Today, customer expectations of easy and rapid purchasing are the same across both the consumer and business marketplaces. Website crashes and delays are unacceptable and cost companies business —and often damage their reputations. Customer-facing and customer support applications and software are vital to a company’s growth and reputation, but only if they have the right IT resources to support them.
While some companies continue down the labor-intensive path of purchasing servers and the architecture to support them, your business may find a competitive edge by placing more of your customer-centric IT resources in the cloud. By doing so, your business can not only scale up and down more readily, but can communicate with affiliated companies to accommodate mutual customers’ needs better. You can also ensure that any internal problems do not become your customers’ problems.
Elasticity in the Cloud
From an operational standpoint, the cloud is elastic. Many cloud providers offer cloud bursting capabilities, enabling you to scale rapidly on demand. You can deploy additional resources quickly, so customer needs aren’t impeded. Then, you can then shrink your IT footprint back when resources are no longer needed, paying only for what was used. Many cloud services providers, like Peak 10 + ViaWest, provide customer portals that allow companies to monitor their performance thresholds, so they can add or subtract capacity on demand.
Collaborate with Affiliated Companies
The cloud offers a multitude of capabilities that allow companies to share information, so they can collaborate and serve mutual customers. Salesforce, the customer relationship management (CRM) solution, is a great example. If you utilize Salesforce for customer documentation and CRM capabilities and need to share customer loads or documentation with an affiliate, you can add project notes, update operations information and have a real-time customer record that is accessible by linking via cloud-based solutions. That way, if either company gets a call from the mutual customer, both know exactly what is required, who is handling that request and how quickly it needs to be handled. In turn, the customer is happy thanks to speed and transparency.
Ensuring Your Problem Isn’t Your Customer’s Problem
Utilizing cloud technology can protect your customers from your issues with physical systems as well by freeing up your technical staff so they can focus on business-critical processes. Customers are able to place orders regardless of your internal workload, while you have more resources to ensure customer-centric critical processes operate seamlessly. All of this translates into happy customers, enhancing your reputation and increasing customer loyalty and repeat business.
Email is a great example of how an internal application can negatively affect your relationship with customers. When your email is down, everyone is in a panic. It makes it difficult to get the authorizations necessary for a purchase or to arrange a delivery. That means your email problem becomes a problem for your customers. They are faced with the choice to wait and hope for the best, or start over with another vendor. There are several cloud-based subscription services that allow you to outsource email service. They can vastly improve uptime, as well as reduce costs for hardware maintenance and licensing. If your company grows or contracts in size, you can scale your email subscription accordingly.
The sky is the limit on customer-centric touchpoints that you can relegate to the cloud. These outsourced services can increase your uptime and efficiency, free up internal resources, allow you to stay more customer focused — and generate happy customers. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.