Thanks to Mr. Bell, the man who invented the telephone, it is now much easier for people to communicate with each other no matter the distance. He probably would have never guessed that his genius discovery would be the reason why Americans spend an average of 13 hours per year or 43 days per lifetime sitting on hold while waiting for the next available operator who claims to be “with you shortly.”
How it all started
It all began in the mid-1960s when large companies started looking for some innovations to increase efficiency of communication without losing a continuous flow of customers. And when big companies invest big money, you know that something big is bound to happen.
The very first call centers appeared in England in 1965. Private Automated Business Exchanges, as they were called at that time, were aimed to handle a large number of incoming telephone calls. The customers were connected to the available agent who would then provide them with the service they needed or transfer to the appropriate specialist. Human operators were soon replaced with an automated system (IVR) that allowed managing even larger numbers of customer contacts. The system also served as a kind of “shield,” keeping call center agents from being overwhelmed with calls or from having to deal with issues less important than their urgent work tasks.
Although every feature has its ups and downs, a correctly designed phone tree actually decreases the wait times rather than increases. Above all, it is essential for large companies to manage incoming calls that way so they can provide better customer service and answer inquiries more effectively.
What about small business?
As the technology evolved, small businesses also began to lay their hands on it, but with a slightly different purpose. When you are in a race for customers with big corporations, your customer service can sometimes be your only competitive tool. Yes, big corporations have more resources to provide better or cheaper offers, but small business owners know that making clients feel that you actually care about them makes them come back to you again and again. Instead of being a “shield” it serves to provide better customer service.
Establishing the contact with your customer
In life and in business, first impressions stick and are extremely hard to change. How well you handle the communication with prospective clients determines whether they will turn into customers. If a client calls you when you cannot answer the phone, he might not call you another time. And if there are several people in your company who are responsible for different stuff, do you really want to provide several phone numbers or have the caller wait for you to call back, hoping that he would go to the trouble of calling multiple people or waiting for you to get back to him to receive an answer for a single question?
Intelligent routing for small business
There are many providers of intelligent routing software for small business today. They generally can be divided into two types: the companies that work with small business only and have no experience making Call Centre software whatsoever, or the companies who first specialized in sophisticated software for corporations and then created small business solutions by chopping off extra stuff from their original product. But whatever it is, intelligent call routing makes it possible for smaller companies to offer their clients essential features call centers provide. And it does not just make small company sound more professional, hence more trustworthy, it also makes employees’ working processes more organized and less hectic. These are some of the features once available only to big companies, but from which small business owners now benefit:
- All for one and one for all: Having a single business phone number is more convenient than having several ones for both you and your customer. You don’t have to expose your private number to everyone out there and the callers can choose the specialist they want to talk to and connect to him right away. No more multiple numbers — just one is needed to reach the right person.
- Don’t let that phone call go to waste: As a small business owner, you are probably eager to receive customer calls whenever is possible. Meanwhile, it is hard to be available every time a customer calls you, but every phone call can bring you a new client. With intelligent routing you can silence incoming calls and it will be automatically redirected to another employee or to the voicemail outside of working hours.
- Heroes and villains: Although every customer is valued, there may be some that are more crucial for your business than others. You can create a list of “VIP” clients and set different routing rules for them. For example, they can hear information about your special promotion, or be put on the fast-track to reaching you on the first try. The same rule goes for lower priority callers; you can create a black list of callers who bother you and you will never hear from them again.
- All you need in one place: All communications with your customers are managed from a single console in your web browser or a phone app. This helps you to answer inquiries in a timely manner and may prevent the caller from going to your competitor instead.
How can it help your business grow?
When a person first interacts with your company he or she becomes your prospective client. It is your task to turn him into your customer. Unless you offer a completely unique product, your customer service is an essential tool for keeping and attracting clients. No matter whether you are a retailer or providing cleaning or repairing services, how satisfied your clients are with your communication can cost you more than you might think. Accenture 2013 Global pulse research study revealed that 66 percent of customers that year switched to a new company because of a poor service and 60 percent claim that they chose their new company because of the customer service. The take away is this: provide all your customers with a personalized treatment inherent only to your business and they will pay you back with loyalty.
Read how to customize your call routing software to make doing business with you more convenient: