Improving customer experience with cloud enabled communications

Comms Business talks to Shany Elkarat, Director, Managed Communications Portfolio at COLT about customer centric propositions that demonstrate how customer-facing staff can access information and subject matter experts more readily with cloud UC thus improving customer experience and Profitability.

We live in the Era of the Customer.

The Era of the Customer begs solutions that don’t just make customers happy, but supports them throughout the entire journey and back again with fast answers and meaningful engagements.

Customers today are informed; some analysts say that 70% of B2B purchasing decision are made before the customer even formally contacts you. So when they do contact you then you had better provide them with excellent service as the fact of the matter is that an alternative supplier if often just a few clicks away.

And to provide customer service excellence you need to have the right technology and the right culture.

Why the technology? Because your customers use technology to check you out as a supplier. 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Likewise social media is driving increased sharing of customer service experiences. 45% share bad customer service experiences and 30% share good customer service experiences via social media.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure and to measure as well as manage you need systems and processes in place that are slick, flexible and current in order to compete for new customers and retain the ones you already have.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 14.17.15Nowhere is this more important than at the points where your company meets your customers or prospective customers where if a customer has a question or problem, the best customer service agents either know the answer or know how to find the answer to the customer’s satisfaction.
Today many organisations that have recognised the importance attached to the era of the customer are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions to provide the tools with which to provide fast, flexible and timely customer service excellence.

Just as working in departmental or functional silos has been found to be limiting to an organisation so too are stand alone communications applications that are not providing a ‘joined up’ view of company resources for staff. UC provides a platform for digital working – a means for disparate departments and staff, increasingly located remotely, to work together and collaborate on projects seamlessly to solve customer service issues by having fast access to the right information and expert help.

Cloud is the New Normal

Organisations that have recognised the need to deploy a UC solution to provide better customer service have also decided that the most efficient means of having that service is delivery via the cloud.

Here, instead of paying up front for a set of applications and associated equipment to be installed on site organisations are opting for a ‘pay-as-you-go’ Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) model where costs are determined as a monthly fee per user based on the applications being used.

In a nutshell the benefits to the user are:

  • Cloud computing allows you to buy in only the services you want, when you want them, cutting the upfront capital costs of computers and peripherals.
  • You avoid equipment going out of date and other familiar IT problems like ensuring system security and reliability.
  • You can add extra services (or take them away) at a moment’s notice, as your business needs change.
  • It’s really quick and easy to add new applications or services to your business without waiting weeks or months for the new equipment (and its software) to arrive.

UCaaS has arrived in the mainstream with more than 1 in 5 organisations in the EU using cloud-based services.

Employee collaboration has tremendous value to your customers. Employees are able to provide a better experience and superior support by being able to tap into internal experts, information, and resources that can be used to help customers.

Consider a customer that is working with a support representative who unfortunately does not know how to solve the customer’s problem. The employee however has access to the entire organisation to find the right information and share it with the customer.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 14.17.36For example, firms can leverage a collaboration environment to crowd source issues and requests; this enables them to find the best and fastest solution that makes for a better customer experience.

The digital workplace provided by UCaaS enables not just the obvious customer facing staff to collaborate but also, for example, a team of designers. They do not always work in the same office, often work in distributed groups, some may be working from home, and clients can be based all over the world. This is where collaboration tools come in – they make it easier and faster for designers to get feedback and approve artwork in a professional manner and get products to market and clients much faster.

Organisations looking to deploy a UCaaS solution should look for suppliers that can provide a wide range of integrated collaboration and communications tools such as;

Presence: This is the ability to be able to see the status of the person you want to speak to or require to respond to say an email query is working at their desk, on a call, in a meeting or in a do not disturb mode so that you can decide whether to contact that person or select another member of staff to help you. This means you get answers for clients faster.

IM/Chat: Faced with the person you want help from being the only member of staff qualified to do so and them being already on the phone the use of instant messaging – popping a message up on the computer display or smartphone, that you need to speak with them gets faster results.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 14.17.58Externally, offering visitors to your web site the ability to ‘Chat’ – ask a question on-line and receive a response online via a qualified member of the customer support team has proved to be a business winning application as well as an excellent customer response mechanism. Of course whilst in an on-line chat the customer service agent can draw upon input from other internal knowledge workers or even from an externally based expert to solve the customer problem without the ‘caller’ knowing.

Audio Conferencing: In an ideal world everyone we needed to talk to would be in the same room at the same time but that is rarely the case and the audio conferencing call is a great way to collaborate with externally based colleagues as well as clients. Of course with the Presence features you can also see if colleagues are able to participate in conference calls, which increases the use of ‘ad-hoc’ meetings.

Desktop Video Call: The latest UCaaS solutions use WebRTC technology. This means that video calls can be set up from say a desktop computer without the need for specialist equipment to be installed or training to take place. Collaboration via video calls is particularly productive as it means documents can be shared on screen, products and services can be shown and demonstrated – even to a remote or mobile workforce via their laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.

Telephony: Voice based calling is an integral and constituent part of a UCaaS deployment. Being able to initiate a contact via a phone call and switch to either an audio or video conference with multiple parties is a valuable tool in the collaboration kit bag.

Likewise, a graphical representation and presentation of the number of calls waiting to be answered is vital for customer service excellence as it allows resources to be allocated or brought in to service to take calls.

Ed Says… The ideal UCaaS solution will combine all the good things of the cloud with the advantages of a dedicated customer environment. It will offer security and flexibility while preserving the manageability of a cloud solution.Customer Service is the new marketing. Working towards excellence in customer service is an effective marketing tool. Not only does good customer service invite an excellent online reputation via good customer reviews, but it invites customer loyalty and repeat sales.
A satisfied customer is a repeat customer!

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine