Tim Meredith, Director of Unified Communications and Collaboration at Daisy Group, explains how having the right telephone system can improve customer relationships.
For all businesses, building and developing strong customer relationships is integral to success. And as clichéd as it sounds, it takes a lot of time and effort to build a good reputation for your company, and only one bad customer experience to destroy it.
The internet and social media have opened up a host of new communications channels between businesses and their customers, but your telephone system is still your best customer relationship management tool. It allows people to get an instant answer to their queries, to build a relationship with the person taking their call, to quickly understand the personality of the business and get a measure of how it treats its customers.
On the flip side, poor phone communication can be one of the biggest frustrations for a customer, and actively discourage them from using your company.
So, what are the problems you need to be mindful of, and how can a hosted voice solution help you avoid them?
1) Being stuck on hold
Perhaps the number one bugbear when it comes to making a call is being placed on hold for what can often feel like an eternity. Listening to the same hold music on loop for more than ten minutes is enough to try anyone’s patience, not to mention the expense to your customers, especially if they are calling from a mobile.
One survey suggests that the average Brit spends 27 minutes on hold each time they ring a company, amounting to approximately 22 days in their lifetime. This is likely to fuel frustration and potentially leave callers in a position where they want to take their custom elsewhere.
While it is not always viable to avoid delays in answering calls, with hosted telephony, it is actually possible to monitor call usage (and the calls you’ve missed), which can be effective in identifying peak call times. For example, your business may experience an influx around lunch time or just after five o’clock when customers have more time to contact you. This data can help you to manage expectations as you can provide customers with an indication of the best and busiest times to call or ensure you have more members of staff on the phones during these busy periods.
2) Being passed to an empty desk or the wrong department
So, your customers have waited patiently on hold while the next member of staff becomes available and are then redirected to the correct person, only to find that there’s nobody there to answer the call. Customers then have to start again and potentially be placed in another queue, with no guarantee they will reach the correct person the second time they call.
With VoIP, costly mistakes like this can be avoided. Good systems will provide you with a platform whereby you can view the status of each agent- for example, whether they are active, offline or busy. This means that you can assign the call to somebody who is free to answer it.
If callers do reach the wrong person, they expect to be transferred directly to the correct person they intended to reach, rather than be given an alternative number to dial themselves. With hosted telephony, call transferring comes as standard, and allows a user to transfer the caller to any specified destination or person within the business.
3) Leaving messages and nobody returning the call
Not being able to speak to a human being can be frustrating enough, but not receiving a call back after leaving a voicemail only makes matters worse. VoIP can be a very effective tool for smaller businesses who can’t answer every call due to staffing restraints and find it difficult to keep on top of voicemails. With hosted telephony, it is much more difficult for voicemails to get forgotten or buried, as they are delivered to the recipient by email notification, as well as being shown on the web portal. This gives staff more visibility of their voice messages and allows messages to be accessed from anywhere, ultimately improving the speed at which customers are called back, which can prevent missing important sales opportunities.
4) A poor quality phone line
Muffled voices, distracting background noise, or a crackly phone line can be problematic. Having high-quality audio is one of the simplest, yet arguably, most important features of your telephone system. Traditional copper phone lines can be subject to interference, particularly if those lines are long, however, with VoIP this is not the case. Hosted telephony is able to switch between narrowband (standard definition) and wideband (high definition). Wideband is able to pick up and transmit a broader sound range (50hz to 7kHz), which results in more sound clarity and better call quality.
Having to explain the same problem numerous times to different people can be incredibly frustrating and make you feel undervalued and as though you are getting nowhere. Subsequently, most people would prefer to have a single contact that will remember their case and be able to assist them quickly without lots of questions.
VoIP can support this by giving individual members of staff their own phone number, enabling customers to ring the same contact directly, regardless of whether they are at their desk or away from it via their mobile.
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