The desk phone is old fashioned. It’s bulky, boring, costly, and has limited functionality. But at the same time, it’s understandable why this technology has survived into the digital era. There’s a sense of realness when you hear the dial tone or feel the weight of a handset.
Landlines are also thought to be reliable — they’ve been around for decades, and companies don’t want to worry about adjusting to online communication platforms. Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond the reliability of “2001 Skype,” and these anxieties have been firmly debunked.
In fact, life is easy “in the cloud.” Here are some very real concerns made obsolete by competent phone software.
Will The Lines Be Ready In Time?
Congratulations! Times are good, and your company is expanding rapidly. This might mean new employees, new sales territories, or just more incoming calls, and with this growth comes necessary adaptation.
For instance, new employees used to mean purchase orders, IT requests, and hours of manual installation. With VoIP software, onboarding has gotten a lot easier. A simple app-download and account creation allows new agents to be ready to take calls in a matter of minutes (not that you should skip training). This simple setup lets you adjust staffing on the fly.
And what’s that? Your company is entering APAC next quarter? Opening a brick-and-mortar office and coordinating with a telecom provider 12 time zones away is nobody’s idea of a good time. In the cloud, your new office is mere clicks away.
Robust VoIP software will let you purchase local numbers in most countries. Recognizable local area codes and regionally appropriate toll-free numbers inspire trust for your brand and a stronger connection with your customers. Just designate business hours and assign agents to appropriate times — now you’re ready to launch.
Who do I email to fix that?
When making system configurations, big or small, the days of waiting on IT are over. You know what you’d like, why not just create it yourself? Once you feel the power of making simple fixes (e.g. Voicemail) on your own, you may suddenly have the urge to test more creative/innovative strategies
Do you want to lower your missed call rate? Try implementing a simultaneous ring feature to notify more representatives of an incoming call, or notify “backup” representatives when a call is going unanswered using “call-cascading”. These and other routing features are easily implemented in your phone software’s admin-dashboard.
You can also efficiently direct your calls by setting up an easy-to-follow Interactive Voice Response (IVR — think “press one for shipping, press two for store hours,” etc.) This time-saving feature can be up-and-running in moments, without IT assistance or a convoluted instruction manual.
You’re in control of your phone system, not the other way around.
Has my office become my home?
Picture this: It’s 6:30 PM, and the office is clearing out. It’s a beautiful evening, but you get a notification that a demo has been scheduled for 9 (thanks a lot, California). Now, if the mobility of your phone system is measured by how far you can stretch the cord, you’re going to need to cancel your dinner plans. That’s okay, this is a great an opportunity, but at 8:50 you get an email telling you the demo needs to be rescheduled for tomorrow, same time. With a cloud-based system, you could have left hours ago and presented pantless from your living room, all using your cloud-based “work phone.” C’est la vie.
Or maybe your company is testing out the Australian market, and as a result, one employee each night has to work the “graveyard shift.” Instead of setting up a cot and bedpan in the support section of your office, give your agents the freedom of choice. When “clocking-in” only requires opening an app on one’s smartphone, being “present” won’t also decrease morale.
Do I have all the necessary information?
The secret weapon to providing 5-star customer support is context — both the expertise to resolve customer inquiries, as well as the ability to know exactly with whom you are speaking and what their previous interactions with your company have been.
To meet these criteria, it helps to have intelligent phone software that works with your favorite CRM to delight the customer. For example, an old-school desk phone can’t automatically pull up a customer’s profile in desk.com (or Zendesk, or Hubspot, or ServiceCloud, etc.) the moment you receive an inbound call.
With this background info handy, you can avoid committing the cardinal sin of support: asking the customers to repeat information. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t personally handling their previous interactions, your company is a single entity to the caller, and a coherent communication system should be in place.
Furthermore, all essential information from your phone conversations will be added to each profile within your most-used CRM, making for better-informed conversations, happier customers, and fewer open windows on your desktop.
Are we achieving our goals?
Your agents are on the phone all day long, but your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is still on the wrong side of zero. Luckily, on a cloud-based system, there’s an easy way to see if your activity is translating to productivity and customer success.
Distilling meaningful analytics — in the old-school — required additional monitoring software and a few painful hours in Microsoft Excel. This type of task will leave you catatonic, eating a slice of pizza in front of YouTube every night after work.
Intelligent phone software, however, comes with many inherent benefits, one of which is the seamless (and real-time) collection of precise call data. This information is incredibly useful when training new agents, making appropriate seasonal staffing decisions, and keeping wait times low. When you know what to look for in the graphs, you’re able to turn these numbers into actionable business insights.
Whole team statistics can be viewed alongside individual performance metrics, so if your team needs some additional coaching, you know where to focus your attention.
And if you’re not interested in using analytics to guide your decision-making, you should schedule some time this week to watch Moneyball.
Is this as good as it gets?
The greatest fear of all: the fear of missing out on something better. Whether you’re using a handset, landline, or even your personal cell phone to place calls, you know your limitations. Software, however, is constantly being updated with new features and optimizations. Mobility, self-sufficiency, and scalability are already clear advantages cloud-based holds over old-school phone systems, but the gap will continue to widen in the digital age.
Automated call transcription? Predictive menus? What are you excited to see?