Customer experience (CX) is a top priority for businesses across industries. The interactions and experiences customers have with a business throughout their entire journey – from first contact to becoming a happy and loyal customer – comprise CX. A customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer, and company advocate. Business leaders recognize the importance of CX and are looking for ways to deliver seamless experiences to their customers. According to one report, organizations consider customer experience and service as a top investment priority in 2022.
However, drastic shifts in the way we work—and where we work—have created new challenges for businesses. Consumer needs have also changed, with customers requesting service that’s fast, seamless, and available on their channel of choice. Moreover, the shift in preference for digital interactions caused businesses to adopt an influx of workforce optimization tools across departments. One common result of the integration of these optimization tools is IT silos.
IT Silos Explained
An IT silo (also referred to as a data silo) is a repository of data available to one department or business unit and isolated from the rest of an organization. Standalone systems that are incompatible with other systems and data sets typically house siloed data.
IT silos tend to arise naturally in large companies that have decentralized IT buying decisions and granted departments and business units permission to purchase technologies independently — a trend that was commonplace in the rapid shift to remote work. Independent software purchases can lead to the deployment of databases and business applications that aren’t compatible with or connected to other systems. The variety of data platforms now available also contributes to the emergence of IT silos.
Impact of IT Silos on CX
Silos limit the ability to use data to manage business processes and make informed business decisions. They also prevent call center agents from accessing relevant data about customers or products. When customers contact a business, they want to receive good customer service—no matter what’s happening internally. Customers expect timely, efficient support and issue resolution, which IT silos hinder. For example, silos can cause poor information sharing, which may cause a support representative to place callers on long holds while they search for information.
To address the threat of silos and the impact to CX, a company can optimize its technology stack to bridge disparate systems and improve customer support. More specifically, businesses can optimize cloud-based telecom solutions such as telecom APIs to overcome isolated communication channels and encourage sharing of data among employees, like contact center agents.
For background, telecom APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are standard software functions that an application can use to operate the network architecture and help customize telephony offerings to meet customers’ needs. APIs streamline communications in software without adding technical complexity. Many contact centers are turning to cloud-based telecom APIs to help them overcome segmented internal channels and increase agility.
Using Telecom APIs to Improve Contact Center CX
Telecom APIs help contact centers utilize contextual communication. For example, a call center using telecom APIs can access a call detail record (CDR). CDRs correspond with a specific phone number. Tied to that phone number is a history of the caller’s past interactions with the company. Each time that caller contacts the company, the support agent can quickly access the CDR to gain a better understanding of the customer’s preferences and needs. If an agent doesn’t have this visibility, they may extend the call length by repeating questions that were answered in past conversations. Cloud-based telecom APIs can help businesses eliminate the barriers created by silos and bridge internal communications to the ultimate benefit of the customer and the brand’s reputation.
Preventing IT Silos for Remote Teams
Cloud-based and fully remote contact centers have increased in popularity in recent years – an increase anticipated to continue. Gartner reports that 30% of organizations will have moved their contact centers’ operations off-premises, with a 60% jump in all agents working from home by 2024. Utilizing the right technology that fosters collaboration and prevents silos becomes even more imperative for contact centers that have migrated to the cloud or gone remote, with agents working from disparate locations.
According to Frost & Sullivan’s recent report, “agile organizations rely on cloud-based communication tools to support remote workers and optimize business functions.” The report notes that cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions prove most effective at bridging people across geographic distances. Most importantly, the report highlights how cloud-based technologies are important to the future of contact centers specifically, strengthening agent efficiency and the team’s approach to customer experience.
As more departments embrace cloud-based IT investments to remain agile and resilient to future unknowns, the need for transparent cross-department integration is critical. Leveraging cloud communications solutions, like telecom APIs, help organizations scale and mitigate growing pains. Businesses can enable better communication at all external touchpoints with customers, helping to elevate the customer journey by using hosted telecom tools. Organizations can rid themselves of IT silos by integrating disconnected applications. As they do, they will strengthen the customer experience, boost their reputation and increase brand loyalty.
By Darach Beirne
Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute’s dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach lead professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies develop strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.