No matter what industry you’re in, there are two goals you’d probably love to achieve: Make your customers happier and get more done in less time.
What one single change can help you reach those goals? Helping your workers communicate more effectively.
To stay competitive in our hyper-mobile world, your employees need to be able to reach each other fast, wherever they are, whatever device they’re using. And they need to be able to respond to customers quickly, by phone, chat, or e-mail—however customers want to talk.
For many businesses, that means upgrading to a unified communications system.
First, let’s look at what unified communications, or UC, is. Basically, it’s a way to let your employees and customers easily communicate through just about any means they want, short of teleporting. They can instant message, call, or e-mail. They can videoconference if they want to chat face to face. They can listen to voice mail messages on their desktop, smartphone, or tablet. It’s all unified, so the user experience is seamless.
There are two key benefits to UC: improved productivity and better customer service.
UC can boost productivity by bringing people in different locations with different schedules together. They can collaborate using e-mail, instant messaging, and video and phone conferencing, reducing travel time, scheduling conflicts, and miscommunications.
Say your employee just finished a project and is now en route to an important conference. Your client calls with a question about the project and needs an answer now. Because the employee has UC on her mobile device, you can reach her with a mouse-click. Using videoconference capabilities, you pull up the project on your screen and the two of your talk through the issues while she waits for her plane.
Thanks to UC collaboration, you resolve the clients’ issue quickly, and your employee is still able to represent your company at a conference two time zones away. That’s productivity.
Improving Customer Service
With UC, customers can contact you in whatever way is most convenient for them—chat, e-mail, or phone. If you have integrated your customer relationship management (CRM) system with your UC system, the benefits of unified communications multiply.
Your customer service reps can easily pull up customers’ purchase histories and call histories, so they understand the customers’ needs and issues more clearly. If a rep needs to pull in an expert to help sort out an issue, he can use the UC presence capabilities to see who’s available. The customer spends less time explaining her problems, less time on hold, and leaves happier. That’s better service.
You have a couple of options to consider: on-premises or unified communications as a service.
On-premises unified communications systems, in which the equipment is on site, are more likely to be used by very large businesses that need a fair amount of customization. These systems cost more upfront because you have to buy and maintain servers, but you avoid ongoing subscription fees.
The alternative is unified communications as a service, or UCaaS. Here you pay a service provider a subscription for a service that’s hosted in the cloud, so there’s no up-front investment. You don’t need to have space on site to locate servers, and you don’t need an IT staff dedicated to UC.
The as-a-service model is usually a better choice for small and midsize businesses, partly because it’s easy to scale up as your business grows. But UCaaS is becoming a viable option for all businesses. In fact, according to Gartner, “UCaaS … capabilities now exceed those available from premises-based UC solutions.”
Another advantage of UCaaS is that it works well for business continuity and disaster recovery scenarios because many IP phone systems are distributed across geographic locations.
More Choices: Multitenant or Virtualized
If you choose UCaaS, you have another choice to make, between multitenant and virtualized solutions.
With multitenant, users share the same software instance. These solutions—which include Cisco Spark, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Skype for Business—are easier to support and more popular among small and midsize businesses.
With virtualized solutions, each user has their own software instance. Virtualized solutions allow more customization and tailored security but require more support. They’re less appropriate for small and midsize businesses. In fact, even many enterprise-size companies are starting to opt for multitenant solutions, according to the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide.
If you’re still using a legacy PBX phone system, you’ll need to upgrade to a voice over IP telephony system, or VoIP in order to implement UC. With VoIP, you’re switching your phones from a private carrier to the internet.
Internet telephony has a number of advantages. You get unlimited calling, both local and long distance. And a VoIP system is user-friendly. You can easily add or subtract lines and move extensions, so you reconfigure the system as you need to.
You’ll see even more benefits of VoIP if you integrate that system with your CRM software. Then you’ll be able to gather data as you interact with customers, and easily tap that data to improve service.
Your best unified communications choice will be a solution designed for businesses like yours. Frontier AnyWare is one great option for small to midsize companies that need a flexible, easy-to-use system with a great end-user experience.
A nationwide, cloud-based VoIP solution, Frontier AnyWare is hosted, maintained, and supported by Mitel, which is ranked as a visionary company in Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications As-A-Service.
With Frontier AnyWare, you can save money by paying for only the features you need, knowing the system can easily grow as your business grows. With 24/7/365 customer service and tech support, you can leave the troubleshooting to someone else. Your employees will have a consistent user experience across devices and media types. And that will make it easier to boost productivity and improve customer service.
See how Frontier AnyWare can help your business communicate and collaborate.