If you're an enterprise executive, no haunted house or horror movie scares you like falling behind competitors or industry standards. Dissatisfied customers, shrinking profit margins, tech-savvy competitors that woo away customers with superior digital experiences — those are the real nightmares, only they don't disappear at daybreak. The best way to slay them is to put to the grave the legacy technology that's hacking your best efforts at customer service best practices and integrating with cloud technology.
OK, that's probably enough haunting Halloween hyperbole for now (for the most part). Let's get down to business.
While falling behind the curve might seem like a concern, it's not too late to catch up. The first steps are identifying the "customer service killers" hiding amidst your communication technology and updating your tools for more positive customer interactions. Start with these four common menaces.
1. Terrifying Traditional Systems
Traditional wireline phone systems have served businesses well for many years, but more modern systems have quickly surpassed them. Legacy systems are costly, they're hard to scale, and they don't play nice with communications APIs, CRMs, and other key integrations that improve customer service.
Cloud-hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connects over high-speed internet and delivers robust cloud phone features, including the ability to direct customers to the correct representative the first time (no customer "hot potato" required), place them into call queues with wait time estimates, or let them request a call back to avoid holding at all. Customers get real-time updates on their position in the queue, and their inquiries are addressed by agents prepared to handle their particular needs. VoIP is a win for everyone involved; businesses avoid backing up the call queue, while customers receive quick and efficient service.
2. Spine-Chilling Siloed Channels
Many enterprises have effectively reached multichannel status, gathering customer data from various channels, such as email, social media, SMS, voice, and messaging apps. Today, though, the multichannel enterprise can be terrifyingly siloed, making communications between channels nearly impossible; the omnichannel experience is able to integrate all channels and the data they derive. With this in place, your technology recognizes individual customers across modes of communication, and customer interactions can move seamlessly from one channel to another.
With unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), all your enterprise communication tools — voice, video, messaging, conferencing — live on one platform. Employees can interact with customers on any of these channels and easily switch from one to another. For example, if a customer initiates an instant message with a business representative via their laptop but needs to walk away from the device, he or she can switch to phone without ending the conversation.
Meanwhile, communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) lets you use developer-friendly APIs to embed real-time communication features — voice, video, text, instant messaging — into your mobile apps, websites, and various social channels. Customers can call service centers directly from a mobile app, send queries via Facebook Messenger, or video chat with representatives directly from the company's Instagram page, all without leaving the app or social network. CPaaS also enables you to integrate an AI-powered chat bot, which provides instant customer support around the clock.
Slashing up existing technology infrastructures might sound a little scary — change always is — but once your communications are safely in the cloud, you're better positioned to fend off competitors and keep your customers satisfied.
3. Dreadful Databases
Most of us are haunted by doctor's visits where the physician enters the exam room and asks, "What brings you here today?" In these moments, many of us think, "Seriously?! I filled out paperwork explaining the reason for my visit. You're holding my medical records in your hand right now. How do you NOT know the answer to that question?"
When your data is fragmented across multiple business applications, customers experience a similar displeasure with their lack of integrated service. Representatives can look up customer information for incoming callers, but not without toggling between different systems, and in many cases, they lack access to information that could help them personalize and improve customer service.
To remedy this situation, businesses can integrate UCaaS with their existing CRM, CPaaS, or other cloud database and workflow tools. This way, when a customer calls, the service rep has easy access to the customer's name and all the relevant data on their previous purchases and service orders — no toggling required. The rep can provide context-aware service and resolve the problem quickly, shortening the process for the customer and for all the customers in the hold queue.
4. Chilling On-Site Contact Centers
Scaling staff in on-site contact centers can be downright frightening. On slow days, you're paying people to twiddle their thumbs. On days with particularly high call volume, customers are put on hold for far too long. And the more these customers are paying for your goods or services, the more annoyed they are by each passing minute.
With a cloud contact center, customer service reps can access all the information and communication technology they need to work from anywhere. Even if most employees work from the office, remote reps can provide backup from home or other locations. If you need to lighten the load even further, you can integrate voice and chat APIs that can help diagnose inquiries and funnel customers to the right representatives. With the cloud, contact centers no longer have to be solely in-office.
Slashing up existing technology infrastructures might sound a little scary — change always is — but once your communications are safely in the cloud, you're better positioned to fend off competitors and keep your customers satisfied. Nightmare over.