Old-fashioned phone is missing piece in omni-channel puzzle

Everybody’s talking about omni-channel marketing but few mention the old medium that still rules - voice

This is a contributed article by Irv Shapiro, CEO/CTO of phone call analytics and automation solutions maker DialogTech

“Omni-channel” is hot. Omni-channel marketing is simple and straight forward: consumers have many devices and platforms available for completing purchases.  Marketers need the ability to track consumers across these channels. However, with all those platforms and channels, with all the focus on digital, too many marketers forget one major piece of the puzzle – ­the phone.

Most marketers are aware that the phone is making a comeback but may not know just how drastic that comeback is. Marketing analyst firm BIA/Kelsey, recently reported some numbers that may make marketers do a double-take: In 2014, mobile marketing alone drove 76 billion calls, and by 2019 that number will reach 162 billion. That’s an increase of 114%!

As marketers, we have focused on the increase in mobile advertising but we have failed to focus on the obvious call to action from a phone – placing a call.  Calls to inside sales and service teams are soaring because it is easier to place a call from a cell phone than to fill in a contact form with your thumbs.

Why use a phone? Well, why not? Consumers love the convenience of shopping on a handheld device, but the consequence of handheld is the smallness of that device. Typing in a credit card number or filling out a form on a tiny keyboard isn’t ideal. And if a customer has questions about their order, what’s easier than clicking that call button on the screen and asking that question directly, rather than exploring a site on a small screen looking for the answer? The mistake that businesses are making is the idea that handling calls from customers is inconvenient. Not only is that false with today’s virtual call center technology, but it ignores the fundamental aspect of good business: the importance of centering what’s convenient for the customer.

The choice of voice

For a long time, the line between online and offline was distinctive. But thanks to smartphones that line has blurred as mobile technology has advanced. Now, consumers use their smartphones to interact with the internet in breathtaking numbers: 50% of searches now start on mobile devices (Mobile Path-to-Purchase); 60% of digital media time is spent on mobile devices (comScore); 71% of users access social media from a mobile device (Adobe); 91% of consumers check email once per day on smartphones (ExactTarget). Not to mention the rising numbers of consumers who use their mobile devices to price-compare when shopping in physical stores. While businesses are familiar with how to market across email, social media, desktops and smartphones, they are not optimising an integral part of their marketing strategies – the human voice. 

Humans want to talk to humans. When it comes to researching life insurance, engaging someone for financial services or negotiating the price for a car, humans want to talk to each other. How do we know this? Because we have all made a choice that leaves us open to conversation, and that choice is carrying a smartphone in our pockets instead of a PDA or nano-computer. We pay for mobile phone services in addition to data services because we want to make calls. The challenge many consumers have faced is convincing businesses those calls have value.

Companies are learning to love calls again

The good news is businesses are beginning to once again embrace phones. To grow your business it is important to follow the data. Seventy percent of mobile phone users want businesses to offer a call option, according to Google. Calls convert to sales 10x more often than web form leads, says BIA/Kelsey.

Data is only part of the reason companies are coming around. When it comes to optimising marketing with voice, it’s not just about inserting call tracking numbers—although that’s a start—but about the data voice interactions provide about your entire customer journey. Call analytics and automation tools enable marketers to not only drive revenue, but to measure and analyse that revenue, all while building customer loyalty.

Want to fill in the missing piece to your marketing? You do not need to build a call centre as current technologies provide all of the advantages of a call center. Embrace voice, listen to your customers and allow them to connect with you in the way that they prefer – and start controlling the conversation.