How Unified Communications Can Improve Customer Service


Improving the customer experience is the top priority for nearly 75 percent of businesses, according to Forrester. And there’s every reason it should be: Companies that provide excellent customer experiences grow revenues four to eight percent above the market — and those that deliver less-than-ideal experiences lose tens of billions of dollars annually.

The research also indicates that by the start of the next decade, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.

One of the most important things a company can do to demonstrate good service is to show that it values clients’ time. But to consumers, it’s clear that many businesses haven’t quite worked out that piece of the puzzle yet.

Who, after all, hasn’t trudged through an interactive voice response (IVR) system that demands entering data that a live agent is going to ask for again anyway, or been transferred from one customer rep to another before finding someone who can correctly answer a query?

A New Approach to Serving Customers

Legacy communications solutions tend to lack the ability to support seamless, connected, informed, and efficient customer experiences, which today may take place across multiple venues.

When inbound and outbound voice applications don’t integrate with internet applications such as real-time chat, web collaboration, email, and social media, agents can’t conduct multiple interactions simultaneously using customer-preferred formats. This presents as much of a hit to customer satisfaction as it does to agent productivity.

This challenge — and many other inconveniences that plague customer interactions — can be addressed when companies implement modern unified communications (UC). UC-enabled contact centers deliver intelligent contact routing, call treatment, network-to-desktop computer telephony integration, and multichannel contact management over an IP infrastructure.

By pairing a routing engine with precision routing based on agent attributes and competencies, it’s possible to direct customer calls, emails, and chat requests to the resource who is best equipped to help that client. Companies can enhance that power even further with open UC contact center platforms that allow extending the sources of data for making routing decisions. Integration with CRM systems, for instance, can provide better insight into a customer’s billing information, previous purchases, past questions, and other context details that can prep an agent to better handle a new interaction.

The result is increased — and likely faster — first-call resolution. That’s no small accomplishment: Customer research specialist firm SQM Group finds that 93 percent of customers using a call center channel and 72 percent of customers using a website channel expect to be able to resolve their inquiry or problem in one contact. Certainly, improving service at this level increases client satisfaction and loyalty.

Keep the Help Coming

More helping hands for a better customer experience come by way of capabilities such as UC-enabled web callback features: Instead of waiting on the phone, customers can request a contact center return their call when the right agent is available. And, even skilled agents benefit from having real-time online access to internal subject matter experts, so they can get the answers they need to resolve customer questions.

Of course, management plays a critical role in ensuring an optimal customer experience, as well. UC-enabled contact center solutions work best if supervisors can have real-time visibility into the entire customer interaction — for example, sending text messages to coach agents as they handle customer interactions or assisting with a call via three-way conference if needed. Access to reports and dashboards that can provide insight into trends such as high-volume call times is a plus, too. That way, managers can make better decisions about staffing levels to avoid long hold times — once again making it clear that their business cares about clients’ time.

When managers can draw on UC contact center solutions that support remote agents with identical user interfaces and functions, it’s even easier for them to be able to reach out and staff up as requirements demand.

Within UC offerings, companies can also leverage IVR integrations and innovations. For instance, IVR tools that support automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, and self-service applications make it possible for callers to get personalized answers to their questions, pay bills, or make other requests without having to interact with a live agent. Appropriately implemented, these capabilities also help get them to the right agent quickly when necessary.

Whether implemented as on-premise or hosted solutions, UC contact center technology is in step with the age of the customer. If you want to keep your clients happy, reduce churn, and grow your business, a more modern communication system can drive better customer experiences.

Learn more about the benefits of unified communications and collaboration by downloading Cisco’s eBook, “The Essential Guide to Workplace Modernization Through Next-Generation Unified Communications.”

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