Even prior to the pandemic, communications were transitioning into more digital-friendly environments. Today, the focus is on delivering an omnichannel experience for customers, understanding their requirements, and delivering value while remaining compliant and positioning the organisation for future growth as cost-effectively as possible.
Here are some of the more significant trends impacting this drive as organisations across industry sectors must reimagine how they engage with their stakeholders.
1. Understanding analytics in a multi-communications world
As people become comfortable with the concept of omnichannel, companies need to better identify the issues customers are experiencing and find better ways of solving them. It is not about expanding the contact centre with more agents or just relying on artificial intelligence (AI) derived insights. Instead, it is about coming to grips with sentiment analysis where analysts can understand the context to the issues at hand.
We have seen analytics growing significantly in momentum since last year. But contrary to popular belief, AI is not a silver bullet. It requires a human element to deliver the empathy and understanding to what people have been dealing with since the onset of the pandemic.
2. Unifying communications and collaboration
Ultimately, this is where the growth will be for the foreseeable future. The single voice silo platform hosted on-premise is dead. Even cloud voice by itself means nothing. Companies need an integrated environment with voice, chats, meetings, collaboration, and context to bring true quality to the conversation.
Whether it is communication platforms as a service or unified communication as a service, this unified approach will be critical to remain relevant and draw insights from customers. But it is about more than giving them more ways of engagement. It is also about empowering employees to become more efficient at their jobs with cloud services delivering a seamless experience. VoIP has now just become one of the transport protocols. It is now about providing a tailored environment delivering on all communication needs.
3. Compliance, compliance, compliance
With the enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) set for 1 July this year, companies must ensure that data security and privacy are taken care of. This is especially the case when unifying communications, analysing customer data, and creating more engagement points.
Along with this is the need to provide a single sign-on process for users of applications. Currently, people need to sign into multiple services and often just use their emails and weak passwords to do so quickly. However, by using a trusted identity provider (think Google, Microsoft, or an independent third-party), the focus can be on getting work done and the access required is taken care of while remaining compliant.
4. CRM integration and cost-savings
It stands to reason that using customer relationship management (CRM) more effectively is vital to communication success. Integrating CRM into the unified communication and collaboration environment has already been a hot topic in 2021. It comes down to making customers’ lives easier. To do so, requires the business to understand the context of who the customer is and have real-time access to information that can help resolve queries.
This will contribute to cost savings despite the initial investment requirement to optimise existing systems and introduce more innovative ones. With companies already focused on creating an efficient environment, how they conduct time management will be critical for success. It is not about monitoring staff all the time but giving them the tools needed to resolve queries. So, this transitions the company into a more performance-based one.
5. Payment methods diversifying
Any person who has been doing online shopping recently is aware that the number of payment options available to customers have increased significantly. However, payment facilities will extend beyond these Web transactions into a more dynamic environment.
For example, a customer can be on a call with an agent and then directed to a secure IVR process to perform a transaction and directed back to the agent once completed. Voice recognition can also be used here for biometric authentication.
The future of communications has changed dramatically in recent months. It is now up to the organisation to embrace this change and become more competitive for the new normal.