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Cloud communications in 2021

Adam Wilson, strategic partner director for EMEA and ANZ, Vonage, explains how to stay ahead of the customer experience curve.

To survive and thrive, organisations must always be agile and ready to adapt to changes in the market, but 2021 keeps hammering home this point more than ever. Hybrid working is now a fundamental consideration for all businesses as we approach the re-opening of the wider world post-vaccine, whilst the explosion in e-commerce demand globally driven by the pandemic over the last 18 months has demanded adaptability for businesses across almost all market sectors in order to thrive.

Where cloud communications are concerned, certain communication channels are seeing a huge growth in popularity for consumers. The increasing customer familiarity and comfort with video communications since the pandemic is borne out by Vonage’s Global Engagement survey last year which showed a 140 per cent growth globally in the number of people who prefer to connect with businesses via video.

Consumer preferences for emerging channels including video, social messaging and chatbots will almost certainly continue to grow in sectors as varied as education, healthcare, retail, and transportation and logistics. In fact, from a customer perspective, channels will soon become interchangeable and preferences will depend entirely on use case.

To develop and maintain lasting relationships with consumers, businesses must adapt and incorporate multiple communications channels. This also includes new communications technologies that allow them the flexibility to embed programmable capabilities – voice, video, messaging and verification – directly into existing applications and workflows, to enable them to stay abreast of the technological curve. This way, they can meet customers on their preferred communications channels.

The key to delivering customer satisfaction and a superior customer experience lies in connecting these channels to deliver a truly omni-channel experience. Businesses must be able to recognise customers however they choose to connect to present and maintain a consistent customer experience throughout the entire buying journey in order to generate and keep trust in products and services. This encompasses everything from shopping and ordering to confirmations and tracking to customer service and marketing and beyond.

Today, contact centre software can seamlessly integrate customer interactions with CRM data, as well as give agents the ability to migrate between channels (e.g. from voice to video and back) seamlessly. As a result, first contact resolution (FCR) rates will be faster and higher and customer trust levels will increase as a result.

This applies internally in organisations as well. From the C-suite to the marketing and insights departments and beyond, investment in such technologies will enable organisations to cut travel costs, drive-up productivity across the board, and deliver better employee and customer experiences. Increasing visual engagement capabilities within organisations, for example, can help improve communication efficiency and engender trust no matter how remote the employee experience becomes.

Ultimately, the key for businesses to thrive in today’s highly disruptive landscape will be to keep customer and user experience front of mind wherever possible. Companies that do so effectively will be ensuring their continued recovery and growth in the post-pandemic age.

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