Presented by TeleMasters

Is South African Business suffering from ‘phone fatigue’?

Fixed line providers may be following the cellular providers down the road of decreasing telephony usage.

Over the past years, a number of factors have contributed to voice usage slipping and losing ground to other technologies and communication means.

“We have seen both the duration and frequency of fixed line office calls decreasing” says Mario Pretorius, CEO of TeleMasters, “notwithstanding the drastic lowering of phone call costs. It seems that a number of factors are at work here.”

Some of the factors Pretorius mentions are age and technology related.

As in the case of mobile phones, the uptake of text messaging affected business communications too.

“It seems that younger staff is in the habit of and prefers to text rather than call at times” he says.

Talking to young staff, it appears that the control of the conversation is a prime mover to alternatives.

“You sometimes do not want to make small talk with a supplier, says Michelle Hart (19), a Project Administrator at TeleMasters.

“It is more time efficient to email or WhatsApp someone you deal with frequently. The phone call is much more demanding in terms of obligation.

“Many users prefer to use their own mobile phones rather than the desk phone,” Pretorius continues.

“This is where the address book of known collaborators resides. In company terms, anyone that is not on the Speed Dial is an effort to contact by landline.”

As a tool to facilitate business through communications, technology is expanding the choices.

It seems that the refuge of privacy is restricted to WhatsApp or WeChat.

Personal mobile numbers are being called for business, so too are personal text messaging; it’s on the verge of becoming spam.

“Often we hear that someone just doesn’t answer a mobile call presenting a “Private Number” or a number outside the user’s address book. Protecting privacy is becoming a personal issue,” Pretorius said.

“The challenge then is to move to more personal communication to foster the customer-vendor relations.

“For this we will integrate the user’s mobile phone to his office number and publish a company-wide customer and supplier address book in the cloud. We call this Mobi-X.

“The intended benefit is also to have a trace of calls made and received – now on the company’s telephone management system.

“This way it’s traceable and this data in invaluable in assessing the frequency of customer contact- both in and outbound,” he concluded.

The phone call is the new handwritten letter, which went the way of the Xmas card.

It is still the best strategy for connecting on a personal level to see someone in person.

By hearing a person’s voice, you can determine her mood, motivation and other kinds of emotional information that might influence the content of her speech.

E-mail, text messages and other written correspondence are sometimes called “cold” media by psychologists because they give people fewer insights into another’s point of view.

As new kinds of communication tools develop and we figure out the best ways to use them, phone calls could continue move out of the spotlight. But it’s unlikely that they will leave the stage altogether.

TeleMasters will be launching Mobi-X on 10 October.

This article was published in partnership with TeleMasters.

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Is South African Business suffering from ‘phone fatigue’?