A traditional phone installation can be rather fragmented: SIP phones for hardware, disparate software for contacts, call logs, support tickets, task assignment, etc. A collaborative phone solution is a phone setup which unifies communication (both internal and external) across your whole team and your various business tools.
How does a collaborative phone solution work?
Computer telephony integration allows teams to place phone calls directly from their computer and to bridge the gap between the phone channel and the other facets of sales customer service. This is beneficial to businesses of any size and activity, to virtual teams, remote workers, and most of all, to your customers.
Computer telephony integration benefits not only your customers and your agents, but will also make a call center manager’s job easier. VoIP software has many advantages: lowered upfront and ongoing costs, a lighter carbon footprint, an international presence, and enhanced potential for efficiency and collaboration.
#1: Function as a more unified team
It’s all in the name: a collaborative phone solution will enable and facilitate cooperation within your team. VoIP phone systems are designed with teamwork and cohesion in mind, and it shows. Here are ways in which modern business phone solutions help your sales or support teams run like a well-oiled machine.
An intuitive interface
Nothing gets in the way of users successfully adopting a piece of software like an unwieldy or confusing interface. If your team struggles to get the hang of your phone channel tools, they’ll also struggle to serve customers and to work as a unit.
Your phone software should be intuitive and straightforward. The right collaborative phone solution will be easy to use, both for a single agent and for your whole support or sales operation. If the interface is clear, users will naturally be able to get the most out of its features and thus better satisfy customers. If the interface unifies communications and centralizes activity, your team will gain time and collaborate more easily without having to juggle a phone and multiple applications.
Practical transfer capabilities
A call transfer is a juncture at which it’s crucial to the customer experience that team members are empowered to collaborate smoothly. If a customer needs to be transferred from one representative to another, that transfer should be seamless in order to not detract from that customer’s experience. No one likes calling a support number and feeling like a problem being passed around like a hot potato.
A “warm” transfer feature is a staple of collaborative phone solution capabilities. It allows teammates to confer with one another before transferring a call, without losing the customer on the line. Combined with a representative’s pleasant demeanor and an explanation of why they are being put on hold, the “warm” transfer feature takes frustration out of being transferred for customers.
One of the advantages of a collaborative phone solution is its pooling of resources across your team. Instead of every teammate keeping their own records and manually passing them along, a cooperative phone system allows for shared contact lists and call inboxes.
This way, agents can follow up on calls, help tickets, and customer interactions as a team. Managers can have a bird’s eye view on the whole team’s activity so that nothing slips through the cracks. By sharing contacts, teammates have access to everyone’s collected knowledge at once. A shared inbox lets the whole team concentrate on dealing with every single customer demand. With teammates and managers backing each other up, customers will enjoy the best possible experience of your service.
#2: Work more efficiently
A collaborative phone solution helps your team work collectively, but it also facilitates the daily tasks of individual agents. This saves them time, both individually and across your whole operation, leaving more time available for your customers.
During after-call work
After-call work refers to the various tasks a representative needs to perform after hanging up with a client. The process applies to both sales and support, and can involve taking care of call logs, adding to customer files, and opening, updating, or closing support tickets, etc. Conscientious after-call work is necessary to the smooth running of your phone operation, but it’s often a painstaking and time-consuming activity.
Facilitating after-call work is an important ingredient of a collaborative phone solution. Moreover, representatives have an easier time completing this repetitive and sometimes gruelling task. A simple way to take care of after-call work can help representatives feel less stressed, and decrease the chance of employee turnover. Here’s how.
Tagging, assigning, and commenting calls
A collaborative phone solution will make it easy and convenient for teammates to assist one another in the treatment of calls. Once a call has been placed, teammates and managers can view it in your phone system’s interface, and proceed to:
- Assign it to the right person, who will be notified of a task waiting for their attention.
- Tag it according to the relevant department (sales, support, billing, etc.) and processes.
- Add an explanatory comment to give the person taking over the necessary context.
This lets representatives and managers handle customers throughout their entire journey as a cohesive and well-informed unit.
A host of integrations
Perhaps the greatest strength CTI grants to a collaborative phone solution is the ability to integrate the phone with other business tools. Your phone system can operate from within your CRM, helpdesk, email client, etc.
Consequently, this saves your team time and effort. They only need to comment and log calls into one interface in order to update all their professional tools. Likewise, they can find all the information collected by the whole team without needing to switch between programs. Your whole team can work seamlessly cross-platforms, without creating duplicates or expending undue effort. Making the process easier and more expeditious helps representatives save valuable seconds for every call. At the end of the day, those seconds add up into extra time to perfect their processes and satisfy customers.
#3: Improve your quality of service
A collaborative phone solution can do a great deal for your quality of customer service. This is especially true if:
- Your team is quite small.
- You don’t have a physical office.
- Your team works remotely, either fully or in part.
- Perhaps your team is mobile.
- Your team works from abroad.
The right phone system can allow you to better control your company’s image, manage customer expectations, and improve their experience.
Interactive voice response
Interactive voice response, or IVR, lets customers interact with an automated voice system. The system is tailored to their needs in order to perform a specific task. This saves your team time, by picking up the slack and resolving simple and repetitive tasks without involving a human at all. IVR also saves customers a great deal of frustration, and gives them no incentive to churn or complain.
And IVR can handle calls when no human speaker is available, reducing the occurence of missed or dropped calls. It can make even a small and sparsely staffed business look grander and more professional, leaving your team to work more efficiently.
Smart call routing
Smart call routing is a feature of a collaborative phone solution which ensures that inbound calls are directed to the most appropriate team mate. This selection can be based on geographical location, specialty, spoken language, etc. Effective call routing features can help your team boost their first call resolution rates.
First call resolution is an important customer satisfaction indicator, and also signifies saving of both funds and your team’s time.
Call queuing and automatic call-back
Despite a well-configured IVR and efficient call routing rules, it will happen that your team cannot field every call. A collaborative phone solution will step in to make the waiting period palatable for customers and less stressful for your team.
Personalized call queuing lets you customize a call-waiting message or musical track, in order to help customers wait more agreeably. Automatic call-back allows customers go about their day without waiting on hold, until a teammate is freed up to call them back. These processes lower the customers’ effort and improves their experience of your business’ phone presence, which encourages customer retention.
#4: Exceed your customers’ expectations
Your phone system can allow you to manage your business’ image in the eyes of customers.
Get closer to your customers
Being able to use toll-free and international numbers can be instrumental in shaping your business’ identity.
International numbers afford you a local presence, anywhere your customers live. Not only are people more likely to accept a call from a local number (which can make a difference for outbound call campaigns) but it makes your brand look more accessible to customers. Toll-free numbers can achieve the opposite but equally desirable effect. By adopting a catchy number, you can make a more lasting impression with customers.
Being able to modulate the ways in which customers can reach your business can make your brand more memorable. It brings your business closer to customers as a whole.
Monitor your performance
CTI also permits users of a VoIP phone system to precisely gauge their performance and efficiency in order to constantly improve their own methods.
Call recording and analysis helps agents improve during calls and coaching sessions. Call analytics allow managers to have a bird’s eye view on the activity of individual agents or the team as a whole over a variable span of time. They can also survey customer satisfaction through user habits and feedback. The number of missed or dropped calls, the average call time, waiting time, and agent unavailability time are all apparent. This way, managers can make data-driven decisions and zero-in on areas needing improvement.
This monitoring process happens both in real-time and in hindsight to allow for thought-out change to better your whole operation. Managers can see the cause and effect of their decisions. This ushers in a virtuous loop of continuous improvement of their customer service and collaboration methods.
Have you tried Aircall’s collaborative phone solution?