There’s a need for speed when it comes to customer interactions

Customers expect lightning-fast responses to their queries when contacting businesses. If they don’t get that, they’ll take their business elsewhere. And before they do, they’ll also probably vent their frustration on social media. Indeed recent research by Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. finds that 79% of UK consumers will move to a different retailer if they don’t receive a timely response, and 54% would share negative feedback online or on social media.

Essentially, a molehill can soon become a mountain. And in the digital age, an operational issue can quickly become a PR crisis. For small businesses, in particular, it’s essential to keep brand reputation in tact. That means giving the customer the speed of response they want.

Scaling up to meet demand

It’s a general rule of modern telephony that businesses must ensure their telephone systems are flexible and scalable enough to match demand. But in a smaller business, the traditional call centre set up can’t do this. It’s too rigid and structured, which can lead to a potentially negative customer experience due to extended call times.

Naturally in an SME, installing a lot of infrastructure isn’t easy. Which is why so many are looking to the cloud. Indeed, according to the Cloud Information survey (CIF), 2015 75% of UK SMEs have adopted cloud services. Largely because cloud-based telephone solutions allow them to implement a low-cost system that won’t complicate the company’s IT infrastructure ­– linking seamlessly to desktops, mobile devices, Instant Messaging and other apps. And it offers the scalability SMEs need to offer a consistently quick service.

Technology can – and should – improve business communications. For SMBs in particular, modern communications technology can enable you to compete on equal terms with much larger businesses and grow without having to invest heavily in new offices, hires, resources and equipment

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But scalability is only half the challenge. The second piece of the speed puzzle when it comes to telephony is utilising data to streamline the customer experience.

Data driving standards

Cloud systems offer huge amounts of data, as well as easy-to-access and operate web platforms that allow non-expert SMEs owners to analyse information. With this in their armoury they can identify where the customer experience is dragging, peak times that may lead to longer waits and underperforming teams.

All of which helps them to make the right decisions around staffing and resource – ensuring that their customers are getting through to the right people, at the right times, without having to wait too long. As well as adding greater context to the customer database, so marketing can be more targeted and relevant.

As with the new telephony systems themselves, data management is not an infrastructure upgrade. Meaning it’s simple for SMEs to install and use, straight out of the box.

A fast world

The world isn’t slowing down. And in the coming years customers will expect speed and relevancy in their every interaction with a business. To the point that offering rapidity will not even be a huge benefit – instead it’ll be a basic expectation, and the companies who persist with slow, legacy tech that harms the user experience will quickly find their customer base dropping and their competitors growing.

The good news is that avoiding the slide is easy to do. Cloud telephony is ideally suited to SMEs because it’s easy to install and easy to use. It offers them the ability to quickly respond to customer demands and can grow and shrink according to need.

The only speed question left is how quick will SMEs be to adopt it…

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8 June 2017 | Jamie Ward

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.