This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of CUSTOMER Magazine.
The economy continues to be a major concern. Housing is coming back and the stock market has seen a resurgence but, overall, the recovery still appears to be on hold or very weak at best. A bright spot, however, is that companies are being driven to focus on improving productivity by using the latest tools and automation. Philips (News - Alert) Electronics NV even moved some manufacturing back to Europe from China by building an automated facility that requires few employees because the processes are almost entirely done by robots. It’s is a great example of how increased productivity can be used to compete on a global level, regardless of labor costs.
Automating office and customer service operations can have similar benefits, and improve productivity to a globally competitive level. Importantly, it’s not about job loss. In fact, automation affords businesses the opportunity to restructure operations and reassign responsibilities to better accommodate customer needs and ensure corporate health to ensure job cuts won’t have to be made. Ultimately, by leveraging technology trends to automate and create process efficiencies, businesses enjoy higher customer satisfaction leading to customer retention and new customer acquisition, actually allowing them to add jobs.
Any customer-facing business is ideal, but those processing large volumes of data and information, like insurance, health care services and finance, are ideal candidates for automation.
VoIP, UC, Virtual Offices and cloud-based services can all improve productivity across entire organizations, reduce overhead costs, deliver mobility, and generally enhance the level of service an organization is able to deliver. Mobility is critical, not only because it allows road warriors to remain part of the service environment, but is equally important in extending opportunities beyond local geographies – business can hire the best people, regardless of their location, and equip them with the same resources as office-based employees. Statistically, home office workers put in more hours per week than their in-office counterparts, further increasing productivity. Plus, on average, WAH employees are happier in their jobs than their office-based counterparts – and happy employees are both productive and loyal employees, two requirements for sustained growth.
The simple fact is that the same technology that allows knowledge workers and sales teams to be more productive can drive the same results across entire enterprises, including customer service teams. IP communications allows businesses to tear down traditional departmental silos, enabling a better end-to-end customer experience.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi