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Virtual contact
centers for small
businesses: how
options help

Author: Phil Muncaster

Virtual contact centers play an indispensable role in many organizations. Especially during times of crisis and uncertainty, they provide a crucial interface between your company and its customers, helping to preserve trust, drive loyalty and enhance competitive differentiation. But virtual contact centers for small businesses are less widely deployed.

This is a missed opportunity. Fortunately, today there is an increasing range of technology solutions available to help smaller organizations get closer to their customers and drive business value.

Focus on the customer experience

Some 84% of customers believe that the experience a company provides is as important as the products or services it delivers, according to Salesforce research. This should place customer service at the front and center of everything you do. In fact, more than half (56%) of consumers surveyed by KPMG last year said customer service is the reason they stay loyal to a brand.

This is where virtual contact centers, also known as cloud-based contact centers, for small businesses come into their own. Traditionally, the role of the contact center is to ensure that any customer inquiries that come in by phone, email, live chat, web forms or social media are answered promptly and effectively. These could include anything from a customer wishing to pay their bill to complex technical support requests. You should be aiming for "first contact resolution" as often as possible: The most important factors for a good customer experience are agents who know how to resolve an issue (51%) and a speedy resolution (49%), according to a Zendesk study.

How the cloud can help your business

Three out of four consumers now expect firms to use new technologies to create better experiences, including customer service, according to Salesforce. The good news is that numerous solutions exist to meet these expectations. Cloud-based technologies could be key to supporting more widespread deployment of contact centers for small businesses. It's a market that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 25% over the coming years to exceed $49 billion by 2025.

Unfortunately, many smaller businesses don't use contact centers because of a range of perceived challenges, especially regarding the time and resources needed to support call center deployments.

For one, they may have inflexible, on-premises hardware that will be difficult and expensive to replace or integrate with newer contact center technology. Similarly, siloed departmental technologies could add cost and complexity to contact center deployments and cut into potential value derived from projects. And a lack of in-house technological know-how can make contact center systems seem daunting. On the customer front, omnichannel demands (email, chat, phone and so on) can seem too costly and complex to support. In fact, over half (59%) of contact center agents told Zendesk that customer expectations were higher than the previous year. Finally, there is a risk of downtime and disruption due to the recently-faced COVID-19 pandemic or other major unplanned events, which could have an impact on customer loyalty.

Fortunately, cloud-based contact center solutions overcome many of the challenges listed above because they can offer simple deployment and scalability as well as the flexibility for agents to work from home if necessary. They also come with predictable pricing—and without the need for major hardware capital expenditure.

If your business could benefit from enhancing customer service and loyalty but you don't have the time or money to spend on complex integration and deployment, the cloud may be the right fit for your business.

Start enhancing your business today

With a virtual contact center, your business could start to unlock value immediately. Some of the benefits include:

  • Greater visibility to be more strategic: Analyze call resolution and other performance metrics to see how your business is doing and where changes need to be made.
  • Drive customer trust and loyalty: Ensure queries are answered promptly and accurately by the right team member.
  • Respond to customers by their preferred channels: Multichannel is where things are heading, and with contact center tech you can enhance the customer experience further by meeting evolving customer expectations.
  • Increase sales: Enhance customer loyalty and ensure that any payment-related problems are resolved swiftly.
  • Extend your business beyond the nine-to-five: Offer contact center capabilities around the clock if necessary. This could help your business expand its national or even global footprint.
  • Continuous improvement: Analyze feedback and call recordings to enhance the customer experience going forward.
  • Strengthen credibility and differentiation: Cloud contact centers for small businesses enable you to offer the kind of customer service consumers may associate with a much larger brand.

What to look for

The right partner is important for any major technology investment. Here are some things to look for in cloud-based virtual contact center solutions:

  • Predictable and affordable pricing, for example through monthly installments.
  • Pre-built integrations with help desk and customer relationship management solutions to streamline deployments.
  • Interactive voice response to ensure calls are directed to the right agent.
  • Voice call back to reduce customer wait times and enhance the experience.
  • Call monitoring/recording to help improve staff performance.
  • Add and port new numbers instantly to start quickly and scale fast.
  • Work-from-anywhere capabilities to support agent productivity in an era of mass remote working.

Discover how Verizon's cloud contact center solution can enhance the small business customer experience for your organization.