Now UC It

Streamline Your Business with Notifications and Surveys

By TMCnet Special Guest
David Schenkel
  |  November 01, 2011

 “This is a reminder to make your six-month dental checkup appointment.” “This is a reminder for your car service appointment tomorrow at 8 a.m.” “Tornadoes have been reported in your area, please take shelter.” “There is a power supply failure on server HSV12.” “Please indicate your satisfaction with your recent repair.”

You’ve just been notified and surveyed. Once usable only by the largest of organizations, automated notifications and surveys are now available to even the smallest of businesses. So, if notifications and surveys are not part of your unified communications solution, now is the time to consider how you can benefit from them.

Because customers are not easily accessible via an enterprise’s communications and IT infrastructure, they can’t be easily contacted for timely interactions using typical person-to-person UC collaboration features such as unified messaging, instant messaging and presence. One way in which interactions with customers can occur is by using communications-enabled business process applications that provide for proactive process-to-person communication. And, notifications and surveys play an important part in almost all CEBP customer interaction applications. Consequently, notification and survey CEBP applications are key additions to a UC solution because they enable customers to enter the UC landscape by providing a cost-effective means for them to collaborate with your organization. 

Notifications and surveys can be made using a wide variety of communication modes such as voice, e-mail, short message service, fax, and even legacy paging. They also provide a variety of modes by which customers can respond such as automated self-service business applications, or redirection to a live agent. In addition, they also allow for reporting notification attempts, successful connections and client responses.

Generally speaking, automated notifications are used either to inform clients about a real-time event, or to remind them of an action that you want them to take. Real-time event notification applications are many and varied depending on the needs of an organization. Typical applications include notifications for inventory management, equipment failure (especially for IT failures), disaster management, medical test results, group meetings, calls to action, and goods shipment and pick-up status.

But no matter what the event, if event information is in your IT system, you can automate notification of the event. Reminder notifications do as the name implies, remind the customer to do something, such as make an appointment, keep an appointment, or make a remittance. Typical heavy users of this type of reminder include medical clinics, car dealerships, and repair and inspection services (HVAC, appliance), among others. In addition, almost every business has a need for remittance reminders.

A survey application is really just the opposite of a notification, because contact is established by a survey application to collect information from a client rather than to provide it. Automated surveys enable you to collect customer preferences and determine customer satisfaction with products and services. Typical survey applications cut across most vertical markets and include customer satisfaction follow-up calls for recent services, general customer satisfaction surveys, and customer preference and market research surveys.

As with all UC features, notifications and surveys must generate a return on investment to make them worthwhile. And these features, like many other UC features, come with “soft” more difficult to quantify, and “hard” quantifiable, more easy to justify ROI components. The main hard ROI for notifications and surveys comes from labor/outsource cost reductions achieved by automating manually executed notifications and surveys. Other hard ROIs come from notifications that increase revenue by reminding clients to make a needed appointment, reducing lost revenue due to appointment no-shows, and increasing remittance rates for collections. The soft ROIs come from improved timeliness due to event notifications, resolving missed appointment fee disputes, reducing legal liability associated with follow ups, and improved customer feedback from satisfaction surveys.

How can you add notifications and surveys to your UC system? You have a choice of online application service providers, stand-alone software applications, and features integrated within UC software suites. The one that is right for you will depend upon the volume of your transactions, the financial model that you prefer, and the ease with which you can integrate the notifications and surveys solution into your existing UC system. Working with a trusted expert that is familiar with your business processes and UC system, such as a reseller, systems integrator or consultant, is a good way to choose the right solution for you.

David Schenkel (News - Alert) is senior technology analyst with ADTRAN (www.adtran.com).


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Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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