June is the month when we celebrate effective communication around the world. How has technology improved communication? Which technologies are contributing to a more effective communication environment?
Communication has always been at the centre of active management, and now more than ever, teams around the world should celebrate and understand its importance. Coming out after one of humanity's darkest social and economic periods, this June's National Effective Communication Month celebrations will be sombre.
The world is changing, and so is how organisations communicate. Typically, communication is more natural when the participants are in close proximity. With social distancing norms, proximity will diminish as a factor in communication. Fortunately, communication technology has been reducing the need for proximity for decades, substituting it with cost savings and efficiencies for users.
Communication will be at the centre of conversations on rebuilding societies and industries. Here are some of the essential topics that organisations should consider.
Digitisation of communication
Traditional paper-based modes of communication are falling to the wayside. They are costly and inefficient as there is no way of telling if all staff have read and understood the message.
A fundamental flaw in traditional communication is its inability to be a two-way communication channel at a large scale.. Organisations need accurate two-way communication because it is essential in building better products, teams, and customer service.
Intelligent voice conversations
Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Wechat are popular messaging apps each with billions of users, including South Africans who spend almost 3 hours on social media daily. Smart businesses are moving into these spaces to reach their customers, but they cannot do it with their usual tone and style.
Messenger apps are a personal space which businesses need to respect. Spamming has severe consequences for users and even platform owners. How organisations initiate contact and communication will be different. For example, users have to opt in to the service, and the style of communication is usually informal.
Having one-on-one conversations with millions and potentially billions of users will be feasible thanks to AI-powered chatbots. They will use natural language processing and machine learning to carry out text and voice conversations. Personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are not only becoming more prevalent, but they are also becoming smarter along with expanding their languages beyond English.
At the core of any organisation's ethos, is catering to its customers' needs. Traditionally, an organisation had to group customers into uniform clusters and cater to them as a group. Fortunately, communication technology has made it easier to provide individualised service no matter how varied the customer needs may be. Examples of this are present in organisations;
- Providing tailor-made solutions for each customer.
- Having an omnichannel presence for customers and providing a seamless, consistent service.
- Improving the resolution of queries using AI-enabled chatbots or IVRs.
Communication with a touch of cloud
Remote work, automation, AI and data management can only be run efficiently in the cloud. Many organisations favour cloud communication for its ease of setup and cost efficiencies. Cloud technology is gaining even more popularity as organisations realise that security and scaling their operations is better and easier in the cloud.
The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up the migration to the cloud. Organisations have realised how vulnerable their entire legacy structure is to disruption. In the months leading to June, only cloud-based organisations could get anything done satisfactorily.
Come together under unified communications
Technology devices, software and services have generally been developed in silos. Although each technology has brought real benefits to an organisation and it's staff, the habit of switching between devices, apps or software to get things done has finally come to an end.
Unified communications bring voice, text and video into a single platform. Communication technology has evolved even further using the cloud to include document editing, third party integration, remote access, automation, AI, and so much more.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) brings all the organisation's communication channels and resources into a single platform. UCaaS is not only easier to use, it is also more secure and compliant with GDPR and POPI regulations.
Mind your manners
Experts say that 70% of communication is nonverbal. That is because people gain context of the message from physical cues, gestures, tone etc. For example;
- If John smiles and slaps Steve on the back while laughingly stating, "You are stupid" is different to
- John is looking sternly atSteve, pointing afinger at him and yelling, "You are stupid".
The message is the same, but the physical cues and tone change the meaning. Within digital communication, even video, some nonverbal cues are missing.
The efficacy of communication isn't lost when users go digital; it is merely different. For digital communication to be effective, new nonverbal cues, manners and protocols have to be built and understood by all participants.
Put your heart into it
The world has changed, and not in the best way. Lives have been lost, jobs are disappearing, society has been disrupted, and the high levels of uncertainty have all created anxiety in people. The adverse mental health implications of the pandemic apply to both employees and customers.
Authenticity and empathy will become even more critical when interacting with an audience. An effort needs to be put into understanding a person's circumstance, recognising their perspective and respecting it.
On a final note, digital communication means connecting virtually with another person. Technology has made it more accessible and cheaper to reach out to people no matter their location or communication channel. Organisations will be in a position to listen better and also be heard using the latest communication technology. For example, AI has become better at recognising a user's emotional state and responding accordingly. Staff and employees are pining for an organisation that will listen to, understand, and reach out to them. Smart organisations are adopting communication technology to do just that.
Having agents who are office-bound is no longer sustainable and it’s vital that you take the time to understand how you can bring your contact centre into a mobile space. Contact us for help understanding your options and getting your contact centre set up.