Communications is the one human interaction that will probably prevent humanity from spiraling down into chaos during times of crises like our current coronavirus pandemic. The clear, urgent, and quick transmission of messages can dispel panic, calm frayed nerves, and point people to a helpful plan of action.
Organizations in particular need communications in order to finally deploy the business continuity plans they had set on the backburner for occasions like this. What they need the most as a platform is communications software to keep` their teams together, hold dialogues with their customers, and enable their processes and services to continuously function.
Online Communication In The Business Landscape
These online communication tools create a bridge that links several parties so they can interact, using computers and their various components like modems. Interaction happens when they talk and/or chat with each other.
Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is one platform that makes this possible. Frequently, the audial exchange is complemented with video, which happens, for example, when people do facetime using their smartphones.
The advantages of communications software, however, go beyond connecting calls as well as the transmission and receipt of messages. What sets it apart from its analog predecessors is that it can stream almost incalculable amounts of data from one party to another or several.
Data can come in many forms, from simple documents, images, and spreadsheets, to videos and audio recordings. These can help facilitate the discussions and verify, augment, and ultimately support the ideas being made by the participants. That is why they are also regarded as among the best work from home communication tools today.
Improve Your Communications Software Through These Strategies
Here are five ways to optimize communication software for business and its many objectives:
1. Host your PBX Phone System In The Cloud
The Private Branch Exchange (PBX) Phone System refers to the network of telephones that an organization uses in two ways: internally, for its personnel, from management to employees; and externally, for their clients, partners, vendors, and other third-parties.
The PBX has been around since Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, and it will continue to exist probably as long as people communicate.
Surprisingly, many companies today still maintain an analog phone along with their VoIP systems. They are deprived of the advantages that come with digitizing their PBX.
A virtual PBX performs the same function as the analog PBX, but it is hosted on the cloud. Voice calls are transmitted seamlessly through the net. This makes the interchange less vulnerable to limitations like clunky cables or the deterioration of physical infrastructure.
A virtual PBX is also less costly to maintain because you do not have to spend a lot on overhead and maintenance. International calls to business partners and clients are likewise not as expensive as the usual international analog call rates.
One more advantage of having a virtual PBX is that any data you transmit can be stored and accessed at any given time. Despite an older workforce’s loyalty to the old-school phone system, the international cloud-hosted PBX market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 14.2%, says Advance Marketing Analytics.
2. Automate Your Outbound Calls
Communications software can automate your outbound calls with devices like the predictive dialer. This feature is particularly important for departments or teams who make a lot of external calls, such as sales, customer service, and collections following up on accounts receivables.
What they all have in common is the task to follow up external parties, to either resolve an issue, get an appointment, or finally get a confirmation of a sale or a payment. All these activities are integral to securing a revenue stream or client engagement, which in turn keeps the business running.
To automate your outbound calls, you have to feed your system a set of numbers that it will keep on calling until the phone call is picked up.
The communications software can also be programmed to screen out fax-machine responses, answering machines, and do-not-disturb replies. Once someone—a verified human voice—at the other end of the line answers, the system then transfers the call to a human agent who can deftly and skillfully handle the situation.
Automating your outbound calls saves you and your personnel the usual but inordinate amount of time wasted in the simple effort of just trying to get a call answered. It is recommended especially for call centers who employ hundreds of people who make daily calls, eight working hours a day, promoting their products to their target publics.
3. Install Interactive Voice Responses For Your Customers
The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is the counterpart of the automated outbound call. It streamlines and makes efficient the calls that are coming into the company, screening them first before possibly passing them to a human agent. It does away with that long, tedious process of passing the customer from one department to another before finding the right one.
When a caller first gets through your phone system, the first thing they hear is an automated voice recording describing what has been called a menu: a list of local numbers they can call, which can direct them to the department or person they are looking for. On that menu is the ever-present option to stay on the line and wait for a human representative to talk to them.
Many customers still prefer that experience of interacting with a human voice who, aside from answering their questions, can also empathize with their situation. As a result, through the IVR, customers resolve their issues fast and conveniently. They close the conversation with a very satisfactory user experience that in turn retains them as customers.
4. Employ Artificial Intelligence For An Elevated User Experience
The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the communication software industry is revolutionizing user experience, internally or externally. AI can extract data from the system and select what is useful for your employee, making their conversations more productive.
One example is done through the IVR mentioned above. Pre-AI days, the employee and the external caller would proceed to a normal dialogue and settle the business at hand, as soon as the call is routed and accepted.
AI, however, takes this process a notch higher. It sends information about the caller to the recipient way before the transfer of calls is made. This means that the employee can prepare for the conversation properly because he already has the caller’s name, contact information, and complaint or concern. Program the AI properly and it can also determine the caller’s mood and personality.
AI can also be programmed to translate languages or certain words of a particular language during a call. This feature makes the conversation comprehensible and even pleasant especially if people from different countries or regions are involved.
Sometimes, a participant can miss an important point because they did not understand a pertinent foreign word that their colleague said. AI can give them the meaning and help remove any possibility of misunderstanding.
5. Use On-hold Music Or Announcements To Remove Irritating Silence
No one at the other end of the line wants to be put on hold. The next irritating thing is deafening silence. Imagine 30 to 60 seconds of absolute audial nothingness while the system is transferring you to the proper department.
Without any sound, the customer, already anxious because of a prevailing problem, might feel abandoned, forgotten, and disrespected. Playing music instead can assure them that their call is being processed, and their presence is valued.
At the very least, it can stave off boredom. The choice of music can and should be appropriate for your target market. You can use AI to filter classical music for Baby Boomers, and the latest hits for the millennials.
Another option is to use announcements that describe your latest product or service. While waiting, your customer just might feel their interest drawn to your newest innovation. Just make sure that the tone is light and friendly, the script or copy is relevant and useful, and the whole thing does not sound like an in-your-face sales pitch.
Why you should improve your communications strategies
The benefits of communications software are beginning to be realized by business owners and company leaders, especially if they have numerous offices spread across the country or the world. According to Apps Run the World, the global communications software market or applications is estimated to have a valuation of $10.9 billion by the year 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 2.1 percent.
There is more to communications software, though, than just voice calls done over the internet. There are many strategies to maximize their use, in order to motivate your own employees, increase the engagement of your shareholders, and overall stimulate a huge amount of productivity.