As time has passed, business communications have become much more simplified. Voice and video conferencing have recently developed to the point where separate applications aren’t even required, allowing users to communicate instantly right through their browser.
Web Real-Time Communication, or WebRTC, is a potentially revolutionary online communication technology. As its name implies, it is intended to allow people to communicate instantly through a web browser rather than requiring the installation of extensions, plugins, or outside applications. Because of this, WebRTC could make business communications much more efficient for those with certain device or browser limitations. There are a number of benefits that WebRTC offers for businesses.
Increased Focus on the User
What might be the biggest benefit of WebRTC is its user-friendliness. WebRTC eliminates the limitations of applications, plugins, and extensions, and gives users the ability to communicate with each other more easily and universally, with a single solution that offers voice, video and chat capabilities.
Improved Customer Interaction
Another advantage of WebRTC is its ability to enhance customer engagement. Customers don’t have to download other programs or pay for communication services when they can simply use whatever browser they want to contact a tech support employee or other staff. Instant messaging, voice calls, and video calls are all located in a central hub.
Screen sharing is another capability that makes customer service even easier, as customers can share what they’re seeing and vice versa. Adding this technology to an online store can also be extremely helpful when customers want additional information about a product or service, enabling them to communicate with staff on the same platform as the store itself.
“Contact me” buttons and other types of calls to action can connect WebRTC with many different aspects of communication. Businesses can successfully implement it on nearly every facet of their company’s online presence, putting them in even closer contact with consumers.
Lowered Costs and Saved Time
The ability to place all methods of online communication on a single platform means that paying for multiple programs is no longer necessary. Companies only have to pay for a single solution, and it can also be a core part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) application. Ultimately, businesses will save time and money when their communication methods are located in one place.
More Opportunities for the Telecom Industry
WebRTC can also be a huge asset for the telecom industry. Telecom companies can develop a new business model to replace models for other, more traditional telecommunications applications, thus helping them transition into the new era of cloud technology.
WebRTC is beneficial in these and other ways as it continues to develop, making business communications more efficient and less expensive.
Thanks to technology, land lines have disappeared across much of America. This trend began in the residential space and was quickly followed by businesses abandoning their traditional telephone services. Voice over IP (VoIP) has swooped in as their state-of-the-art replacement, boasting customer relationship management (CRM) integration tools, automated routing, call handling, and sophisticated reporting and monitoring functions. Phone systems have come a long way, and they now serve many more purposes than just making calls. Before making the decision to abandon the company phone system, consider the following points.
Phone Systems and Customer Service
Thanks to the Internet, collaboration tools have never been more plentiful. Free conference calling, webinars, video chat, IM, and other online communications tools make the world a much smaller place and allow geographically dispersed teams to communicate as if they are only cubicles away.
Since there are so many available software options for communication, it’s easy to see how compatibility problems can arise. Utilizing different pieces of software may work for staff members, but that won’t always be the case when working with clients. Even for tech-savvy customers, it always seems like a plugin, system update, or forgotten password is in the way of getting urgent help. Less technically inclined customers may become so frustrated that they take their business elsewhere. In contrast, using a VoIP phone system is an easy way to support customers and provide them with the excellent service they demand.
The Benefits of an Inbound Phone Line
A business may not need to make outbound phone calls, but providing an inbound phone line can be useful in several ways.
- Customer service is enhanced by providing voice-to-voice contact (which is a luxury today).
- Listing a personal cell phone number to handle business calls is not always desirable.
- Having a professional business phone line generates trust and provides accessibility to quality customer service, which can be a differentiator in a congested marketplace.
Phone System ROI
One of the chief complaints about phone systems is the significant expense to acquire, maintain, and add to them. Fortunately, VoIP has made calling very inexpensive (down to a few pennies per minute), and plans can be tailored to a business’s expected volume. Whether personnel need to make one or one hundred calls per day, there is a plan on the market to fit that requirement. Many phone system plans also allow intracompany calling for free using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking.
For a reasonable cost, a company can have a sophisticated phone system with many valuable problem-solving features. Even better, hosted systems may perform all functions through software, with no expensive phone equipment needed. With increased customer loyalty and company growth, the ROI could be exponential.
Forgoing a phone system may save money in the short term, but ultimately it can be an expensive decision. VoIP systems are a great way to provide the communications staple needed for customer convenience while keeping the bill and equipment affordable. Before walking away from a potentially effective solution, research the available plans. The affordability and flexibility of today’s options make them well worth consideration.
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.
IT personnel are an integral part of businesses and are instrumental in making sure processes run smoothly by monitoring and ensuring the health of the company’s networks and applications. Until recently, IT professionals primarily performed an internal role, providing services to employees but having little to do with external, customer-facing assignments.
However, that dynamic is changing. As network functions become more integrated with customer-service functions, companies must ensure their IT teams are ready and able to provide customer-facing IT functions. Attracting and retaining IT personnel who can deliver both the critical internal IT service and the customer-facing services necessary in today’s environment can offer a competitive advantage.
Break Away From the Typical IT Mold
When looking for IT personnel who will work well in customer-facing processes, consider candidates who deviate from the typical IT stereotype. IT personnel tend to be introverted and more comfortable working with code than with people.
When identifying internal or external candidates for customer-focused IT roles, seek a different personality type than the typical IT employee. Consider candidates with different skills and personalities that can expand the IT team’s capabilities. Outgoing, passionate, socially focused people will typically function better in customer-centric roles than quiet, shy individuals.
To identify and attract such candidates, examine hiring processes and develop a strategy for meeting the company’s core customer-service requirements. It’s important to show candidates how their contributions will be valued and offer flexibility and opportunities to grow and advance.
Offer Customer-Focused Opportunities
Many IT departments have adopted systems that streamline interactions with the IT department but also tend to eliminate interpersonal interactions that are critical in customer-focused processes.
In order to regain customer-facing skills, companies can offer opportunities for internal IT employees to interact with customers. This might mean visiting customer operations or shadowing customer-facing employees. In addition to sharpening customer-service skills, such opportunities can help IT staff better understand customer needs, requirements, and the relation to the company’s IT systems.
Address Company Culture
While attracting and training customer-focused employees is important, making sure the company’s culture and reputation reflects strong customer-centric values is also critical. Potential candidates are likely to be attracted to companies that are stable, innovative, and willing to take risks. Clearly demonstrating how employee contributions affect customers can motivate candidates to become a part of the team.
Customer-service values should not just be presented to outside candidates but be embraced by internal IT teams, contractors, and business partners. Emphasize the value of both the internal and external customer as well as the critical role the IT team plays in both areas.
Finding, hiring, training, and retaining IT personnel capable of providing traditional internal IT services and customer-facing interactions is a likely key to success. For a successful and long-term fit, companies must not only find the right candidate for the job, but also demonstrate why they should want to be part of the company.