When it comes to balancing customer experience and operational efficiency, it can be really hard to get things right for your customers (and for your pockets). There are a lot of strategies, tools, consultants, methodologies and processes that you could be leveraging in order to operate your well-oiled machine (and of course you’re already doing all of those things, right?).
But what if there were things right in front of your nose that aren’t complicated, expensive or time-consuming, and could really make things easier and better for you and your customers?
That’s what we want to address in this series, and first up: making your business phone smarter.
Why you need to upgrade your business phone
It’s no surprise that your non-compelling, old business tools are neglected, and sit way across the room from the brilliant, innovative stuff you’re doing to make your business better and better all the time. In fact, your company phone is likely the single most underutilized tool your business has (and pays for).
First, there’s the question of whether or not you should even have a phone (and I mean, old-school, hardwired, costs-too-much-for-too-little telephone), but let’s save that for another time. Secondly, if you are going to pay for a phone, make it awesome for your business and customers – get as much as you possibly can out of it.
And that’s the thing – if your phone isn’t doing more than just “being a phone,” it’s pretty darn likely that you’re paying too much and are missing some serious efficiency and customer experience opportunities.
Making your business phone smarter
Think about it—you’re probably paying more than you want to for your company phone. If you’re using a “sophisticated” tool, you might have more than just the ability to make and receive calls, and maybe you’ve got an auto-attendant, call-routing or even time-based call-routing. If you’ve got any of this stuff, you’re thinking smarter than most people, but you’re likely using tools that are totally under delivering for your business.
Your phone is a major pillar in your business, and it needs to be able to deliver the best service experience possible. Part of that comes with understanding your customer and their preferences, but the other part comes with the technology you use. It can’t and won’t cost you more to move into the future – in fact, it will probably be simpler to set up than even the Flintstones stuff you’ve got at your company (yeah, I’m talking about even you folks with fancy time-based routing).
Here is just a sample of what you could be doing with your phone, for the same (if not better) prices:
Configure your own custom IVR for yourself in minutes without writing a line of code.
Customers want an IVR that’s easy to navigate, but that’s not always what they get. What they usually get are long hold times, the chance to repeat themselves over and over and ridiculously long menus to deal with—all of which lead to a bad customer experience. By using systems like OneReach (and keeping best practices in mind), businesses can build custom IVR flows without the need for a developer. And that’s not all: businesses can also draw on customer data to greet customers by name when they call, or ask if they’d like to speak to customer service — since that’s what they’ve called in for in the past
Let your customers text your business number
Phone numbers aren’t just for calling—they’re for texting, too. Over 80% of Americans text, and a Harris Poll study commissioned by OneReach found that 64% of people who text would prefer texting to calling for customer service. Text-enabling your business phone number also lets customers reach out to you on the channel they want, but also pivot from one channel to another based on what best suits the situation. This is a much cheaper alternative than provisioning a short code number, which can cost thousands of dollars (and may not even be fully owned by you).
Whether you’re wanting to leverage SMS for marketing, sales or customer support, there are a few basics you should know about using SMS as business communication channel. For example, you need to have a reply strategy – what should happen when customers reply to the texts your business sends? Should you have automation in place, or route to an agent who’s responding via web-chat? There are 10 things every company should know about texting with their customers (see below).
Businesses can take things even further by quickly creating an ITR (interactive text response) system, where customers can text in and engage with an automated flow. This not only saves them time, but it also saves your business money (and it’s not hard or time-consuming to get in place!)
Answer texts from customers on dashboard on your laptop/tablet/phone
Letting customers text your business is a great step forward, but it’s not really feasible to answer all those incoming texts on your personal mobile phone. Do you really want customers texting you or your employees on their personal devices outside of business hours, while you’re on vacation or after a member of your team is no longer at your company? With OneReach’s Action Desk, as well as our integration with Desk.com, businesses of any size can manage inbound and outbound texts. This is a great solution for teams: agents receive a notification when there’s an incoming message, which anyone can pick up. Even better, businesses and agents manage these communications on any device with web access. You and your team will like it better than texting from your phones, and you’ll be able to serve your customers better.
Use that same dashboard to make and receive calls
Over 40% of customer experience professionals say their agents must use multiple applications to manage inquiries across channels. Your email, internet other business tools and customer data are likely on a laptop or desktop – so why is the phone separate?! Your business is smarter, right? By managing voice, text and other channels within one platform, businesses can respond to customer questions more effectively and efficiently, as well as track customer interactions across channels to deliver more targeted, personalized service. Managing calls and texts within the same tool allows agents to maintain context with customers who channel pivot, providing a better, faster customer experience.
You might think it’s too hard or too expensive to revamp your business phone, but the truth is that not doing it is probably costing you more (in losses to customer experience and operational efficiency).
Simply put, taking the little time and dollars it takes you to get your company’s communication channels to the next level will be one of the easiest, most impactful things you’ve ever done for your business.
To learn more about adding text to your business phone, download our “10 Texting Tips” whitepaper here.
This post originally appeared on the OneReach blog and has been republished with permission.