Jeff Reekers, Aircall’s Chief Marketing Officer, discusses the changing nature of customer service in the wake of the pandemic and what businesses can learn from it
When the pandemic hit, many businesses paused operations, put teams on furlough or scaled back non-essential plans. However, one core business function, customer service, experienced the opposite. From grounded flights to added demand on government agencies, service teams had to go into overdrive to support organisations and the public through a period of ongoing disruption.
Yet that wasn’t their only challenge. Responding to these increased demands alone would be difficult, but many organisations had to navigate a simultaneous shift to the world of remote work.
As organisations look to a hybrid future, with a mix of office and remote work, CX Today is joined by Jeff Reekers, Chief Marketing Officer of cloud-based voice platform Aircall.
Delivering impactful customer experiences is at the heart of Aircall’s mission, informing everything from its product features to its internal culture. To continue to drive toward that goal, after a recent funding round saw the company valued at over $1bn, the business has today announced a new U.K. hub in London’s Silicon Roundabout, enabling the team to provide the best possible support to its 1,000+ clients in the region.
Below, Reekers discusses what Aircall and other businesses can learn from the past 18 months. He explores what it takes to enable a more adaptable and engaging future of customer support—both in the office and remotely.
Reekers highlights the travel industry as an example of a sector that faced multiple pressures from the pandemic and as a result, had to rapidly rethink its approach to customer service.
“You had an absolute shutdown of businesses because no one was booking tickets anymore. But at the same time, you had a spike in activity thanks to increased customer service requests,” Reekers explains.
With customers in this space, he saw firsthand the impact this rapidly changing context was having, “Alternative Airlines and many others had this unique dynamic where they were just overloaded with support inquiries,” he continues.
That increasing pressure coincided with changes to teams, as existing agents went remote and new support agents were rapidly onboarded to meet the increased load. Aircall was able to help Alternative Airlines manage this shift while maintaining fantastic customer support.
“Alternative Airlines was able to avoid putting customers on hold for hours or days because just a few months prior, they’d set up a remote solution with us. They were able to instantly shift to a remote environment and move tickets to voice and phone without issue,” concludes Reekers.
The pandemic revealed just how crucial organisational agility is to managing disruption. Businesses like Alternative Airlines, which had invested in adaptability and flexibility were able to move fast and shift to remote seamlessly, while never dropping the ball on customer service.
Reekers emphasises Aircall’s simplicity makes it a natural fit for businesses seeking the foundations of a more adaptable workplace—whether office-based, remote or hybrid. Yet while it’s an intuitive platform, there’s a depth of features and extensive integrations which make it ready to connect with any organisation’s tech stack.
He continues, “When you start adding layers of productivity into an application—smart routing, for example, or the capacity for a high volume of phone calls—that adds complexity. What we’ve done is combined productivity features with simplicity for administration.”
Beyond those features, Aircall has been designed to work hand in hand with other business software.
“Tools are better together,” says Reekers. “The ideal customer experience involves all tools speaking to one another. If you’re housing customer data in one place and you’re using a different system to communicate with them, those two systems must be talking to one another to provide excellent customer service.”
Integrations across a host of categories—including CRM, helpdesk, productivity and transcription—enable that two-way street. Service agents have all the context they need to help customers, and their service thrives as a result.
“They can ultimately solve that issue or resolve that ticket faster, providing a great customer experience,” Reekers adds. “It also reduces the burden on the agent. They don’t have to take notes or save them into their system, figure out where the call was logged and then put it into the CRM record. It’s just seamlessly happening in the background.”
After a year and a half of shocks, businesses want transparency and assurance from their partners. Offered on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis, Aircall’s pricing model is built to be clear and accessible.
“Customers want to know what they’re going to pay. We want to make everything as easy as possible for the end customer,” Reekers notes. And, with the pandemic making it clear that customer support demands can rapidly change, this cost clarity is more important than ever.
“The number of agents that might be on your team from month to month can go up and down. Teams have to be able to forecast what they’re going to pay, and we believe the SaaS pricing model provides the most transparency possible,” he concludes.
Looking ahead Reekers expects the broader cloud migration to accelerate, further fueled by increasingly flexible, remote and hybrid workplaces.
That flexibility isn’t only about where agents are working but also how they are engaging with customers. “The future is going to be based around interoperability—the real-time shifting between chat and video based on the flow of a conversation. You might begin on chat, but if you have sensitive information to share, you want to be able to switch to voice and speak directly with the same agent,” he adds.1
“If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that it’s absolutely crucial to have the flexibility that cloud-based software provides and that not having it is an extreme risk. Flexibility—the ability to adapt rapidly to change—is now at the top of every CIO’s agenda,” he concludes.
By learning from the pandemic disruption and adopting intuitive, feature-rich and hybrid-ready solutions, Reekers sees a bright future for customer support: “Ultimately, our investment in flexibility and interoperability will enable us to offer the best possible experience to our customers so they can better support theirs.”
Find out more about Aircall’s cloud contact centre platform.