Do you remember the last great support experience you had with a company? One that you truly appreciated as it was happening, and felt the need to tell someone about?
Yeah, neither do I.
It's the poor ones that I remember, and consistently hear people talk about. I don't think that's because companies aren't providing great service - just that we, as buyers, have higher standards now. Effective and fast customer support has gone from being a "nice-to-have" to an expectation.
Think about how competitive business is today. Buyers have more options, and they can quickly evaluate those options online if they aren't satisfied with your product or service - in fact, Salesforce tells us that 70% of consumers say that technology has made is easier to take their business elsewhere. So unless you sell a completely differentiated, one-of-a-kind product that no one else has some version of, there's a good chance that the product itself won't be enough to keep customer churn low. And if the numbers tell us anything, it's that companies who can't keep their customers satisfied spend a fortune trying to acquire new ones.
Improving customer satisfaction should always be a priority, but it can be tough to figure out where to start.
Cloud communications can play a key role here, not only by making it easier to stay connected, but also by helping dictate the flow of customer information. Cloud-based solutions can help companies address customer needs more quickly and effectively - here are 3 ways how:
You can't offer exceptional service if you're not accessible. Today, customers expect companies to be available to answer questions and troubleshoot issues on their timelines. Outside of being off on major holidays, it's usually not a good look for your customer-facing teams to miss calls when they don't have to.
The thing is, being accessible can be harder than it sounds. Companies that still rely on premise-based communications (AKA traditional phone systems) run into trouble when customer support reps need to stay home, whether it's for personal reasons or because the weather just won't cooperate. In this type of environment, reps can't do their jobs when they're not at their desks because they can't receive incoming calls or keep track of customer data. The worst case scenario happens when a company's phone system goes down because of a power outage, because customer service teams can't make or receive calls.
By moving business communications to the cloud, you can address those challenges. Because cloud systems are hosted remotely, they're not impacted by the conditions at your physical office - if the power goes out, you can just re-route incoming calls to a different location or designated cell phones.
Cloud-based systems also build in some flexibility for individual reps, and for your support team as a whole. For example, Votacall offers a mobile app that allows employees to make and receive calls across their devices using their business number. When the weather makes commuting difficult, or a rep just wants to work from home, you can still be available to your customers. If that's not the case for your team today, changing that could go a long way towards improving customer satisfaction.
Too often, companies separate phone-based support from the rest of their customer service channels - while the phone is still the most popular service channel in the U.S., isolating that channel creates poor experiences for both agents and customers.
From an agent's perspective, having to switch between multiple platforms when providing support hurts productivity. The time that reps have to spend searching for customer information and entering data for every call adds up, and can be a huge time-waster. The lack of integration also means that agents don't have a "full view" of a customer when they call in, which means they can't view past support history and provide a personalized experience.
When agents take longer to provide resolutions, new customers that are calling in have to wait longer to speak to someone about their problem. Once a customer does get someone on the phone, they have to spend time providing information that they've given the company before because the agent they're speaking to doesn't have easy access to it.
One of the major benefits of cloud-based systems is the ability to integrate with customer service platforms and CRMs. Features like inbound screen-popping automatically pull up customer records when an agent receives a call, which means that they have a full profile of the customer before they even answer the phone. And while improving customer satisfaction does start on an individual level, cloud-based platforms also help to keep call centers running smoothly as a whole by automatically routing calls and providing key metrics.
Traditionally, inbound call centers were at the center of customer service - customers call in, navigate through a menu or IVR, and hope to get someone on the phone within a reasonable time frame. In this type of environment, support teams try to create positive experiences by keeping the resolution process as short as possible, and the key metrics reflect that. Inbound call center administrators track things like Average Time in Queue, Average Speed of Answer, and First Call Resolution rate.
The problem is, not all problems warrant making a phone call. Think about the last time you had a quick question that didn't even require an immediate answer, but spent 15 minutes on a customer service call anyway. First call resolutions are a great thing to shoot for, but they don't tell the full story if a call didn't need to happen in the first place. Improving customer service starts with recognizing that customer expectations have changed. Today, it's not just about creating fast resolutions over the phone - it's about giving customers more than just that option.
That's why so many customer service teams have implemented contact centers, which allow customers to engage with a company using voice, video, text, or even social media. By providing these options, companies also prevent their call queues from getting too crowded, which keeps wait times low. Customers that need quick answers can get them without placing a call, and customers that need to speak to someone on the phone don't need to spend time sitting on hold.
Consistently improving customer satisfaction by creating superior support experiences should be a priority. By moving business communications to the cloud, companies can enhance their support teams' ability to deliver those experiences, and retain more customers as a result.