When it comes to business conversations, phones are as personal as it gets. Businesses use phones to connect with prospects & virtual colleagues, to entertain enquiries from prospective customers, and resolve issues from the existing ones. Until recently, you would have to settle for on-premise phone systems. Besides having to pay for the call charges, you would also have to spend money on hardware, installation, upgrading & maintenance (provided only by certified specialists from your on-premise phone vendor). Off late, even these vendors have included cloud-based offerings on their menu desperately trying to stay relevant. But dipping your feet in the ocean doesn’t make you a swimmer.
On-Premise Phone Systems
On-Premise phone systems require you to own the hardware (local servers) necessary for setting up your phone system. You install proprietary software of your vendors, which enables you to set up either desk phones or install softphones on your laptops or PC. You end up spending thousands of dollars even before making a single call. To make it worse, this is a highly painstaking and time-consuming process involving a great deal of planning before you even can get started with operating the a call center.
Resolution through Phones
Phones are popular among those seeking instant gratification or solutions to complex queries. Would you prefer talking to your delivery person over phone call or via an e-mail? We came across an interesting hotel booking experience posted by one of our colleagues on an internal portal. She had to complete the booking by directly calling up the hotel. Why not use the hundreds of hotel booking sites you ask? Let us do a small experiment.
Log on to your favourite hotel booking site and try reserving rooms for a family of three where all of them stay for the first two nights and then two of them stay on for an extra two days.
Yes, you get to avail a discount if you plan to stay for more than three nights. But how do you book a room for three people for the first couple of nights and two on the other two ? Why so complicated, you ask? Well, that’s family for you.
Of course you can complete this booking without making a single phone call by not availing the discount or booking the third person in a separate room. On the other hand, a simple phone call to a human, who understands how families function make it smooth sailing for your planning.
Cost of Ownership
Ownership of phone systems gave businesses a sense of control. Any sunk investment would be offset by the pride of ownership. However, ownership is a concept that is moving closer towards obscurity as seen by the rise of the shared economy model.
People are getting very comfortable with the idea of renting or co-owning accommodation, food, travel, and even office premises. Business phone systems exhibit similar behavior as shown by the emergence of dependable cloud based alternatives. With the cloud, you can launch a call center in minutes for your business sitting anywhere in the world.
You have x customers today. Over the course of the next three years(if you are planning anything greater than five, my advice – drop it), you estimate a certain % of growth. You purchase hardware and licenses accounting for your growth to save yourself the trouble of expanding your phone system later.
In essence, you plan to pay upfront for capacity you might not later use? What happens when you have to expand your capacity because you have exceeded your targets (Isn’t that the dream?!)? How about the annual maintenance contracts with your on-premise phone systems? What happens when there is a local outage? Multiple questions for which there seem to be no easy answers.
Embrace the Cloud
“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly, If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon emphatically explains how companies need to stay relevant to the customer while adapting to the new changes in the environment. ‘Day 2’ meant irrelevance, excruciating and painful decline followed by death. Every industry, is facing monumental shifts in its processes and challengers who are capable of usurping stagnant giants. We have seen more than one Goliath felled by Davids who did not even exist a couple of decades ago. When the Goliath of business phone systems a.k.a on-premise phone systems fall, they will take you down with them.
Why? I recently sent out a survey (you can fill in your views as well) asking what people felt while encountering an IVR system. While exploring the ‘why use IVR‘ to receive calls, I recognized a pattern amidst the various responses. Most of my respondents stated that they only call because the existing information is insufficient to solve their needs.
Phones assume the role of saving the day when everything else has failed both for brands and the customers . In that sense, your phone system is your super-hero – a conversational guardian – your best knight!
It is up to every one of us making decisions in our respective workplaces to ensure that our organizations remain ‘Day 1’. To achieve that, all your employees and partners need to aspire for the same greater good of customer delight. Then, you will never be slain by any David or Vader. May the force be with you.