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A few weeks ago, I needed to reorder a faucet kit after the first one didn’t fit. I needed help from the retailer’s commerce site, but I didn’t want to sit on the phone with noisy kids in the background. Instead, I clicked the ‘Live Chat’ button but didn’t expect much. To my great surprise and delight, I was immediately connected to a very helpful customer service agent. After a few minutes, she confirmed my problem with the first faucet, contacted the manufacturer of the new kit I wanted, retrieved the critical measurements, and sent the information to me via email and instant message. Now that’s customer service.

ATGStores.com has unified communications (UC) to thank for providing this high level of customer service. The customer service rep had access to several UC tools (instant messaging, email, and phone) to communicate not only with me but also with the manufacturer simultaneously. The rep also had access to a customer database, because she already knew my order history.

Have you had a similar stellar customer service experience?

The 3 C’s of customer service: communication, collaboration, convenience

You can offer your customers that same level of excellent customer service and convenience.  UC provides more efficient, faster collaboration between customer service employees and experts throughout your company by integrating telephone features, like click to dial with desktop-based communications, such as instant messaging, Web conferencing, and video conferencing.

In a survey Cisco commissioned with Forrester, small businesses indicated that they can improve their responsiveness to customers with unified communications. In fact, 77% of respondents said that customer satisfaction would improve if their company could reduce delays in internal communications. Some respondents really focused in on UC’s conferencing capabilities, with 69% saying that better conferencing between colleagues would lead to better customer support. The survey focused on three vertical industries — financial services, manufacturing companies, and professional services.  Regardless of industry, respondents said UC could help them increase customer satisfaction by enabling them to respond more efficiently to as well as collaborate directly with customers.

Here are five ways UC can help your small business serve customers better:

  1. Answer customers’ questions more quickly: With UC, your customer service employees can contact experts within your company faster and more easily, getting answers to your customers more quickly. That’s the basic premise of UC: better, faster, and more efficient collaboration among colleagues, including instant messaging, conferencing, and telephone-based tools. When it comes to customer service, this means allowing your employees to see who else in the company is available at that moment to help and to bring that person into the conversation without asking the customer to wait.
  2. Give customers better information: UC can also help you give customers better, more complete information straight from the experts, whether they’re within your own company or a partner’s. Internal conferencing features give customer service reps access to experts; and, in some cases, they can even transfer the customer directly to the expert without having to put the customer on hold for more than a few seconds.
  3. Be available to customers any time, any place: UC is great for companies that conduct business globally. It lets international customers contact you with whichever communications method they prefer. On your end, a UC solution will gather voicemails, emails, and other messages into one inbox, which you can use to respond to customers in any time zone.
  4. Help customers find the right product: UC can let you connect customers who are researching possible purchases to in-house experts who can help guide them to the right product and even suggest other products to buy. If you’re already using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, you can integrate it with a UC solution to provide employees instant access to customer order histories.  Improving customer service can also benefit your bottom line. In the Forrester survey, 67% of small business respondents said that they could generate as much as 20% more revenue from the Web if they could connect customers to experts online.
  5. Strengthen customer relationships: Using UC’s conferencing features, you can have a Web-based meeting complete with audio, video, and collaboration tools with customers any time (sans jet lag). Much like meeting face to face, video conferencing helps you create more loyalty among your customers and reduce your travel costs at the same time.  Good customer service is critical to the success of any small business. Happy customers are repeat customers who will willingly recommend your company to others.  Has your company had success using unified communications? Share your stories with us!

Check out how Zamen Restaurants based in Den Haag is using UC to improve their customer service

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