Unified Communications does seem to play a significant role in the ability of small and medium-size businesses to provide superior customer service, according to a recent survey.
The survey, the subject of a Webtorials report (registration required), focused both on customer perceptions and the use of UC by companies with 500 employees or less. There are lessons here for enterprises as well, although probably regarding a customer service culture more than technology.
In the survey, 75 percent of respondents ranked the customer service they get from smaller companies as “excellent” or “good” (46 percent excellent, 29 percent good), while only 43 percent gave those top rankings to enterprises (33 percent excellent, 10 percent good).
The survey also looked at the UC tools that the smaller companies are using, and found a “significant trend” toward using VoIP and UC to expand skills across locations for improved customer service, and to save money as well. The companies surveyed were using a mix of premises-based UC equipment and cloud-based UC services, with four out of five companies either using VoIP already or planning to within a year. And nearly two-thirds of the companies are already using, or are planning to use, UC to integrate voice, e-mail, and chat communications, along with skills-based routing in their contact centers.
One shortcoming with the survey, though, is the fact that the survey respondents all work for companies with under 500 employees, so their sympathies may be skewed toward working with other smaller companies. But if you put that aside, a key point for enterprises here is that respondents, as consumers, are willing to pay a premium for top-flight customer service.
The survey showed that respondents expressed a willingness to pay as much as 20 percent more for a product or service if it was accompanied by “exceptional” customer service.
Whether they would do that in the real world, when that 20 percent premium translates into perhaps hundreds of dollars, is another question. The important takeaway is that there is a pretty solid premium attached to a perception of great customer service.
Enterprises, of course, are probably much farther along the UC path than the smaller companies, so the challenge for them is not so much understanding or leveraging or implementing the technology, but developing the top-customer-service mindset that will win customers and retain them. Those are business process and corporate culture issues that each company has to resolve and streamline on its own.
But there is no doubt that once an enterprise achieves that desired mindset, UC and its many tools will enable it to stand out from its competitors and win both market share and customer acclaim.