Cem Ahmet, Managing Director, Gamma
How to keep your business telecoms running smoothly throughout the calendar year – both now and in the future.
Peaks and troughs
For many organisations, the annual business cycle fluctuates throughout the year. Volumes of inbound and outbound calls can vary widely; each sector will be affected by different factors such as:
• Seasonal variations in demand in the retail industry
• Ticket sales for sporting events, such as the Euros this summer
• Universities during the post-‘A’ level clearing period and the beginning of the new academic year
• Manufacturers or retailers running special promotions or campaigns
These events often generate an increase in call volumes, so it makes good business sense to prepare for them. You need to make sure that your business telecoms system can cope with the higher levels of demand.
Are you ready?
A good place to start is to plot the times during the year when your telecoms systems are likely to be under particular strain. Next, make sure that you take the right steps to support them.
• Will you need more agents to cope with the extra calls?
• Will agents be based in the main office or at another location?
• Will you need additional telephone lines?
• Is there a system in place for managing the higher volume of calls, such as call routing?
• Can you quickly scale up or down your telecoms system according to demand?
• Can you easily monitor call statistics, including call abandonment rates?
The key to success: customer service
When you are swamped by incoming calls, don’t simply put your customers on hold. However charming your hold music may be, leaving customers to listen to it for twenty minutes is unlikely to enhance your company’s reputation for good service.
You will find yourself in a lose-lose situation: your customer will become frustrated, hang up and your business will not only lose potential income, but probably the customer for good (plus all the colleagues, friends and relatives they relate their experience to).
Considering 7 out of 10 consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service, it’s also vital that you pay attention to how you take payments over the phone. Many security solutions offer less-than-ideal customer service. This is because rather than allowing contact centre agents to remain on the line during the payment process, they re-route the call to a separate system. This leaves customers to enter their details into an automated system without assistance.
But there are superior solutions on the market that can solve this problem, by using DTMF masking to obscure the payment card details as customers enter the card numbers directly into their telephone keypad. This means agents can’t hear or see the numbers, but they can stay in contact with the customer at all times and immediately deal with any issues that may arise. Your customers will be happier knowing there’s always someone on the other end of the line to help and that their payment is being taken securely.
Can ISDN take the strain?
If your business telecoms system is based on an existing ISDN estate, then coping with increased demand won’t be straightforward. Deploying additional lines or channels can be a slow process (sometimes taking weeks or months) and costs can increase even further if calls have to be forwarded to agents based at other sites. The additional features required, such as call forwarding, are likely to result in additional fees.
The other drawback of ISDN is that you will also still have to carry the cost for the additional line rental when demand falls, even though you may no longer require it.
SIP: a cost-effective, scalable solution
SIP trunking offers a more flexible, scalable and cost effective solution to handle increased demand, offering the ability to provide additional capacity on a short-term basis for planned increases in calls. Internal calls (such as those between multiple sites) are free, so if your agents are based at another location, it won’t cost you more to forward calls to them from the main office.
Web-based inbound call management: improve your customer service
You can combine SIP with an inbound call management solution, which can help your organisation handle calls even more efficiently. Using a web-based interface, you can use a variety of call routing, monitoring and management tools to simplify call management and improve customer service. You can collect statistics and analyse them in real-time to monitor performance and implement changes quickly to cope with increased demand as and when required.
With a little planning and the right infrastructure in place, you can make sure that your business telecoms are ready to support your business needs whatever the conditions.