Unified Communications and Collaboration: Your customers come first. Let them know it.

Owen Kirwan
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On: 4 Aug 2016
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Great customer service doesn’t become less important simply because you’re not meeting your customers face-to-face. But it can become more difficult. In the first blog of our series ‘Good Relationships Start With Good Communications’, Owen Kirwan of Three Ireland reveals how you can improve customer relations by ensuring customers can always speak to the right person at the right time.

Remember when every business knew a customer was coming, because they heard the bell go over the shop door? Not many businesses these days have a shopfront and a counter but even so, welcoming customers and giving them a great, personalised service is as important as ever and this is one area where Unified Communications (UC) can really deliver.

Most interaction with the customer is now done remotely, over the phone or internet, which means it’s important to find ways to ensure your customers still get to speak to the right person, quickly and easily. Just as if they’d walked in through your front door. Previously this would require a well-staffed call centre or a costly communications system, but there’s technology available today that enables you to give personal customer service, whatever the size of your business.

Scalable and Accessible

The key is to not spend on something you’ll outgrow or to overspend on a system you don’t need, but to invest in a scalable system that will grow with you. Today’s Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) solutions not only scale to suit any size of business, but can actually pay for themselves in a very short time.

Let’s say your budget and staff numbers are both small, in this case you start simply and inexpensively with a system that gives you basic but highly useful features, like voicemail and call routing, which automatically puts the call through to someone with the right skills and customer knowledge.

As your business grows and receives more customer calls, there’s no need to lose that personal touch. The latest UC&C systems will direct customers to the most relevant person in your business, and whoever takes the call can see the name of the caller and their call and order history right in front of them. This means the customer is greeted by name and straight away speaks to someone who is up to speed with their situation. This saves your customer time, makes them feel valued and lays the foundation for a lasting, loyal customer base.

Not Just Call Handling

Of course, customers are just as likely to contact your business by email or web chat as by phone, so your system needs to handle those communications just as efficiently and with that same personal touch. The right system will route emails to the right person in your business, enabling a faster and more effective response. Web chat can also be handled like a phone call: queued to be handled by the next available agent.

Your UC&C system will also generate useful reports, so you can review how long your customers are waiting for a response, how many follow-ups have been made, how many repeat calls there have been, and so on – allowing you to identify trends, and even helping you to make decisions about staffing levels and training requirements.

It’s not just about communication with customers. It’s also about communication with all devices everywhere. Whether your staff members are working from the office on a desktop PC, from the car on their phone, or from a conference room on a laptop, it makes no difference. Communication can still be seamless, transparent – and personal.

Collaboration

Let’s talk about that extra ‘C’ for a second; Collaboration. This refers to everything from multiple people working remotely on the same document at the same time, to video conferencing. The proliferation of Collaboration technology in business today is gradually making face-to-face meetings harder to justify. Why waste people’s valuable time travelling to a central location? Why spend more time travelling as you do in the actual meeting? Why pay travel expenses?

If everyone is by their phone or PC at the same time on the same day, you’ve got a meeting right there – wherever “there” might be.

Presence for Productivity

You’ll notice the benefits of UC&C in productivity gains too. Cutting down time spent on meetings is one. Saving time on “hunt the colleague” is another. The Presence functionality gives you and your staff visibility of who is in the building, on a call, or in a meeting. You can avoid transferring a customer to someone who can’t answer or wasting time looking for a colleague. If you need a colleague in a meeting or on a call, you can check if they’re able to join there and then. This saves postponing or re-arranging, and gets business concluded at what’s always the best time for productivity: right now.

UC for Marketing

Communication is, by definition, a two-way thing, and that’s true too of a UC system. It won’t only enhance the way you handle incoming calls and emails, but also works the other way, enabling outbound communications from your business. For example, any mentions of your business on social media can be queued to the relevant person within your company, and be reported upon, the same as an inbound call would be.

UC&C is customisable to the features and options you need now. You don’t pay for anything you won’t use, and you can scale the solution up as your business grows. Better still, as mentioned earlier, a UC&C can even pay for itself over a short period of time. One recent customer very quickly cut the cost of their communications by half. This was while enabling all users to become truly mobile, so they can deliver great customer service wherever they are.