Can we afford not to make business communications more efficient and effective? I believe Web Writing to be the most underrated business process there is.
Where does that come from?
Before they invented the Internet, I grew my love of communications software in the telecoms industry. It started with some newfangled feature called ISDN (what brilliant, imaginative marketers we were in telecoms) with DDI (direct dial). Amazingly, a single telephone line could now have hundreds of different numbers. And, depending on the number dialled, we could route people to the right place without having to go through operators. What magic was this?
Better customer service
The call centre was born. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) took off. In the end, we all had our own personal number to the desk, we offered special numbers for advertising, and less special numbers for support desks. We developed numbers for different queues, for the right skill set, to answer the right level of questions, and we changed the caller routing depending on time of day and day of the year. Merry Christmas callers.
Call Centres probably still exist. To my mind, these days, Google is the new frontier of the call centre, a written down real time ACD. And callers don’t even have to wait for the call to be answered. Google sends people directly to the pages that help most, repeatedly.
Now you’re talking.
Automating repetitive processes
Many conversations would be valuable to other people in the same position. It’s a repetitive process, the same questions and answers again, and again and again.
We can do better than that.
“Notably, web writing is readable by both people and machines. This makes it more portable and accessible: search engines can find it; readers can time-shift it, or translate it, or access it using assistive technology, such as a speaking browser. By definition, writing on the web can reach more and varied people than writing on other mediums.”
To illustrate the point, the above was taking from this blog post from an online editing and collaboration software provider. Shared and appreciated.
Whilst having a phone call feels productive, web writing is the most efficient business process on the planet. It is findable, shareable and quotable, and the more people do that, the more Google takes notice giving it a positive feedback loop.
Thousands of people will read a single written page, at their own pace, giving us more time to get that conversation right, ahead of time.
Writing things down enhances quality, as well as quantity.
Can you improve sales calls?
I used to joke that sales was largely a case of repeating yourself to as many people as possible until some of them bought something. But when it comes to self service sales conversations, a properly constructed website is more useful than many people think it can be. It can work for any type of company.
Having been in the position of seeing successful web marketing, where more new real time conversations are created repeatedly and automatically, through better qualification, I am part of the privileged few. I believe in it, other people may not.
The best websites inspire warm conversations, they help visitors ‘feel like they know you already’.
We searchers are more precise about the knowledge we seek than dialling a number. Today, we use very specific keywords and keyword phrases. So Search Engines no longer land us on the home page (the web equivalent of the operator), we’ll go direct to the most relevant piece of information.
It is so good, that we’re no longer having to use the phone as often as we used to. And yet, the industry is bemused by falling call revenues.
An imperfect science
But whilst Google is very good, it is imperfect at understanding requests. It can’t always tell whether we are looking for information, a solution, a specific product or whether I am merely seeking support for something I already own.
The way we write a page can help them, but the fact is, in any one individual case, a human will always be better at discerning intent within a search phrase.
It is art blended with science, and humans are just better at this stuff than machines.
Choosing the right human, I’ll leave that for you to decide.
This post was inspired by a few conversations with some old and new friends in telecoms lately. Is it me, or has call quality got worse over the years? I don’t think we can hear each other as well as we used to.
The question is, can we afford not to communicate more efficiently, more effectively?