On this episode of The Bella Buzz podcast, Desiree and Joe welcome Wain Kellum, the CEO of Vocalocity. Wain is a veteran of the telecom space and shares his insights on the state of voice over IP (VoIP) services and how it can impact small business, and also shares the details of how social media directly effected his communications strategies.
Vocalocity is the telephone provider for Bella Web Design, and has continued to launch new products for customers to integrate into their workflow. They provide communications in the cloud for about 15,000 companies with an average of 25 employees or less.
VoIP can provide a significant cost advantage plus additional service features above those old copper lines requiring a massive phone closet full of equipment. An initial customer concern about VoIP might be about security, but Vocalocity has built their business on the backs of very high level security industry executives.
Wain uses the term “softphone” in his business description. This would be defined as a calling application that is integrated with a computer or another handheld device. This allows employees to make calls with their own smartphone but still appear to the recipient as an inbound call from the company. We are in a mobile world now, and we cannot lose productivity (or brand reinforcement) by being tied to a device on a desk. This even helps integrate call recording features that serve as training or possibly regulatory purposes.
A really exciting product that Wain discussed was the contact dashboard that appears when an incoming call arrives. Through integration with LinkedIn or Outlook or other contact management systems, and entire record of the caller can appear immediately as the conversation begins. This is a superb aspect of customer service!
Our conversation turns towards the social media case study based upon the response to an outage with the Vocalocity service last year. It thrust them directly into the spotlight regarding the impact that social media can have on customer service. A mistake during a technology transition cut down the “mission critical” service that they provide.
Wain was stunned by the response that started appearing on social networks and blogs. In most cases it was a customer trying to determine what was going on, but they also found that some of their competitors were taking advantage of the opportunity to discredit Vocalocity for their own benefit.
They were not prepared to handle the inquiries, so the lack of response and struggles to communicate led to further frustration for their customers. Vocalocity broke the issue into three categories – 1) fix the problem, 2) communicate with customers, 3) engineer a solution so it does not happen again.
The long term outcome is a much more robust communications strategy overall. It is not just a reactive plan in case of future emergencies but also an ongoing customer engagement social media strategy that ensures a more open dialog in general.
Have any customer service stories that involve social media that you can share? Drop us a note in the comments!
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