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Businesses in the south lead the digital charge

Northern companies still favour traditional comms channels

By Steve Evans

Companies in the south of the UK are leading the way when it comes to embracing digital communications to keep in touch with customers, according to new research.
Firms in the south of the UK are embracing social media like Twitter and Facebook
The research, carried out by Virgin Media Business, found that firms based in the north still prefer more traditional ways – such as phone calls, letters and face to face meetings– of contacting their customers.

The capital seems to be leading the charge to a more digital world, with 24% of London-based firms claiming that using social media – such as Twitter and Facebook – and instant messaging to keep in touch with colleagues and clients was essential to their business. Just 6% of businesses in Northern Ireland saw any benefit from embracing social media.

The majority (71%) of companies in the north said that phone calls were critical when it comes to contacting customers. Face-to-face meetings come in second (67%).

There was another clear north-south divide over the value of the postal service. In the north 37% said the daily delivery was essential while just 11% in London felt the same. Overall just 23% of all business claimed to see mail as important.

The way in which we all communicate has changed beyond recognition over the last few years. We now send dozens of emails, and text messages, post on Facebook walls, and tweet on a daily basis. In fact, many younger workers have never known a time when the rush to collect and send off the post was a daily ritual,” said Andrew McGrath, commercial director, Virgin Media Business.

McGrath added that the number of mobile workers at companies across the south means they have taken the lead when it comes to using digital communications. While companies in the north will catch up, McGrath believes that traditional communication channels will also retain an important role.

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“As more and more businesses realise the benefits that this digital dialogue has to offer, I would not be surprised if this number increases rapidly. That said, it’s vital that organisations don’t completely dismiss traditional comms channels in favour of trendy online tools. Companies must take a multi-channel approach to their communications, as this will allow them to build strong relationships through human contact, whilst benefiting from the mobility that modern tools allow,” he said.

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