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The Best Ways To Integrate Different Forms of Customer Service in to Your Phone System.

Picture this. You’re a customer with a query. You’ve emailed a business’ customer service address and got a response. But now you need to clarify something on your account relating to that email. You call up the customer service line, and Jane on the phone has no idea about your email. She struggles to find the query on your account, and the whole process of your simple enquiry becomes a complicated one. This is an example of bad customer service.

In a world where communication comes in a diverse range of methods: chat, email, phone calls, notes on accounts, social media posts, the list goes on, customers need a seamless experience between each contact. It’s no good having all these points of communication set up, if they can’t talk to each other.

Fortunately, a system which can incorporate different forms of customer service does exist. Known as ‘integrated phone support’ the system links the range of communication channels available, so that a customer receives a ‘Hello Mrs Edwards, are you calling about the email you sent yesterday?’ rather than a generic ‘How can I help?’. Good customer service sets a business apart from the rest, and integrated phone support ensures this.

What are the Benefits?

Busy Customer Service Centres

It happens in all call centres. Certain times of the day mean calls come in their droves, and call agents can be left with customers waiting on hold till the next worker is free.

This issue is made worse by long call times caused by agents switching between systems to read emails and chat history. An integrated phone system means this switching time is eliminated. They can view the customer’s activity across the many service channels on just one platform, meaning they have a full understanding of their interaction with the business, and can act accordingly.

It also improves productivity in other ways. No note taking is necessary as the system automatically records calls, customer history and automates ticket creation. It smoothens the customer service process for both parties – meaning the agent can focus on the task in hand, and the customer receives what they are calling for.

Call Queuing 

Effective call queuing improves customer service by managing their expectations as to waiting time. Calls are placed in a queue until an assistant is available to take them, with a message delivered to the caller about how long their waiting time will be. In this way, customers are generally happier with their experience because they understand the wait time and can consider whether they would like to call back another time.

This has the added benefit of reducing call volumes, and naturally redistributing calls to quieter periods. Those customers who decide they do not wish to wait in the queue, can hang up, and call again later when it is more suitable. A win-win for both parties.

Call Allocating 

The system can also distribute calls to the most appropriate handler who will handle it effectively. This is normally achieved by asking the caller a couple of questions about the reason for their call. Using an algorithm, it then allocates the call to the handler with the correct training, seniority level, and department.

This also boosts customer experience. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the person on the end of the phone doesn’t know what they are doing and will not handle your complaint effectively. Agents can be specially trained in their niche, negating the need for extensive all-round training, reducing the costs associated with this, whilst helping customers get what they want.

Raising a Ticket

With an integrated ticketing system, you have the option to have automatic ticket creation. This means that handlers do not have to input their own data, leaving them to focus on listening to the customers concerns, and deciding the best course of action to deal with it.

All communication from the customer is compiled onto one ticket, meaning the call agent has all the information they need to help the customer. It also means that tickets are never lost in the process – so no angry customers wanting to complain.

Customer Insights

As each case gets resolved, the database becomes a treasure trove of insights into how to handle customer queries, how well agents perform, what customers tend to complain about most, and a whole host of other juicy data points.

You can use these metrics to find out where the holes in your product are, and therefore where you can improve in the future. This is a great addition to any growing company that wants to streamline its business model. It’s insights like this that help businesses stand out from their competition.

Customer Satisfaction

Some ticketing systems include a feature which asks for customer satisfaction ratings after their contact with your service centre. This helps you understand how your customer service is performing. Do you need extra training for new agents? Did that investment into Social Media mean customers are happier? These answers will all become clear when the satisfaction ratings roll in. Keeping on top of metrics like this will mean that customers return out of loyalty, leading sales figures to soar.

Agent Ratings

The software can also measure metrics on an agent’s performance. This can come within a larger analytics system, or you can choose this option as a standalone tool. Time per call, conversational skills and number of resolutions are all measureable and can help you get a good idea of how well agents are working. If new agents are consistently underperforming, it may mean a training update is due. Alternatively, management may need a reminder of the day-to-day practices to help you get back on track.

Consolidated system for the IT department

We’ve talked about the benefits for the owners, managers and call agents – but what about the poor IT department? A customer service system with multiple platforms with different suppliers simply makes for hard work. An integrated customer phone system means one supplier and one platform so that the IT department can work smart, not hard. Most systems work on a VoIP solution, meaning a reduced amount of equipment is necessary, with smaller maintenance costs and increased portability.

Who offers this system?

Vivantio

One of the top companies offering an integrated system is Vivantio.

Price Point

They sell two distinct packages. One is designed for small to medium sized businesses offering four configurable ticket types and three service level milestones (open, response close). This is known as its ‘Pro’ system and comes in at £34 per user per month and is billed on an annual basis.

They also offer an ‘ITSM’ system designed for medium to large business. It includes an unlimited number of configurable ticket types, and its service level milestones are user defined. Essentially, you get the full package with the ITSM system, which comes it at £48 per user per month billed annually.

Review

Whilst these packages do err on the more expensive side, they are well praised. PC Mag awarded Vivantio Pro with the Editor’s Choice award in 2017, giving it a solid 4.5 out of 5. It is described as a feature-rich system, offering you all the capabilities you need to get your customer service level to where you want it. It’s a flexible system which will work with any other apps you may be using to reach out to customers. If you’re looking for an all-round system, with all of the bells and whistles, you’ll choose Vivantio.

The biggest downfall of this system is the price. Some may find it quite a steep starting point, and the company only offers two systems. However, Vivantio do encourage you to call them up to discuss the packages. You may be able to negotiate a system more suited to your needs with a more reasonable price. There’s no harm giving it a go.

Freshdesk

Freshdesk is right for you if you’re new to integrated systems and are looking for one which is quick, easy to set up, and simple to use. It gives you most of features you’ll need to get started, with a few bonus ones which even the most expensive systems don’t offer. It also gives great flexibility to adapt the system to your brand and provides multiple ways for you to raise a ticket.

Price Point

Freshdesk actually offers a free package, which includes a basic, email and social media channel for unlimited agents. This could be a great trial package, or if you plan to expand in the future, getting on the Freshdesk bandwagon early will make it easier to integrate a more advanced system in the future. Paid-for systems start at £15 per user per month, which are designed for small teams, and go up to £69 per user per month, described as being for enterprises. In the middle of these two price points, you have some pretty good value for money systems.

Review

Whilst the price point is pretty spot on, there are downfalls to the Freshdesk system. If your system adheres to ITIL, Freshdesk is missing some of the core functionality components you may need, meaning it’s not really appropriate for a managed services organisation. Their sister company Freshservice does actually provide a full ITIL system with that higher level of helpdesk software, so if you love what Freshdesk does, and many people do, it may be worth checking that one out.

HappyFox

HappyFox is raved about by the reviewers of PC Mag, receiving a 4.5 out of 5 and an Editor’s Choice Award. It’s great system that will suit pretty much any business.

Price Point

HappyFox plans start at $29 per user per month, but depending on your needs, can stretch up to $89. All services include unlimited ticketing categories. Their more expensive systems include features such as customer ticket queues, proactive agent collision, and sentiment analysis.

Review

Even their Mighty system, the cheapest they offer, is still pretty feature-rich, offering you a good level of functionality. It can be operated by even the least tech-savvy individuals and comes in at a reasonable price point based on the features it offers. HappyFox is celebrated by many in the business, but it’s important to make sure the features are right for your company. You may find that a cheaper service is perfectly suitable for your needs.

Zendesk

Zendesk is potentially the most popular integrated customer telephone systems. It has great packages for low-prices, but as functionality advances it can become quite pricey.

Price Point

Zendesk offers packages starting at £5 per agent per month – a great starter pack. Prices range all the way up to their Elite system, coming in at £149 per agent per month. Their plans offer great flexibility, so it’s important to assess your needs before purchasing.

Review

Zendesk is recommended for medium companies as a general rule. Whilst they do offer high level functionality, its service doesn’t rival some of the more advanced packages its competitors offer. It has a pretty flexible pricing structure, meaning you could get a plan offering exactly the features your business needs for a decent price. According to Finances Online, Zendesk has a 98% customer satisfaction rate – you can’t really go wrong with that. Essentially, the majority of businesses are going to find that Zendesk offers exactly what they’re looking for.

Zoho Desk 

Zoho Desk is another popular and well-regarded system perfect for small to medium businesses, but also offering an extensive range of more advanced features for those with a bigger budget.

Price Point

Zoho has a great free package, which is the perfect place to start understanding the system and checking if it’s right for you. It has two more options available, at £15 and £25 per agent per month. For this price, you get some good features, and the system can be integrated with third-party platforms such as Facebook, and Twitter.

Review

Zoho is essentially an easy to use, yet highly capable system. It has a reasonable price point, making it great for those on a budget. If you’re looking for integrated asset management, this might not be the service for you. Otherwise, it’s a great all-rounder and definitely an option to consider.

Author: Yazz

Yazz is a trained telecommunications engineer with a diploma in telecommunications. He has spent the last 15 years working for Telefonica, one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world.