Although a much-used buzzphrase, what exactly is the importance of ‘unified communications’ in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace.
Well, at its heart, it is the development of systems designed to tackle constant pressure on managers and key employees, and the intense competition for customers.
The goal of unified communications is simple: to make it easy and cost effective for employees to reach one another – as well as business partners and customers – as soon as they need to, wherever they are.
The idea is to merge two or more communications into one user interface, allowing users to see whether someone is available for a phone call, video or telephone conference or instant message chat, and then to contact them in the most appropriate way.
So the next time a customer calls your business with a question about your services, instead of playing ‘phone tag’ trying to find the person who knows the answer, they can be routed to the right employee immediately.
There can be constant pressure on a few ‘go-to’ employees, who everyone else in the organisation relies on for help and information. Because they are so important to the health of the organisation, their time is at a premium. What they need more than anything else is a tool that can help them prioritise their communications.
Managers need technology that allows them to take important calls from anywhere, and ignore the interruptions that can wait for another day. Doing that requires tools that can identify important callers, properly route critical communications, and enable collaboration from anywhere.
In most organisations, customer service is priority number one. In many companies, for example, product offered by one competitor can be easily matched by another, so what matters most is their service. Success requires features that guarantee customers get the answers they need, the minute they need them.
These same organisations need advanced communications technology to meet their business goals, but don’t always have necessary staff devoted to IT and telecommunications issues. As a result, they need technology that is easy to understand and justify, and simple to deploy, manage and use.
So by integrating voice and online communications, ‘unified communication’ technologies make it easy for your employees to identify and locate the right person at the right time, get critical information, make faster and better decisions, and deliver exceptional customer service. It can also cut the costs of communications, including voice, instant messaging and conferencing.
Unified communications can deliver a variety of benefits, including:
- Customer Care – With skills-based routing, presence information and conferencing, unified communications makes it easier to stay in touch with customers, and ensure they get the answers and support they need;
- Better Productivity – It can use information and click-to-communicate capabilities to get the right information to the right people as soon as they need it, which helps managers make better decisions more quickly, which in turn speeds development and production times, and fills orders faster;
- Lowering the Cost of Communications – Unified communications may sound expensive, but it can actually help reduce your communications costs. IP telephony has been shown to save thousands of pounds on voice calls alone – throw in decreased call volumes (thanks to instant message chats) and reduced travel (thanks for audio, video and web conferencing), as well as lower costs for conferencing delivered on-site rather than via a hosted service, and you have a technology than can quickly pay for itself.
Many organisations don’t have the time or money to spend on complex, costly technology implementations. They need tools that are easy to use and deploy, cost effective, and complete.
An all-in-one appliance can deliver all those benefits and more. The right one will be easy to install, maintain and service, and it will be simple to use. It will contain a host of communications applications, all accessible through a single client. And it will be extremely cost effective.
Since the majority of knowledge-based employees spend most of their time within Outlook, for example – composing and answering emails, scheduling appointments, and managing their contacts – integrating other forms of communication into that application makes enormous sense.
This is why organisations should look for a solution that will ensure the technology is simple to deploy, manage and use, without the need for a fully staffed IT department, and without too much cost and complexity.
Unified communications is a popular buzzphrase in business today, but the fact is that with the right technology it can boost productivity, increase customer care and cut communications costs.