How VoIP Revolutionizes the Customer Experience
It’s 2016. The global market place is ever more competitive, and constant change demands strategies that pre-empt, as well as thrive on, change. Privileged with endless consumption and investment options, and fueled by instant, real-time information, customers demand a personalized experience, delivered with maximum convenience, through all the available channels. The importance of living up to these expectations is more critical than ever for customer retention and business success. Organizations that master the art of creating a great customer experience generate client loyalty and generate word-of-mouth referral business.
What does this mean for the contact options that we provide to our customers? Today, most businesses, however small, offer contact and support options via email and website contact forms. Many even embrace social media as a channel through which the customer can communicate with the business…others may have introduced sophisticated ticketing systems to deliver a convenient and responsive customer service.
And yet, most customers demand the good old phone as one of the customer service options on offer. According to customer service research by NewVoiceMedia, 75% of customers believe they will get the fastest response with a phone call. Often customers require quicker response times than what social media or email can offer.
Despite these expectations, many businesses, especially SMEs but also larger enterprises, feel that providing a phone option is a risky and expensive choice. Their perception is that a phone service that is equally personal, responsive, convenient, swift, pleasant, and competent cannot be cost-effective, risk & hassle-free at the same time.
The good news is that Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) effectively addresses these legitimate concerns. VoIP, or telephony over the internet, allows businesses of all sizes to offer a high-quality customer phone experience…affordably, without technological complexity, and via a powerful set of productivity-boosting features that are not available with conventional fixed line telephony.
VoIP’s many advanced call management features truly revolutionize the way that the way the customer experiences phone communication with your business. Below are just some of the ways in which VoIP call management features help to bring about a greatly enhanced customer experience.
VoIP comes with Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
With VoIP in place, an interactive voice response (IVR) system, also sometimes call ‘Virtual Receptionist’ or ‘Auto-Attendant’ welcomes all callers with a set of pre-recorded messages and choices. Callers select options from a list and are then automatically transferred to the correct extension, without immediately requiring a live representative.
You can also direct urgent calls to a live representative while directing non-urgent calls to other helpful destinations such as self-help channels with pre-recorded information, automated information lookups (e.g. account balances) or even a particular website.
A well-arranged IVR enables you to cut down the time required for a caller to reach the right department or person. Apart from minimizing the potential for miscommunication, this approach also reduces labor and overhead costs.
VoIP increases convenience
Despite the strong benefits of an IVR, it must be admitted that going through the various options of the system, only to be put on hold later, isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime. But even here VoIP offers a range of features that increase the customer experience.
The ‘Find Me/Follow Me’ feature makes an incoming call ring on multiple phones simultaneously, so if one representative is unavailable, the call can be answered by another representative. Alternatively the feature can be set to try a different extension after, say, 3 or 4 rings, until someone picks up or the until the call goes to voice mail or call back (see explanation below).
‘Call forwarding’ allows employees to have their home phone and cell phone connected, so if they miss a call on their office phone, it will be automatically transferred to their other assigned phone.
Another very useful feature of VoIP is the ‘call back’. Callers who don’t want to wait on the phone, can request a callback within a specified guaranteed time frame so that an agent calls them back at a convenient time. This further eases otherwise frustrating phone situations that arise from listening to hold music or navigating through complex auto-options. It also allows customer support to properly schedule the call backs during lower call volume times.
Mobility for expanded customer support hours
VoIP is Internet-based and not bound to a particular physical address like a landline phone system. Internet telephony therefore allows complete geographic mobility and make these kind of solutions particularly well suited for mobile and remote working arrangements. It allows businesses to hire remote staff, and this way offer 24-hour customer service to customers. Instead of forwarding customer calls to a messaging system when office phones are closed, calls can be routed to either mobile phones or telecommuting employees at their home office.
The result: additional convenience, faster response times and increased satisfaction for the customer, who can have their problems resolved no matter what time of day.
Telephone & CRM integration improves speed, responsiveness and personalization
With VoIP, it is much easier to integrate the phone system with another application, for example customer relationship management (CRM).
VoIP solutions are designed to realize the concept of ‘unified communications’, which brings all of your business communication (voice, data, video, email, messaging etc…) together. For example, an integrated VoIP system running through your existing CRM and support software allows you to consolidate customer data and have all the customer information and history available to the agent before the call is taken. This means not only time saved to verify a customer's information but also a much more personalized, meaningful and hassle-free conversation with the valued customer.
VoIP generates financial flexibility for customer satisfaction oriented initiatives
The total cost of a VoIP system is often cheaper than that of a standard telecom network – domestic and international calls come usually at a fraction of standard calling rates, and calls between extensions and branches are often free.
Add to this the fact that with a cloud or hosted solution, there are no investments required in local infrastructure such as on premise PBX, server, and wiring, and there is no need to employ in-house telephony/PBX expertise.
Finally, the productivity gains and time savings also translate into financial savings that go straight to the bottom line.
Money saved this way gives an organization much more flexibility on pricing and other customer satisfaction-oriented initiatives and activities.