Telephone systems and PBX’s (Private Branch eXhange) have historically been a hot potato in a business, an important service for users needing firm ownership and the most obvious bucket to be thrown into being that of the traditional IT team. This IT team if often frustrated that they do not have the telecoms experience to know what they are dealing with.
Over the years I have lost count of the times the IT team has commented (both from customers and businesses I have worked within) of struggling with the telephony component, lacking skills, experience, and understanding of the ethos of this historic comms world. The telco world, and it’s approaches and components are very different to the IP based world that traditional IT is used to operating within. Often these historical telephony deployments are also creaking, having through accident and sometimes design, been configured in weird and wonderful ways that now no one is familiar with or has the time to unpick. So IT are keen to have someone else own the problem, but find there is nowhere else to locate it in the business!
Still today in 2017, a vast number of firms sit in this camp, faced with the challenges of supporting and maintaining telephony systems, often based on ageing technology and bolted together from varying suppliers to achieve delivery of provisioning, PBX, desktop devices and IP interfaces with today’s modern world of softphones and PC and mobile based technologies.
Often the biggest challenge is when something breaks and the IT team has to circle around, reacting to fix an issue none really has the confidence or experience of. This same team has to maintain, monitor and manage not only telephony, but the breadth of IT services and solutions serving the business.
The challenge with telephony over, for example, email services or most typical IT services is that it is real time and any degradation in packet quality is seen immediately from both ends of the spectrum, caller and recipient! Send an email that gets delayed and more often than not neither end notices as it is seen as a transient communication method. A phone call is immediate real time two way communication, where any degradation in service results in packet loss and obvious call quality issues to those on the call. Thus, have an issue on your PBX and find your breadth of users complaining about mid call line drops, sound quality (hissing or crackling) or issues making or receiving calls
This situation is exaggerated quickly when you have multiple sites with local PBX’s and issues to manage on a wider scale. In today’s demanding world to support customers demand for high quality service and response and staffs needs for more flexibility to work anytime, anywhere on any device a new approach is essential.
So along came VoiP and Cloud Telephony to deliver the common benefits of cloud from better resilience (uptime and performance), removal or reduction in capital costs, faster deployment, easier upgrades and scaling of usage.
In today’s world there is rarely a logical reason to deploy a traditional physical PBX. As we have already seen in the CRM world where now 50% of all new deployments globally are cloud based (and expected to soon reach 70% of all sales) once Cloud has proven its disruption it will grow fast.
So with Cloud telephony much of the challenge for the IT team in managing the telecoms for the business is taken away by the cloud provider, except the administration, provisioning and configuration of policies for the business.
The bigger question is should this even be with the IT team. Take Salesforce as a business application platform, is this managed by IT? They may have been involved in the initial procurement, providing a security review, a technical approval for fit for the business network and security models, but the day to day management revolves around the business needs. Provisioning and decommissioning users, configuring data presentation (fields, reports, dashboards), managing business rules, helping users, etc – this falls under a Salesforce Administrator/team.
So is telephony not an extension of this? A business service that should the technical complexity and implications be removed (using a cloud provider) is better placed being owned and managed by a business services admin as opposed to a technical IT support team.
Now take another thought initiative and consider integrating your Telephony and CRM, having customer and prospect data supporting the logic of voice interactions.
Imagine being able to inform a sales user that should a key customer be marked as ‘Gold’ category then their calls will automatically be put to the head of inbound call queues. That any new sales opportunity in the CRM over a target threshold value will automatically get priority support during their trial experience and bypass automated call recording triage processes. That if you put an account in your teams name that any of their inbound calls will automatically go to the sales rep allocated and then the call group for your team only.
The business and customer benefits are obvious in this day of a heightened buyer dynamic expecting and demanding high-quality customer service.
To enable this should it not be easy and intuitive for the same Salesforce Admin / team to manage the customer telephony in alignment with the CRM system? Embedding the cloud telephony end to end inside of Salesforce itself is long overdue. This allows the utilisation of the same security model and all rich data to create a non-technically managed, customer centric phone system that is as flexible as Salesforce itself.
Telephony has been in the hands of the technical IT team out of necessity, not by choice. Now is the time you are able to choose to put it where it belongs, in the heart of customer centricity land aligned with customer service and sales.