How many times have you called a service provider and been prompted to enter your account information, only to be asked again for the same information once you were routed to a live representative?
Instead, what if the system recognized you based on the number you called from and you were greeted by a cheerful agent on the first ring who not only knew who you were, but why you were calling. Utopia, right?
The technology needed to enable this type of intelligent interaction, linking customer data to communication networks, has actually existed for quite sometime. However, the challenge has been integrating the various application building blocks that enable it. In many cases, businesses tend to make application and system purchase decisions in silo, without considering how well those applications will work together, or, they think they’re in the clear by checking the box on integration during the buying process without a demonstration or test environment to verify it actually works. Additionally, customization of CRM and other software applications add to the complexity and make it difficult to integrate.
While struggling with these challenges, how can you focus on delivering a great customer experience?
First, define what you want the customer experience to be. For example, if you want to know more about your customer at each interaction, determine how they will be contacting you and what systems are involved. If you enable calls, email and SMS text, as an example, then there are at least three communication applications that require integration to your CRM software. Flip the paradigm, and you may also want your sales people to be positioned to provide visibility into customer information such as orders, notes and important details through integration with back-end systems. This level of functionality is important not only to your support and sales team, but to your entire organization.
After mapping out the customer journey, identify the applications your employees need. Do your current applications meet the goals of delivering a great experience and integrate with other apps? If not, determine what is missing. A good checklist is to inventory all the tools associated with a customer contact. Determine where your customer data is inventoried and how that information is accessed in your current workflow.
Some of the most common business applications to integrate with in order to drive an enhanced CX include:
Then, take the next step of finding if and how that customer data maps to your business communication tools. Integrations could include:
The list of vertical market-specific customer management CRMs and applications is quite expansive and most require some degree of customization, or at a minimum, a review for compatibility with your communications system.
What to look for
Finally, identify unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers who have pre‑built integrations with your existing applications, or those that can build the integrations through an open Application Programming Interface (API). This will be vital to delivering the level of functionality your employees and customers will demand to make everything work together seamlessly. It’s important to look for providers that will enable easy integration to the apps you require. Be sure to ask for demonstrations so you understand exactly how they work in the real world, this is often overlooked.
If your CRM application requires custom integration, and you have your own developers, or third-party resources, request the API information from a UCaaS or application provider to make sure they can be integrated. When it comes to APIs, customers should have a game plan on how to implement. Some providers hand over documentation and expect you to figure it out, while others offer some important elements:
The bottom line is, integration of business applications should be a high priority for you and for any UC provider that you work with. The partners you enlist should be willing to work with your IT staff or third-party developers. Critical to ensuring a great customer experience, is having pre-built integrations, an open API for customization, and finally, a hands-on approach, to ensure everything will work together for you flawlessly.
Scott Yelton is head of product management for OfficeSuite UC® at Windstream Enterprise, where he is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for the company’s leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both Earthlink and Deltacom, where he had also led sales Engineering. He began his career in telecom in sales and sales management roles for Sprint and BTI Communications. Scott is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in marketing and management.
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