The end of telephony

chris_woodYou probably know that Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone. He was awarded a patent for the device in the U.S. in 1876.

What you may not know was that Bell’s real interest and focus of his life’s research was not electronic gadgetry, but hearing and communication. Both his mother and wife were profoundly deaf. The telephone was a bi-product.

For a mere bi-product, the longevity of the telephone as a means of communication is incredible. When you think of the relatively short life span Video Home Systems (VHS), or Compact Discs (CDs) and even the digital video disc (DVDs), 140 years of telephony is staggering.

However, the end is in sight.

About 15 years ago, I remember writing a customer service strategy, at the centre of which was a “channel switching” plan, with comparison pricing for different customer transactions. Face to face contact was very expensive, telephone interaction was vastly cheaper and of course e-services were cheaper still. Altair has done numerous similar pieces of work on improving the efficiency of customer contact and improving the performance of call centres. It’s time to rip these up and start again, because telephony is dead.

Just take a look at your iPhone. Go to Settings; then to Battery and at the bottom of the page you will find a table of battery usage. That is, the activity on your phone that has consumed its energy in the last 24 hours or 7 days. I have just checked mine for the last week and the top four read as follows: –

Text messages – 28%
Mail – 21%
Sky Sports Football score centre – 17%
Phone – 13 %

Mobile telephone is a misnomer.

After you have done this check the same data on the mobile telephone of someone under the age of 25. I have just checked my daughter’s for the last week. It reads as follows: –
Instagram – 42%
WhatsApp – 33%
Safari – 15%
Phone – 0%

For the next generation of your customers and your business-to-business interactions, telephony is already dead.

This is backed up by a recent survey we ran for one housing client which was designed to assess how customers want to access services in the future. We found that over 95% of respondents use the internet (most on a daily basis and using a smartphone) and over two thirds now already do most of their banking online.

To find out more about how organisations are responding to these changes in customer behaviours we’ll shortly be publishing a sector survey to assess how the sector is transforming to make the most of digital service delivery.

For more information, contact Chris Wood on 07932 693 292 | or Michael Appleby – Director on 07545 314 749 |