Switching from analog to digital conversations is like stepping from a sleepy country road into the middle of a big city intersection. The hubbub makes it hard to know where to go first and when to turn next. The only way to tame the dissonance is to centralize and control traffic. Imagine how much simpler driving would be if drivers and pedestrians quietly ceded right of way to each other every time.
Like the noisy intersection, today’s plethora of media channels – text, phone, email, chat, social media – needs traffic control. In essence, that’s what unified communications (UC) provides: It enables organizations to close gaps in conversations as they leap from device to device and channel to channel.
For example, maybe a support conversation begins in a chat box but moves to voice when the customer expresses concern. “I’d be happy to talk over the phone,” says the contact center agent. “Here’s how you can reach me.” The customer doesn’t have to end one mode and start all over. UC makes the switch without losing the thread of the conversation.
Unified communications closes the gaps
Here are five ways unified communications closes the gaps in conversations, empowers employees to work more efficiently and productively and raises the bar for customer service.
Red Funnel Ferries, which runs a boat service between Southampton, England, and the Isle of Wight, knows that responding to travelers is second only to being on time. Agents monitor multiple channels and begin conversations no matter where the information originates. For example, if a frustrated traveler tweets about a delay, the contact center team can catch the message and immediately provide updated service status reports.
Employees also need to communicate via diverse modalities. On the road, moving between offices or working remotely, businesspeople need the flexibility to shift channels while maintaining the same quality of communications they get from a desktop.
As more businesses adopt chat boxes, more customers are embracing them. Why hang on the phone listening to canned music when you can communicate immediately with an agent? Consumers report that the top three reasons they like chat are: their questions are answered immediately (79 percent), they can multitask while in a chat session (51 percent) and they feel it’s the most efficient communication channel (46 percent).
Employees are also able to multitask. Agents can manage several chat conversations, a voice call and email at the same time. The end result is better productivity and shorter wait times for customers.
For too long, self-service has been stuck in the busy intersection. But no more. Unified communications helps consumers locate what they need with greater efficiency and speed. It provides intelligent, integrated and automated self-service options that are available 24/7.
And if the customer still has questions, UC guides them to the right expert. With data-driven, skills-based routing, incoming customer calls, emails, chats, SMS texts and social media messages are routed to the agent best-suited to answer particular questions. Agents can also immediately collaborate with internal experts, resolving issues on the first call instead of requiring endless transfers and callbacks. If no agents are available, calls are queued, customers are given alternative options and then they’re sent to the best-skilled agent as soon as one becomes available. The result is a happier customer and more efficient use of employees’ time.
It should be simple, but it’s not. Different parts of the organization use different software. Employees work from their own devices. Everyone thinks they have the newest and best collaboration solution. It can get messy—and very inefficient.
Using cloud-based communications, UC provides a shared workspace that’s easily accessible from any device. Through a central online portal, staff can access the team’s calendar, share and store documents, manage projects, message each other and conduct audio or video conference calls. They take advantage of one platform, one application and one place to communicate over multiple channels.
Ever try to contact a colleague in an emergency, then have to wait for a callback or email? With presence technology, employees can indicate to colleagues where they are and how they can best be reached so collaboration is more efficient and less frustrating.
How do you reach a lot of people simultaneously, no matter their device or location? Some employees are at their desks, some on their mobiles. Some can take a call, and others can only communicate via text. Through mass notification, UC enables companies to quickly and easily communicate via voice, email, desktop computer, landline and mobile phone. In a crisis, staff can immediately triage using instant live conference calls.
But mass notification isn’t just for emergencies. For instance, organizations use it to remind employees to sign up for health plans. Medical offices use it for appointment reminders. Businesses use it to send billing notices or update the status of orders. Messages are delivered quickly, and users can acknowledge receipt.
By providing a single communications portal that is accessible via any device and modality, UC closes the gaps in conversations and makes businesses run more efficiently.