In today’s ultra-competitive business environment, there are multiple factors driving the growing appetite for Unified Communications (UC). The pressure to reduce IT spend, coupled with a distributed workforce and rising expectations for always-on connectivity by employees, customers and partners are just some of the contributors pushing organizations to rethink the way they manage communication processes.
Companies that have adopted UC solutions are making tremendous gains in employee productivity and satisfaction as well as improved customer service. Before making the decision to adopt a unified communication platform, either on-premise or a cloud-based system, it’s important to consider these factors:
The need for improved collaboration and productivity
The speed of business today is so fast and so multifaceted, even one negative customer experience can cost a company dearly. Consider a study by NewVoiceMedia, that says that an estimated $41 billion is lost by US companies each year following a bad customer experience. (Source: NewVoiceMedia). That means if a company’s sales and customer service departments aren’t communicating clearly and working together, there is a huge potential for loss.
UC systems combat these issues by connecting people in more efficient and intuitive ways. By converging all communications media and devices into one interconnected platform, employees can respond to customer, partner and supplier requests in a more expedited and personal manner. That means the lines of communication are not just open, they are open 24/7. Today’s sophisticated UC applications do this by delivering advanced audio, web, and video calling features, IM, email and collaboration tools like shared workspace and whiteboarding. When used strategically together, these tools go a long way in bridging the communication gap, boosting productivity and building lasting relationships.
Real-business example: The impacts of a unified communications platform can be seen clearly when systems are tied directly into critical business applications (i.e. CRM, supply chain, inventory management systems, etc.). By integrating communication features into business processes, managers can be alerted automatically when an issue arises. This can speed response times and enhance customer service. For instance, alerts can be set up via IM, text or email if product inventory is low. Inventory managers can then interact quickly and directly with purchasers via audio or video conferencing tools. They can also collaborate using a shared document to review past inventory numbers and sales records. From there they can hash out ideas using online whiteboards and shared screens. In this example, customers are automatically alerted of the inventory adjustment. These streamlined processes help to reduce delays and human errors as well as improve customer interactions.
Greater mobility needs with a distributed workforce
It’s not uncommon today to have teams that are separated across many miles, borders, oceans, and even cultural barriers. Thus, keeping teams connected and communicating efficiently has become a top priority. On-premise applications and cloud-based UC platforms offer organizations even greater flexibility and scalability. When managed centrally, UC platforms can shrink IT maintenance/upgrade costs and improve corporate agility by giving all employees access to the same collaboration and communication technologies. These communication features also improve the productivity of all employees, whether they are working remotely via a mobile device, or are hardwired into the corporate IT network.
Companies of all sizes and vertical industries are benefiting from unified communication platforms that tear down the barriers and complexity of once ‘siloed’ corporate communication tools. By taking a more centralized approach− and linking business processes to communication platforms−organizations can further enhance customer and partner relationships as well as facilitate anytime, anywhere communications.
Those that leverage UC effectively are also ultimately supporting worker productivity and enthusiasm. Because let’s face it, good communication is the key to good business. And, when employees have access to world-class tools they are more empowered and engaged. That means they are at their best and delivering the best customer experience possible. That type of positive energy is good for any corporate bottom line.