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By Dr Pieter Streicher, MD of BulkSMS.com. Uploaded on: 01 December 2009.
Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com, says the possible reduction in mobile call charges will change consumer behaviour and stimulate SMS business communications.
2010 is expected to bring a reduction in interconnect rates that are likely to
result in cheaper cellphone call charges. While this is good news for
consumers, it may mean a noticeable increase in the number of calls that people
receive. In a world where information overload is already a challenge, consumer
behaviour patterns may shift and expect businesses to contact them less with a
phone call and more with an SMS.
One of the changes could be that people are less likely to answer calls,
particularly from numbers that are not in their phone book. People may also
leave their phones on silent for longer periods. These two factors would result
in increasing numbers of voicemail messages.
Recent research by US networks indicated that people are increasingly
neglecting their voicemails. In a study conducted for Sprint, results showed
that people under the age of 30 are four times more likely to answer an SMS
within minutes than respond to a voicemail. Those over 30 were twice as likely
to do the same.
It is probable that people will increasingly resort to SMS to reach each other
in order to receive a response with minimal delay. Some may even disconnect
voicemail functionality altogether or opt for services which convert voice
messages to SMS.
Given that there is a premium to send an SMS message it is unlikely that people
will send unnecessary communications via SMS, as has been seen with mediums
such as email, Skype or social networking tools where the cost to the sender is
negligible. This means that SMS will retain its value as a trusted personal and
business communications channel.
For businesses this trend is particularly significant. Consumers have already
embraced SMS as an effective personal tool and businesses uptake is following
suit although at a slower pace. Many businesses still rely heavily on voice and
email communication and it will become increasingly more challenging for them
to get their customers attention with the expected increase in volumes of
calls next year.
Businesses will need to gear themselves to embrace the opportunity of SMS to
remain relevant and in touch with customers. In the future, a call or a
voicemail will not make the customer service gradeif a company cannot reach a
customer telephonically, they will need to have the ability to send a follow-up
Similarly, companies need to provide ways for their customers to reach them via
SMS. Advertisers have woken up to the fact that shortcode serviceswhere
customers can SMS to a five-digit numberis the most effective call to action
for a campaign. Shortcodes are easy to remember and allow a consumer to act
immediately and, provided that the company acts responsibly and does not
over-charge for the service, offer a direct means of engaging cellphone users.
It is expected that during the 2010 Soccer World Cup many of the sponsors and
official bodies will communicate with fans in this way.
In the year ahead, it is expected that SMS will move onto centre stage as the
communication tool of choice in the everyday lives of South Africans, as well
as the millions of soccer fans due to visit our country. This will go far in
further stimulating the use of SMS for business communications.