Intelligent communications Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2007

One of the new buzzwords in the world of high technology is “intelligent communications.”

As a leader in the design and implementation of VoIP solutions, John Curry of Curry IP Solutions offers unique insights into utilizing intelligent communications as an effective road map to cost-effective telecommunications solutions.

“We must understand that the end result of intelligent communications is to make contacting your organization a pleasurable experience that exceeds your competitor’s,” says Curry. “This contact may be via telephone, cell phone, Blackberry, instant message or e-mail, into your voice mail or call center. It is now possible to manage all of these various methods, improve your efficiencies and lower your expenses.”

Smart Business spoke to Curry to get more details about intelligent communications.

How and when should this type of strategy be considered and implemented?

It’s not a question of should. All businesses must work toward intelligent communications or they will be left behind.

Your effectiveness depends on how responsive you are to resolving your customers’ needs within your job function. Getting customers to the right sales or support personnel has never been easier. Databases can direct calls by ZIP code or telephone number, product or service. Voice mails can now be e-mailed, streamlining delegation of tasks. If you use push-to-talk, you will enjoy the IM capabilities of the Blackberry that will keep your team informed with an audit trail. No longer should you put a customer though voice mail hell, making 20 selections before being placed in a queue.

Is this type of strategy scalable?

Most certainly. There are new phone systems that are scaleable for 20,200 or 2,000 fewer stations — with awesome features and functionality that the old phone systems just can’t provide.

You may have only looked at your company handling a regional or limited geographical area. That is the way it used to be. Now you can expand your sales force nationally or internationally. With VoIP remote extensions, the new IP systems provide immediate access to the remote sales force. Training and coaching can be done via the Web with online meetings, meet-me conference bridges and remote phone monitoring for scheduled soft coaching.

Please discuss these issues and their impact on an intelligent communications plan.

If you are completely lost on how your organization can benefit by converging all of your communication methods, call a consultant. If you want to try to develop your own intelligent communications, you need to begin to layout a road map identifying where you are today and where and when you want to get to your end result.

I would suspect your organization uses some type of e-mail or IM, along with Web access to manage your products and services. With the introduction of an IP phone system, you can immediately begin to establish a remote sales and tech support staff. This remote staff can grow without the need for capital investment on your behalf for space at your main office location. Monitoring their productivity is no different than your current process, but it is also enhanced. You can immediately review the activity of their inbound or outbound IP phone communications, and listen in to their conversations to provide soft coaching. This staff is further accessible through your main auto attendant, which can ring a home office phone, then roll to the cell. ‘No answer’ leaves voice mail that is e-mailed in a .wav file. This file may be passed to a broadcast for others to immediately attend or sent to their e-mail account.

Furthermore, you can leverage your investment if you have multiple sites. For example, you have 10 offices with 20 stations at each. You can now purchase one system, have it centrally located and install only IP phones at each of the 10 offices, immediately reducing your capital expenses and introducing intelligent communications. If one of your locations relocates, people there need only plug their IP phones in at the new location and begin working without any disruption.

Migration from old phone services to newer technology can be slow and methodical, reducing any possibility of service disruption.

What about capabilities?

Capabilities are endless, but it is up to you how much you are willing to embrace intelligent communications. This is something you should outline in your road map with a timeline.

How can customized consulting services assist with intelligent communications?

There are so many choices and decisions to be made in the technology arena, as well as gray areas of responsibility. Look for a VoIP service provider that also is a system integrator who understands the capabilities of both.

JOHN CURRY is founder and president of Curry IP Solutions. He has been providing telecommunications expertise to businesses and individuals for more than 30 years. Reach him at (412) 307-3600, ext. 9007 or john@curryip.com.