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Secret of customer engagement. "Change how you communicate. Phone and email is a waste of time if you want to build trust and be part of the customer's "family". Text really matters - keep really close, share personally, be a friend, become a trusted confidant and advisor, and you are already most of the way to closing a major deal, over competitors who have only an email relationship."  

One in three people in the UK only use phone calls to speak to their parents.  They are most likely to send texts to partners and WhatsApp messages to friends.  Most people find social media more convenient than talking on the phone, yet most companies are lagging far behind in how they communicate to customers and their teams.

How the web will redefine time

The web has made us very impatient – most people in my audiences around the world tell me that they press their browser back button in less than 4 seconds if a web page is slow, many in less than 2 seconds. That means losing up to 90% of customers in 4 seconds. Even if you don’t lose them, it means that they are irritated. 90% of younger web users in developed nations may press that button in less than 1.5 seconds by 2025. Impatience will be a factor in every business relationship.

The same applies to call centres. Most people hate having to listen to lists of options. Every second matters. Business leaders tell me they consider it a form of personal theft when their time is wasted, and a social crime to install such systems.

Yet in a strange double-think, most of them also tell me that they have installed exactly the same awful systems for their own customers. It is of course a classic case of institutional blindness, , since cheap tech now allows us to detect an incoming mobile, work out from Big Data who the person is, and why they are likely to be calling, so that the call can be automatically directed to the right person.

Five seconds to double your sales

So how long does it take to find a shop assistant? How long to wait in the checkout? How long to complete an online transaction? How long to respond to an email? How long to wait for a written estimate or return a contract? Expect huge efforts to speed up and simplify customer experience. Every web click loses sales. Every second counts. 

Voice to text messages sent instantly as SMS to mobiles, email accounts, and so on will be standard by 2025. WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS, or similar short-length messages will overtake email for personal communications. If you want a lead over your competitors, use more personal messaging. 

Extract from The Future of Almost Everything - published by Profile Books.

* Patrick Dixon is a Futurist, global keynote speaker on future trends, and has written 16 books.

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