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HomeBusiness TechVoIPUpgrading your business phone systems

Upgrading your business phone systems

Many companies think they know what to expect from a business telephone system – but limiting your expectations around what’s possible from your phones can be a costly error.

Here, we’ll introduce a new generation of a business phone systems – and show how an installation transformed productivity across an entire business operation.

The next generation of phones for business

Digital telephone systems are nothing new – in fact, they were introduced in the 1990s when national infrastructure became able to carry tiny packets of information along with the analogue calls it routed. The result? Well, we became able to see the numbers of people who called – and we were able to do some (at the time) innovative things with the call – holding, transferring it or directing it to a voicemail service.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and not a great deal has changed for many companies. We’re still often using these basic functions to handle all the calls that come into our offices and work spaces – but at what cost?

Well, for one leisure company, that cost was productivity – and the installation of a hosted voice system transformed effectiveness and spend across the business.

A real-life installation

The company in question handles holiday bookings for a series of resorts spread across their operating country. Their customer service agents handle inbound service and payment calls – as well as making outbound sales calls when workload allows.

Before adopting their new phone system, growth was only possible with an increase in staffing numbers – but it was a problem that they could never get on top of. The more staff they had, the great the number of sales calls that could be made – resulting in an increased service need for their customers which are up any call availability quickly.

Growth was hindered by the actual number of staff needed to handle service and payment calls.

What did hosted voice bring?

Upon discovering the pattern that emerged with every push for growth, company managers decided to explore options for automating some of the service requests that were needed by customers. Effectively, end-users found themselves performing the same functions again and again – generally answering a familiar set of questions – and handling card payments.

Talking to their IT networking company offered an unexpected solution; abandon the out-dated phone system that required hands-on attention from employees – and switch to a system that will automate a huge amount of the usual workflow.

How can hosted voice help?

To understand how a cloud-based digital telephone system can help in an instance like this, it’s useful to try to forget that it’s a telephone system at all. Instead, it’s worth considering it as an application – running on a server that’s supported by an IT managed network company.

Rather than simply accepting data input through a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen, a hosted voice service will accept a huge range of inputs – from these traditional options – through to voice inputs and interactions started by other applications that are set up to run alongside it. This opens up a massive range of possibilities for the company who are repeating similar actions repeatedly…

What did a normal interaction look like?

65% of calls coming into the company involved a payment being made. Another 25% of incoming calls where people asking questions about their booking. The final 10% were incoming sales enquiries. The current phone system didn’t allow for any routing – so all enquiries were picked up by general members of the team – with no priority shown to incoming sales enquiries.

A normal payment call took around 8 minutes from answering to terminating the call – accounting for a colossal amount of end-user time across the business.

How could a hosted system help?

Again, when thinking about how a hosted voice system helps – it’s useful to remember that it’s essentially a data handling system – just one that’s far more efficient than a human who is simply relaying the same information between the customer and the computer that will be used to process the enquiry or payment.

So, the data can be processed in a new and significantly more efficient way:

  • The call comes into the business and is automatically answered.
  • The customer chooses from 4 options; Sales, Questions, Payments, Customer service.
  1. Payment options are directed to an automated system that ties into a payment system, taking voice or keypad input card details, applying the payment to the customer’s account, then automatically generating an email receipt.
  2. Frequently asked questions enquiries request a voice input, which is then used to select a series of predefined questions and answers that may be relevant to the customer. They can select the one they want – before listening to the answer. At any stage, they can opt out of the automated system and talk to a customer service advisor.
  3. Sales enquiries are directed to a staffed sales department with all calls automatically recorded and transcribed to be automatically logged against the customer record on a paired CRM system.
  4. For those who don’t want to engage with the automated system, there’s a customer service option that routes the call to a team member.

The result?

Upon commencing use of the new automated system end-user workload was dramatically reduced – with 89% of customers opting to use automated systems where applicable. As a result, a huge amount of time and resource could be driven toward outbound sales calls – which no longer resulted in greater strain on customer service resources as they converted into customers.

Interestingly, customers also reported increased satisfaction when using the automated service. Hold times were reduced to virtually zero (since automated systems can handle 1 or 1,000+ calls at the same time) and access to payments and frequently asked questions were suddenly open 24/7 – where before customers had to stick to office hours if they wanted to contact the service.

While it’s impossible to say whether this exact level of success could be replicated in your business, it’s fair to say that any company who puts a lot of human resource into performing similar telephone orientated tasks on a daily basis could well benefit from a system that carries a lot of that weight for you.

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