With people preparing for the switch off of the traditional BT phone network, and making provision for working from home having become a pressing need for most companies over the last couple of years, VoIP is becoming a preferred choice for business communications.

There is another reason to start searching out a Provider, if you haven’t already, and that is the benefit of unifying your company’s communications. This requires working with a VoIP Provider, as making systems integrate with one another requires a move away from the traditional phone model. It isn’t possible to start integrating your company’s systems – meshing your telecoms with your CRM system, for instance, without the ‘digitised’ aspect of a VoIP service.

The road to integrating your company’s customer-facing systems might be an uphill road, but it proves to be a journey worth undertaking in the long term.

Benefits of Integration

The advantages include creating a comprehensive view of your customers, and their habits. With a more rounded picture, you can link buying habits with behaviours. You can tell, for instance, if any particular method of communicating works best with a particular customer segment.

One of the key points to note here is the value of Data. Your decisions can be data driven, as can research and goal-setting. Data is the Holy Grail of modern business. Guess-work and gut instinct are extremely valuable when starting out on a business venture. However as the venture grows and succeeds gut instinct gives way to data.

Planning the way ahead for a sales team, for instance, requires facts. You need to know what media your customers contact you over. This data can then inform which media you should select in order to contact them back on. You can also see best times of day, and best days, so you can send company messages at the most effective times. You can see when your customers most want or need to contact you.

You also know the media they prefer to be contacted on. There is a plethora of avenues of contact open – from using a phone to messages on WhatsApp, and everything in between. If the customer has used a particular method of contact, then you can use the same method to get back to them. This gives two main advantages. Firstly, it shows that you have responded to them, are in touch with their needs and lifestyle, and are getting to know them and their preferences. Secondly, it simply means there is more chance of your message being seen.

The Power of Data

This is one of the main advantages of integrating your systems. The data as to contact methods may be known, may even be reported on, but unless this is a structured part of how you work, then reporting is always going to be a labour-intensive process of fact gathering and compiling. Having integrated systems means the data is automatically pulled through and centralised. Not only that, as it is being seen by the operatives making contact, it can actually be acted on as contact is being made. A phone call in can result in a phone call back, and a WhatsApp message in can result in a WhatsApp message back. It simplifies the customer’s communications, and means your company message cuts through the hundred others vying for that person’s attention.

This technique is particularly useful to Contact Centres, or companies which manage mass communications across large groups. Contacting one person requires a certain technique, data set and communication method. Contacting a thousand people, or a million people, is an entirely different matter. You need automation. You need a system for pulling data quickly and efficiently across multiple company platforms.

Those tasked with managing communications on large scales could greatly benefit from an increase in data, efficiency and therefore from integrating various company systems.

Another advantage comes from having a more complete view of your customer. Integrating data across various company systems allows you to create a more rounded view of your customer – how they prefer to communicate, the media they prefer to use, where they spend their on-line time. All very useful when constructing a detailed picture of customer behaviour.

Protecting Customers and Staff

A final thought is that, with an integrated picture, you have a detailed record of all interactions. If any disputes occur, and a ‘he said, she said’ argument results, then you are not having to track through email chains, empty out staff mailboxes, or check other correspondence systems. Or, worse still, try to discover what someone said in a phone conversation. All conversations can be seen and analysed from one place, simply and quickly. If you have a system that allows it, you can listen to recordings of relevant phone calls. No hearsay or vague recollections involved.

Taking an integrated approach to your company communications may seem like a daunting task, or maybe the fevered dream of your IT or Marketing Manager, but it is a reachable goal when using a modern communications toolkit.

More on The Switch Off by BT
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