In this series, we've been looking at how to use technology to optimize business workflows. Our last post, "How to Optimize Your Customer Service Workflows," focused specifically on automating contact center workflows. In this final installment, we discuss four key communications technologies that not only enhance workflows enterprise-wide, but provide time and cost-savings benefits to both you and your customers:
1. Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) and Short Message Service (SMS)
2. Wireless Mobility
3. Integrative Technologies
Texting 1, 2, 3: Please Listen Carefully As Our Options Have Changed
The most notable way in which Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technologies help improve workflows is by automating routine customer communications, such as appointment reminders, lab results and follow-up service surveys. With IVR software, you can quickly create, schedule and send custom messages to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of customers at once, saving hours of valuable staff time on making manual calls.
IVR technology utilizing artificial intelligence to interpret (and in some cases, predict) a user's responses can dramatically enhance your call flow capabilities to get customers to the right person or department more quickly. Instead of hearing a long list of options like "Press 1 for sales. Press 2 for customer service ...," callers can simply state what or who they need and the system automatically interprets and processes the call accordingly.
Another common technology that can enhance every day workflows is SMS, or what most of us simply refer to as text or instant (IM) messaging. Integrated with a company’s communications system, SMS allows employees to securely communicate and collaborate in real time while on the phone or on a video conference. (See? You really can do two things at once.) Marketers, in particular, have discovered the value of SMS as a popular customer communications tool, with marketing text messages achieving 98% open and 45% response rates.
Click here for more examples from CRM Magazine of how businesses can use IVR and SMS to enhance workflows.
Fascinating Factoid: 97% of Americans send text messages at least once a day, making text messaging the most-used smartphone app.
Work Takes Place Every Place
For years now, wireless technologies have enabled the proliferation of mobile communications, changing forever how business is conducted. With the transformation to the mobile workplace is the need to adapt workflows to support it. Here are just a couple of real-world examples of how mobile technologies are meeting that challenge in the medical field.
To enable enterprise mobility, phone features have evolved from simple hot desking (where employees share the same desk/IP phone at different times and locations) to supporting today's bring-your-own-device (BYOD) work environment -- in or out of the office. With applications like Vertical's ViewPoint Mobile™, workflows can proceed uninterrupted, thanks to seamless integration of enterprise communications features and functionality with employees' personal mobile devices.
Integrate, Integrate, Integrate!
In addition to integrating mobile devices into your communications system, the integration of company databases and directories, customer management and accounting programs, and other mission-critical systems and resources is essential to improving workflows. Integrative technologies and the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) are the lynchpins to creating a communications system built upon a company's specific use cases.
Integrating communications with other business systems saves time and reduces errors that often result from the manual re-entry of data into multiple programs. For example, Vertical's cloud-based CRMLink service eliminates the need to manually enter and create records in your CRM system by transparently connecting Vertical's Wave® IP Communications Platformwith popular cloud-based CRM and ERP programs where all incoming and outgoing calls (including mobile) are automatically logged for complete and accurate call activity records.
The Cloud Has Come of Age
Of course, all the buzz in business operations over the last several years has been about moving everything -- including communications -- to "the cloud." Cloud technologies provide secure, cost-effective access to files and business communications services from any location. These rapidly evolving technologies are also driving the need for new workflows to keep pace with the changes.
The challenge of cloud is to find a flexible infrastructure that can confrom to a business' unique needs and workflows without significant development and technology integration costs. Vertical Cloud Connect (VCC), for example, enables businesses to extend their Vertical Wave IP infrastructure to cloud-based services from any endpoint at any location. It serves as a fundamental link between the premise and the cloud, providing access to cloud-based tools and solutions that can increase productivity and enhance workflows.
We'll address other aspects of cloud technologies and deployments in upcoming blogs.
In the Meantime ...
These are just four examples of technologies that bring significant benefits to business communications. For a more detailed discussion of how to use them to enhance your own workflows, get our free white paper, "Beyond Technology: Planning Business Communications around Core Workflows." And, if you need more information about how to choose the best business communications system for how your business works today, check out our free buyer guide, "Straight Talk about Business Phone Systems."
Got a question about any of the technologies discussed here? Leave a comment below, and we'll get it answered for you.