avaya Aura midsize solutions are SIP-based, open standard architectures that integrate communications across multi-vendor, -location, and -modal businesses, radically simplifying communication networks, and reducing infrastructure costs. They were launched earlier this year by Avaya amidst critical acclaim from customers, channel partners and industry analysts.

Other findings of the research include:
• Italian business has been hardest hit by the downturn, with 79% claiming to have suffered as a direct result; German business is least affected, though still at two-thirds (66%)
• Italy has experienced the biggest decline in communications, with 41% of all businesses reporting a worsening in communications from suppliers since the start of the downturn, 51% from colleagues, and 50% in their own communications to customers
• However, Italian businesses have also been the quickest to embrace new communications technologies and media since the beginning of the downturn, with 54% having begun more regularly using one or more of Twitter, LinkedIn (or similar), Facebook (or similar), instant messaging, home (tele-) working and smart phones; in Germany, only 32% of respondents could say the same
• French employees believe most strongly that the downturn has made no difference to the degree of openness of and accessibility to senior staff (63%)

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