Improving Customer Service by Automating Your Phone Business
By TREVOR STOUT
CEO, Jacent Technologies
Lost calls mean more than lost profits. They are a key indicator of unhappy customers, and a barrier to repeat business.
Along with providing an automatic order status for customers and minimizing the amount of time a customer is on hold, automating phone sales operations can unearth a wealth of information from identifying why calls are lost and how your customers are being treated to identifying training needs, highlighting problem calls and detecting and preventing employee theft.
In the past, there has been little that managers could do to monitor and control inbound phone calls – resulting in poor customer service going unchecked. However, new gains in voice recognition and call management technology can empower businesses to increase revenue and customer satisfaction as well as improve overall operations through the automation of sales orders.
Automating your phone business with speech recognition
Developed by AT&T’s Bell Labs, the first speech recognition machine was called the Voder, and was demonstrated at the 1939 World’s Fair. The machine used a keyboard and foot pedals to play and emit speech. From these humble beginnings and with more than 65 years of research and development, speech recognition technology has advanced to become an accepted way for companies to make their phone business more efficient and cost-effective. It has become commonplace to use automated speech recognition systems to perform an ever-widening range of important functions, including placing orders and checking on order status.
The advantages of using today’s speech recognition technologies to automate a company’s phone sales are proven. Automating your phone business can lead to significantly improved customer service and help make the ordering process become more efficient. Benefits include:
- Taking more orders during peak hours by ensuring that all orders are taken in a timely fashion and minimizing the amount of time customers are on hold – leading to fewer lost calls.
- Improving staff performance by applying advanced capabilities for precision quality monitoring and advanced analytics which supervisors can use to go beyond mere call recordings and proactively identify and reliably evaluate the quality of service provided to customers.
- Increasing average order size by automatically promoting high-margin specials using analytics to profile each customer and their individual needs and preferences.
- Increasing repeat business and referrals by providing a higher level of customer service and satisfaction.
Selecting the right system for your business
There are several important factors to consider when selecting the right system for your business. For a successful deployment and to ensure maximum benefit to your business, the system should have:
- Complete ordering applications, fully built to take customer orders and to allow customers to check on order status prior to delivery.
- Customizable features appropriate to your business so that you can use the system to promote specials and coupons, track customer buying behavior, conduct customer loyalty analysis and be able to change the call scripts as easily as possible, when needed.
- Integration with key back-end systems so that the only new technology required is the call management system.
- A system that has both an enhanced speech recognition engine which is tuned to your specific user base and industry, and a speech application which is designed specifically for order taking.
There are a few solutions available on the market today that meet these requirements. One of them is Jacent Technologies’ Jacent Voice Center, a complete call business management system designed to be both expandable and inexpensive to deploy. Voice Center handles all of the call business needs and expands to add powerful additional modules that enhance and improve the entire scope of phone sales operations.
Three modules make up the Voice Center family. OrderStream automates the order taking process. CallWise records each incoming phone call, and delivers comprehensive reporting and analytics so that businesses can better understand all aspects of the ordering process. And, QuickStart makes each call faster by providing staff with pre-screened customer order information before they ever pick up the phone.
As you are researching options, one thing to beware of is solutions offered by service providers. Often these solutions provide for the development of the initial application, and then stop there without offering further support options. In reality, after the initial application is completed, the job is just beginning. If you select to go down this route, it’s important to keep in mind that the tuning of the application and the attainment of acceptable completion rates can often be as expensive and time consuming as the development of the initial application itself.
Taking complete control of your phone business is essential, and call management systems can be deployed for a fraction of the amount businesses lose to lost orders each year. In the restaurant industry for example, before automation, the average restaurant conducting between $15,000 and $20,000 in weekly business loses more than $1,500 per week due to lost orders. This represents an annual loss of over $78,000. New speech technology has proven itself as a solution that’s ready for prime-time, and one that customers have embraced as a welcome alternative to waiting on hold.
Trevor Stout is CEO, president and co-founder of Jacent Technologies, a supplier of voice-ordering platforms for automating inbound telephone calls. Prior to Jacent, Mr. Stout was founder, president and CEO for iCommerce, a pioneer in developing e-commerce solutions. Before iCommerce, he co-founded Internet Business Solutions (IBS), a premier Web development firm, where he served as president and CTO. Mr. Stout began his career as a project manager at IBM where he pioneered the development of IBM's Web site and IBMLink, IBM's Web system for customer support and sales information. Trevor can be contacted at email@example.com 408-327-9100. For more information about Jacent, go to www.jacent.com.
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