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A phrase I hear a lot from family and friends is “it must be hard to keep up”  referring to our ever-changing industry . This is very true, we spend a lot of time reading blogs, following threads and watching keynote speech’s to get a feel for how the industry is changing and how we can offer the most relevant solutions for our clients.

I’ve just had a good example of this, that to be honest I hadn’t seen coming and took me a little bit by surprise.

We were thrilled recently to secure a very large contract to supply a mobile based solution for one of the U.K.’s blue-chip companies. Everything went through a normal process and as expected the company were extremely professional in everything they did. To my complete surprise one day the marketing director messaged me on whatsapp.  I don’t really know why I found this a surprise,  but it just felt a bit strange in the context of a business relationship.

The following day in a conference call, I mentioned this to the marking director, slightly tongue in cheek, his response was “why was it a surprise”,  it’s a great way to communicate, easy to keep the conversation thread and much more convenient than the formality of email.

It got me thinking thats how emails were first thought of by business people who previously had always written letters..

Realistically emails have always been an extension of the written letter, i.e. you send an email and at the recipient’s convenience they send you a response, much like the interaction of the written letter sent by snail mail.

In a world where we are constantly connected why wouldn’t instant messaging become the next thing and the natural extension both in our personal and business lives.

Interestingly we are currently developing two apps for two different types of business, one based around the accommodation industry and the other a professional services application (solicitors) in both those applications instant messaging plays a major part. This is not because anyone thinks this is a groundbreaking feature, but simply how our customer’s are choosing to communicate with their customers, It’s simple, efficient and as we have all proven on a personal level extremely effective. Not to mention with the huge popularity of Facebook messenger, whatsapp, iMessage etc it’s now a very accepted way of communicating.

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I think this further reinforces how businesses can use mobile technology to improve their customer service and consequentially how every business can use their own dedicated app to their advantage.

It is hard to conceive that email could soon become an outdated technology, but with the popularity of instant messaging it’s not hard to see how it fits into business, combined with your own mobile app and you suddenly have a great way to keep in touch with your customers, keep them up-to-date with progress of projects etc and not to mention its considerably more secure than an email.

Interestingly the previously mentioned marketing director communicates with the whole team now via instant messaging and we’ve all commented how well that’s worked, so much so we are currently finalising our own mobile application based completely around customer service which at the heart of it will have instant messaging as our key communication tool.

Letters on the egde of table

I can remember when the morning post was a big part of the business day,  it was how you discovered who had paid you, how recent quotations had been received and in a lot of cases was a major part of a sales process. It’s hard to visualise that as part of the working day now and I wonder how long before we think of emails in the same context.