Consider this scenario. You are excited about the new appliance you’ve ordered online and can’t wait to use it. But before you do that, you need a demo. You figure the best way to arrange that would be through the company website. You browse around looking for a number to call when friendly Susan pops up in a chat box, asking if you need help. Sure you do. Susan guides you with the appliance registration, a must before a demo can be arranged. You follow her instructions happily only to discover she’s given you the cold shoulder now, telling you that you still need to make that telephone call (that you were going to anyways) to arrange for a demo.
Determined not to let a little inconvenience get in the way, you dial the 1-800 number. Sadly, things soon go spiraling downwards. After making your way through a maze of numerical choices and getting put on hold a dozen times, you are told that a new registration takes 24 hours to get activated and that you should call back later.
It takes a couple of more phone calls and a few spikes in blood pressure to get the demo arranged. Chances are that the enthusiasm for the new appliance has long waned. The dream appliance has lost its shine and the nightmarish Service Level Agreement (SLA) is to blame.
Unknowingly Alienating the Customer
The first snag in successful customer engagement was the miscommunication between the seller (online company) and the appliance manufacturer. Both provided incomplete information that kept the customer from using the new appliance. The second blow was that the problem resolution process could not be completed via chat. Customer details had to be repeated over different modes of communication to different agents. The third and final break happened when the customer had to call back twice to achieve problem resolution instead of the company showing proactive customer service and offering a call back.
Could Leveraging UC Change the Situation?
It is annoying for any customer when they have to answer the same set of questions repeatedly at different points of contact when speaking to a call center. Such processes only bring out the inefficiencies in the workings of a company, delivering a big hit to customer satisfaction levels.
Means of communication have changed significantly in the last decade. Though voice calls still remain the preferred mode, people often use web chat, SMS, email, or social media to reach out for problem resolution. Many call centers are unable to keep track of these various forms of interaction simply because of their outdated systems.
Advantages of UC
Combining all forms of business communication into a single, unified solution can lead to powerful collaboration. Customers today want the freedom and flexibility to choose their preferred form of communication. Unified communications (UC) enables companies to do just that by placing all communication modes at par, combining multiple channels into a single queue, letting technology manage customer service by applying uniform SLAs across all channels. Such omni-channel engagement makes customers feel secure that irrespective of the channel they choose, their request will be handled promptly.
Multi-channel communication also breaks down technological and operational silos within an organization, promoting healthy interactions and improving cross-departmental visibility. UC comes with the added benefits of presence and collaboration. This means that the person receiving the customer’s call immediately knows who is available to attend to and who is best suited to handle the issue. Specific statuses such as ‘On Call’ or ‘Away’ enable staff to quickly make decisions and push issues to resolution through skill-based presence. By avoiding repeated call transfers or prolonged holds, working with UC improves first-call resolution rates, thereby ensuring both customer satisfaction and retention.
UC also makes it easier to store the customer’s contact information, providing appropriate contextual caller data whenever a call is received at the contact center again. Using this information, agents are able to successfully cross-sell products and identify customer issues predictively. This undoubtedly, adds to the company’s revenue and the customer’s loyalty.
From a company perspective, UC plays a strategic role by aiding staff training and collaboration, and driving remote working processes. Since UC allows more than one person to be on a call, junior colleagues can listen in and receive real-time training while observing their seniors and experts resolve issues. With UC tracking capabilities, managers can remotely supervise the performance of all staff, regardless of their location. This feature is immensely useful during inclement weather or public transport strikes as business continuity remains unaffected.
Overcoming the Challenges
Currently most contact centers are just starting out with their UC experiments. UC works on a VoIP network that supports both voice and data. Though tempting at first, using add-ons from various vendors on an existing VoIP often makes matters worse for a contact center instead of streamlining things. This is because, unlike UC, disparate applications are unable to provide a 360-degree view of the customer.
Integrating telephony, communications and CRM platforms is crucial to making the UC experience work seamlessly. In the present market environment, leveraging the benefits of UC could clearly demarcate the surefire winners from the also-rans.