It seems to fly in the face of the news reports that we all read every day, but technology isn’t single-handedly eroding how we build meaningful relationships with each other. Applied in the right context, the ‘always-on’ nature of mobile technology, can actually increase how we connect and engage with each other.
In our personal lives many of us can look at our social networks and easily note how they have reconnected us with relationships that could have easily lapsed, and how they provide us with an easy way to stay connected with more and more people, regardless of time or location. While the cynical may say that’s just an impersonal broadcast, most apps come with additional communications tools and act as a springboard to engaging in one-to-one and one-to-group dialogues that are more focused and personalised (Whatsapp or Messenger for example, both owned by Facebook).
But how does mobile technology enhance business communication? We’ve all heard the argument about self-service checkouts taking away cashier roles or automated telephone systems reducing the need for call centre staff…but is this really the case? And surely where there is a threat, there is also an opportunity?
To begin with, let us consider customer service. At its most basic, surely every business that wants to be customer-centric, should engage with clients through the channels that the client finds most convenient?
Given that OfCom published a report in 2016*, in which the smartphone was identified as the ‘first screen’ for many people – replacing laptops – it’s hard to deny, that having a mobile presence will place your business literally at your client’s fingertips, and therefore also at the front of their mind.
There is hardly an industry or profession that is unaffected by digital disruption and the key is to recognise that you and your clients are also consumers who are part of this cultural wave. From this perspective, it’s easier to understand how imperative it is that professions think about making it easy for clients to access their services via the channels that they choose to use. Take push notifications as an example: how many have you received today? How quickly did you read them/glance at your home screen to check what they were about? Now compare that with the emails you’ve received today. You may have received more of them, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ve absorbed them with the same immediacy**.
The second argument worth considering is security. If you’re a professional services firm that is a trusted advisor for your clients, providing them with highly skilled and technical support that you then need to confidentially share with them, you will no doubt be mindful of the risks around handling and sharing data securely. A data leak incurs serious ramifications, both for you and your clients. This impact could be financial – with parties being subjected to fines, depending on the nature of the breach – but more importantly, it causes longer-lasting reputational damage.
Ensuring that documents and data are shared securely, is so much easier in the digital age. Having a mobile presence doesn’t just provide you with the opportunity to be at your client’s fingertips, but to make sure that you are only sending and sharing information with specified individuals. Unlike the lengthy postal system , when you share a document through a secure digital portal, you can be certain that it goes directly from you straight to the hands of the intended recipient. The points of interception are reduced to zero, meaning the chances of documents falling into the wrong hands or going astray are removed.
From our perspective, when we’re talking about sharing information, it could be the confidential real-time financial data that you can access via Reckon One or the variety of documents that you may choose to upload into Virtual Cabinet’s Portal.
In conclusion, we also think there is a final point worth considering: it’s not just about improving your professional brand (how your clients see you), but also your employer brand (how your staff and the talent you wish to engage with see you). In the age of agility, where responsive businesses are outperforming the slow and reluctant to change, your attractiveness to potential employees (and your staff retention) can be considerably enhanced by showing how you are future-focused.
*Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2015
**We’ve recently begun working with MyFirmsApp, who have produced a great whitepaper on seeking out the opportunities that having your own can offer, to find out more visit http://www.myfirmsapp.co.uk/a-lighthouse-in-a-digital-fog/ or join our free webinar on the 23rd March by registering here