This month 1Stream marks 14 years of delivering leading-edge cloud-based contact centre and CRM solutions to its clients in Southern Africa. 1Stream co-founder and joint CEO, Jed Hewson, shares his 5 key learnings and how the company is meeting market needs.
Since 1Stream’s establishment in 2008, it has been committed to enabling companies to deliver excellent customer service using easy-to-access technology. During that time, it has become Southern Africa’s leading CRM and cloud-based contact centre technology provider, winning a string of international awards, and it counts a wide range of industry innovators and leaders amongst its client base.
We talk to joint CEO, Jed Hewson, about changing trends and what he has learnt over the years.
- We were right about cloud
While cloud technology was officially introduced in the 1990s, it only began to be more widely used in the mid-2000s. “When we initially set up 1Stream, we had to spend a lot of time explaining cloud technology and convincing potential clients that it was the way forward. But now it has proven itself and is a given – the world has gone cloud,” says Jed. Cloud has facilitated easy access to pay-per-use systems and, through integration, has given companies the ability to manage overall customer experience by enabling instant and easy access to customer information.
“It also means that people can work from anywhere in the world and productivity can be managed remotely. Cloud technology enabled this.”
- Customer experience really does matter
Delivering an excellent customer experience has never been more important and is becoming a priority for businesses that realise that the process of retaining and growing their customer base goes beyond simple service delivery. Recent research by American Express found that 86% of customers were willing to pay more for a better experience, and Forbes describes customer experience as “today’s business benchmark”.
“The bottom line is happy customers spend more – if you look after your customers’ experience and hang on to your customers, they are going to spend more over time. There will be less churn and you’re going to make more money,” says Jed. “And how do you do that? You need to have the right tools in place to enable your staff to manage that customer experience.”
1Stream’s pay-per-use contact centre and CRM solutions give organisations a 360° view of their customers, from the very start of the sales process right through to ongoing customer support. “Our CRM enables organisations to implement a holistic approach to customer experience management – all customer information is managed through a single system that can be accessed anywhere, any time by relevant members of your team across various departments.”
- An efficient contact centre is core to business success
As a growing number of organisations take their business online, the role of the contact centre has escalated and directly impacts success. “Many customers no longer have a brick-and-mortar experience of a brand. With self-service onboarding and online shopping, a customer’s only true experience of a brand – beyond a website or app – is through the contact centre,” says Jed. “Your contact centre is your representation of your brand – and you have to get it right.”
Today’s contact centres are having to deal with and resolve a whole host of issues that they weren’t initially set up to handle, says Jed, meaning it has become imperative to ensure they have the right tools to deliver a seamless customer experience that sets your business apart from your competitors. “The only way to do this properly is for them to have the right tools at their disposal so that they can access the right information at the right time to provide fast and efficient service – and this is exactly what 1Stream’s solutions enable,” says Jed.
“Regardless of the communication channel – phone call, chat, WhatsApp or email – contact centre staff can see previous customer interactions and past purchases, enabling them to deliver slick service that is fast, efficient and customer-centric. If customers are being cared for at every touch point in an organisation, they will ultimately become loyal customers – which translates into more revenue.”
- Smart data capturing and reporting can transform your business
“With the right tools and technology in place, companies are able to utilise the data coming out of those systems to give them clear insights into the level of service that is being delivered and report on those environments,” says Jed. This is particularly relevant to contact centres that handle thousands of conversations every day – how does a business know when those conversations go off track?
“The only way to do this is to have the right tools and the right reporting – which enables you to manage your customer experience in a proactive way so that you can make informed decisions and improve it over time,” says Jed. “1Stream’s advanced reporting technology allows customers to merge data from multiple sources and to provide a single view of contact centre and sales activity.”
- Partnerships are key
“1Stream’s growth and success over the past 14 years can be attributed in large part to the many great partnerships we have developed over the years,” says Jed. By actively seeking out partnerships with the world’s leading technology providers, 1Stream has been given access to a global network of technology specialists and has benefitted from international learnings and best practices. “By combining these learnings with our passion for innovative technology, we are able to design leading-edge, customised solutions that meet each client’s individual needs.”
And what do the upcoming years hold in store? “Innovation and agility are core to 1Stream’s success, and we look forward to ensuring that our clients keep abreast – and ahead – of changing customer needs and the technology that enables a seamless customer journey,” says Jed. “We are already seeing the impact AI is having on improving service delivery, and it is becoming an important element of our technology solutions.”