Are you keeping up with modern business communications? Technology has certainly made it possible to communicate in many different ways, so we’re no longer just left with the option of picking up the old telephone. Yet the majority of consumers still prefer to use the phone to connect with businesses.
In fact, according to BIA Kelsey, the trend of consumers phoning businesses has grown with the increase in use of mobile phones—so much so that BIA Kelsey projects there will be 169 billion annual mobile calls to businesses by 2020. Notably, a Google study also found that 61% of consumers feel the click-to-call option is the most important when purchasing a product online.
With that in mind, how can businesses make the phone experience as pleasant and productive as possible for customers?
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Clearly, the use of the phone to connect with a business is all about the customer experience. And Voice over IP (VoIP) is the answer to a smooth customer experience via the telephone. But VoIP is not a new technology—it’s actually been around for more than two decades, operating via the Internet rather than through traditional phone lines.
Basically, any device connected to the Internet can use VoIP, which means mobile phones are prime candidates, especially considering the number of mobile phone users has now reached five billion (that’s two-thirds of the global population!).
But what makes VoIP so special?
How VoIP Improves the Customer Experience
VoIP supports a seamless customer experience by eliminating frustrating wait times and helping customers find the right people to talk to, which is so important when your first impression might be the last you get . Here are five ways VoIP improves the customer experience.
1. Always Available
With VoIP, customers can reach a business employee or salesperson no matter where that representative is in the world. That means if a staff member is out of the office, their calls will be directed to their mobile device or to another telephone number. Businesses also have the option of ringing multiple phones—from one phone to another in sequence or multiple phones at the same time—until one of them is answered.
So what does this mean for the customer? For starters, a far lower chance of having to leave a voicemail message, something we all despise doing. After all, an employee is bound to pick up on one of the numbers to which the call is forwarded.
Which is good for you because if any question or problem can be dealt with during the first call a customer makes, it is usually a pretty good indication of a good customer experience.
Another benefit of responding quickly for your business is that buyers tend to go with the vendor that responds first. Winning more deals from simply being more available than your competition is an easy win.
2. Voice-to-Email for Improved Response
We probably won’t ever be able to eliminate the need for voicemail entirely. However, VoIP makes it possible to improve response time when a customer does leave one. Unlike traditional phone systems, which require an employee to check their voicemail to get messages, VoIP can covert a voicemail to text and send it via email. And chances are that an email will reach the employee long before a voicemail will, cutting down the length of time a customer has to wait for a response.
3. Direct Numbers to Individual Staff Members
With VoIP, every employee can have their own number and extension, allowing customers to reach them directly. This helps employees strengthen relationships with customers by being the single point of contact for them. In turn, this helps customers avoid the frustration of having to tell their story to someone new every time they call.
Plus, it doesn’t matter where the employee lives or works. Even if the employee calls the customer from their own mobile phone, the number that shows up on the customer’s phone will be the company number. In fact, with VoIP, you can ensure this number appears as a local number for the customer, even when the business or employee is based elsewhere.
What’s more, these direct numbers can be used as emergency lines for after hours phone calls or be given to VIP clients who need that little extra TLC.
This isn’t something that was only made possible by VoIP technology, but it has made it cheaper and more accessible than ever, opening it up as a viable option for more SMBs. Businesses can now access these benefits for about the price of a latte.
4. Auto Attendant and IVR Capability
“Please hold.” Then minutes of silence with generic music playing in the background, followed by an employee bluntly stating they need to transfer the customer to another representative. There’s nothing more frustrating than this experience. But above all, the worst part is that the customer has to repeat their story for each new representative they talk to. This is a complete waste of time for both the customer and the employees.
VoIP offers two solutions to address this problem: Auto Assistant and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). These ensure a customer’s call is answered immediately, even if no one’s available to speak to the customer right away. It’s like having a virtual assistant who can answer the call and follow voice prompts to ensure the first staff member the customer speaks to is the right person. No more playing customer hot potato.
5. Integration with Sales History/Customer Information
It’s not just consumers that benefit from the sought after click-to-call option, there are benefits for your business too. It’s so much easier for your business to offer great customer service when they have all the customer’s information right in front of them at the click of a button.
Fortunately, you can integrate all customers’ sales and account information from CRM, Outlook and Office 365 with your VoIP system. So when a customer calls in, the employee will be able to quickly pull up that customer’s history. This helps them direct the call and eliminate redundant conversations, saving everyone time and frustration.
A Final Word on VoIP
Phones aren’t going away anytime soon, so it only makes sense for a business to offer the very best phone service they possibly can to keep their customers happy. And that’s precisely what VoIP helps you do. Bottom line? Ditch that outdated landline and start using VoIP today.