“Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” — arguably the most famous line by Lionel Richie. Unfortunately, it’s also a line that many customers will have heard down the end of the telephone receiver after what feels like an eternity on hold. Being transferred from one person to the next can often feel like an empty game of pass-the-parcel. Pairing a cloud communications platform with business automation software could be the answer you are looking for.
Traditionally, texting or talking on your smartphone in the company of colleagues, clients and friends was viewed as unprofessional, unsociable and quite simply, rude. Fast forward into the digitally saturated landscape of 2016 and SMS messaging has become a cornerstone of communication for businesses across a multitude of sectors including hospitality, retail and transportation.
It may not come as a surprise to learn that we check our phones, on average, 46 times a day. As a result, targeting customers through their smartphones is currently the most successful communication tool that a brand can use. In comparison, email is decreasing in popularity, with a response rate of just six per cent compared to the 46% of SMS. However, although smartphones may provide brands with instant access to their key customers, ensuring that they are providing relevant and useful information is key to ensuring you meet a customer’s needs.
In 2015, 8.3 trillion text messages were sent worldwide. That’s an average of 23 billion messages per day and 16 million messages per minute. While those numbers alone are staggering, do we ever stop to consider just how many of these messages were sent from businesses? As businesses adapt their communication strategies to reflect the changing needs of their customers, SMS messaging is becoming the key form of conversation for brands to reach out to their customers.
However, integrating SMS into a business strategy can take time, money and resources. This is where the integration of business automation software such as Twilio comes into play. Twilio is a cloud communications software that allows programmes to automatically make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages using its web-service application programming interface (API).
Business automation software works with platforms such as Twilio, automatically sending customers SMS messages with key information such as when their order will be dispatched or confirmation of an appointment. Using a tool such as this as part of their business automation processes, business leaders can automate SMS and voice functionality across business areas such as sales, marketing, HR and logistics.
To eliminate the process of interpreting high volumes of information, the technology instantly reads, understands and processes incoming SMS messages from customers, automatically choosing the correct next step. The system identifies key triggers in the messages, providing instant responses and translating into one of over 40 languages where necessary. The inherent speed of communication using SMS messages means that any software used to automate them must be equally as fast and responsive.
In recent years, the trusty telephone has come under scrutiny, with customers exasperated by lengthy holding times, expensive call charges and unreliable information. However, voice calls remain one of the most popular forms of communication, with 100 million voice calls made through WhatsApp every day.
So how can businesses streamline their telephone communications to increase their return on investment (ROI) while simultaneously improving customer service? Twilio’s web-service API easily integrates into business automation software, automatically connecting calls between employees and customers.
The sophisticated call automation tool maximises potential outbound sales and minimises incoming support-loads by eliminating the time call teams spend directing the correct call to the correct employee. Automating phone conversations allows businesses to save time, money and resources by intelligently selecting the most appropriate member of staff to handle each call.
Inevitably, there will be times when calls need to be put on hold, however briefly. In these times, it is important that businesses choose automation software that gives callers up-to-date information about queue times as well as alternative contact methods. By reducing the numbers of dropped calls, businesses can help more customers and improve customer sentiment.
While smartphones may provide us with Pokémon Go, Snapchat, Instagram and every other app that we couldn’t possibly live without, it also provides the perfect platform to connect business and consumer. By implementing cloud calling and business automation to simplify communications, businesses can ensure they’re never left waiting by the phone.
By Stephen Parker, CEO and founder of Parker Software