Manage Your BusinessCustomer ExperienceHow the future of communication means companies will be “always on”

How the future of communication means companies will be “always on”

Embracing the right technology is instrumental for sustained business success, and recent changes in communications technology mean small businesses need to be “always on” for clients now more than ever. Stephanie Vaughan Jones, Head of Business Development for Moneypenny Group North America, has had a bird’s eye view of some of the most significant comms developments:

“With clients in all sectors across the US, we at Moneypenny have observed first-hand through our call and live chat receptionists how the changes in communications technology are affecting small businesses. This new tech is rapidly shifting the business landscape of the future in various ways:”

1. Integration of Microsoft Teams

As a result of hybrid working, many small businesses have become familiar with Teams and found it to be a great way to hold meetings. Use of Teams has been extended even further to ensure businesses can always be on for clients as it can now be integrated with phone systems, enabling incoming telephone calls to be directly transferred to employees via Teams wherever they are working. This is particularly useful for businesses working across regions and time zones.

The integration also means businesses can manage the disruptions of hybrid working to ensure each call is routed to the right employee the first time. The ever-handy Teams status can be checked when calls are received so they are only being transferred when the person is free – whether they’re on- or off-site. A message can also be taken if they are in another Teams meeting. This new technology is 100% accurate, every time, enabling calls to become smoothly integrated into the working day as calls can be transferred virtually, professionally, and brilliantly to cell phone, office, laptop or wherever works, using Teams technology the business community already knows and loves.

2. AI developments mean computers will better understand us

Over the past few years, technology companies like Google, Facebook and OpenAI have been releasing increasingly complex natural language models to power Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. These language models are the foundation for much of the improvements we see today that allow computers to extract meaning from written text. These AI applications are already all around us, and can free up time-consuming admin, leaving your people free to focus on their strengths. It can also help employees become even better at what they do, helping deliver better data insights to support planning and forecasting, providing actionable intelligence to drive the customer experience.

As AI models increase in size, they pick up more information about how we structure language, including the relationship and meaning of words and the intent of sentences. The result is that computers will be better at understanding us, which will be useful for companies receiving a high volume of inbound customer inquiries. In the near future, AI systems should be able to do the heavy lifting of processing inbound communications.

Looking ahead over the next decade, technological advancements like AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), will have the most significant day-to-day impacts. These are poised to increase the efficiency of teams who handle calls and live chats, and will enhance the customer communication experience for both employees and clients.

3. Mass adoption of no-code / low-code platforms

For as long as I can remember, we’ve been talking about tools that allow people with no formal programming background to write computer programs. The idea was first raised in the 70s, but the systems back then were just too complex. However more recent low-code, no-code platforms are making it significantly easier to write programs to automate processes within a business. If you can work with an Excel spreadsheet, there’s a good chance you can develop complex solutions using these new platforms. As such, we are starting to see the mass adoption of this technology, which I expect will continue to rise in popularity over the following year, effectively democratizing the ability to automate business processes.

Additionally, file sharing platforms and whiteboarding software can create centralized locations where project information can be accessed by anyone on the team and modified at any time. This allows distributed teams to optimize their time and reduce the need to coordinate calendars for virtual or in-person meetings.

Jason Jones, Managing Principal of Cresa’s Business Technology Sourcing

“To keep up with the speed of business and the ‘always on’ mentality of today’s business environment, we’ve adopted communications technologies that allow for asynchronous collaboration”, said Jason Jones, Managing Principal of Cresa’s Business Technology Sourcing service line. “Examples of these technologies are persistent chat applications like Slack, Teams, and Zoom; file sharing platforms such as Box and Dropbox; and whiteboarding software, which may be a standalone application or embedded in a broader Unified Communications platform like Zoom.”

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” added Jones. “Which is why I love digital whiteboarding. I can collaborate with my client real time in a virtual meeting by drawing on the whiteboard and then store it in a place where they can modify it later as they come up with new ideas after our call. In real estate, visualizing layouts and geographic locations is critical. When we can handwrite explanatory notes, draw arrows and insert a brightly colored box to highlight something or emphasize a key point, it makes all the difference in the world.”

4. Big data is king

We live in an era where big data is king, informing how businesses are run, what products and services they offer and develop, and how customers are targeted and evaluated. Data obtained through call handling and live chat provides small business owners with hugely useful intelligence on what products and services are popular, as well as how customers have responded to marketing activities, such as a surge in calls following an ad campaign. Outsourced communications can therefore help businesses to better understand their customers, so they can adapt and grow. It’s no secret that fast-growing companies are those that are most attuned to their customers.

5. Outsourcing will increase

The rise in hybrid working and changing economic climate has taught small businesses to focus on what they do best, driving them to bring in experts when specific solutions are needed. It has also taught companies how to deal with periods of time when staff are unavailable or working from home. We’ve seen businesses outsource reception service to avoid missing calls, and to provide cover when employees are off-duty or even round-the-clock cover. An outsourced call handler will get to know your business well enough to either step-in to help answer calls when demand is high, or to act as a constant 24/7 receptionist if needed.

Another factor to bear in mind is that many small business owners are under 30 and have grown-up in an era when they don’t talk on the phone, preferring use of text or social media with short and snappy exchanges. For this generation of professionals, good phone skills could be less prevalent, meaning staff may need to learn the skills to have actual phone conversations, or the company can simply outsource to professional call handlers. Businesses that adopt an outsourcing model can grow, innovate and pivot faster, which makes them more competitive in a constantly changing and evolving business environment.

We help thousands of businesses and in the pandemic lockdowns for example, we helped many of whom hadn’t considered outsourcing their calls or live chat until they had to leave their offices and close down their reception, and who then struggled to divert their phones and adjust to hybrid and home-working. Understanding what communications technology and options are available means real estate and property management companies can do more than adjust, they can thrive.

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Stephanie Vaughan Jones
Stephanie Vaughan Jones
Stephanie Vaughan Jones is the Head of Business Development at Moneypenny Group North America. Moneypenny answers outsourced calls and live chats for thousands of businesses across the US and the UK.

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