By 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their business relationships in the digital space without interacting with a human, according to Gartner. Even today, Forrester Research found that 90 percent of customers check a website before emailing or calling a company, and 63 percent are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
Modern business communication demands a host of tools, including desk and mobile phones, email, instant messaging, voicemail, presence information and audio, video and Web conferencing, for both employees and customers. When these tools are integrated into a system that allows an easy flow among devices, it’s called unified communications and collaboration (UCC).
“Just as a line is the shortest distance between two points, UCC allows businesses to make the fastest possible decisions and transactions — and users can communicate in whatever manner best suits their needs or situation,” says Doug Mason, major accounts executive at Warwick Communications Inc. “The individual tools are interconnected so that access is streamlined and efficient.”
Smart Business spoke with Mason about the business case for UCC, which can increase productivity and revenues.
What are the benefits of UCC solutions and how are progressive companies using them?
The workforce dynamics have changed. Since almost everyone has a smartphone or mobile device, more people work outside the office. It’s harder to collaborate with co-workers and customers, so UCC keeps that remote worker engaged with the company.
It also speeds up the decision-making process. As companies trimmed fat in the recession, cutting support resources, more things are done on-demand and in real time. With UCC, you can get everyone quickly together to get a consensus on a project or document, no matter what their location.
UCC is not only device agnostic but also additive in nature. You can choose what layers you want to use at that given moment. For example, if two people are talking, they can use a bridge to include a third person on the call or via instant message, while sharing files back and forth. You also can track that so you have a record of that chat session and what files each person used.
You can provide UCC to employees but it also gives people that you communicate with — namely your customers — access to this same technology. UCC allows you to move from a webinar to a chat session, and then bring up past emails, in real time, in order to determine the path going forward. This is particularly useful for out-of-state customers that executives, sales or project managers communicate with regularly.
How can business owners find out if UCC could improve their business?
Although you might not use the technology yourself, ask people in different departments, ‘Where are you seeing roadblocks? How can we speed up our processes internally? Are our current tools limiting us?’
Evaluate how your employees work and the tools they need to do their jobs:
- Do they need to be mobile?
- Do they need to know which of their colleagues is available at any given time?
- Is collaborating on information real-time with multiple parties a helpful step in the business process?
- Do some employee activities have a greater impact on the revenue stream than others? If so, how can you leverage that even better?
- Will any investment in UCC integrate with the processes and systems you already have?
Then, look at how the potential benefits of UCC could extend to how customers want to contact your business, especially sales, support and customer service. Communication with these departments, the contact centers within companies, has traditionally been handled by phone, but email, chat and text are rapidly catching up.
Having the tools to manage these channels typically makes the job of the sales person and contact center agent easier, leading to greater productivity and improvements in the customer experience. This leads to an enhanced corporate reputation and market position.
Technology experts can help you evaluate the business case to figure out where these technologies can play within your organization, and where you can see a payback and value for them.
Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Warwick