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Are you scowling at your monitor yet? If so, you understand the impact wait times (even relatively short ones) can have on a business, specifically where customer satisfaction is involved. More, you probably have an inkling that technology can help to reduce wait times. Real-time communication tools, API integration, and lots of other technology tools can turn wait time into face or phone time for your customers.
Here are some technological approaches you can take to reduce wait times.
Serving Customers Using Real-Time Communication Tools
Depending on your needs and operating size, something as simple as call waiting might be enough to stifle your waiting woes. Other organizations may need to deploy apps or whole call centers to meet this goal. Either way, the secret's in the balance between using technology to streamline the process without leaving customers overly reliant on nonhuman assets.
However, this can be tricky in practice. If you've ever repeatedly shouted, "Agent!" at an uncaring interactive voice response system, you know what that means.
Wait time can also be described as a business's inability to keep up with customer demand for sales or service. Until recently, overcoming that meant building complex call centers or contracting with third-party call center partners, both of which may have severe financial or service-related downsides to consider.
Today, things are different. For instance, the right contact center tools automate and simplify much of the call center creation process, allowing companies to expand or retool with fewer expenses and far less hassle than the best practices of the past.
Scaling for a Better Customer Experience
Scalability is a concern for companies looking to expand their traditional call centers in increments. Where adding to an in-house PBX could incur significant expense and hassle, implementing modernized cloud-based call center solutions generally requires only an internet connection and phones. This makes adding just the right number of agents easier and simpler, which in turn helps combat hold times without overspending — striking the right balance on both sides of the call line.
Sometimes handling the demands of modern customer service means building a stronger network infrastructure. Some retailers, for example, use SIP trunking to make sure that customer calls go through without a hitch during peak periods like the holiday season. This resolves the frustrating problem of encountering a busy signal or dropped call, making life easier for everyone involved by creating a smoother, more satisfying customer experience.
Achieving Balance With API Integration
Technology has created a need for new models and channels for customer service, too. These tech-influenced customer expectations extend beyond the traditional definition of sales and service. If a particular solution reduces the time a customer spends in or around your establishment, it's probably going to be a hit even if the wait prior to the improvement was an expected part of the deal.
These ideas culminate in the API, a tool that has largely laid the groundwork for the digital era. By providing powerful pre-built tools and features that can be implemented in applications, APIs provide a democratizing effect for apps from companies of all sizes. For just one example of the API's power and convenience, an organization could use a Google Maps API to cheaply include a store locator in its app, all without having to program its own complicated route-finding software.
Now consider how API integration can reduce wait times. Say a food service enterprise already employs advanced real-time communication tools in its call center, but it wants to affordably modernize wait times even further. The enterprise could use a communications API to offer customers online ordering options, reducing the cost of implementation, the total cost of ownership, and customer wait times. In other words, APIs give customers tools to reduce wait times without taking standard ordering options away from customers with different preferences.
A combination of modernized old-school tools and new-school technological approaches can help remove unnecessary waits and trim down more resource-intensive aspects of doing business.
Endless Possibilities for On-Demand Customer Service
APIs are endlessly versatile. A company could offer omnichannel communications from within a customer rewards app, implement one-button sales calling from a website, or search a customer's itinerary for the best time to schedule a complex service visit — making calls to a pre-built selection of API tools instead of developing them from the ground up.
APIs can deliver timely customer notifications, too. A dentist's office, for example, can automatically send a reminder about an upcoming or rescheduled appointment via SMS, eliminating the need for a patient to call the practice. A flower shop can use the same technology to let a customer know that their bouquet has arrived, so the customer doesn't have to call to check on the status of their delivery. The customer gets the convenient experience of top-notch, on-demand service, and the business can cost-effectively and efficiently provide it.
Wait Times: Today's Business Tech Challenge
Whether they're a new challenge or a long-time burden for your business, wait times are increasingly less acceptable in the convenience-based digital era. A combination of modernized old-school tools (call centers with real-time communication features) and new-school technological approaches (customer-friendly apps with the right selection of APIs) can help remove unnecessary waits and trim down more resource-intensive aspects of doing business. This makes wait times a natural area of focus for companies looking to add a layer of polish to their experience — as anyone who has been No. 243 in the phone queue will tell you, too much of a good thing can definitely apply to demand.