Today’s customers expect to engage with brands on their terms: they want to call their bank, write on their mobile service provider’s Facebook wall and SMS their insurance company when it suits them.
And this engagement pattern is accelerating. Morgan Stanley estimates that by 2015 the smartphone will become the most popular way to access web-based services. To grow and prosper, smaller businesses need to offer the same type of flexible, real time customer service availability.
How can SMEs compete on service with large companies?
In response to this challenge larger companies are more likely to have the capital to invest in technology systems capable of handling large volumes of customer inquiries through multiple communication channels.
SMEs with a limited cash flow often aren’t in a position to cough up for what has, traditionally, been expensive technology. Now, cloud software means that superior customer service delivery using multiple channels and sophisticated systems is in reach of all companies, regardless of size – without the huge upfront costs or long term contracts.
This levels the playing field for SMEs and allows them to improve customer service and compete with larger companies.
Cloud can save you money
For businesses of any size, one of the main benefits of cloud technology is the impact on the bottom line. Cloud software will help SMEs save money and become more efficient by operating with a leaner IT environment which scales in line with business growth. So SMEs can consume and pay for cloud technology how and when they need it.
Cloud can accelerate growth
Whilst traditional customer service software is advanced it is also expensive, has significant upfront cost, locks you into a defined contract and takes months to implement. In contrast cloud does not lock you into a contract and can be implemented in days. The lack of upfront infrastructure costs also save SMEs money in the crucial start-up phase while setting them up for exponential growth in the future.
Cloud can scale with customer demand
Software As-A Service (SaaS) describes the delivery model most commonly used with cloud software: – when usage is metered rather than paid for outright. Software usage is scaled up or down, based on demand.
For example, in the lead up to Christmas, an online retail business needs be agile and increase the capacity in its contact centre or sales team from 5 to 10 people to cope with the higher volume of calls. Following the peak Christmas period, the company can reduce the capacity back down to 5 people, only ever paying for what was used.
So how are SMEs embracing cloud?
A Sydney-based SME insurance company quadrupled in size within a year by using cloud software to grow quickly and service customer needs more effectively. Twelve months after launching their business, they took the decision to move their contact centre in-house, and set up its sales team with cloud-based contact centre technology.
The decision to deploy a cloud-based platform was made on the usage-based pricing model, which involves minimal upfront costs and boasts features such as reporting, voice recording and the ability to make real time changes to the system within minutes in response to customer activity.
The company can now create performance reports and dashboards with full visibility of daily performance, which is a key advantage in the highly competitive insurance market.
In twelve months the company’s sales team has grown from 10 to 40 agents with a rapid increase in both inbound and outbound sales, and customer service calls. The company can now load new campaigns every day and make real time changes to their call centre support in response to campaign performance. The increase in contact centre capacity results in shorter waiting time for customers.