Is it even a question that enterprises need to reinvent how they communicate? I would hope not. Of course, most everyone has had a year or more of remote/virtual work experience, which reinvented our concept of offices and meetings. While we focused on remote work challenges over the last year, we lost sight of the larger changes and how they are reinventing enterprise business models, workflows, and communications.
Mobile devices, applications on those devices (including workflow automation), and machine learning and AI software are the powerful forces at work here. All three of these forces are enabled by cloud-based computing, wireless networks, and the modularity of software tools such as communication platforms as a service (CPaaS). Just pause for a moment, think of the disruptions we can already see due to these forces — that pause may provide a glimmer of what is possible. Last week’s excellent article on Digital Transformation
by my friend Dave Michels
amplifies this perspective.
But what shall we in the enterprise communications sector do about this? My answer: take it one step at a time and use usage profiles to define those steps. Usage profiles are a proven methodology for defining enterprise communications requirements. We at UniComm Consulting have used these in some form since 2007. For more insight on the topic, see our post on Information Week
and here on No Jitter
For the first part in this series on usage profiles, let’s look at field sales and services.
Who Fits in the Field Sales, Services Usage Profile?
The field sales and services usage profile workers are primarily outside the office location (even before the pandemic). These field workers represent about 8% of all U.S. employment, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Field workers usually interact with customers, clients, or citizens and are in the enterprise’s sales, design, professional services, product installation, and product customer-based support services roles. While field personnel interact with customers and clients, their roles are primarily transactional and relational, rather than collaborative (that’s a different usage profile).
Field roles are usually based on specific metrics such as quota performance, billable hours, service ticket completion, service delivery speed against standard, customer satisfaction, etc. In most cases, the field worker follows well-defined business processes and policy guidelines to ensure their work is complete, consistent, thorough, secure, and compliant with regulations.
These well-defined business processes are almost always organized around an advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software package such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, or similar packages.
This field sales and services usage profile does not include workers in outdoor locations for production work such as in agriculture, natural resources, construction, route delivery, transportation, first response, and similar jobs. These fit the production usage profile, a discussion for a future post.
How Do Field Sales, Service Personnel Prefer to Communicate?
How do field sales and services usage profile employees prefer to communicate? Two words: mobile and applications. The mobile device is their first and essential communications tool for voice calls, video calls, meetings, texting, information lookup (search or in their CRM app), transaction entry, or territory management. The employee may also have a tablet or laptop for longer sessions or customer presentations, but smartphones are becoming more capable of doing all that they need. In most cases, the field sales and services employee will want to choose their device, usually an Apple iPhone, and will want to use the device for both business and personal purposes.
A key factor here is that some part of the communications by field usage profile personnel is always with customers or clients. All the leading CRM software packages have top-notch mobile device applications that include click-to-dial from the customer record and easy call logging for sales or service recordkeeping and data analysis. You can expect that innovation for field sales and services usage profile communications will continue to come from the CRM vendors more than from the enterprise communications (PBX or UCaaS) vendors.
What Is the Optimal Communications Support for Field Sales, Services Users?
Given that field sales and services workers aren’t in the office and prefer their mobile device, the first thing to do is eliminate their PBX or UCaaS license — whether on-premises or in the cloud. They just won’t use it, and you can run the usage reports on their current PBX or UCaaS number, if you still have one for them, to prove this. Save that money and reduce the admin workload.
If the management and staff still want to have the field sales and services personnel in their directories, then program their numbers into your enterprise’s session border controller, which can be automated if the cellular phones are included in the Active Directory or LDAP records for these users. The management and staff can then still call these users just as before, but the dial plan will route the call to the SBC that will then extend the call to the user’s cellular number.
This process will work well if you have a dispatch center for the field services personnel or have a sales department primary number. The dispatcher or sales admin can readily forward those incoming customer or client calls to the field sales and services personnel and can monitor the call to assure the connection.
Also, just accept that the customers will know the field person’s cellular phone number for calling or texting them. If you are concerned that field sales or service personnel might take your clients if they move to another company, you might consider a company-provided smartphone policy, so the number stays with the company even if an employee leaves. You can even let them keep the smartphone device but require them to port their personal number onto that phone. Of course, this is just a partial fix. If the employee tries to take their customers with them, a change of phone numbers won’t stop that from happening.
Finally, you and the management team for field sales and services employees may wish to implement a policy that for busy or no answer calls the employee must forward their phone to your sales desk, contact center, or service desk. This policy will assure customers are served in a timely manner and that there is no queue of un-answered voice messages. Also, these calls can be automatically logged into the CRM software as part of the customer’s record to be available for data analysis. If the customer call arrives after business hours, it can be re-forwarded to the employee’s cellular mailbox or an enterprise voice mail system.
To summarize, the field sales and services usage profile relies on communications via smartphones or other mobile devices and use CRM software packages. You can do several things to optimize support and productivity for this usage profile while also reducing communications costs.
So, look at your field sales and services usage profile departments and users. You will very likely find that this usage profile is ripe for well-justified enterprise communications reinvention.
This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.