Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions can do much more than organize contacts and act as a digital rolodex. With the right features, CRM software can also help you boost sales by keeping an eye on customers, from nurturing leads to closing the sale and maintaining customer loyalty. It can also save you tons of time and money through sales force automation.
Here are 12 features to look for in CRM software.
1. Workflow automation
CRM software can make your life easier by automating your workflow. Look for software that lets you set up custom rules and comes with sales force automation to help you and your team be more productive.
By using rules, you can set your CRM software to automatically perform a specific action based on triggers or events, such as these:
When a potential customer fills out a contact form on your website, the CRM software automatically directs the message to the right sales representative or department.
When a sales representative receives a message, the CRM software automatically sends a preset response to acknowledge the message.
If a lead, prospect, or opportunity doesn’t respond to your message or proposal, the CRM software automatically sends a follow-up message after a preset amount of time, such as 48 hours or two business days.
When a sales representative makes calls or sends messages to a contact, the CRM software automatically logs hours and keeps track of all communications.
As sales representatives complete tasks, the CRM software automatically reports them to supervisors and upper management for performance reports.
Workflow automation features can also take the time and legwork out of tedious sales tasks, such as order processing, order tracking and inventory control.
No two businesses are the same, so the best CRM software can cater to your business’s unique needs. Some CRM solutions let you choose which features to include in your package, and some also allow you to customize basic areas, such as with the abilities to add contact fields, choose which data to show on your dashboard and create custom reports. You can also customize with extensions, plugins and other add-ons to expand your software’s capabilities.
If you need even more customization to truly tailor the software to your business, many CRM software providers offer more advanced options using APIs. This gives developers access to all technical specs and coding for full customization of your software. The API also allows you to integrate the software with existing business solutions your company uses to streamline processes.
3. Third-party integration
Connecting your CRM software to other solutions you already use can save you tons of time and money. Most CRM programs offer third-party software integrations; the key is choosing one that’s compatible with the software you use and easy to implement. For instance, popular CRM software Salesforce has its own marketplace called AppExchange, where users can easily connect Salesforce to solutions such as QuickBooks accounting software, Mailchimp email marketing software and DocuSign electronic signatures.
Here are a few things you can do with the right third-party integrations to make your life easier:
Run CRM software straight from Outlook, Gmail or other email clients so you don’t have to keep switching between apps.
Automatically sync sales and order information with your POS system and accounting software to eliminate manual data entry.
Automatically build email lists and launch email marketing campaigns from either your email marketing software or CRM software so you don’t have to open both.
Back up and sync data with Dropbox, Box.com and other popular cloud backup storage services.
Depending on your software, some integrations may require IT administration.
4. Customer service
CRM software can help you acquire and retain customers by providing excellent customer service. Look for the following capabilities that will allow your sales reps and customer support team to perform their best:
Gives you a 360-degree comprehensive view of customers that shows everything there is to know about a customer from the first point of contact
Automatically tracks all points of communications, from lead acquisition to closed sales and sales histories
Logs all incidents, website visits, purchase histories, and other activities for future reference and to keep all reps on the same page
Uses customers’ first names to personalize all correspondence
Has unique reference numbers for each account, customer and help issue
Automatically sends customers acknowledgments of their inquiries and messages so they don’t feel ignored
Supports premade email templates and call scripts that answer the most common questions
5. Employee tracking
CRM software is a great way to track employee activity and performance. Choose software that gives employees their own accounts where they can individually track their hours, tasks, meetings, sales numbers, goals and other items. The software should also give supervisors and upper management access to dashboards that let them view individual employee goals, completed tasks and other metrics of productivity. This can help managers write employee performance reviews, create incentives, reward strong employees, and identify those who are struggling and address areas of improvement.
6. Social media
A CRM with built-in social media monitoring features can save your marketing team time, because they won’t have to switch platforms to perform the essential task of monitoring your company’s social media.
Salesforce, for example, has tools for you to perform these social media tasks:
Get in tune with what people are saying about your brand through social listening.
Gain insight into the numbers of social media actions your brand gets, such as comments, shares and mentions.
Check every social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to customize your social media strategy accordingly.
Get insight into who your customers are.
Identify and leverage https://www.businessnewsdaily.com.
Manage the day-to-day tasks of posting to your social media accounts.
7. Lead management
A lead management feature will help you to identify your leads and the actions they’ve taken along the sales cycle. Through the lead management process, you’ll be able to score your leads and, if needed, filter them off to a different member of your team to turn select leads into customers.
Sometimes dead leads sit in a CRM for weeks or months. A smart sales manager stays on top of leads and redistributes quiet or seemingly dead leads to different members of their team for reengagement.
8. Real-time data
Starting in 2017, real-time data became the main driver for CRM systems, according to CMSWire. As noted in the article, CRMs can pull real-time data from devices, applications and even appliances.
These are just a few of the benefits of pulling real-time data:
It helps you make better-informed marketing decisions about bidding price and placement of online advertising.
You get an instant snapshot of market demand, so you can update your marketing plan accordingly to yield better results.
You can identify which of your products and services generate the most revenue, and which generate the least and may need a boost in exposure.
9. CRM analytics
CRM analytics, also known as customer analytics, offer insight into customer data. This data is important because it can help you make better decisions about the types of products, services, marketing and overall communications you distribute to your customers.
Look for these specific analytics in a CRM:
Customer segmentation that is simple to read and understand
Clear profit and loss data to help you determine your ROI
Informative web analytics that illustrate customer website use and behaviors
Reporting is the feature that brings the results of your sales and marketing efforts all together, and it comes standard with all the CRMs we’ve researched. The more of these report types you can access, the better:
The number of leads that come in during a certain amount of time
The number of sales generated during a certain amount of time
Which of your sales agents closed which leads and how many they closed in a certain amount of time
The number of outbound calls being made
The effectiveness of your emails
The stage at which your leads converted, helping you identify opportunities to close leads in a shorter time
11. Sales forecasting
A CRM with this feature predicts your future sales based on data from your current pipeline. You may need to alter your marketing plan based on the sales forecast. For example, if you thought your toy store was going to sell a lot of girls’ dolls during Christmas but learned through sales forecasting that building blocks are more popular, you can cater your campaigns accordingly. Sales forecasting can also anticipate market changes to mitigate your business risks.
Tracking emails through a traditional inbox can get overwhelming and confusing. Lifewire noted that, as of 2015, the average office worker received 121 emails. It’s important for every single sales email to be received and addressed in a timely fashion to increase the probability of generating revenue.
An email feature in a CRM helps keep your sales reps organized and productive. They can integrate their calendars to schedule appointments and engage prospects and customers accordingly. Another great email feature is the ability to automatically pull in email templates so reps spend less time crafting email content. You can use this feature to create several email templates, such as these:
Basic information about the company, segmented by industry
Follow-up after a phone call
Follow-up after one email has been sent
Follow-up to a proposal that reps are waiting on customers to return
CRM software can be a useful tool for businesses of all sizes, but it’s important to select a truly effective platform that can scale with your needs. We at Jamisi Communications can provide these solutions to your business.
Contact us today!
Many studies have emphasized the importance of body language in meetings. For example, slouching in your chair can be seen as unenergetic and lethargic, and not making eye contact shows lack of confidence. While subtle, these differences in your positioning can have huge impacts on the productivity and success of your meetings.
However, many of these studies used in-person meetings as reference points. With the rise of flexible work and distributed teams, meetings are increasingly moving online. The question becomes: does body language still apply when you’re in a video meeting?
The answer is: yes. While traditional face-to-face meetings have a lot in common with video conferences, there are certain aspects of your body language that you may want to think about and modify when you’re facing a screen.
Here are some body language tips you should keep in mind to help ace your next video call.
1. Wear clothes you would wear to an in-person meeting
You don’t need to wear a ball gown or a three-piece suit for your next video call. But if you typically feel a little anxious or awkward in video meetings, taking the time to look and feel your best can definitely boost your confidence and help you make a positive impression on your attendees.
In fact, many studies have found a connection between how we look and how we’re perceived. This is a cognitive bias known as the “halo effect,” which suggests that people who look good tend to also be perceived as having other positive qualities. Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage!
2. Sit back from the camera so colleagues can see your gestures
Hand gestures can help you boost your charisma while you’re on a call. For example, you can wave hello to welcome your meeting attendees to the call, use explanatory gestures while you’re speaking to clarify your talking points, or simply rest them in your lap to show your colleagues that you’re actively listening (and not scrolling Twitter).
If you’re sitting too close to the screen, your attendees will miss out on these important nonverbal cues. When you sit down for your next call, remember to push back your computer or phone or camera so your hands and upper torso are showing.
3. Make eye contact by looking into the camera
One of the biggest mistakes people make on video calls is that they look at themselves and not at the dot (aka your camera). While it can be a little tricky over video, looking directly into your camera will give the impression you are making eye contact with the people you are meeting. This can help build trust and rapport with your meeting attendees, which, in turn, can help strengthen your relationships with them.
Speaking to your camera instead of the faces on your screen can definitely take some getting used to, so take a few minutes to practice before your next call. You could even record yourself so you can see the difference between looking at your screen and looking at your camera. This can also be a good time to check your room’s lighting and the angle of your camera to ensure you’re well lit and centered.
4. Show engagement by refraining from looking down
While most of us wouldn’t look at our phones or openly check our email during an in-person work meeting, it’s a little easier to succumb to these distractions when you’re working remotely. However, just because your phone may not be in full view of your attendees, doesn’t mean they won’t see when you look down to check it.
The best way to show you’re listening is to remain focused on the discussion or presentation. Try not to look around the room too much and use nonverbal signals like nodding or smiling to show the speaker that you’re interested and engaged in what they’re saying.
5. Sit straight to project energy
It can be tempting to take a call from the couch when you’re working from home, but it can make you appear uninterested and a little lazy on a video call. On the other hand, good posture signals to your meeting attendees that you’re energized and ready to be an active participant.
During a video conference, remember to sit up straight, put both feet on the floor, and then take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth to relax your neck and throat. You’ll also want to lean forward slightly to the camera to show that you’re fully present.
Similar to your physical appearance, your posture can shape the way you feel and how you think about yourself. In other words, when you sit up straight, it doesn’t just make you look more engaged—it’s also a physical reminder to your brain that it’s time to listen and participate.
6. Calm your nerves by avoiding face-touching
Research by the University of Cambridge found that nervous people tend to comfort themselves by engaging in face-touching behaviors like smoothing their eyebrows, tugging at their earlobes, itching their nose, or chewing on their lower lip.
Therefore, if you want to convey to your fellow meeting attendees that you’re calm, cool, and collected, try to avoid touching your face. If you need help breaking the habit, you can keep your hands occupied with a stress ball or other object. You can also try practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises before a call to calm your nerves.
7. Use hand gestures to show warmth and agreement
Want to present like a pro? Use your hands. A recent analysis of the most popular TED talks found that viral speakers used an average of around 465 hand gestures—nearly twice as many as the least popular TED speakers.
Studies have also shown that people who use their hands are even seen as more warm, agreeable, and energetic compared to those who remain still or have robotic hand gestures. If you’re not used to talking with your hands, you can start with basic listing gestures (like counting on your hands) or a pinching gesture to indicate something small.
Set yourself up for video call success
You don’t need to be a professional actor or speaker to get comfortable on camera. All you need to do to put your best “foot” forward’ is to be a little more aware of your posture, facial expressions, and general mannerisms. And don’t forget to smile.
Cloud contact centers are the future of customer service success and the only way to create the ultimate customer experience.
Today, businesses have to meet ever-changing and constantly growing customer demands. Even more than good products or services, customers want quick, intuitive, and personalized experiences. To keep up with these requirements, businesses have to utilize cloud solutions for their contact center software.
Cloud contact center software is the only tool that allows contact centers to pivot and adapt their strategies to meet shifting customer satisfaction needs. The scalability and opportunity provided by cloud-based contact center software supports and empowers remote work capabilities, offering access to cost savings and increased growth. Additional features, such as data analytics and artificial intelligence, can further benefit both companies and their contact centers.
Before you can enjoy everything the cloud can offer your contact center, of course, you first have to know what you need to make the switch.
Building your remote-managed, cloud-based contact center
As with any decision regarding your customer service tools, you first need to ask the important question: “What hardware and software is required to remote manage a cloud-based contact center?”
For both inbound and outbound contact centers, your agents rely on the resources you provide for the work they do. The business systems you choose will determine the level of satisfaction you can achieve and the effectiveness of your customer journey management. You depend on your contact center agents for customer relationship management, so do your best to equip them for success.
What hardware does your contact center need?
All types of call centers — including virtual call centers, on-premises call centers, and inbound and outbound call centers — and contact centers use a basic set of tools. Though a cloud platform requires a significantly less amount of hardware than an on-premise solution, you still need some equipment for your remote contact center infrastructure.
Phones or Softphones
For all contact centers, and call centers in particular, handling customer interactions over the phone is a must. When connecting with customers over the phone, even if you use cloud call center software systems, your agents need a phone to make and receive reliable phone calls.
Physical phones, such as those used with traditional IP PBX phone systems, may work for some solutions, but softphones are usually the best option for a cloud call center or contact center, especially if you want to give agents the flexibility to work from home. These phones connect seamlessly with your software, ensuring high call quality and reliable connections for every interaction. We recommend giving agents additional training with these phones to guarantee proficiency, but their ease-of-use creates an easy transition.
In our digital age, every call center agent needs a computer or internet-connected device. When running a remote contact center, however, this tool is even more important. Your agents need the ability to take and make phone calls through their laptops, computer or mobile device.
A company-issued computer, phone, or tablet offers access to your contact center software and tools, keeping agents connected from anywhere.
Your devices also allow employees to connect and collaborate without needing to meet face-to-face. They can connect over video, live chat, and email to accomplish tasks efficiently, even across time zones.
When your entire contact center runs on the cloud, your contact center agents need the ability to connect to your tools and data from anywhere. When hiring or transitioning agents to work from home, check their home internet connection and speed. You won’t be able to improve customer engagement if their interactions are spotty or slowed by a poor internet connection. Instead, check and upgrade internet support as needed to maintain quality service.
Headsets are vital for agent comfort and efficiency. If your remote workers are making phone calls, provide functional microphone-enabled headsets to use for these interactions. The headsets you choose may vary depending on the devices your agent uses, so pay attention to the compatibility requirements. It’s also a good idea to have agents check the headsets before their first shift to avoid problems during customer interactions.
In the first week of March, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon began encouraging employees to work from home for their own health and safety
As far as big tech is concerned, business operations haven’t really changed much. In fact, companies like Apple and Microsoft continue to hire throughout the pandemic.
Most organizations in the country, however, don’t share the same luck. A survey found that only 12% of organizations were ready to manage disruptions caused by COVID-19. Many simply didn’t have the infrastructure, training, or experience to support prolonged remote work, resorting to panic buying and implementing technologies left and right with unprecedented urgency. Businesses simply weren’t prepared for a crisis like this, and they’re paying the price.
As the initial shock wears off and businesses stabilize, leaders have started to re-evaluate their remote work and business continuity plans to avoid future periods of disruption. A survey by PwC found that finance leaders are planning to pivot toward measures that improve business resilience and agility, with 68% of respondents putting work flexibility as their number one priority.
Remote work drives business operations through tough times
Remote work growth increased 159% between 2005 and 2017, with a 78% increase in job listings posted on LinkedIn within two years that offered flexible work perks. The reality on the ground was much different, however. Only 7% of workers had the luxury of regularly working from home, and 94% wanted more flexible work options.
When COVID-19 struck, however, remote work transformed from an employee privilege to business necessity overnight. Employees everywhere suddenly had their traditional in-office work schedules turned upside down.
To many experts’ surprise, the shift to remote work has actually exceeded expectations. Organizations have been able to continue business operations despite being distributed. According to a Deloitte survey, 75% of CFOs say their companies are operating at 80% capacity or higher. While it’s no stretch that businesses are struggling during the crisis, findings show that the mass remote work situation isn’t as bad as leaders anticipated. In fact, leaders are now the true value of remote work, going so far as to announce permanent work from anywhere flexibility.
From the employee perspective, working from home isn’t so bad either. A CNBC survey found that 38% of employees are happier with their jobs now than they were in previous months. Employees with flexible work schedules show less stress and burnout while being happier, more engaged, and more productive. Organizations with highly-engaged employees have 59% less turnover and achieve 21% greater profitability than their competitors.
The intersection between remote work and business continuity
As shelter-at-home restrictions ease across the world, the return to work won’t be sudden. Organizations will have to enact safety measures to prioritize employee health or have employees continue working from home. In many cases, the latter might be a better option. Cubicles and open offices cram as many employees into small spaces as possible, and it’s simply not feasible with the virus still floating around.
Business leaders have realized that, in order to continue operations, remote work is essential to their business continuity plans. A survey on 317 CFOs revealed that 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post-COVID-19, with nearly a quarter planning to move 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.
The shelter-at-home orders gave managers and executives a first-hand look at the advantages of remote work. Seeing operations continue and employees productive, leaders became much more receptive to work flexibility. In fact, forward-thinking organizations such as Facebook and Twitter announced that employees can work from home until the end of 2020—a monumental step toward the future of work.
Unified communications are vital to the future of employee collaboration
As companies geared up for remote work, demand for cloud communications tools reached a critical mass. Business app downloads increased by 90% in March compared to the previous year, with video conferencing and team messaging tools taking the spotlight. Organizations realized that these tools are essential for employees to effectively collaborate with their teams from home.
The issue, however, is that most organizations were forced to cobble together temporary technology solutions that aren’t optimized to work synergistically or match with long-term IT goals. These disparate solutions might have been solid short-term Band-Aids to survive the pandemic, but don’t make sound solutions down the road.
One of the biggest concerns is the overabundance of technology. Having an app for each mode of communication—team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone—means employees need to manage several different apps at the same time. Studies show that 68% of employees toggle between 10 apps in a single hour, with some even juggling up to 15. Workplace technologies are ripping employees’ attention spans apart, leading to lower productivity, fatigue, and stress.
At the same time, disparate apps can cause major long-term headaches for IT teams. Organizational needs are constantly changing, and scaling several solutions to match one another can be a technical nightmare. IT teams would also have to work with several service providers whose products might not cooperate.
That’s where unified communications come in. Unified communications solutions allow employees to effortlessly switch between team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone with a single click—never having to leave the app. With everything under one roof, IT teams can easily manage compatibility, scalability, and support issues with a single provider.
Businesses with unified communications thrive in the future of work
As organizations look toward recovery and continuity plans, a major priority for leaders is to ensure the continued productivity of their remote workforce. COVID-19 proved that employees can deliver results and drive positive business outcomes even amidst a national health crisis and enforced office shutdowns. Returning to normal will require workers to stay remote and productive, and organizations must do what they can to support them.
When times change, you adapt or die.
If you’re a business owner or contact center manager, digital technology and a renewed focus on serving the shopper has resulted in an increased emphasis on customer experience, or CX.
64% of consumers expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real time
1 in 4 associates feel unprepared to connect with shoppers
Since late February, some companies have seen a 14% spike in their average weekly customer service ticket volume, compared to the same period last year
With “longer-than-average hold times” the new watchword, businesses must find creative ways to meet customer demand.
The reasoning behind this is simple: The longer consumers wait to reach a customer support agent—and more than 50% of customers won’t do business with a company after a bad experience—the more likely they will leave you for one of your competitors.
So, how do you deliver the service your customers expect—if you have to rely on customer-service agents working from home?
In this post, I share solutions that are helping retailers navigate the current economic uncertainty.
Adapting to a changing marketplace: why retailers must prepare
With more and more people turning to online shopping, the question is: How will retailers handle the corresponding rise in the number of customers needing support?
In a world that is increasingly on-demand and real-time, taking care of customers is paramount.
Of course, when customers call for help, you want to deliver a great customer experience. However, as many agents are forced to work from home, organizations are left looking for the best ways to continue supporting their customers using remote agents.
What does it take to deliver a top-notch CX?
The only way to succeed in the face of uncertainty is to face challenges head-on.
This is not the time to be uncertain about your next move.
Yet that’s exactly what many retailers have done in the face of the current situation. Netflix and Roku are just two examples of brands who’ve scaled back customer-service.
When customer requests are up across the board and agents are getting a crush of support calls, customer service is not just a business process, it’s one of the most important elements of your business.
However, don’t simply stand back and copy your competitors’ strategies. The mark of a thriving business is that it is constantly evolving.
Now is the time to adapt quickly to meet customer demand and safeguard customers’ trust, especially for companies in the sectors that have been among the hardest-hit. Naturally, we have a few tips for you.
4 ways you can create better customer experiences
If you’re using at-home agents for customer service during these unprecedented times, here are four ways you can deliver a great retail experience:
Enhance shopper engagement: Today’s consumers have more choices than ever so it’s important to engage shoppers during their shopping journey. You can leverage technology to connect with customers via their channel of choice whether that’s chat, SMS, messaging, email, voice, or video. There is an opportunity to improve every interaction that shoppers have with your company.
Empower your customer service staff: It’s no secret that customer service reps are typically the first line of communication for frustrated customers. That’s why you should give virtual call center staff everything they need—from the latest information about merchandise and inventory to policies for returns and exchanges—to help customers feel happy and satisfied.
Facilitate effortless experiences: Did you know that research shows reducing the amount of effort customers expend—the work they must do to get their problem solved—builds loyalty? The same study found reducing customers’ effort also lowers customer service costs and decreases customer churn. When your customer service agents can oversee merchandise delivery, exchanges, repairs, and returns and provide shoppers with real-time notifications through their channel of choice, then you’ll be offering what consumers are craving.
Expand self-service options: Today’s consumer wants everything on-demand, customized, and fast. But, increasingly they also want simple self-service options. This could take many forms, from an online help center or online chat support to using chat, messaging, and conversation bots. Something your at-home customer service agents and your customers may find valuable is a knowledge base with relevant, easy-to-understand answers to commonly asked questions.
This is how Jamisi Communications can help
In recent months, a lot has changed. Jamisi Communications wants to help your organization continue its customer engagement activities during difficult times by making it easier for your work-at-home agents to serve your customers until those agents can return to the office or contact center facility.
There are a few ways we can help, depending on what you need. For example, Jamisi contact center can help support your efforts with:
Inbound call routing—When a customer calls in, their call is directed to the appropriate agent (Spanish-speaking agents; the customer has a specific question about their item or how to set up their item, etc.), which saves time and helps avoid frustrated customers.
Collaborative contact center—This feature connects contact center agents with the entire organization. Too often agents are siloed away from the rest of the company (especially now with everyone working from home). With a collaborative contact center, agents can reach out to subject matter experts throughout the organization to better serve customers.
Digital platform—With our technology, your customers can reach out on the channel of their choice. Plus, associates, agents, and fulfillment personnel are connected and can coordinate merchandise delivery, exchanges, repairs, and returns. That means increased shopper satisfaction.
Stay up and running with Jamisi Communications
Today, technology allows people to work from anywhere…on any device. But delivering a frictionless shopping experience is not an easy task. It takes the right tools, the right customer service reps, and the right approach (check out these tips and insights on servicing your customers with at-home agents).
As businesses adapt to remote-only environments, they are learning very quickly the importance of Unified Communications
Businesses today, due to the work from the home environment we are in, are finding they need Unified Communications. While some haven’t made the purchase yet, others are just discovering Unified Communications for the first time. Some businesses have found they indeed have Unified Communications (UC) or some elements of it but didn’t know. In this article, we dive into the four must-haves of Unified Communications solutions.
Perhaps the most critical feature of a UCaaS system these days is mobility. The mobility feature is non-negotiable and is a must-have. Furthermore, this feature should be free. In this context, mobility is the ability of your office phone number to ring on your laptop or smartphone. This is accomplished using a soft client installed on your laptop or as an app on your smartphone.
Since the communication is on IP, it can be via LTE or Wi-Fi, which means you can be connected remotely relatively easily. This enables your employees to work from anywhere, even if anywhere is home. The business can keep running smoothly since you can still talk to customers, using the same phone numbers you have always used. Predictions indicate, even when we are all past this, various forms of working remote will continue. With an expected 628 Million public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2023, (up from 169 Million in 2018), and with 5G coming, the ability to be connected from just about anywhere will increase by orders of magnitude, so this trend will continue for sure.
2. Presence Service
This brings me to the second point. I mentioned the soft client above, but the soft client should not just be a way to make a phone call. It needs to be able to handle presence as well. As we all work remotely, knowing the person you need to communicate with us online and available is a productivity enhancer. You can get an answer right away, even if that person is on a conference call, or you can set up a call at a later available time.
3. Video Collaboration
The third important feature is video collaboration. We have all heard of Zoom by now and in fact, it is turning into a verb. But a UC system needs to have the ability to handle large video conference and collaboration. Just seeing other employees and customers, and sharing documents, is becoming woven into the fabric of how we conduct business now, and it will surely continue into the future, as one of the ways meetings and discussions will be held. There are many options available for this and it does not have to be Zoom. But this is a critical feature of a UC system these days, and your UC supplier should be able to offer this to you.
4. Contact Center features
Finally, as an “office” became more of a place you used to go, many businesses found that answering the call and just looking for the right person does not work anymore. Businesses are finding that having a basic contact center would enable so much better customer service and are asking to add multimodal contact center features to the UC system. Why have another specific expensive contact center unit (either on-prem or another monthly cloud expense) if the UC system can handle the basic contact center features that would help a small business? Because why not – the UC system already includes multimodal communication potential.
Some basic contact center features include music on hold, IVR, and call queues. Call queues allow companies to provide top-notch customer service with features like queue callback, allowing callers to maintain their position in line without waiting on hold. Built-in queue priority ensures that customers are put in contact with an agent as quickly as possible by assigning specific callers to designated, prioritized queues that take into account arrival time. Callers can also take advantage of callback features, allowing your team to schedule calls and allowing recipients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule. These all-important call center or contact center features enable better customer service and make small businesses look larger to the outside world. These features, allow you to handle customer calls remotely, routed to your business phone number via your desk phone, smartphone, or laptop.
When you look for a UCaaS system, make sure these features are included at a simple to predictable price. If there are a bunch of “well..I’ll have to check on that” sort of things going on, that is a red flag.
Unified communications serve as a crucial investment opportunity for streamlining enterprise communications, augmenting productivity, and delivering seamless user experiences.
Here are some of the top trends that are going to shape the unified communications and collaboration market in the year 2020.
1. Increased adoption of Cloud UC
The future of modern communication infrastructures is going to be cloud-based. With the growing accessibility of the internet, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) has become a more viable and cost-effective option than maintaining in-house networks. As the maintenance and management of on-premises solutions are becoming more expensive and challenging, businesses are shifting to UCaaS solutions to streamline critical business functions and enable quick access to their data, audio, and video communication through any internet-ready device. Moreover, because everything is stored on the cloud, disaster recovery and business continuity are better addressed.
2. AI and ML integrations
Though AI and ML integrations are the newest additions to UC systems, there is plenty of evidence that it can help organizations streamline their operations. By leveraging AI and ML, businesses can improve employee productivity and collaboration using data analytics of user behavior and corporate communication patterns. Customer service applications of unified communications are also beneficiaries of AI and ML, with speech-to-text capabilities, intelligent decisioning engines, and virtual assistants or bots.
3. The proliferation of AR & VR
AR & VR technology is redefining customer experience technology and have already found integration in many cross-vertical applications such as healthcare, entertainment, and more. AR & VR technology holds the potential to drive innovation in the UC environment by turning overlying information into visual content in real-time and letting staff truly ‘experience’ collaboration. Even though still in nascent stages, AR & VR technology has the potential to change the UC game.
4. IoT-powered mobile workforce
As the second quarter of 2020 has ended on the verge of a pandemic, we are witnessing a shift in the definition of work as a space rather than a place. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, worldwide employees are forced to work virtually, conduct meetings, and file reports from their homes. It is the proliferation of smartphones and increased enterprise adoption of futuristic applications and devices running on IoT, which has made this unification possible. Moving forward, companies need to train employees to use mobile and smart devices to boost their communication and collaboration possibilities wherever they are, without any threat of data loss or security vulnerabilities.
5. Virtual meeting rooms
Virtual meetings or video conferencing have already been adopted in many companies to save time and resources, deliver clear messages, and keep executive boards updated with the latest developments within the organization. Virtual meeting rooms enable people to communicate efficiently in real-time over the internet using integrated audio, video, chats, and application tools regardless of their location. The growing global trend towards remote working and distributed office setup compel enterprises to invest in virtual conferences and other unified communications systems in their organizations.
6. 5G connectivity
The emergence of 5G connectivity has advanced the network architecture and brings home the speed that the world demands today. Owing to its high-end features, 5G equips UC systems with exceptional capabilities in terms of data speed, capacity, and low latency, delivering a series of benefits including improved HD video streaming, AR & VR integration, enhanced collaboration, and improved VoIP services across multiple locations. This empowers businesses to leverage staff video calls in 4k, introduce virtual tours into video calls, and many more.
7. Smart devices and wearables
An exponential increase in the global use of smart devices and wearable technology including watches, fitness trackers andclothing, have unearthed a gold mine for the unified communications landscape. With the ever-increasing adoption of smartphones in business, companies are gradually turning to smart devices as a key driver for adopting unified communications in the workplace, and plan to invest in smartphone apps for optimizing their business processes.
The global trends in the UC market today indicate the increasing use of blockchain to accelerate the migration of mobile numbers to different service providers, and integrating workplace communication channels is the latest trend. As blockchain serves as a decentralized ledger that can provide standardized access and routing lookup for all operators worldwide, companies are investing in this emerging tech to optimize the mobile number portability (MPN), local number portability (LNP), do not call (DNC) registries of their office phones, mobile phones, as well as their VoIP phones.
9. Embedding CPaaS and APIs for workflow optimization
Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) provides businesses with a comprehensive framework for their unified communications requirements, rather than investing in separate apps and tools for different functions like video conferencing, calling, and messaging. Moreover, the growing demand for ease of access and centralized management in the UC landscape persuaded organizations to embrace CPaaS and APIs into their existing business tools. This can propel the integration of instant messaging, video calling, or appointment reminders on the company’s systems, rendering superior user experience for the employee and customers alike.
10. Enhancing data security
In this data-driven world, companies continue to collect user information whenever they can to provide personalized customer services and stay ahead of the competition. Besides, the rapid proliferation of cloud computing and the increased pace of technology adoption have raised concerns regarding data security and privacy as well. As a result, companies are mandated by regulations to build-in data security and privacy protection in their UC architecture to secure user information, as well as to earn the trust of their customers. Pointing critical investments in security systems to ensure data protection, messaging encryption, fraud prevention, security controls, and network flexibility is another key trend that is going to shape the UC market this year.
Nowhere is the power of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) more evident than when a workforce is dispersed or working remotely—even in the public sector. From teachers conducting distance learning to government agencies working in the field or from home, UCC is the backbone technology that keeps them efficient, connected and productive
Examples of UCC at work in government and education
1. Ensuring faster complaint resolution:
Government agencies and schools become more responsive—a complaint, problem or request can be addressed immediately, efficiently and transparently.
2. Enabling teachers to conduct distance learning:
UCC tools enable educators to deliver live teaching sessions and presentations via videoconference and screen-sharing. They also enhance learning experiences for students by enabling videoconference review sessions and real-time file sharing.
3. Promoting faster decision-making:
Government employees can determine the availability of other colleagues who can expedite a request from a constituent. Knowing where, when and how a required resource can be reached ensures citizens are quickly directed to the right staff and department.
4. Assisting public works teams:
Many state and local governments have employees in the field. Through features like presence tracking, unified messaging and the ability to route calls to a mobile device, UCC solutions can keep remote workers connected and working efficiently.
5. Streamlining city-wide communication:
Using UCC technologies, cities can use automated attendants to deliver vital messages and route calls within or across departments, so their workers can focus on driving high value services to citizens.
6. Empowering city councils to host virtual meetings:
Some cities use videoconferencing technologies to host virtual city council meetings in lieu of meeting in person—while enabling constituents to plug in and participate, too.
7. Protecting budgets and maximizing tax dollars:
Aside from its ability to empower a remote or mobile workforce, UCC solutions can also help state and local governments save money. Even if agencies don’t have shrinking budgets, they still have an obligation to optimize tax dollars as best they can. UCC allows decisions to be made faster and helps cut down on travel time and expenditures.
8. Speeding communication between remote teams:
UCC solutions also allow state and local governments, public works departments and public safety officials—wherever they’re working—to communicate more effectively, make more informed decisions and keep important projects on track to better serve the community.
9. Enlightening public transportation and safety:
Even if city officials aren’t in the field every day, UCC solutions can keep them closely connected to what’s happening. They can use real-time data from city-wide IoT sensors to gather information and quickly respond to public emergencies. For example, sensors that monitor air quality or temperature could lead to more timely public advisories.
10. Expanding communication and protection for law enforcement:
Law enforcement teams are constantly on the move. Creative applications of UCC technology can help keep them connected and protected through handheld radios with presence features, as well as wearable devices, such as body cameras.
Successful businesses invest in contact center technology that enables them to be efficient in their provision of customer service. Increasingly, this means moving their contact centers to the cloud. In this article, we’re exploring the data behind this movement.
How busy are your customer service or sales representatives? When you look out across the office floor, do you see every one of your employees talking into their headset? Engaged employees are a great way to ensure engaged customers. The more people learn about your business, the more they want to connect in every way possible: Email. Chat. Social Media. Self-service. Phone. The danger is, if you’re not careful, you can lose potential customers who might get lost along the way. If their calls go straight to voicemail or, worse, they find no way to connect on their channel of choice, they may get frustrated and find someone else to work with.
If your customers are frustrated with getting in contact with you, it may be time to invest in the swift way of communications–the cloud contact center. Give every customer the chance to connect the way they want to by bringing all of your communications together through a single web-based interface. With a solution that integrates both communications and customer data, like Jamisi Cloud Communications, you’ll not only improve employee productivity but drive your competitive advantage by delivering stellar experiences with every contact.
Below are some points to prove that you need a Cloud Contact Center
1. Customer Information Is Lost Across Different Channels
If your support team must access multiple applications and databases to resolve issues, agents may find it difficult to keep track of their customers’ information and inquiries across different channels. Without customer profile integration, reps are often left in the dark about a customer’s questions and preferences, which results in more drawn-out, unprofessional experiences. That, in turn, leads to increased frustration and decreased customer satisfaction.
A cloud contact center enables you to integrate your CRM, so agents have ready access to essential customer information directly from their communications tools. Using native dialing, call-detail reporting and contact information retrieval as part of their customer service workflow, agents will not only know who is calling, but why they’re calling.
This single resource becomes even more powerful when combined with advanced routing capabilities. Calls, chat messages, emails and faxes can be directed to the agent best-suited to meet each individual customer’s unique demands.
2. You Need To Keep Ahead Of The Competition
Another good problem to have: Success breeds competition. To maintain an advantage, you’ve got to put the customer first and invest in innovative solutions. A cloud contact center helps you do both. Cloud solutions have only been implemented in 50 percent of mid-sized contact centers worldwide, according to an IDC survey. At the same time, more than 70 percent of the organizations implementing cloud-based applications have benefited from an improved customer experience. By investing early, you can stay ahead of the competition.
That’s another reason why your business needs a solution that offers faster, easier ways for customers to connect and get answers. With options like self-service, click-to-call-back and web chat integrated into its phone system, your contact center team has all the tools necessary to amaze your clientele.
3. You Spend Too Much Time Managing Technology
Your IT team is responsible for making your business work seamlessly across multiple processes. But when it spends more time managing multiple disconnected applications, it loses focus on the strategic initiatives that drive growth.
With a cloud contact center that works straight out of the box, IT teams can take advantage of pre-built integrations and open APIs to customize your contact center to your company’s unique needs. They can stop troubleshooting problems and spend way less time setting up, and start concentrating on adapting and scaling your operations as the business grows. Rather than lose time adding users or retrofitting tools to handle modern communications needs, they can focus on high-value projects. And with a solution that’s achieved high standards and certifications for security and compliance, they don’t have to lose sleep over keeping the system safe.
4. Your Agents Need To Connect Quickly With Colleagues
That brings us to another challenge: What happens when agents need the expertise of a subject matter expert to resolve an urgent customer issue? Today’s employees are mobile and often away from their desks, but the faster agents can connect with the right colleague, the happier they’ll make customers.
Cloud contact centers enable teams to become more productive and collaborative. Desktop and mobile flexibility allow them to stay in touch even when they’re on the go. They can jump on an impromptu video conference or field instant messages regarding a customer inquiry. This kind of prompt collaboration leads to more customer issues being resolved on the first contact.
5. Your Business Is Growing – Fast
As you expand your customer base and deepen its loyalty, your business will face a welcome problem: growth. Not to worry. A cloud contact center, like Jamisi Cloud Communications, scales easily, allowing you to add new agents without disrupting workflows or requiring IT help.
What’s more, a single, intuitive application makes training painless, so your agents will be ready to reach customers across multiple channels more quickly than ever.
6. Your Customers Expect To Be Wowed
As your business grows, the pressure to wow customers and outpace competitors will require agility and responsiveness. With a cloud contact center, you’ll increase agent productivity, streamline communications and truly impress every customer.
Finally, Loyal customers are the heart of every successful business. But in today’s highly competitive market, great products and services aren’t enough to earn that loyalty. Customers expect engagement and high-quality interactions in their channels of choice, and they’re more likely to stick with companies that exceed their expectations over and over. It’s no wonder that more than 80 percent of businesses say they expect to compete mainly on customer experience, according to a survey of marketing leaders.
For decades, people have dreamed about robot helpers and predicted their imminent arrival. With today’s growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), it seems their time has finally come.
Statistics tell the story. Some 59 percent of organizations have already deployed some form of AI, according to a recent survey. Within the next year, the number of AI projects should double. For enterprise companies, the main driver of AI adoption is improving the customer experience, although their vision goes beyond chatbots answering basic customer questions. More than half (56 percent) of organizations use AI to help employees make better decisions and provide a superior level of customer service.
This is where AI within the contact center comes into play. It does more than simply provide faster customer service. Today’s AI technology has grown to the point where it fills numerous roles and wears several hats.
Here are some benefits from AI’s advanced use in today’s high performance contact centres
1. AI As The Data Collector
Without data, you can’t improve your level of customer service. You need to know what your customers want and why they’re contacting you so you can prepare your agents with appropriate information and resources. However, all that data is useless if you don’t have the means to analyze it and put it to use.
AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) interpret data and provide analysis around areas such as:
Why customers contact you
Ways you can improve your products and services
The availability of information to customers
This kind of data lets you move beyond efficiency and actually improve your overall customer experience and satisfaction levels. More importantly, real-time insights allow you to adapt to customers’ preferences quickly – and stay ahead of the competition.
2. AI As The Assistant
Contact centers need assistance in more ways than one, and AI helps with them all. In addition to real-time coaching, AI chatbots provide faster and more personalized customer service. AI virtual agents can interpret and access customer data, so they can handle more inquiries on their own, freeing up human agents to handle complex calls.
Machine learning enables AI bots to determine when a customer is getting frustrated and needs a human touch. When this happens, customers aren’t placed in a random queue. Rather, AI technology routes their call to the most qualified person and, at the same time, provides them with a full transcript of the conversation. That saves customers from the nuisance of having to repeat themselves.
Once a human is involved, AI technology assists in the background. Bots monitor the conversation and present the human agent with relevant information that helps them satisfy the customer. From product information to weather forecasts, the virtual agent can access both internal and external data to make sure the customer has a smooth and pleasant experience.
It’s now possible for your contact center to have a “Rosie” of its own, just like the Jetsons. AI technology provides real-time coaching, advanced analytics and real-time assistance to create a more personalized customer experience and a stronger, well-armed team of contact center agents. Start taking advantage of AI technology today by working with a provider that’s committed to innovation and provides the latest advantages that AI can bring to your contact center.
3. AI As The Trainer
If you run a typical contact center, chances are you have a high volume of calls coming in each day, answered by a team comprised of both veteran and rookie agents. Businesses are always working to improve the quality of customer interactions, of course, and typically they’ve done this by recording and analyzing conversations, then providing feedback to specific employees or the entire team. While this approach gets the job done, it takes time. That means it can be a while before your agents get the feedback they need to improve.
AI introduces real-time training through virtual agents. These are similar to chatbots, except they’re powered by AI technology. Whether a customer begins their journey with a virtual agent or goes straight to a human, virtual agents monitor interactions via speech or text, “listening” to the words exchanged and their sentiment. In real time, virtual agents coach human reps, making sure they deliver a customer experience that’s not only efficient and effective, but also on-brand and on-message.
The implications of real-time coaching are significant. Supervisors are freed up to perform other work, and an agent who may only be a week into their job can handle calls just as well as a 10-year veteran. Customers enjoy a consistent, positive interaction regardless of the agent’s experience level. And, the benefits extend to the agents themselves, since they can now avoid the frustration that comes with a new job and demanding customers who want fast answers.