It is good to have choices in communication. The phone system exists but chat, social media, voicemail, email, and fax to coexist. It is good for people who can pick their favorite.
For business, this means they have to keep jumping across lanes to latch on to the preferred channel of communication.
Invariably, this leads to delays and customer dissatisfaction. This is where a unified communication solution brings harmony to businesses. It does more. Even teams within an organization find it easier to keep tabs on various modes of interaction with a UC system in place.
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The unified communications environment
Think of siloed channels of communications in your enterprise. You have email existing in a parallel world. There is fax, voicemail, good old phone system and chat. You may have conferencing solutions too. It requires considerable effort just to keep tabs on each individual channel.
A customer, much to the annoyance of customer service reps in the enterprise, may start off with a phone call, fire off an email and then switch to chat or take to posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Multiply the numbers of people who do this and you have a communication logjam in your hands. You could valiantly keep jumping through the hoops to follow the customer’s journey. Now think of an IP PBX system that has unified communication built into it.
You have a single dashboard to view activities across the different channels and follow your customers. It ties neatly into your CRM to put all records in one place. You can serve more customers, follow up on leads, and convert them and do it all with ease as well as speed. The unified communication market is expected to reach the $143 billion mark by the year 2024 at a growth rate of over 16%. It is not just serving.
The specifics of UC
Enterprises usually start off with an IP PBX and then find the system lacking, necessitating the upgrade to a UC package. It may be possible for UC solution providers to tie together all channels and provide CRM integration, too.
If you are buying a new system, then you can look at inhouse UC system. This does involve upfront investment and the need to have suitable IT infrastructure and personnel. You may find a hosted cloud based UC system a better solution.
Then there are startups with less demanding needs. The WebRTC based UC system may be ideal since it does not involve use of any specific hardware. The browser becomes the platform for audio-video interactions, sending documents and even emails. You can use your desktop or your smartphone and always be available.
You can opt for one or the other, but a UC system is a must have for a business of any type and size, even startups, for a variety of reasons.
Communications without boundaries
Unified means just that: unification of the parallel tracks of communication into a single dashboard. It would take a lot of juggling to switch channels, but with UC you can do it effortlessly and intuitively instead of floundering about. You can do it when you are in the office using your desktop system.
You can do it using your smartphone when you are on the road. Employees within an organization can focus more on communication and do it better. All that is required for employees is to sign into the dashboard and take on customers on whatever channel they happen to be. You can start with one channel and switch to another if and when required.
Speed matters. Delays can cause frustration and customer churn. UC keeps you informed of activity on any channel to help you to respond with alacrity to one or more customers at any time, even after office hours.
Conduct campaigns, track responses
UC need not be reactive. It can go proactive. Use your CRM and the UC to design and launch campaigns, follow responses and engage. It can be a one-way campaign too, such as when you wish to send out emergency broadcast using the SMS/voice message broadcast feature of your Unified Communication solution. Include a phone number, your twitter handle or Facebook ID to let targets know you are available everywhere.
Communication never stops
Phone lines can be disrupted. Your email may stop working. Your fax may sulk. Just having one line of communication is a risky proposition in these scenarios. When you have multiple channels, your communication lines remain open.
Easy management, reduced costs
Instead of multiple service providers, you only have one service provider to interact with. This saves the operational costs of managing different platforms and the costs of integration.
Employee performance and productivity
UC is not just looking at customers. It can be used to look inwards within the organization to boost employee productivity. There is nothing stopping employees from using the audio and video chat feature to engage in conferences and collaborations even as they remain deskbound.
They save time, money and effort that would otherwise go into travel for the conference. Plus, you can exchange documents and speed up resolutions. Employees need not be within the office premises to collaborate.
There are times when team collaboration is necessary to address customer grievances, in which case, the unified communication platform is a must-have. The email sparks a response on the phone.
Queries raised during the chat may lead to the involvement of other employees to handle areas for which they are responsible and the chat turns into a conference during which documents may be exchanged and the first call becomes the resolving call.
It is not just routine intra-office collaboration that is possible with a unified communication subsystem. You can use it for training and to bring employees up to speed with new developments.
You may assume that UC is only for the big boys in business. This is not so. It is even more important and necessary for startups and small business owners who are more sensitive to customer churn impacts and the costs of communication.
An on-premises solution may be an expense and could possibly deter you, but with UC as a Service you simply subscribe, enjoy projecting the image of a corporate company while paying a meager subscription fee each month. Your cash flow is not disrupted. In fact, given its benefits, UC could prove cheaper.
Communication is the lifeblood of business. Today’s customer is demanding, has high expectations and brooks no delays. UC gives you immediacy and peace of mind that you have a tool that helps you stay in touch, respond, be available and communicate – effectively.
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