What’s Unified Communication and What’s the Point?
Several years ago, research and advisory luminaries Gartner, Inc. predicted that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions with businesses would occur online. The prediction has proven largely accurate, and the principle also holds true for internal corporate communications, to a degree.
Today’s worker has access to a wide range of devices and avenues for communication. The average employee has a desk phone, a cell phone, video conferencing software, online chat, email, and at least one voicemail box.
The technology of integrating all of these means of communication is called Unified Communications, or UC. Without UC, all those ways to reach an employee become a problem rather than a solution, as one would never know which phone will be answered, or if the person is at their desk to see a message pop-up.
UC is a way to manage all the different technologies people use to communicate in the modern office, making sure a message gets through no matter how it was sent. It encompasses features as simple as forwarding a desk number to a cell phone, and as complex as automated transcription of voicemails to emails.
A good UC solution is vital in today’s age of constant travel, employees who work from home, and teams whose members might be separated by thousands of miles. The ability to quickly and reliably communicate with employees and coworkers can save hours of wasted time and massively increase productivity each day.
Why Invest in UC?
If your business does not currently utilize a UC solution, then ask yourself a few simple questions.
- Are my employees mobile? UC is enormously helpful in managing outside sales representatives, telecommuters, and other employees who work away from the office. The ability to quickly and consistently reach someone without waiting for them to check their email or return to the office can be vital in a competitive market.For employees who spend part of their time in the office and part out in the field, the ability to maintain a single point of contact that works regardless of location is an epiphany.
- Do my employees collaborate? If not, perhaps they should. Collaboration has transformed the corporate world for the better, and strong adoption of UC is a cornerstone of collaborating effectively.
- Do slow communications negatively impact our business efficiency? Unless your business is the very rare position where time does not equal money, then the less time it takes for messages make their way around the office, the better. UC helps eliminate missed memos and delayed responses, while optimizing efficiency. The best UC solutions do this effortlessly and transparently for the user.
How UC Helps the Customer
Unified Communications can also have an enormous impact on arguably the most important metric of all: customer satisfaction.
UC has been shown to strengthen client relations through increased first-call resolution of customer service requests. Paired with an effective customer relationship management (CRM) solution, UC software can be used to direct client calls to the employees who have worked with them before and can most quickly and effectively resolve their issues.
The hassle-free call conferencing and logging features inherent to UC software is also a boon to employee training. New workers can easily “tag along” on customer phone calls, receive guidance from mentors via text or instant message while on their own calls, and review audio or text recordings of past customer calls.
Good for Every Business
At its core, UC is about ensuring people stay available and can be reached quickly and easily, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. It streamlines and facilitates communication, and can potentially increase the efficiency of any worker, in any role.
Although the implementation of any new technology or process requires resources, training, and time to adjust, UC is designed to help employees operate at their highest level. Businesses of any size are well-advised to consider a unified communications package as a vital step toward optimizing their efficiency and performance.