Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Top tier telephony for SMEs without the costs OR the benefits of a call centre for all.

With the advent of the call centre, communications with customers has changed radically. The call centre has become one of the main points of contact between customers and business; This means that the way in which a call centre operates can have a dramatic effect on a customer’s perception of the business in either a positive or a negative way.

The perception of poor customer service delivery can stem from a variety of factors:

  • Having to wait for long periods in call queues before being put through 
  • Over complicated automated interactive voices response mechanisms (IVR’s) 
  • Poor automated systems that do not allow for all the customer information to be provided to the call handler 
Some of these issues are caused partly by the centralised nature of existing call centre equipment. Premises based solutions can be expensive to roll out across a business particularly were multiple sites exist.

Staff recruitment can also become an issue, as companies may not have access to skilled employees within the local area. Staff costs may be driven upwards where there is a skill shortage and competition develops as good staff are sought.

With the development of cloud based computing, businesses can now look at the possibility of recruiting remote workers which in turn means that they are able to recruit the best customer focused staff for their business.

Issues like this make you think, “why would I need to develop a call centre for my business”. However, what if you could access a telephone system that would help you improve your customer service levels, improve efficiency within your business and allow you to recruit the best staff no matter where they live and at the same time not cost you the earth.

Premises Based Telephony vs Hosted Telephony

Hosted telephony is radically altering the way in which companies carryout their normal business. By using the cloud “cloud computing” hosted telephony is set to change the way call centres are set up and operated.

Cloud based technology allows both large and small businesses alike to take full advantage of sophisticated telephony solutions. It allows for:

  • the identification of callers, 
  • to prioritise and route call traffic effectively 
  • and all at a cost that is not going to break the bank. 
Cost savings and flexibility are a major benefit of hosted telephony services over the traditional premises based solution. Hosted telephony solutions do not require the purchase or maintenance of expensive hardware therefore the capital expenditure is kept to a minimum.

There is little or no software integration required so reducing the go-live times to a matter of days. All that is required is an ADSL / SDSL connection, an IP phone and a computer for each member of staff.

A hosted call centre telephone system makes it the ideal solution for a business by taking away the requirement to purchase expensive premises based call centre technology.

Remote Workers 

Customers are now more sophisticated than at any time. The advance of the internet allows them to resolve issues that previously they would have had to ring up about. What this means in general terms is that when they do make ‘the call’ it is going to be more sophisticated and demanding in nature than would have previously been the case.

Business now need to recognise the changes required to deal with this increased customer sophistication and that there may be fewer calls that come in but which potentially will have a greater impact on their business. Staff will need to have a much broader skill set so they can provide relevant information quickly, efficiently and accurately to the customer rather than passing the caller to another member of staff. Hosted telephone services make it possible for businesses to choose employees because of their expertise and skill sets rather than location and to look further afield to recruit that knowledge base.

Hosted telephone platforms now give a business the ability to direct calls to the most relevant staff member regardless of where they are. A call can now be directed to an expert thereby helping the business to generate more sales than may have been previously expected.

This means that by clever routing of inbound calls, the business could employ experts from any geographic location and that by routing the calls to the experts allow the less experienced staff to answer those calls that require a lower product knowledge making the business more efficient at handling the calls and improving the customer experience.

By hosting the call centre at a data centre, the pressure of normal working hours is reduced over that of a traditional call centre where a company would only have its lines open between nine and five.

Having the ability to route calls to designated points of contact (based remotely) in the evenings or at weekends means that a business can ensure that they do not lose potential orders by increasing the efficiency of their call handling. This approach offers increased flexibility to the business allowing them to employ call handlers as home workers, fitting in with employee’s requirements and reducing the demands on office space. This also means that staff feel more empowered. Happy staff are productive staff.

By hosting business telephony it can be seen that the potential benefits to the businesses are:

  • an increase in customer satisfaction, 
  • improved efficiency in call handling, 
  • improved staff moral and an 
  • impact on the bottom line. 
One benefit that may be overlooked is the fact that business continuity can be maintained when a central location loses connection at times of system/network failure.

PRO-iPBX

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