Posted on: December 12, 2019 By: Sage Tourigny
The customer experience (CX) has emerged as one of the most important business drivers, and something that your company should absolutely be monitoring heading into 2020. In fact, current trends indicate that CX will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator next year.
Of course, CX can vary depending on what business process you’re referring to. For instance, the customer experience metrics change when applied to a website, physical store, mobile solution, and so on.
In this article, we’ll explore how CX pertains to your business communications system—and how you can ensure a strong CX using unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
UCaaS & The Customer Experience
The business world is in a state of digital transformation, as more and more companies are digitizing their underlying systems and processes. One system that’s becoming increasingly digitized is communication.
By moving forward with UCaaS, businesses can integrate disparate communications systems like voice, video, fax, text, and email into a centralized portal that can be easily accessed from any location. And more seamless communications ultimately leads to an overall better customer experience.
How Can UCaaS Ensure Better CX?
Uptime & Availability: Customers today expect fast and easy access to support agents whenever it’s needed. When this is interrupted due to an unplanned network outage, CX becomes negatively impacted—causing some customers to reach out to competitors for assistance.
By leveraging UCaaS, a company can establish seamless failover and disaster recovery. Superior UCaaS solutions can offer “five nines” of availability, ensuring customers will always be able to get in touch with support specialists in a timely manner.
CRM Integration: Customer service departments need to move beyond merely collecting data, and start making it actionable during customer service interactions.
This is not easy to accomplish when your phone system operates independently from your customer relationship management (CRM) database. With some UCaaS systems, however, it’s possible to integrate the two together, enabling data to flow seamlessly across the organization.
Scalability: Customer service departments often need to scale up and down rapidly in order to accommodate increases in customer volume.
UCaaS makes it possible to scale as your business changes—enabling a cost-effective and flexible approach to customer service while ensuring that your contact center always has the resources it needs to accommodate customers.
Enhanced Collaboration: Oftentimes, agents will have to consult with team members in order to resolve issues during customer service interactions.
With UCaaS, agents can easily ping other team members for additional support. Presence information also helps agents see who is available to step in and assist with a needy customer.
The Full Spectrum Approach To UCaaS
No two businesses are alike, which is why a company should never settle for a one-size-all communications system. It makes much more sense to take a customized approach.
Full Spectrum Communications are an innovative approach to UCaaS that offers end-to-end solutions as well as the ability to customize UC for unique internal workflows. If enhancing the customer experience is your end goal, you’ll want to consider how you can deliver your best service–and then find the solution that allows you to achieve it.
Posted on: November 12, 2019 By: Sage Tourigny
We’re about halfway through the fourth quarter, which means the pressure is on to close as many year-end deals as possible.
Check out these tips to get you through the rest of 2019 and start 2020 on the right foot:
Trust In The Cloud
Let’s face it: the fourth quarter isn’t much fun when you’re selling a product that nobody wants.
When you offer a product that’s in high-demand, though—like the cloud— you can basically let the service sell itself. It helps to remember that more and more businesses are making the switch and also want to start the next decade off with a head start! According to a recent study, the cloud now accounts for one-quarter of overall IT spending.
Since you and your customers are on the same team, it’s just a matter of identifying companies that are in a position to migrate to the cloud or switch vendors, and having the right portfolio to deliver.
Go Heavy On UC
Businesses of all sizes and vertical markets can benefit from unified communications (UC)—from small companies with 10 users to large, multi-site enterprises. It’s a flexible technology that should absolutely be in your portfolio.
To start a conversation, you may want to ask customers whether their communications system is up to par heading into the busy holiday rush—and whether they think they could do better. Tell customers that UC can boost backend productivity, and it can improve the customer experience. There’s no reason why companies today should be using disparate communications services when everything can run over a single platform.
Focus On Cost Efficiency
Many organizations are currently struggling to manage costs and overall IT spending. So, look for an opportunity to discuss finances when approaching them about cloud services. Help form a cost reduction plan, and look for legacy services that can be moved off-site.
Make sure to tell your customers about how VoIP can maximize cost efficiency, through services like pooling and bursting. VoIP is also highly scalable.
Under Promise, Over Deliver
Remember: You’re not the only one approaching customers this time of year. Customers are getting contacted left and right, including associates who are promising the world in hopes of getting them to sign up for their services.
Whatever you do, don’t make empty promises that you won’t be able to fulfill down the line. The better approach is to make an honest offer, and to have a vendor that will step in and impress the customer along every step of the process. In the midst of many too-good-to-be-true promises, keeping it real with your customers can be just what they needed to hear.
The fourth quarter isn’t just about closing deals. It’s also about setting yourself up for success throughout the following year.
Now is a great time to reflect on own your own portfolio of solutions, to see if you can improve it. Perhaps it’s time to consolidate your offerings down to a single vendor—one offering a Full Spectrum portfolio of end-to-end solutions.
Posted on: November 4, 2019 By: Sage Tourigny
Choosing a communications partner can be stressful. With so many companies offering communications services, each with their own messaging, the decision can overwhelm even the most seasoned IT professional—let alone a business owner who’s just trying to get the best price for the most speed. So how do you help your customers make the right decisions?
Unlike other providers, WOW! Business takes the time to understand your customers’ communication needs before designing, or even suggesting, a solution. Our goal is for you to succeed and ensure your customers do, too. To help, we’ve created 10 questions they should keep in mind as they work with you to evaluate potential carriers.
1. How hard is it to increase our level of service when we need it?
As your business grows, the last thing you want is to be limited by the capabilities of your ISP. Having a fast, reliable Internet connection is a good start. But if you want to continue to streamline and scale your capabilities, you’ll need to make sure your provider has solutions beyond just Internet connectivity.
2. How long should I expect my contract to last?
Contract terms typically involve a minimum commitment of 12 months, which gives your service provider a chance to recover the initial cost of delivering services.
3. How much will my solutions cost?
While you don’t want to overpay, you also don’t want to limit your bandwidth. If you don’t have enough it may cost more in loss of productivity and customers. Consider an option that allows you to scale up or down if necessary.
4. What if I don’t have the knowledge or resources to assess my network needs?
Make sure your provider works with you to understand your company’s specific use cases, rather than selling you products or speeds you don’t need.
5. How much bandwidth do we actually need, for now and for the future?
Emails, messaging apps, uploading or downloading files, and security cameras all depend on reliable WiFi. The amount of bandwidth can affect how well your employees work with each other and on their own. Determining how much you need using these three attributes:
- Number of employees who need Internet access
- Number of connected devices (tablets, smartphones, watches, etc.)
- Number of applications each employee uses (streaming, online collaboration, email, etc.)
6. What download and upload speeds do I need?
This is a two-part question: What are my real data upload and download needs and what are the ISP capabilities at each location across their network? No business wants to be limited by data transfer speeds not up to the job.
7. Should we be looking at cloud? What can cloud specifically do for our company?
Cloud computing gives employees a central location to store and exchange files and more ways to collaborate and stay connected when workers are on the go.
Moving traditional software models to the cloud helps ensure employee access, while also helping you stay up to date with the latest versions.
8. Our computers are older. Should we consider fiber connectivity?
Even older networking computers and equipment can benefit from the speed upgrade you get with a fiber connection. It can also help you increase capabilities by enabling you to take advantage of cloud-based applications.
9. How is reliable is the network I’m considering?
When your network goes down or is regionally slowed up for any reason, your business suffers. Think about how many of your daily operations depend on fast Internet and then ask what level of consistency you’ll be getting.
10. Will a service change impact our WiFi connectivity?
If you’re going to make a change, make sure your provider offers quick setup. The fastest solution in the world won’t do you much good if you’re not up and running after the transfer is complete.
For more information about selecting a communications provider, or to explore cutting-edge solutions backed by personalized local service, contact WOW! Business.
Posted on: October 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Every customer’s experience with a business starts with some type of interaction, whether it be with a sales representative or IT, going above and beyond their expectations is vital to success. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Is Your Contact Center Keeping Up? Watch “The Intelligent Contact Center” Now. >
Although 80 percent of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service, only eight percent of people think that these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.
How Are Companies Ensuring Positive Customer Engagement?
They’re investing in new technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, leveraging them to collect data, analyze usage and gain deep insight into how their customers are using their products and services. Contact centers are key to this transformation.
Contact centers are an important strategic asset. With 70 percent of customer journeys starting on a digital channel, it’s shocking to find that only one percent of digital customer data is used for effective engagement.
AI takes the data collected and the interactions we have with our customers to improve their experience by anticipating their needs.
Brands need to compete on their customer experience to stand apart now more than ever, with 59 percent of people willing to try a new brand or company for a better service experience. AI and machine learning are transforming contact centers into streamlined, self-service and smart CX platforms, working to improve the customer experience.
The future of the contact center world will involve optimization, assistance, discovery and recommendations, all given by AI. Your business will achieve a strategic advantage, operational excellence, and customer loyalty by investing in a contact center that saves time and money while ensuring that your customers are receiving the best service.
With enterprise-class performance and consumer-like ease of use, innovative companies rely on advanced cloud contact center solutions like MiCloud Connect CX to power their customer interactions. The power of AI is infused into every element of our contact center solution, to drive higher efficiency, cost reduction and allowing you to deliver personalized customer experiences. Integrating with your CRM system, Connect CX ensures that when a call comes in, you can immediately assess customer information, so that you can even personalize the conversation.
Focused on delivering personalized customer experiences with a cloud-native solution that combines enterprise-class modern cloud architecture with a consumer-like experience, MiCloud Connect CX can help your business make customer experience its competitive advantage. Bring all of your communications tools into one cloud and one application for a seamless experience on any device, anywhere in the world. Easily manage voice, email, and IM from a single screen to reduce management complexity and boost productivity.
Your team will exceed evolving customer expectations with a nimble platform, accelerating your customer experience with a contact center tool that’s easy to use and set up, intuitive for your team and never lets you down.
To learn more about how you can leverage intelligent contact centers to deliver the best customer experience possible, watch our webinar, The Intelligent Contact Center.
In this webinar, Head of AI and Data Science at Talkdesk, Jafar Adibi and Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Nichole Paschal of Mitel, cover how intelligent contact centers are helping to gain valuable insight into customer behavior.
In This Webinar You Will Learn How An Intelligent Contact Center Can:
- Utilize IVR and CRM data to intelligently route incoming calls, offer predictive recommendations and drive up first call resolution
- Save time and money by automating responses to common queries, improving resolution time and CSAT scores
- Identify trends, monitor performance and unlock deep insights into agents and customers
Posted on: October 16, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
By TAYLOR MALLORY HOLLAND – Contributor
There was a time when quality products and reasonable prices were enough to earn a customer’s loyalty. Not anymore. In today’s overcrowded, tech-driven marketplace, customer experience matters most.
According to MyCustomer, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, so providing an extraordinary experience is key to not only building, but also saving revenue. Most business leaders have already gotten the memo: 89% of companies see customer experience as a main driving force of loyalty and retention, said MyCustomer. And according to Salesforce, 58% of customers say technology has changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them.
Therein lies the opportunity for Vonage channel partners. With the right UC customer experience integration, your clients can empower employees to interact with customers across more channels than ever, while using communications data to continually improve the experience with each interaction.
So, how can you help your customers improve their customer experience with the Vonage communications platform?
The Building Blocks of UC Customer Experience Integration
Not long ago, cloud communications simply meant Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — phone systems that connect over high-speed internet and automate certain tasks, such as directing callers to the correct representatives or letting them request callbacks when the wait time is long.
Then came unified communications (UC) and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), a cloud-based platform that combines voice, video, messaging, and conferencing. With UC, employees can interact with customers across channels and easily switch from one channel to another based on customer preference. Better yet, with CRM integration, employees can see all the relevant information about incoming callers, so they can greet customers by name, anticipate their questions, and provide thorough personalized answers.
UC alone can improve customer service and sales. With easy CRM access, automatic call logging, and the ability to connect from any internet-enabled device, salespeople can stay connected to their clients from anywhere and ensure that customer information is always up to date. Deploying UC is just the first step in modernizing communications, however. The next step is leveraging communications APIs, such as:
Chatbots. Provide 24/7 customer support, AI-based recommendations, and even self-checkout options via chatbots or voicebots.
SMS alerts. Alerts allow you to keep customers in the loop with personalized offers, shipping and delivery updates, and other timely communications.
Geofencing. Send personalized messages based on customer location using geofencing technology.
Phone number verification. Shorten the login experience for customers with automatic verification.
The Case for Integrations and Add-Ons
These features help brands provide seamless communication from the moment a customer initiates contact with the company. But what about the folks who haven’t reached out yet — for instance, a prospective customer who enjoyed a blog post or discovered a product on Instagram? Of course, a simple Google search could help them contact the company, but for impatient customers or impulse shoppers, that might be one click too many.
Enter communications platform as a service (CPaaS), a set of developer-friendly APIs that let companies embed real-time communication features (voice, video, messaging) into their mobile apps, websites, and social channels. So, if a customer finds the brand on social media, they don’t have to log off and look up contact info. Instead, they can start a conversation with the brand directly from the social page, using whichever communication channel works best for the situation.
Finally, businesses that field a steady stream of customer communications can benefit from contact center as a service (CCaaS). Like UCaaS, CCaaS is a multichannel communications platform, but whereas UCaaS is designed for office workers, CCaaS is designed for call center employees.
Businesses can typically integrate CCaaS and UCaaS to get the functionality of both solutions. However, with Vonage Business, your clients can get it all from one solution: CX Cloud Express. This solution layers the CRM-integrated contact center platform on top of a traditional UC platform. This way, employees can communicate with each other and with customers, using the same technology with the same customer data.
Simply put, with cloud-based platforms like CX Cloud Express, employees can easily collaborate to deliver the seamless, personalized customer experience that consumers want and that your clients are struggling to provide.
The Benefits of UCaaS Extension Customer Experience
If your clients still aren’t convinced they need to modernize communications to improve the customer experience, a little data might help. According to a 2017 study conducted by Vonage and IDC, communications “powerbrokers” — companies that leverage UC, CPaaS, automation, and integration — significantly improve the customer experience and enjoy better business outcomes because of it.
These powerbrokers decreased customer service resolution speed and hold times, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty by 42%. And these changes in customer experience led to an improvement in the bottom line, too: powerbrokers saw a 34% reduction in costs and a 47% improvement in go-to-market speed for products and services, which led to increased profitability.
For companies that truly prioritize the customer experience, nothing is more important than modernizing communications. And as a Vonage channel partner, you’re perfectly positioned to help them do it.
Posted on: October 15, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Let’s be honest: The idea of opening a massive contact center probably isn’t all that appealing, especially if you are a startup or small to medium-sized business operating on a tight budget and trying to run an agile operation.
Building a traditional contact center, after all, is no small ordeal. It requires a lot of space, hiring dedicated staff members, securing premium communications infrastructure, and so on. All things considered, a contact center can be one of the most resource-intensive departments in company.
Despite these challenges, contact centers are extremely important—more so, in fact, than ever before. In the age of the customer experience (CX), where expectations are through the roof, ensuring a seamless and helpful interaction with your brand has become one of the golden rules of doing business. According to Salesforce, 47 percent of customers claim they will stop buying from a company if they have a subpar experience; 76 percent of customers say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
The Departmental Contact Center
Without the services of a contact center, it’s just about impossible to keep customers satisfied—putting business owners today in a tough predicament about how to proceed. As a workaround, many businesses are embracing the idea of informal, or departmental, contact centers.
A departmental contact center is one where non-traditional employees (like sales associates or IT personnel) are empowered to interact with customers over channels like voice, email, and live chat. It can reduce or eliminate the need to hire full-time customer service representatives.
Departmental contact centers typically leverage a cloud communications platform, which can be accessed securely from any location. All communication takes place over a centralized, cloud-based portal—in effect, enabling a borderless customer service department.
The Benefits Of Departmental Contact Centers
Some of the top benefits to using a departmental contact center include:
Reduced CAPEX & OPEX
By taking an informal, departmental approach, and leveraging cloud software, a business can provide strong customer service without having to spend enormous amounts of money on backend telephony infrastructure and agent-facing equipment. It will also eliminate all overhead that would otherwise have to be spent on a physical contact center (like floor space, seats, utilities, and so on).
Keep Employees Connected
In a traditional contact center environment, dedicated agents handle most customer-facing interactions. Information is entered into a customer relationship management (CRM) portal, where it can then be exported to other teams like sales, marketing, and Research and Development. One of the downsides to this environment is that it creates a barrier—and a disconnection—between customers and employees. All too often, critical customer data simply goes unused. By allowing high-ranking team members to communicate directly with customers, it can serve as a valuable educational component that can lead to better products and services, and happier customers in the long run.
Customers, of course, will appreciate connecting with experienced team members instead of part time call center agents. For example, imagine using a software as a service (SaaS) solution to run a business, running into a problem and contacting customer support—and instead of speaking with a regular agent, you connect with a lead developer who knows the ins and outs of the software better than anyone. This type of experience will foster feelings of strong brand loyalty—and it will reinforce the message that the company really cares about providing great support, to the point where workers will take time out of their busy day to help solve problems.
Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Our bring your own network (BYON), access-agnostic solutions equip your customers to easily swap phone systems and migrate to the latest communications and networking technologies they need while keeping their underlying connectivity in place. Cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), value-added SD-WAN and managed security services will improve customer engagement, employee productivity, network performance, service reliability and cyberthreat protection.
Featured BYON Windstream Enterprise solutions include:
- SD-WAN – Choose the technology platform that is right for your business from two of the leading WAN edge infrastructure providers— VeloCloud or Fortinet—both options are recognized as leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, provide PCI DSS compliance, and leverage our state-of-the-art partner portal
- UCaaS – Our many “flavors” of Unified Communications as a Service offer a more connected, collaborative workforce, with instant messaging, chat, presence, mobility, conferencing and CRM integrations—all backed by a world-class network with 99.99% always-on reliability
- Security and Compliance – Most experts agree that a security breach for most companies is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Our suite of Security Services includes Cloud and CPE Firewalls, SIEM and DDoS Mitigation to shield the most sophisticated threats.
Enjoy big payouts. In addition to our standard competitive residual monthly compensation, we’ll give you a 5% bonus residual and up to 4X accelerator for BYON services!
Everything you need from a single source. If you’re also looking for network solutions, either as a replacement or for diversity, we can do it all—BYON, network solutions or both.
Want to Learn more? E-mail Windstream Enterprise
Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Yes! It’s a Match Made in Heaven!
Posted on: October 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Emails pile into your inbox by the dozens—or hundreds. Notifications pop up on your desktop computer and phone. So do text messages. And both your desk and mobile devices constantly ring.
Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.
Sometimes we feel like we work for our communications devices, not the other way around. They pull us in all directions when we just want to get some work done. In today’s work environment, we’re challenged to be productive and effective, sometimes in spite of the technology we use.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Unified communications (UC) combined with smart, intuitive collaboration tools (UC&C) makes work easier, connecting us more efficiently with colleagues, customers and partners, all from one platform that can be accessed from any device.
Improving The Customer Experience
With UC&C, employees can connect with customers through any channel, no matter where they’re located. Envision this scenario: A customer’s flight is delayed two hours, so she misses her connection. After speaking with the gate agent, she resignedly wanders off to get a bite to eat, five gates away. Why shouldn’t she? She knows it will be a while before she’s rebooked.
In the meantime, the gate agent finds an alternative flight. He brings up the customer’s information from her reservation, finds her mobile number and, with a click, the system dials her smartphone. She answers, thrilled when the agent shares details about her new flight. After agreeing to the rebooking, she sets off to the new gate.
Improving Team Productivity
Your creative team is hard at work developing a new client’s marketing campaign. But before they can proceed, you discover they need a critical piece of information from an internal subject matter expert. Despite leaving a voicemail and sending an email, you’ve received no response. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your colleague is even on this continent, let alone available to conference with the team?
Presence technology lets you see if the SME is available and by which means: voice, text, video or not at all. The system automatically routes calls from one number to another. On top of that, your colleague can see all communications with UC&C’s unified messaging. Whether he’s in his office, in the car or working remotely, by signing on via a shared cloud platform he sees all messages, including texts, voicemails and emails. If he’s not available, the team sees this immediately and reaches out to another colleague for the information it needs.
Improving Community Communications
It’s not only businesses that benefit from UC&C. Staff and teachers in the Lovejoy Independent School District needed a way to communicate both internally and with parents. After UC&C was implemented, they gained a phone and voice mailbox in each classroom with conferencing capabilities. One feature, the Time of Day Call Restriction, allows teachers to put the classroom phone into “meeting mode” at scheduled intervals. That way, they’re not interrupted by calls during class time.
When class is out of session, teachers easily make calls from any device, either with a single click from their contact list or by entering a name. They can also easily join conference calls. That’s particularly handy when someone can’t make a parent-teacher conference in person.
Improving Partner Collaboration
In product development today, speed to market is essential. To achieve it, employees must work efficiently with partners, involving them as early as a product’s design phase.
Imagine you’re an engineer developing a new battery for a prototype automobile. You need to collaborate with the vendors supplying the necessary parts. UC&C provides tools that not only let you manage the project – setting tasks, scheduling meetings, sharing documents and virtual whiteboards – but enable you to invite external parties to participate via a secure, web-accessible interface.
It doesn’t matter which communications tool the vendor uses. UC&C can send messages across multiple providers. It even allows you to build a digital twin online so you can conduct a deep dive into the product’s requirements, working side-by-side.
UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are
UC&C is bringing organizational communications into a new era. Now, colleagues, customers and communities can easily communicate across devices, geographies and across applications.
Posted on: October 7, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Choosing the right Unified Communications platform
A unified communications (UC) platform should be your ticket to easier team collaboration, with all workflows for instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, VoIP telephony and more running through one streamlined application. Whether it actually becomes this ideal all-in-one hub will hinge on which solution and vendor you select.
What’s at stake when shopping for UC – and why you should explore cloud
When you choose a UC platform, you’re not just purchasing a product – you’re buying into a larger ecosystem, much like you do when you opt for iOS or Android. In addition to placing a bet on the solution’s underlying communications technology – i.e., its ability to handle calls, messages, and meetings – you are also trusting its vendor to support it and other vendors to allow it access to their APIs. That raises the stakes for making an informed decision, as the wrong choice can leave you with a UC solution that is as unreliable for end-users as it is difficult for you to integrate into your larger IT environment.
Making these sorts of high-stakes choices between seemingly similar – but actually quite different – collaboration tools is the enterprise equivalent of the format wars that once dominated consumer tech. For example, imagine being a movie buff circa 2006 and going all-in on the ill-fated HD-DVD instead of Blu-ray. The latter quickly drove the former out of the competition despite their comparable specs, leaving early adopters with an expensive player that studios had abandoned and which couldn’t even play Blu-ray discs – in other words, a major sunk cost.
When it comes to business communication tools, there’s a much wider range of competing solutions, from on-prem UC based on SIP trunking and an existing phone system to cloud-based implementations from vendors including Telesystem. Cloud-based UC, which is low-cost and continuously updated, is generally the most reliable platform for sustaining growth and ensuring real-time communications, not to mention eliminating the risk of ever being saddled with expensive, low-utility assets down the road.
That said, it’s important to scrutinize the features of any unified communications platform as well as the specific value the vendor can add to it. Let’s look at what you should prioritize during the selection process.
Deployment model: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises
All UC solutions are designed to perform the same basic task, namely to create a one-stop-shop for:
- Voice calls.
- HD video conferences.
- Instant messages.
- Virtual meetings.
At the same time, they differ in the specific infrastructure they harness to reach this goal. An on-prem unified communications platform is built on equipment the customer owns, operates and maintains. In contrast, cloud UC – or Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) – leverages the power of the provider’s data centers and hosted IT resources, and hybrid blends the two.
There are pros and cons to each approach. On-prem and hybrid afford a higher degree of control, at the cost of budgetary and operational flexibility. Cloud offers the latter two in spades but requires finding a trustworthy vendor. For now, cloud UC seems to be winning the race, with a Synergy Research report finding its adoption among enterprises increasing a staggering 57% year-over-year in 2018.
A UCaaS platform like UC-One from Telesystem can completely replace your existing PBX without requiring you to handle its maintenance or perform the complex operations for moving, adding or changing the system’s users. Cloud-based unified communications are highly scalable, flexible and cost-effective, as they are billed as periodic operating expenditures, not as steep upfront capital expenditures.
Features for calling, messaging and meetings
Any UC solution worth its weight will do much more than simply be a PBX-in-the-sky, though. It will support all of the key functions integral to modern teamwork and put them into context in one place, eliminating the need to waste so much time on app switching just to keep up with the many possible ways in which a team can interact.
Indeed, today’s workplaces are home to a plethora of collaboration tools, including persistent chat apps, VoIP and video services for real-time communications, online meeting spaces and old standbys such as email, PSTN calls and text messages. The latter remains particularly popular despite the rise of newer alternatives; a survey by Technalysis Research found that they accounted for 75% of all co-worker communication.
Unified communications platforms like UC-One effortlessly balance old and new modes of communication:
Need to make a quick phone call? Corporate directory lookup allows colleagues to be found within seconds. You can also set up a single number for all of your devices, use Wi-Fi calling for cheaper rates and make VoIP or conventional calls from your business number. HD video is available as well to enrich voice conversations.
Business messaging has come a long way from the early days of IRC and SMS. Chatting within a UC suite is strengthened by features such as presence (to see who’s online at the moment), private and group chat, full chat history and easy access to all shared content such as emails and other files.
Online meetings should be simple to join and participate in, but too often they throw a lot of roadblocks in front of their would-be participants. Dial-ins, PINs and complex user interfaces complicate the experience. Meeting functionality in a platform like UC-One is much more streamlined, with a simple invitation system that gets out of everyone’s way and allows participants to get right down to business via integrated video, messaging and screen sharing. You can even drag and drop a colleague’s icon into the meeting room or, if needed, dial-in.
Support for mobile workers
Since the 2000s, there has been a steady increase in the number of people telecommuting, in large part due to the evolution of mobile devices and wireless networks. More than 4 million individuals work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Half of the U.S. workforce holds a position that is compatible with telework arrangements and 80 to 90 percent of workers would like to telecommute at least some of the time.
Accordingly, mobile device support is a must-have in a UC solution. Specific features to look for include:
- Android and iOS client apps for phones and tablets.
- The ability to move calls from desktops to mobile devices.
- Multiple call handling and merging.
- Business phone number support across devices.
- Wi-Fi calling with seamless handover between networks.
Integrations with other business communications apps
To return briefly to our earlier point about HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray, ecosystems matter. Cloud UC solutions without deep integrations and reliable vendor support are no better than fancy media formats that have no films or shows that anyone wants to watch.
The best UC platforms build context and support efficient workflows by integrating with everyday tools such as Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Box and more. Plus, they can pull information and events from calendars and emails. The end result is one view within the UC app that provides a wealth of information about your calls, messages, files and co-worker statuses.
Should you invest in a UC platform?
Upgrading to a unified communications system is a big step, and one worth taking for many businesses. As PBXes age and become costlier to operate and maintain, transitioning to cloud UC, in particular, is often the rational move.
UC technology brings together the core functionality of your phone system with advanced features for messaging and meeting. It also goes beyond a traditional PBX by incorporating better support for mobile devices, which can easily use an existing workplace number to create a more professional impression, especially for small businesses.
Organizations of all sizes and across all verticals can potentially benefit from a UC implementation. Multi-location enterprises are perhaps best positioned since a UC platform provides a common way for geographically dispersed and frequently on-the-go employees to consistently stay in touch.
As an experienced national provider of services including hosted VoIP, network security and dedicated internet access, Telesystem offers a top-notch unified communications experience via the UC-One platform. It’s easy to get started by requesting a quote from our team. You can also contact us directly for additional information on UC-One or any of our other enterprise collaboration tools.