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How to improve customer service through speech technology

In a world of chatbots and AI, where a single emoji can paint a thousand words, it may seem counterintuitive to focus on how speech technology can improve customer service. After all, isn’t voice fast becoming an outdated method of communicating, and shouldn’t businesses – especially SMEs – be targeting their limited resources elsewhere? Are small business telecoms worth investing in anymore?

Not so fast – data suggests many of us still appreciate the value of voice when it comes to building and maintaining our relationships. Reports show that over 200 million ‘voice notes’ are sent over WhatsApp each day, proving we’re still keen to embrace the ease, speed and emotional nuances of voice communication.

But this isn’t just true in our everyday lives. Starting and nurturing relationships successfully is a cornerstone of customer service.  Gamma’s Digital Transformation research backs up the importance of voice in building customer relationships, with 73% of IT decision makers agreeing that voice has unique properties as a business tool. They also ranked voice highly as a communications channel for a range of key customer service tasks: 65% identified voice as the best way to open up a conversation, while 40% cited it as the preferred method for dealing with a complaint.

All in all, voice is clearly a pretty powerful tool. This should give SMEs a serious pause for thought – especially those who are overlooking telephony solutions in favour of AI or chatbots. Voice still packs a punch, and it has a big role to play in customer service.Improving customer service with constant connectivity

So how does this translate to actually improving levels of service? To find the answer, organisations should be considering what it is that customers actually want. For example, Gamma’s research shows that constant connectivity is now considered a bare minimum for customers. The benchmarks of service have changed: if there’s a problem, customers want to reach somebody quickly to get it resolved. Even smaller businesses need to be instantly available.

This creates a pressing issue for SMEs in terms of internal resource. Unlike their larger competitors, SMEs may not have the luxury of a dedicated in-house call team, but there are ways around this. An integrated mobile, landline and desktop telephony solution such as Gamma’s Connect, means your clients can still reach you, even if you’re away from your desk. This is a great way of meeting customer demand and improving the service you’re providing – because in a world where customers are used to constant connectivity, SMEs can’t afford to drop the ball.

Communication, your customer’s way

When you think of service that fits around your customer, you might think of instant messaging or emails. But as we’ve established, it’s not that customers don’t want to talk on the phone – it’s just that they like to communicate in different ways at different times.

Our choice of communication platform is usually motivated by our intent, after all. So, if you’re serious about improving customer service, you need to accommodate for the fact your customer might want to start a conversation one way and end it another. If they’ve got a non-urgent question, they’ll probably ping off an email – but when they’ve got a problem that needs solving right away, nothing but a voice on the end of the phone will do.

Connect can help SMEs provide optimal customer service by facilitating conversation in your customer’s preferred style. Smartphones can work seamlessly with desktops and landlines, allowing communication to move from platform to platform with minimal disruption. And of course, all of this can be done while maintaining the features that your business needs to keep improving, like enhanced reporting and call analysis.

The future of small business telecoms: agile, accessible, connected

For SMEs, staying ahead of the game is essential when it comes to competing with larger brands. Business leaders should therefore stop and remember how powerful speech technology can be when it comes to improving their customers’ experience. Ultimately, SMEs don’t need to reinvent the wheel to up their customer service game. They simply need to remain agile, accessible, and above all, connected.

Want to know more about the power of speech for your organisation? Download our eGuide now to find out how your business can use voice to take the lead.