In the age of social media and live chat, customers still feel talking to a human over the phone to be the more comforting and convenient mode of communication. Businesses that want to up their customer service game must take phone support seriously. A virtual phone system can help with that.
Human interaction matters now more than ever, with the growing adaptation of bots to resolve customer problems. Here is a quick stat to reiterate the fact that consumers prefer personalization even as businesses are headed towards AI/ML to enable customers to help themselves.
82% of U.S. consumers want more human interaction in the future. Regardless, the technology supporting human interaction must be seamless and unobtrusive across platforms. – PwC Experience is everything study
Your business needs a phone system now to meet customer expectations and to provide a personalized experience.
Read on to know how having a virtual number offers you a host of benefits, while also helping you provide a personalized experience to your users.
What is a virtual phone system?
A virtual phone system is not associated with any physical telephonic device. You can make and receive calls using virtual phone numbers through VoIP. All requests that are received are usually routed to the relevant department using an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. An IVR routes callers based on dial pad key presses. All calls made and received on a virtual phone system can be tracked for performance measurement, unlike a traditional phone system where it is difficult to track metrics.
How does a virtual phone system work?
Let’s say you are a business located in the USA, and you have customers in the UK. You want to contact them, but calling from your USA registered number wouldn’t be the best idea, as people don’t tend to answer calls when an international number is displayed.
In this scenario, you can purchase a local number in the UK, and call from that number through your browser. In this scenario, all that you need is a laptop/desktop with a working internet connection, and a local UK number.
A virtual phone number makes the call to be appearing from another country whereas the caller could be located anywhere else. This gives the advantage of creating a virtual local presence, without having to have a physical presence.
Virtual phone numbers work with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) as the transmission medium. VoIP connects through the internet and hence does not require a regular telephony carrier or connection to get started. A virtual phone system uses a virtual phone number as the main component so that users from anywhere in the world can access them.
Benefits of a virtual phone system
A virtual phone system is a modern-day rendering of the age-old analog telephony system. It bestows businesses with several benefits that enable quick scaling of call center operations, render better customer support or even augment intra-office collaboration.
Unlike a traditional phone system, a virtual phone has only minimal or no hardware associated with it. Apart from the inherent benefits that come with it like flexibility and pricing advantages, it also allows users to take and make calls on the go.
Here’s a brief look at some of the solid benefits that a virtual phone system can offer you:
1. Ease of use and setup
A virtual phone system operates in the Cloud, so all that you require is a stable internet connection and a device with which to connect to the network. You don’t need complex wiring and a phone server that comes with a traditional phone system. You can purchase a number and start making calls from your browser. Software nowadays also provide mobile apps, with which you can take calls and chat with customers on your phone.
Virtual phone systems usually take the form of SaaS products which have a pay-as-you-use pricing model. This is extremely beneficial for small businesses since they do not have to lock-in huge amounts of working capital for capacity that they may not be using. Also, it is possible to upscale or downscale the number of agent licenses or phone numbers depending on the dynamic increase in call volumes.
Furthermore, you can also purchase local/toll-free numbers as you need. There is no rigidity in buying or using virtual phone numbers.
3. Flexibility to use on any device
You can purchase a local/toll-free number and attend to users on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. You can also be available to your customers at any time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be at a desk to take calls, you can even be sitting at your house in some remote location while solving your users’ problems at the same time. This proves to be a win-win: you get work flexibility, and your customers get their issues resolved.
4. Work in different time zones
Companies these days tend to have customers spanning different geographical locations. This means that you need to be available round the clock to serve their needs. With a traditional phone system, this becomes a complicated task, as setting up a phone system with servers in different locations is cumbersome and requires a large pool of resources. You can avoid this complexity by setting up a virtual team consisting of agents working in different time zones. You can purchase a number and assign it to a particular time zone, and have agents working in that time zone take the calls. This helps you establish yourself as a 24/7 business that is always available for customers.
5. Measure performance
A virtual phone system makes it possible to track KPIs of a call center and your telephony operations at a granular level. It offers visibility across incoming and outgoing calls and also helps measure call handling efficiency with metrics like call summary reports, agent summary reports and call volume analysis reports. These metrics can help you get insights into the current process and tweak it if required.
How you can improve customer service with a virtual phone system
The ultimate goal of shifting from a traditional phone setup is to serve your customers better. Happy customers always come back to do business with you and bring others with them along the way. Here’s how you can help your customers by having a virtual number.
1. Single point of contact
Having multiple points of contact may confuse customers on which number to call. It also means that the customer had to try all the numbers until he/she gets the correct one associated with his/her region.
You can prevent this by using a single virtual number, which you can advertise everywhere. How this helps your customers is that they will call only on that number, and they could be routed to the correct department either based on IVR or call transfers. This reduces the number of steps the customer had to take to reach your company, simplifying the customer relationship process to a great deal.
2. Route customers to the right agent
You can set up an IVR or call queue with a virtual number. For example, a customer may call the advertised number for a sales-related query, and an agent from a different department could pick the call. With a virtual number, you can set up an IVR wherein the customer can be routed directly to the relevant agent based on dial-pad key presses. You can also set up call queues, and the available agents can transfer calls based on voice input from the caller. This saves the customer from having to repeat the query multiple times to each agent at every step.
3. Personalize customer experience
In the era of digitization, personalization is the key. A few customers may have dealt with an agent regarding an issue, and they may want to deal with the same person again when trying to reach your business. In this scenario, that agent becomes the face of your business for that particular customer. With virtual numbers, you can purchase unique extensions and assign them to agents. Customers can key in that extension number to talk to that specific agent, which gives them a highly personalized experience, thus increasing engagement with your business.
4. Reduce wait time through voicemail
Sometimes, you might get sales queries where the customer would want to know the price quote. In such cases, they could leave a voicemail asking to send in the quote. This reduces the waiting time for callers while also minimizing the number of callers in the queue. This is also helpful when the waiting queue is too long, and the customer doesn’t want to wait.
5. Being available while on-the-go
Most providers that offer a virtual phone system also provide a mobile app. This means that agents can download the app and tackle any urgent issues outside of working hours if required. They also have the flexibility to stay up-to-date by tracking call status on their mobile phones. Agents don’t have to be at their desks always to take calls, and this provides flexibility to stay connected at all times.
6. Call quality tracking
With virtual numbers, you can track different call metrics. This helps you see the volume of incoming calls, the number of calls answered/missed/voicemail, duration of each call, etc. This will help you evaluate the performance of your call center to help your customers better. For example, if an agent is spending too much time on a call, you could set SLAs that dictate how much time an agent can spend on each call. This helps you handle the incoming call volume while handling customers efficiently and quickly.
Customer service is the biggest differentiator that modern-day businesses can have against the cut-throat competition. When it comes to providing customer support, phone support remains the most-preferred channel. A virtual phone system allows businesses to set up a phone support channel, manage it easily and also scale it as and when the business volume spike up.
They also offer many benefits like flexibility, affordability, easy setup that traditional phone systems lack. Businesses are headed towards the cloud today more than ever, and this would be the perfect time for you to make the move.