Is Your Phone System Holding You Back?
Modern-day communication systems can help improve the customer and employee experience, but some companies are not taking full advantage of all the features that are available. Some may be unaware of the advanced feature benefits of modern communications systems and may need help to integrate those features effectively into their business processes.
Here we look at the specific ways today’s advanced UCaaS and Omni-channel systems can take advantage of both simple and advanced features to ultimately improve your customer, employee, and manager’s experience. The result should be a more satisfying communication experience for all.
Modern-day communication systems can help improve the customer and employee experience, but some companies are not taking full advantage of all the features that are available. Some may be unaware of the advanced feature benefits of modern communications systems and may need help to integrate those features effectively into their business processes. Think about the last time you called or tried to reach a business, what was your experience? Less than optimal or refreshingly simple? If not optimal, can you pinpoint how could it have been better? Many people think of phones as a necessity for their business, but they don’t think of how their phone system could improve their customer’s experience and their own employees’ workflow. Here we take a look at a few examples of what can go wrong and how to optimize communications from both the customer and the employee perspective.
Customers who call into a business and are required to hold before speaking to someone are likely going to be frustrated. They may be thinking, “How long will I be on hold?”, or “Is there any other way to get a hold of this business?” Providing transparency and options is always a good thing. Can your phone attendant let your customer know how long they’ll need to wait or can you give them an option to receive a callback or leave a message instead of holding? Giving callers options will make them feel empowered by having information and choices, instead of frustrated. Even better, letting your customer choose their preferred method of communication is ideal. Many companies leave social media up to the marketing team, but are they enabled to respond to a customer product complaint or look up a customer’s interaction and respond? Omni channel systems now offer web chat, SMS text and even communication through social media channels that can be funneled to the most appropriate team, and those communications can be tracked for timely responses and effectiveness. The millennial generation seems to be well suited to text messaging or app-based communication, so offering SMS or web-based chat or messaging with your customer service within a social platform like What’s App, Instagram or Facebook, can alleviate long pressure in your voice network, and can be a more effective way to reach customers who use those platforms as their primary communication channels.
Artificial Intelligence can offer a faster resolution for your customers as well. However, in practice, this one can be tricky. AI can include anything from a voice-activated response system to a chat bot that answers commonly asked questions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some of these automated systems can produce unintended results. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to speak to a voice response “robot” and having to repeat yourself over and over. So if your voice activated system has not been trained on handling multiple variations of words, accents or ambiguous terms, or if it does not allow a user to transfer to a live agent easily, the benefits start to diminish. The same goes for online chat bots. Often, they can only answer the simplest of questions, many of which self-service-oriented customers have already researched online. This can easily end up frustrating the customer with a lack of effective answers. With those caveats in mind, the good news is that these automated tool sets are becoming available even to the most basic communication platforms. Gone are the days of needing additional contact center systems in place before you can take advantage of automated response tools. Voice analytics and AI-based chat support are becoming available in basic PBX platforms.
Moving some interactions to an agentless model is a great option, but we still need skilled agents for actual conversations. So how, from an employee perspective, could your communication system improve their workflow? One key option elevated during the pandemic is the option to work from home. Remote access with cloud-based phone systems has improved quite a bit with UCaaS systems that offer phones that connect from any internet connection, PC-based soft phones, or mobile applications. Staffing firm Envoy’s Return to the Workplace Report found that 47% of workers are more likely to leave their job after the pandemic if employers do not offer a hybrid work model. Alternatively, giving employees the option to work with customers in a non-voice communication channel such as web chat, email or SMS may better suit some employees’ personalities or skill sets. Additionally, some highly skilled agents can be given the option to multi-task and handle several communication channels simultaneously. AI enriched tools like real-time voice transcription can offer a new employee a recommended script in real-time, bolstering their ability to respond quickly and effectively with approved company messaging and problem resolution. Employees gain a better sense of effectiveness and much faster attainment of required skill sets, increasing satisfaction with their job. The net result is you have happier employees, reduce costly turnover, and have a more effective and productive team.
Employee and customer satisfaction are great, but how do you ensure that the results are what they seem? Data analytics is also something many companies don’t traditionally look for from their communication systems. It’s hard to manage something like satisfaction if you can’t objectively measure it. Have you determined what a successful customer interaction is and do you have the ability to objectively measure it? With data tools that track agent interaction statistics, group data, and voice analytics you can more objectively define and evaluate those measures of success. For example, using voice recordings coupled with AI-based analytics, you can determine if each interaction included an appropriate greeting, the correct promotional offer, effective first call resolution, and if a timely follow up was performed. All these elements can be counted and quantified with effective data collection. AI-based voice analytics systems can even interpret and alert on more subjective “sentiment” analysis by alerting emotional keywords or an increase/decrease of voice volume. With real-time alerts, managers can quickly jump in and immediately offer support and resolution. Even without voice-driven AI, the more classic reporting elements can offer meaningful data like wait time in queue, abandon call rates, and high-volume interval tracking that when combined, offer a solution to ensure proper staffing during busy shifts and seasons. Additionally, many companies are finding innovative ways to gamify with the data and reward their staff for aligning their efforts to the company goals with meaningful benefits or perks.
In the end, everyone wins when modern communication systems are fully optimized to help customers and employees be successful. Knowing what tools are available and applying those tools in the most effective way will keep your company operating at peak efficiency. No one knows what tomorrow has in store, but if the last two-plus years have taught us anything, we now know that being flexible, adaptable and efficient can help us remain successful no matter what the future holds!