There has been a lot of conversation and debate about whether the agreements made at COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference) went far enough in securing the future of our planet. What is universally agreed however, is the key role that businesses play in reducing emissions and developing solutions that address the climate crisis. In a recent survey, 70% of participants agreed that climate change is a business issue which needs to be actioned and half of participants intended to do something over the next 12 months to reduce emissions. However, many businesses face challenges in making the necessary changes that will reduce their carbon emissions. I want to shine the light on how businesses can use digital channels and automation technologies in order to reduce emissions, as well as improve their overall customer experience.
Over the last 10 years, there has been a profound change in the tools and software platforms that are available to businesses to enable them to digitally engage with their customers. This has become even more relevant since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that followed. Customers now prefer to communicate with businesses via the channel of their choice at a time that’s convenient for them. Delivering a better customer experience through digital channels also results in businesses often reducing their carbon impact, for example, through limiting customer travel, optimization of business processes and reducing waste.
Here are 4 ways that we are seeing our customers reduce their carbon impact:
Email has long been used as a replacement for paper-based communications, however, many people now get so many emails that they are no longer effective for certain use cases. Businesses need to assess using other digital channels to interact effectively with their customer base. For many years, we have worked with the UK National Health Services (NHS) to send digital appointment letters – replacing over 5 million postal letters with digital letters and over 60% patients now opting to receive digital letters. One of the largest UK hospital trusts (United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust) started using digital patient letters and not only reduced their paper and administrative waste, but also saw their missed appointment rate reduced from 5.8 to 4.1% in just five months. You can read the full case study here. This shows how a move from paper-based letters to digital communications can benefit the business, the customer and the environment.
Many industries employ field workers who have to travel to customer’s homes in order to do their jobs. For example, gas engineers, couriers and builders all have to conduct home visits. Therefore, utility providers, logistics companies, retailers and construction companies all need to communicate with their customers around times when they will be in their homes. By automating these customer interactions using a communications platform as a service (CPaaS), businesses can allow for customers to choose a slot that is convenient for them easily, remind customers when it is close to their scheduled time and then provide an option to reschedule if the time is no longer convenient. This can all be a frictionless, automated process that uses the digital channels that consumers already use every day, e.g., WhatsApp and SMS. This increases the chance of the customer being at home and reduces the amount of wasted trips by field workers, resulting in less carbon emissions as well as greater customer satisfaction.
The use of video conferencing has increased exponentially in the last few years and has been made even more prevalent following the outbreak of the pandemic and is forecast to grow even further over the next 5 years. Popular video use cases include video consultations in healthcare, remote customer assistance and virtual engineer support. Using video as a channel, reduces the number of physical interactions that need to happen and increases the productivity of an organization. For example, the benefits of a doctor hosting 1 virtual clinic using video consultation for 113 patients are: saving 1,149 miles in travel distance, 62.5 hours in travel time and 0.4 tons of CO2 emissions. For certain use cases, video can be a hugely powerful tool for interacting with customers or patients at scale, while providing many environmental benefits.
A survey revealed that 89% of US consumers expect companies to have an online self-service support portal and self-service options for customer support. With AI and machine learning technologies, consumers can often resolve their query themselves without having to call a contact center, and if they do need to speak to a support agent, they can seamlessly be routed to the right department who will be able to solve their issue. This increases the operational efficiency of contact centers and lessens headcount requirements, which in turn can create environmental benefits through reducing the space required in offices. In addition, the use of apps for customer self-service can reduce the need for people to physically travel to a high street store or branch which creates less pressure on transportation systems and decreases emissions.
If you would like to find out more about the platform and applications that are helping to deliver these savings, please get in contact with us today.
As imimobile is now part of Webex, we are pleased that Cisco has accelerated its carbon reduction initiatives and has committed to reaching net zero across all scopes of emissions by 2040 across its product use, operations and supply chain. Cisco has also committed to reaching net zero for all global Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2025. You can read the full announcement here.