It's fair to say communication tools underpin day-to-day business processes and must be stable and dependable. It’s why company decision-makers are sometimes hesitant to transform their communication solutions. If it’s not broke, why fix it?
On the face of it, it’s a fair question: why change a communication solution that is already delivering and doing so at a reasonable price? In reality, the need may be far more urgent than it appears.
In this article, we outline the biggest benefits of unified communications (UC), how it can deliver far beyond expectations and why companies stuck in the communications slow lane will be at a disadvantage. We will also talk about how transforming any element of technology shouldn't be a cause for concern, if the transformation is performed elegantly.
1. Individual and Team Productivity
Employees are under pressure to get more done, in less time. Discrete communication tools present productivity barriers that make both individuals and teams less productive than they can otherwise be. UC breaks down these productivity barriers in several respects:
Unified communications make it easier for team members to collaborate by enabling the easy and efficient exchange of documents, data, and ideas. UC also breaks location barriers by enabling seamless collaboration regardless of a participant’s location. Presence information is another key aspect of UC, enabling colleagues to always be aware who is available at a certain time.
UC is typically cloud-based, offering easy integration not only between different modes of communication (voice, email, and IM) but also between communications and other enterprise systems. Switching tools simply isn’t necessary, instead users seamlessly change modes while retaining full access to enterprise-wide data however they choose to communicate.
Traditional communications can metaphorically chain employees to their desks, unable to respond to clients and colleagues when they’re not at their stations. UC should be mobile, allowing workers to answer calls, instant message, and access company data wherever they are, using whichever device they prefer. So, staff can do more work, more often.
Yes, current tools work, but often imply switching tools when switching communications channels while rarely offering much in the way of integration. Companies that stick to old tools risk getting left behind, unable to compete effectively without the full benefits of UC.
2. Customer Experience Improvements
Customers have exceptionally high expectations from all businesses nowadays. Customer service levels that were stellar just a couple of years ago will now put your company at a disadvantage. Unified communications can boost the customer experience in several ways:
- UC enables omnichannel
Customers expect a smooth experience regardless of channel – phone, online or in person. UC delivers the instant access to customer and enterprise data that an exceptional customer experience demands, while ensuring there are no hiccups when communicating with a customer – even on social media.
- Contact centre improvements
UC can integrate with CRM, seamlessly marrying customer data and communications tools. At the same time, contact centre employees have improved access to internal communications channels: rapidly finding customer solutions thanks to swift communications with colleagues.
- Customised customer experience
Advanced UC tools can deliver a level of customer experience personalisation that traditional tools simply cannot. Rather than just a communication tool, UC-driven contact centres become a customer insight tool that gels together a broad range of business data in order to better serve customers.
Businesses are moving to respond to the higher demands of customers, and companies who neglect the customer experience risk losing their customer base. UC is an essential customer experience tool.
3. Business Flexibility and Agility
Traditional, discrete communications tools are not the most agile of solutions. Adding a new team can involve contacting multiple vendors, a site visit to install more lines, and endless onboarding glitches. UC sidesteps all of this by providing a single, cloud-based point of service delivery.
In practice this means that a new team member is added to just one system, instantly receiving access to all communications tools. Upscaling and downscaling are equally seamless: UC is typically cloud-based, rarely requiring on-premise equipment to deliver its magic. So, even where user numbers are massively increased, UC tools scale effortlessly.
The result is that companies do not face additional hurdles when trying to scale their operations. Importantly, UC also reduces considerations around the location of staff, so companies are less restricted by physical location when planning for the future.
UC’s productivity-boosting effects is also a great boost for overall organisational agility. In a rapidly changing world where digital transformation is not optional the flexibility that UC instills is invaluable.
4. Real Cost Savings
The days of expensive fixed-line telecoms and exorbitant long-distance call charges are mostly in the past, but traditional VoIP facilitates are always the most cost-effective solution. Unified communications pushes the cost barrier further:
- Equipment and maintenance
Cloud-based UC removes the need for expensive, proprietary local equipment. UC does not require on-site staff or special expertise. Instead, companies use simple point and click online interfaces to manage UC solutions.
- Lower running costs
UC can typically offer even lower service charges, with some solutions bundled with the cloud-based productivity packages companies would buy anyway. Call charges can be lower too, while the abundance of communications channels eliminate many call charges altogether.
- Less travel
Employees that have UC at their disposal have a reduced need for frequent travel to meet colleagues and clients. Instead, video and conferencing tools can replace the need for at least some face to face meetings.
- Remote working
UC enables more fluid remote working, with easier access to communications tools and company data. This can imply that companies pay less for staff, while reducing the need for large offices.
These are just a few of the ways in which UC can reduce a company’s cost base. These savings are not marginal and there is a case to be made that moving quickly on unified communication is essential – not doing so leaves money on the table.
5. Transform at Your Own Pace
Finally, it is often the case that, irrespective of the benefits or cost savings involved, transforming any element of technology provisioning is delayed by staff or leadership simply because they fear the disruption it may entail.
However, such a move shouldn't be a cause for concern, if the transformation is performed elegantly.
It’s important to remember that UC transformation is about changing your business at its core. This is important because achieving change requires more than just implementing new technology. Simply upgrading your technology alone will not always get you to where you want to be because these technologies need to be in support of your overall goals, and they also need to be designed to change not just what you can do but how you do it.
You should always look to maximise your current UC environment and upgrade rather than replace. This is cheaper than buying new and reduces disruption. Create a test environment so you can easily innovate with new technologies you want to trial.
Then, one by one, when the timing is right, migrate each adjunct technology from inflexible, CapEx intensive technology and replace with cloud-hosted, consumption-based, flexible services. This will minimise disruption.
Partner With Communication Experts
It goes without saying that the communication partner you choose can make all the difference in how simple it is to switch to a new solution, and to what extent your business realises the benefits of UC.
Conn3ct takes a unique approach to help our clients transform their business-critical UC environments. We provide transformation as a partnership, which we deliver as a managed service.
Our goal is to manage your existing infrastructure better and more efficiently than anyone else. By doing so, we can put out any fires in your existing estate, giving you the space to look at innovation. We get a deep understanding of your current environment to ensure anything new does not fall short of today’s capabilities. Once complete, we can start your journey by enhancing your current platform and completely transforming its capabilities so that you can transform your employee and customer experiences.
Get in touch with Conn3ct for a consultation, or read our guide, The Benefits Of Having Unified Communications In Your Business (And How To Get There). Your company stands to benefit from unified communication, and there is little reason to delay the change – and every reason to make the shift sooner rather than later.