We all know Darwin's Theory of Evolution; species must adapt to their environment in order to survive. The same is true in business, and the pandemic has been a hard lesson for many companies as they battle to stay afloat. The "fittest" have embraced (and even accelerated) digital transformation, finding new and meaningful ways to engage customers remotely.

This new normal shows no signs of waning. Even when social distancing restrictions relax, customers have grown accustomed to digital interactions. And for good reason: they're faster and more convenient. But people still want to feel connected, perhaps even more so than before.

So how can companies strengthen their tie with customers and create a personal experience in a predominantly digital world? Unified communications technology makes it possible. Here are three specific ways to leverage digital communications tools to solidify customer relationships—and your survival.

1. Know your customer

We're all in need of a little extra TLC these days, and companies that can find a way to show they care are rising to the top. What better way to do that than to demonstrate how well you know your customers? CRM integration with your communications system gives staff real-time access to information that can be used to create a memorable experience.

As soon as a customer contacts your business, agents can see detailed customer data, ranging from past order history and previous communications. Agents can immediately jump into action, providing updates on recent orders and answering questions the customer may have before they even ask them.

Maybe there's a note on the account about an issue the customer recently had. How special will they feel if you ask them if it's been fully resolved to their satisfaction? Or perhaps a promotion is running on a product or service a customer has shown interest in based on past order history. You can make sure they don't miss out on savings. Small touches like these add up quickly when it comes to making an impact and building customer loyalty. Many companies have this type of data available, but agents need easy access to it precisely at the moment the customer interaction begins.

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2. Make it omnichannel

Customers have been interacting with businesses across multiple digital channels for years now, but the pandemic has forced even the most tech-resistant customers to become more digitally savvy. More than 80 percent of consumers are more likely to use digital wallets or cards in the future, and the use of chat and social media has seen a threefold increase.

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Today, customers expect to be able to communicate with businesses via multiple social media channels, web chat, SMS messages, email and messaging apps. But it's not enough to offer multiple means of communications. They all need to play nice together, allowing customers to seamlessly move from one channel to another. The digital customer simply expects to be able to start a conversation with a chatbot and move to a live agent via chat or phone (depending on their preference) without having to repeat any of the information they already shared.

Smart bots powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) make this possible by routing customers to an agent with the right level of expertise and providing them with a full history of the interaction. AI bots can also monitor communications between agents and customers (even if the conversation moves between channels) and provide guidance and training for the agent in real time.

Companies that move beyond multichannel and truly embrace omnichannel will earn the attention (and repeat business) of digital consumers.

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3. Personalize it

Customers may be looking for ways to avoid physical interaction with your staff, but they're craving personalization more than ever. They want to know you understand their needs and desires, that you value their time and business and that you truly care about giving them what they need. When agents have access to a full customer history, they can personalize the interaction and make customers feel appreciated and valued.

AI technology takes personalization to a new level, with virtual agents monitoring conversations and providing human agents with relevant information to resolve issues and answer questions more quickly. Integration with other internal systems such as supply chain and logistics platforms empower agents to answer just about any question a customer may have.

Imagine how pleased a customer would be if they were calling about a delayed shipment and an agent provides detailed status information as soon as they're connected. When customers receive individualized attention and get answers to all of their questions, they get a sense of control in a time of constant change and uncertainty.

Meet AI: Your New Virtual Contact Center Assistant >

Powerful unified communications technology arms your business with the right tools to outperform the competition and adapt to changing customer expectations. How will you evolve?

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