Many sectors, including retail, construction, and hospitality, are increasingly reliant on cloud-based services to enhance the customer experience, which can suffer if connections go down or there is a lag.

Fast and reliable internet connectivity has become an operational necessity as businesses increasingly embrace digital transformation, according to Vertel commercial director, Tony Hudson.

“Organisations can’t compete effectively, nor deliver a strong customer experience, if they can’t rely on their network infrastructure to remain up and running, deliver critical information instantly, and support workers to complete tasks quickly,” he said.

The cause of many of the delays and connectivity issues is the need to backhaul internet traffic. This means traffic is routed through one data centre, and all traffic is treated alike. However, not all network traffic should be treated the same; some traffic needs to be prioritised. For example, transactions or real-time communications like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) need to be delivered efficiently.

Overlaying legacy networks with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can help overcome these challenges and help deliver a differentiated customer experience. SD-WAN automatically prioritises traffic and makes mission-critical applications highly available. Vertel has shared four use cases in which SD-WAN can help businesses differentiate the customer experience.

1. Online transactions
When customers are accessing websites, it’s important to remove any potential sources of friction to ensure they complete their transaction or enquiry. Delays in responsiveness or outdated information can mean the customer moves onto a competitor’s site.

2. Customer service
When a customer calls an organisation for information, the employees on the other end of the phone need that information at their fingertips. However, if they’re working at a branch office where connections to business systems are slow and unreliable, they may not be able to help the customer in a timely fashion. This can result in frustration for both the employee and the customer.

3. In-store sales
Increasing use of the cloud for point of sale (POS) systems means organisations need their networks to be up and running reliably or they risk not being able to complete the sales. The effect can be subtle; customers may become reluctant to return because checking out seems to take a long time or be unpredictable. Or, some customers may leave without ever completing their transaction.

4. Productivity
Even for workers who aren’t in customer-facing roles, productivity can suffer if connectivity isn’t fast and reliable. For example, workers in branch offices may have to wait for applications to load and they may not be able to access real-time information required to do their job.