The Internet of Things (IoT) is populated by countless new smart devices that might not have been thought of years ago — smart watches, health monitors, and even washing machines, all connected to the Internet. These devices equip customers with exciting new features while providing businesses with new ways to collect intelligence on how their products are actually being used. The IoT is a concept that will revolutionize contact centers in several ways.
Let’s imagine an organization that makes smart cars. The automobile can collect data such as average speed while driving, required maintenance, and services that are not being used, automatically providing a car dealership with valuable intelligence when a vehicle is brought in for a trade-in or even regular service. Such constant communication gives manufacturers a better understanding of how their products are used so that future sales collateral can focus on known customer preferences. This type of intelligence helps close sales and resolve customer complaints in a way that wasn’t possible before the IoT.
Self-Service Is King
Sometimes technology seems to malfunction. For many years, frustrated customers had to call a company only to have a customer service representative ask seemingly silly questions such as “Is the device plugged in?” Now, an IoT connected device can download system updates, apply fixes, and even report directly to the representative when a call is made, allowing customer service to focus on what is actually wrong with the device.
Calls can be intelligently routed to agents that are subject matter experts in specific aspects of a product. For example, a smart watch manufacturer might have specialists with extensive knowledge of mechanical parts as well as specialists who are experts on the operating system running the smart watch. Call center agents no longer need to develop mastery of every product offered by the organization or even comprehensive knowledge of a single device.
Proactive Customer Service
Since smart devices can “phone home,” it can be clear to a company when a device is experiencing technical issues or simply isn’t being used at all even before a customer calls to complain or attempts to return a product.
Instead, customer service can call the customer preemptively with a full understanding of what is wrong with the product or the knowledge that the customer doesn’t appear satisfied. From there, a conversation can ensue to create a positive customer experience, potentially even creating a brand advocate from a scenario that was simply unheard of prior to the IoT.
The IoT creates a revolutionary channel for customer service that wasn’t possible before. As the technology continues to evolve, even more methods to improve the customer experience will emerge.
Every growing enterprise faces choices about the best telephony solution to meet its needs. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking or a hosted private branch exchange (PBX) are both viable solutions, but a business must determine which is more suited to its particular requirements.
Exploring the Similarities and Differences Between SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX
At first glance, SIP trunking and hosted PBX seem very similar. Both are IP-based systems and offer the same basic services such as:
• streaming audio and video;
• VoIP telephone connections to include local, long distance, and toll-free lines;
• support of both mobile and fixed phone systems; and
• support of data transmission for email, fax, text messages, and Internet access.
However, one of the primary differences between the two is that a SIP trunking system requires fixed assets and support, whereas hosted PBX does not.
Hosted PBX is generally a service provided by a vendor that requires neither an investment in equipment nor staff to oversee the system. This is a lower cost solution, but it is completely dependent on a third party for the operation of a vital business asset.
A SIP trunking solution requires an initial investment in expensive equipment and infrastructure as well as the ongoing cost of maintenance and service professionals. But despite these costs, this investment can lead to long-term flexibility and room for growth.
Smaller businesses will often benefit more from hosted PBX. Essentially an all-in-one telecommunications provider, the hosted PBX vendor delivers a hands-free telephone system that meets a small business’s needs without the cost of equipment and dedicated staff. Additionally, because hosted PBX is cloud-based, a small business has the option to switch providers without any significant interruption of service.
But as a business grows, it often needs much greater use of bandwidth and therefore requires more resources. A hosted PBX service can be expanded to compensate for the greater needs of a larger business, but this is usually accomplished at a higher cost. Eventually, there comes a point in a business’s growth when it becomes more efficient to opt for a SIP trunking solution.
A larger business with a SIP Trunking solution is able to manage its critical telecommunications system in-house and does not have to rely on an external supplier. This affords the business a level of self-reliance and allows for more overall bandwidth as well as room for growth.
Ultimately, it seems that both SIP trunking and hosted PBX systems have a future in enterprise telephony. Both systems are well suited to a particular clientele and have enough overlap in customer base to allow for healthy competition. Choosing between SIP trunking or hosted PBX is a matter of analyzing a business’s current and long-term needs.