In the search to improve everyday processes, reduce costs, and streamline operations, enhancing your office phone systems can be one the most effective strategies for achieving all three.
Thanks to Unified Communications (UC) and the power of the cloud, modernized office phone systems aren’t just for making and receiving calls, although those are important; modern businesses are updating their office phone systems to support a slew of transformative business processes, from better disaster recovery to catering to a new generation of millennial employees.
There are several significant ways to enhance the office phone system using UC and the cloud—and here are five of them.
Enable More Effective Collaboration
UC combines multiple forms of communication into one interface—meaning that workers have the ability to become “omnichannel” in how they work together. For instance, a working group can cooperate across geographies using video conferencing. During the meeting, participants can contact employees in other divisions to ask questions as needed, using the IM or SMS functions. Presence indicators will show real-time availability and preferred form of contact. If needed, these employees can be brought into the video conference itself or connected via audio with a simple escalation feature within the UC interface. This type of on-the-fly flexibility streamlines how workers collaborate and makes the best use of everyone’s time by eliminating duplicated efforts and wasted time.
Regardless of size, organizations can encourage innovation and build value by enabling employees to connect and collaborate at the right time, inside and outside the business. Mobile UC clients give employees the ability to do their jobs more effectively, no matter where they are—a critical aspect of how people work today. According to IDC Research, 72 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of mobile workers by 2020. How companies embrace mobile will vary by size; large enterprises will likely have a centralized policy for distributing authorized applications to authorized devices; SMBs customers, on the other hand, are unlikely to have a device program and are more likely to adopt mobile UC like a consumer would. In both cases, a mobile UC strategy can be a critical companion piece to the office phone system by ensuring that mobile workers have access to the exact same features and functionality as those in the office—including four-digit dialing and access to presence information.
Create A Millennial-Friendly Workplace
According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials, i.e., young people 21 to 39 years old, are the fastest-growing generation in the U.S. workforce. They are the most diverse generation in U.S. history with more college degrees (and college debt) than any previous employee demographic, and already comprise 50% of the labor force. However, the Center found that millennials communicate differently from other generations at work, with texting and IM apps being their most preferred method; this was followed by email, social media, and then calls and in-person meetings.
“They need a workplace environment different from what previous generations have been conditioned to offer,” the Center noted, adding that for businesses looking to compete long-term, attracting millennial talent by providing a workplace that caters to these preferences is advised. It added, “Cross-generational teams that include millennials can have a strong positive impact on innovation.”
Get Customer Centric
For companies whose customer service and contact center operations are a key part of their business, omnichannel communications is increasingly a requirement. To be competitive, businesses need to communicate with their customers using whatever method they prefer, be it email, chat, voice, SMS, or social networking. UC can help companies go from merely offering each of these communications offerings in a siloed way to truly marrying them together for a more holistic customer service experience. A unified approach means that a call can start as an SMS or a chat from the website, which can then be escalated with a click to a phone call or video conference. The ability to seamlessly move from one mode of communication to another translates into improved agent productivity, fewer inefficiencies, and increased customer satisfaction, among other benefits.
Boost Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Business-disrupting events can strike at any time, and they come in various forms. Aside from major disasters like hurricanes or large-scale process blunders, there are everyday outages that many businesses don’t consider—until it happens to them. These can be as pedestrian as a downed power line after a thunderstorm to a major power outage in the dead of winter. Chemical spills, fiber cuts, and even inconvenient parade routes in the summer can prevent employees from coming to work or knock out communications for a given amount of time—all of which can have a crippling effect on business financials.
Cloud-based UC can be a key piece of a disaster recovery plan because it can be used to ensure continuous communications in the event of an interruption. Redundancy plans for traditional on-premise office phone systems require separate (and expensive) failover circuits to be provisioned for the office, and may include confusing “thin clients” and VPNs for employees trying to work remotely.
Cloud UC, on the other hand, doesn’t require anything special for the business to keep running. Regardless of whether an employee is in the office or working from home or a café, the cloud UC client can connect to the suite of communications applications, which can be accessed wherever there is an internet connection. The UC client will also have the same features and interface, meaning that there is no added learning curve. And if the UC suite is coupled with a softphone, workers can re-create the at-desk experience from wherever they are.