Today, people are using multiple channels of communication to interact – be it customers engaging with brands or for internal organisational use – and being able to synchronise these different modes of communication is becoming crucial to ensuring a seamless and pleasant user experience across all touch points.

Business communications were historically focused on voice and email, though this is now expanding to include video, and text, be it on the website through WebRTC, or through social media platforms, like Facebook or Twitter, and instant messengers, such as WhatsApp. This explosion of channels means that businesses need a more intelligent way of managing their communications. In addition, research shows that brands that engage in conversational marketing tend to build better, personalised relationships with their customers, helping grow sales and increase the customer lifetime value.

But, developing the ability to drive intelligent communications isn’t just about technology, but evolving business processes to meet the requirements of the modern user, enabling employees, and using the wide range of available tools – powered by cloud computing – to enable better quality conversations. So, what do businesses need to consider before getting started?

Simplifying the technology stack

For many companies, their underlying systems are not conducive to a digital environment, and they need to consider the changes or improvements that enable the ability to provide more personalised service, synchronise communications across multiple channels and devices, or to introduce automation to improve business processes or speed up administrative tasks. In order to provide these seamless experiences, there has to be a high level of interoperability between a company’s backend systems, and this is where many often fall short.

This can be made easier by moving into the cloud, which not only gives businesses access to more features and functionality, but helps simplify their technology stack. It is easier said than done though; moving to the cloud is an investment decision, which requires the commitment of both skills and capital, and businesses should work with a skilled and experienced partner in order to identify the goals and objectives, and ensure a better return on investment.

Giving customers choice of channel

A simple start to improved customer service is being able to know who is contacting you, and to have a history of past engagements so you are able to more quickly attend to their needs – something that becomes possible when you integrate your business communications with your customer relationship management system.

However, while voice still accounts for the bulk of customer interactions, digitally savvy users are exploring other options. Increasingly, people have taken an affinity toward self-service, and are willing to use FAQs or chatbots in digital platforms in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and to resolve those themselves.

The key for businesses, however, is to ensure that these users are able to easily be redirected to a human agent should they have more complex challenges or are not able to resolve their issue through a self-service method, as leaving them stuck in this instance can cause more frustration, negatively impact customer experience and damage the relationship with the brand. It should be noted that implementation of such automation generally tends to be clumsy in the first generation, and it is vital that businesses learn quickly and adapt accordingly.

Leveraging the power of cloud providers

Traditionally, the communications offerings provided to organisations have been kept separate, with one solution for standard business communications (comprising PBXs or IP PBXs, call managers, desk phones and more) and solutions containing specialised hardware and software that are aimed at the contact centre market. This resulted in a situation where many CRM systems could proficiently handle different communications channels with exception of audio, while PBX systems could handle audio, but often lacked integration with CRM systems.

Closing this gap requires a change in mindset; the advent of cloud-based contact centre solutions has democratised the market for centre operators, by ensuring functionality that was once the preserve of enterprise scale customers is now available to any customer regardless of size. This includes advanced analytics, automatic transcription, voice sentiment analysis, voice biometrics and identity authentication, text analysis and more.

These will be powered through tools from major cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft, which make use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. These providers have invested substantially into developing these cloud tools, and businesses need to leverage what is on offer rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Finding the right guide for your journey

The challenge though, is that many organisations are not fully aware of the technologies out there, and how they can be applied to bring improvements to their business; as such, it is vital to work with the right partner in order to get the best out of the available platforms and applications.

The digital transformation journey is not a singular event, but an ongoing process; as such it is more than just about implementing a technology tool. It is about working with an industry expert that has a strong record in service delivery and customer service, a product roadmap that you will fit best with your future business communications requirements – and is still likely to be around in the long run.

By Rob Lith, CCO at Telviva