Business communications can be complicated. Generally speaking, the problems aren’t limited to startups or small businesses in their infancy – even enterprises remain largely exposed to a barrage of issues that can, on the grander scheme of things, become stumbling blocks in achieving maximum effectivity. These can also hamper productivity for employees or stakeholders who need to deliver their day-to-day organizational tasks.
For some time now, businesses have been constantly dealing with remote and highly mobile workers on the field. These employees use different devices ranging from desk phones and PCs to smartphones and laptops. They are not just confined to the regular phone calls anymore; they’re moving towards SMS, conferencing, video meetings, and the like. Given these, it’s not a surprise that companies need to meet the new and ever-evolving demands when it comes to communications.
Once they find the right solutions to empower business communications, they’ll surely gain an edge over their competitors and they might be well on their way to market leadership.
And there’s no better way to crack the code than to explore unified communications.
You see, unified communications is designed to integrate all aspects of communications for small, medium, and large enterprises alike. By connecting integral functions such as telephony, instant messaging, mobility, data sharing, and other channels, businesses are able to create a seamless information and communications hub that can help maximize productivity.
Detailed below are five business challenges that unified communications can help solve.
As mentioned, there’s been a radical change in the work arrangement within organizations over the past decade or so. More and more offices are being set up in multiple locations. And this is not just limited to the typical office buildings – offices are sprouting in coffee shops, hotel rooms, and even in regular homes, too.
Because of this, workers are, more than ever, in need of solutions that will help them remain productive regardless of location. This is where unified communications comes in. By making it possible to connect anywhere in the world, employees can communicate with co-workers and customers without limits. They can communicate via the basic phone call, through video conferences, instant messaging, SMS, and more.
Unified communications is definitely changing the way people collaborate. Before, remote employees who are in charge of creating presentations need to turn over their drafted slides to the presenter, and then wait for the annotations and comments before the document can be finalized. This back and forth exchange can go on for at least 20 more emails or at least until they get things perfect.
This isn’t the case anymore as today, creating a presentation that requires input from stakeholders or collaborators is a whole lot easier with a UC system. First, you fire up your team messaging tool and assign the project to someone. The specifications or the outline can be part of the project notes – something that’s open for viewing or editing to anyone included in the conversation. As the person in charge works on it, you can further discuss it with the rest of the team. Make edits to the document on the fly. Launch web conferences instantly when phone calls or messaging aren’t sufficient to clarify issues. The collaboration becomes real-time.
- Multiple Devices
Because UC is location-agnostic and collaborative in nature, it also allows communications features to become accessible and available on any device aside from the usual desk phone including personal computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets as soon as employees are connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
This keeps users connected all the time. They can travel and be on the go while keeping their phone lines open or even make outgoing calls via their business number solely through their web browser. IT managers no longer have to worry about keeping business operations afloat 24/7 even during holidays because they can configure the entire system by just using a single application on their mobile phones.
- Business Integration
Integrations are also a huge driver for unified communications. Because of the need to create a single hub for communications and other related business functions, UC providers had to allow interoperability with other productivity applications. For instance, an employee who needs to call a customer using the information displayed on the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool need not launch a softphone on a separate window if his phone provider offers a CRM integration capability. He or she can just use the click-to-call function to dial the customer’s phone number.
Additionally, some UC systems provide open APIs that in-house developers can play with to allow full integration with other applications. For example, they can program their communications system to pull information from other programs, set up reports, automate recordings and notifications, and so on. This is supposed to away the fragmentation of business tools that employees often find burdensome.
- Customer Service
Businesses have always faced the challenge of meeting customer expectations. One wrong move and they’ll end up having negative reviews on social media. One missed call from a client might result to an eventual big blow in earnings. With a UC system in place, response rates can be greatly improved upon.
Say, a customer visits a retailer’s website and clicks on the chat button to facilitate the return or exchange of an item. This live chat button can trigger an action that will connect the person to a customer service agent. After verifying the claim, the agent can then launch an inventory system to check if a replacement is available. If it’s not available at their warehouse, he can contact the manufacturer to order a new one that has the customer’s specifications. After 30 minutes, this agent can inform the client that he can send over the item and expect the new one to arrive in the next 24 hours. Now that’s seamless customer service powered by a robust communications system.
With the ever-changing business landscape, small, medium, and big enterprises alike can benefit from a unified communications system that can solve (or at least minimize) major challenges that hamper efficiency and productivity.
Klaris Chua is an online content specialist who frequently participates in conversations about unified communications and collaboration. After several years in broadcast and print media, she decided to jump into the digital world because she found the unique and fast-paced environment too enticing to pass up. Connect with her through LinkedIn or Twitter.