How communications are evolving and what it means for business

Landline calls have almost halved in the past six years. There more to this than the uptake of mobile

Research by Ofcom released last week showed that the number of landline calls made per annum in the last six years in the UK has almost halved, from 103 billion minutes in 2012 to 54 billion minutes last year.

Cheaper mobile phone deals are said to be driving the trend. In the last six months we’ve seen companies declare a mobile-first strategy with PwC, for example, ditching landlines for good across all office locations and their 18,000 staff.

There’s more to communication than voice calls of course. Indeed, among young adults the research hinted at another phenomenon: the reluctance of younger generations to make calls at all, with the almost unbelievable statistic that 25% of all smart phone users never use the device to have a voice conversation.

“Calling someone is a bit daunting,” said one 18-year-old respondent in a survey on phone habits conducted by Ofcom. “It’s much easier and quicker to WhatsApp my friends. If I have to call a company, I’ll always try to use webchat if it’s available.”

The graphic below on communication preferences across the generations bears this out.

The shift represents both a threat and an opportunity to business. B2C businesses that don’t embrace all communication channels effectively will be left behind. Those that do embrace omni-channel communications and tie-it into wider customer engagement strategies and data analytics will have far greater insight into market trends and a higher probability that their customers will buy and keep coming back.

As we have seen from our recent engagements, embracing omni-channel in B2C makes for better customer retention and higher rates of acquisition. Who wouldn’t want to buy from a company that is easy to transact with, fast at resolving problems and fits in with whatever method or channel of communication you prefer. Whatever your age.

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