Make no mistake, the development of online communication has had a huge impact on business, and in many ways has made inquiry management much more efficient. If you're seeking an answer that isn't urgent, or are simply concerned about interrupting the person you need to speak to, dropping an email or instant message (IM) is a great, usually non-intrusive option.
That said, in certain situations there's no substitute for picking up the desk phone and calling someone. Perhaps it's a matter of timeliness - it's more difficult for someone to delay their response if you're speaking directly to them.
Or you may need to hear what someone says rather than read it, because while Digital Trends reports that detecting nuance in online text is being researched, for now written communication can be difficult to contextualise.
Making it easy for your clients to contact you through a business phone system is essential for maintaining efficiency.
Getting answers when you need them
A survey of 50 companies looking into inquiry management by Invenio found that 63 per cent of inbound inquiries now come from online sources and email, compared to 33 per cent over the phone. There's no argument that a vast gulf has opened, however the same study also found the average response time for web inquiries was a whopping 31 hours.
Think of it from your customers' point of view. If you were seeking an answer from your company, would you want to wait almost a day and a half for a response? While inquiries may not always be urgent, making it easy for your clients to contact you through a business phone system is essential for maintaining efficiency.
Reading emotional signals
Emailing, texting or sending an IM has made communication so easy that it has become almost too casual. The simplicity can sometimes translate to meaninglessness, and a hastily written message can be easily misconstrued without context.
Speaking to Entrepreneur, auditory neuroscientist Seth Horowitz stressed the importance of our sense of hearing for understanding the world around us.
"Our ears have evolved, and a basic brain circuitry of hearing has evolved over 400 million years, and a lot of it centered on hearing the sound of your own species. That's the most important signal," He said.
Australia's small businesses obviously shouldn't be neglecting the value of email and the web, but it's important to realise that the phone's relevance remains. For optimal efficiency and inquiry management, the best solution is one which enables truly unified communications. Speak to Fonality today about uniting your business phone systems with the online realm.