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Small Business Digest


Web-based Applications Leveling Playing Field For Small Firms

The growth in web-based applications that have pay-as-you-go pricing schemes are helping smaller firms to more effectively compete with larger competitors.  One area that is gaining much attention is applications that enable smaller firms to handle incoming customer contact traffic with the same options used by airlines and large manufactures. 

As smaller businesses grow, they often find it difficult to deliver quality telephone, email or web-based customer service.   Often, the business owner or business unit manager simply isnt aware of what is available or for those that are familiar with the latest features and functions, they believe such solutions are out of their economic reach and are only available to larger companies. However, this isnt the case with many of todays hosted solutions. Advanced customer contact features are now within reach of even the smallest business, leveling the playing field in terms of delivering quality customer support and service.

Less than pleasing customer care can be extremely detrimental, as it decreases the likelihood of a repeat purchase. For example, Portland Research explored the impact of a poor customer experience and found that among consumers who were transferred twice on a customer service call, future purchase intent plummeted from 64 percent to 48 percent.



Jan Johnson, Vice President, Marketing and Training at UCN, Inc., was recently interviewed by this publication.
She discussed the importance and advantages of having a professional telephone system, the requirements of such a system and the ROI that can be expected by using her company's product, InContact.

Click here to listen to this interview


UCN Inc.s inContact solution is a suite of on-demand, advanced contact handling applications that are hosted within the UCN Intelligent Network. Its designed to significantly enhance the customer contact experience, boost agent productivity, and improve overall profitability. Features include interactive (self-service) voice response (IVR), skills-based (ACD) routing, database integration (CTI), inbound/ outbound call blending, remote agent or multi-site support, web-based administration, a wide range of management reporting, monitoring, recording and workforce scheduling options, and more.

These advanced contact handling applications enable even a less than 10 seat customer care operation to deliver Fortune 1000 contact handling features. For example, a business can create a self-service interactive voice response (IVR) application that answers the call and presents a simple interactive menu to a caller enabling the caller to find a store nearest them, update a credit card, or get shipment status on an existing order. By using an automated call distributor (ACD) and an administration tool for assigning skills to team members, then linking this system with customer information, a smaller business can quickly create a process that will receive a call, ask for a customer identifier, do a database lookup, then route that customer to a specific team or person with the right skills to address that customers needs.

Additional advantages and benefits for a small business include:

  • Allowing a small business to provide the same customer pleasing experience as a larger company

  • Providing the opportunity for a business to utilize at-home workers anywhere in the United States, which can greatly reduce a companys overhead costs and staff wages in many cases

  • Statistics and monitoring tools, including the ability to see how long each agent has been on a call, how many calls theyve taken, how long break periods were, and even the ability to listen in on any call without the agent or customer being aware that its being monitored

  • No large upfront costs for equipment and technology and no ongoing maintenance or upgrade costs. 

  • Eliminating the technology nightmares that can occur for small businesses when their phone system or computers go down and reduces the need for technical staff on-site

  • Scaling up or down with your business needs and can be turned on or off at any time

  • Low-risk commitment with pay as you go service no long term commitment required (you must sign a contract that defines pricing and products you want)

  • Can reduce a businesss long distance bill with the competitive rates offered through UCN

With inContact, a small business need only to have a telephone line (standard or VOIP), a computer and internet connection for each agent using the solution, and long distance service with UCN.  All other equipment and technology needs are hosted at UCN and provided to the small business through the voice and data connections.  

The one-time setup fee of just under $4000 can seem steep to a small business owner, but the benefits of the system can easily pay for itself over time and that fee can be paid through credit card/monthly payments.  This fee includes five hours of professional consultation to help in the setup of your call scripts, call routing procedures, testing, a trained technical person that helps you take the system live, and training to your agents and supervisors about how to use the system and tools.  The monthly fee is $150 per agent/seat and $90 per self-service port.

The software application contains a Drag and Drop Visual Programming tool that is used to setup and make changes to the call procedures.  Business owners can make the changes themselves using the tool or contract with the UCN Professional Services organization staff to have the changes made for them at a per hour fee. 

For more information on how this solution can benefit your small business and allow you to give your customers the great service that larger companies can provide, click here to visit UCN's website to get additional product information and contact the sales department.

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