How to improve your customer service with communications technology

Every business interacts with its customers, and it’s critical to direct those customers quickly to the right resource, whether that’s sales, billing or customer service, in order to get answers on the first try, every time.

Just think about how customers expect to communicate with your organization in today’s world. They don’t want to just speak with a customer service agent over the phone. They expect to use all forms of communication to reach your company — email, text chat, Web interface, etc.

“And if your customers can’t communicate with you easily, they’ll move on to some other competitor,” says Ed Flynn, senior technology consultant at Warwick Communications Inc. “The bar continues to be raised.”

That’s why organizations are turning to contact center technology to take their customer interactions to the next level. They are building relationships that better assist and empower their customers, through consistent customer experiences across all channels that are handled quickly and efficiently.

Smart Business spoke with Flynn about how to utilize technology to better serve your customers.

What exactly is contact center technology? Is it related to call center technology?

Call centers, as you may traditionally think of them, are not as effective for today’s business environment, because phone calls are only part of how customers contact you. Instead the terminology has moved away from call center to contact center.

It’s about how effectively and efficiently you communicate with your customers beyond just voice interaction — regardless of the type and size of your business.

What are some features that businesses use to better interact with their customers?

Historical and real-time reporting and monitoring lets you understand the big picture and call-by-call performance of your staff. You can respond instantly to changing traffic volumes to ensure service levels are maintained, and use historical data against service-level objectives, for reviews to measure key performance indicators and to identify ways to improve business processes.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are playing an increasing role today. Contact center technology can be seamlessly integrated into these back office systems like CRM, so that critical customer data pops onto the computer screen as calls and multimedia contacts arrive.

You’ve probably heard the rule — 20 percent of your customers generate 80 percent of your revenue. In order to deliver a superior level of service to your top-tier customers, you can profile your customers. Then, regardless of the way they contact you, you can prioritize their position in queue or ensure top employees handle them.

Other features include a Web chat option where customer questions come through your phone system and are directed to the right employee; interactive voice response, which allows callers to self-access information from your system like the status of their order; and skills-based routing where, for instance, calls are routed to a staff member who speaks a foreign language or best handles complaints.

How can employers find the best solution?

With so many options, it’s important to have somebody with experience help you sort through the choices.

It all starts with understanding how your business works and what your needs are now and for the future. Then, the technology and its features can be customized to fit your organization, as well as plan what could be added later as your company grows.

It also takes someone with experience to tweak this technology, so it’s not cumbersome for the customer or your employees. Again, the right expert can help with the implementation and education.

What else is important to understand?

More manufacturers are offering, as part of their services, ways to utilize contact center technology to improve customer service.

You also have the option to either purchase an on-premise system and install it in your workplace, or get cloud-based or hosted technology where you pay for the portions of the service that you want to utilize. Again, with the right adviser on your side, you can find a solution that works for you — before your customers find a warmer reception with someone else.

Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Warwick