The world is moving faster than ever before and consumers now have better technology than most businesses. Millennials are demanding the latest technology and the digital revolution is upon us so companies need to react to this paradigm shift.

Keeping Up with the Pace of Change

Many companies predominantly use voice and email as communications tools but staff and customers need a choice of tools to use, depending on the purpose of the communication and their currentlocation.Thanks to a plethora of technology options, we can choose from numerous communications tools but, if not used correctly, technology can hinder rather than empower us. Email in particular is the frequent culprit with staff spending too much time managing their inbox rather than working. Knowing what tools to use for communication about the task at hand can improve productivity, increase efficiencies and simplify our lives.

Digital Transformation

Devising a digital transformation strategy is no mean feat and you will require a trusted and experienced third party solutions provider to assist you. They will advise you on technology strategy, take time to understand your business and your objectives. Plus advise you on what communications tools you require to increase staff productivity, improve internal and external communications and customer service.

It is important to mention that digital transformation and customer service needs to be championed by the CEO and senior management team. Customer experience has extended beyond the realms of the marketing department and the contact centre through to the Board. Customer experience should be the fabric and culture of every business.

The New Age Customer

Customers have changed and are now more mobile than ever, more digital and more social. Research shows that 58% of customers use online chat, 38% text and 37% use Twitter (Forrester 2015). The use of the different communication tools is coupled with increasing expectations of 24/7 availability, instant responses and resolution – 82% of consumers state that the number one factor that leads to great customer service experience is through having issues resolved quickly. If the experience is bad then 64% will defect and go to a competitor (SDL 2015).

Companies are now striving for first time resolution and need to deliver exceptional customer service to differentiate from the competition. A total of 68% of companies view customer experience as a competitive differentiator and 62% of companies are striving for first time resolution (Deloitte contact centre survey 2013).

Customers now want to choose how to contact agents in contact centres. It has evolved from phone and email communications to the creation of the omni-channel where there is a choice of communications to contact the company, whether it is by phone, email, webchat, video call or social media. Companies need to provide these communications tools to augment voice and email; extending to conferencing and collaboration solutions to create a blended omni-channel approach.

A Blended World of Communications

People think email is real-time communication but it isn’t. They write an email to communicate a quick message then fire it off and then forget about it while it is sitting in someone’s inbox waiting to be read. With email you often don’t get the instant response that is expected. Another annoying characteristic of email is the email trail and the fact that people copy others in, creating unnecessary workload.

If companies find that email is increasingly becoming an ineffective medium they can deploy a management tool. This will minimise any downtime and inefficiencies helping to improve processes and maximise productivity that will naturally enhance customer experience.

The management tool uses automated call distribution (ACD) technology and acts like a gatekeeper to determine how many emails are let through and how many sit in inboxes. SLAs (service level agreements) can be set against emails so that customers have an expectation of response time and breaches of the SLA can quickly be escalated.

Companies should work with a solution provider to understand how different communication tools can help them improve internal and external communications, and customer service. Unified communications is the integration of voice, video, web chat/instant messaging and screen sharing bringing the disparate tools together to create a powerful singular solution. United they are much stronger and more effective than when operated in isolation.

Real-time communication has increased to 76% in the last couple of years (Forester 2014) with more and more people embracing it. Instant messaging, Skype for Business, Facetime are all being used in our personal and business lives.

The most recent technology to disrupt the market is WebRTC (web real-time communication).This technology will transform the contact centre and improve communicationsand efficiencies with staff; moving companies away from ploughing through inboxes and playing voicemail tag. It enables users to communicate in real time via a browser-based application that can be used on any device wherever they are. Video calls, voice communications, instant messaging/webchat,co-browsing andfile sharingcan all be carried out via a single web browser.

WebRTC is estimated to be worth $4.7 billion by 2020 with 2 billion plus users,which is around 60% of the worldwide internet population (Disruptive Analysis 2014 WebRTC report).

The technology is very secure as it requires permission from the users to allow use of their microphone and camera. The end-to-end encryption between peers means data is always sent securely with the additional benefit that there is no software plugin to download.

It improves communications, increases efficiencies and delivers first time resolutions. Customers are just one click away from contacteither by video, audio or instant message/web chat.

A sales or customer service agent in a contact centre might find it particularly useful to be able to escalate a conversation from browsing to text chat, to video and co-browsing in a single session. This provides a consistent seamless service that leads to first contact resolution for the customer and improves customer experience.

The Power of Real-Time Communications

Unified communications and WebRTC empower the customer, but also allow staff and agents to decide what tools are best to use to respond to each situation, enabling the conversation to be seamlessly transitioned from one to another. It is about moving around the different channels accordingly and knowing where it is appropriate. Whether the conversation starts from webchat and then the agent makes the judgement that the request should be dealt with over a video call for face-to-face contact. It all depends on the conversation and the task at hand.

Blending communications tools into a seamless, singular solution demands integration of the new and existing technology. A trusted solutions provider can help you with this resulting in aunified omni-channel. Providing your staff with the tools they require to differentiate you from the competition, increase efficiencies and ultimately improve your customers’ journey and experience.

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