5 February 2015
How to anticipate your customers’ needs and address any seasonal communication issues before they begin.
Next-generation telephony solutions are taking the industry by storm. But as a telephony supplier are you fully embracing them? We’re in a new world of communications where cloud-based phone systems (hosted) and IP-based telephony (like SIP) are really starting to lead the way. Why?
Well a key reason is that these solutions have been made with today’s flexible working practices in mind. Did you know, for example, that by implementing IP-based telephony your customers have the ability to add or remove capacity easily? An important feature for businesses who see peaks and troughs in their sales, and therefore calls, during the year. Alternatively, by adopting a cloud-based solution your customers can set up call plans so that they never miss another call. Cloud-based solutions offer a range of great features including call twinning, call diverts and hunt groups (to name a few).
As a phone service provider, it now falls on your shoulders to anticipate the needs of your customers and to help them put the best solution in place. If you don’t, your customer loses business and, in all likelihood, so do you.
This communications calendar will help you plan when you should be reaching out to your customers to help them handle their peak time requirements and avoid falling foul of the following statistics:
› 69% of UK residents have acted on their frustrations when dealing with bad customer service
› 46% have demanded to speak with a supervisor
› 34% have cancelled their service or stopped using a provider altogether
While the beginning of the year tends to be a quieter time for many companies, certain sectors – like retail – will see an influx in calls (particularly those who embrace the January sales and Valentine’s Day).
Try to contact the following types of companies during the first quarter of the year:
› Retail and online stores – January discounts will see an increase in sales
› Florists, bakeries, chocolatiers and jewellery shops – Romantic Brits spend £1.5 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts
› Golf courses – Warmer weather (usually end Feb/beginning March) brings out golfers (though keep an eye on this timeframe if milder weather comes around earlier)
“We start preparing for Valentine’s Day as soon as we’re back from the Christmas break. During Valentine’s Week we normally sell 10 times as many flowers as we do in a ‘normal’ week.”
– Heather Gorringe, Founder of Wiggly Wigglers Florists.
Warmer weather can bring some additional business to customers in the second quarter.
› Museums, restaurants and attractions – peak tourism season for the UK starts in June
› Wedding venues, caterers, and florists – 42% of all weddings in the UK happen during the summer months. Businesses that cater for this need to start preparing now
Financial and technology retail customers will see a sales boost in the third quarter of the year:
› Technology retailers are busy as laptop sales rise by over 50% after A-level results have been published
› Universities and colleges – Clearing season runs from July through to the beginning of September, during which time most academic institutions see an influx of phone calls
› Accountants tend to see an increase in business in the run up to the end of the tax return deadline
In the run up to Christmas you’ll again see many businesses in the retail sector see a high increase in the number of calls received. Be sure to get in touch with any customers who fit into the following groups in the last quarter and in preparation for the new year:
› Retail stores and online retailers
› Couriers and delivery companies
› Travel agencies
› Gyms and fitness centres
Now that you know the important times of year that your customers are likely to see an increase in inbound calls you are able to effectively plan in advance of these dates to make sure your customers are fully prepared.
Your customers will already know when their peak times of year are and, on the same note, where their quieter periods fall. It’s therefore important that you tap into their knowledge when discussing their communications options. You’ll then be able to offer them a communications solution that can keep up with the peaks and troughs in demand on their business and that meets their agile requirements. Make sure you consider:
› Offering a solution that gives them the ability to scale their lines up and down to cope with peak times of year quickly and easily
› Assisting with call changes to route overflow calls to other offices – why not set them up with a system where they can amend call plans themselves
› Provide a communications system that allows employees to access their calls from any device, anywhere. This will help ensure they never miss a call when out of the office or working from home.
By providing your customers with the the relevant next-generation solution before their peak seasons occur you can ensure they start the year the way they mean to go on.
5 February 2015 | Justin Coombes
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.