Unified Communications Platform Best Practices: How To Get Maximum Value
While more than 90 percent of organizations have adopted cloud-based apps and technologies, not all of these firms have unified multimedia communications, like phones, email, chat, file-sharing, and web conferencing, into a single cloud-based platform.
As organizations realize the massive business benefits of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) (superior reliability, mobility, and smarter collaboration), many realize it’s time to make a switch. Experts predict that by 2023, seventy percent of organizations will have adopted UCaaS.
The internet and mobile technology have had a profound impact on consumer behavior. Industry analysts like Forbes' Brian Rashid believe digital transformation is critical for organizations to survive and win customer loyalty in the current business climate. Simply having technology for communications isn't a competitive advantage.
This post will provide you with all the information you need to get the maximum benefit from your unified communications platform. We’ll discuss critical benefits, share tips for selecting the right platform for your business, and explore five of the top solutions on the market today.
Unified Communications Platform: Definitions and Benefits
What are unified communications? Unified communications are tools, processes, and services that allow you to communicate through multiple channels such as voice, messaging, meeting solutions, and more. Your unified communications platform is the hub that connects all these tools and services, enabling your team to work efficiently and effectively.
The right approach to unified communications adoption can deliver many different types of value to your organization. Your company's finances can benefit from upfront cost avoidance, predictable billing, and savings by bundling your fiber connectivity, cloud, voice, and communication tools with a single vendor.
Your organization’s IT team benefits from outsourcing communication tools and unlocking new self-service options for users to reset their own passwords and configure their app settings.
However, one true value test in a tech investment is how an initiative’s results stack up to the actual results. Research reveals that UCaaS adoption doesn’t just deliver the expected results; it generally exceeds executive expectations by offering more diverse value.
While most organizations believe UCaaS is a tool for better productivity and collaboration, the actual reported value of Unified Communications tools are:
- Increased Efficiency: Unified Communications can help you remove bottlenecks from your processes. Efficient file-sharing, voicemail- and fax-to-email capabilities, and more help your employees accomplish more in a day.
- Improved Communication: Enabling your employees to take calls from anywhere and communicate via video chat or meeting applications help improve communication among remote and in-office employees.
- Customer Satisfaction: Unified Communications enhances your customer service efforts. You can integrate your CRM with your UCaaS platform to arm your staff with the key information they need to provide your customers with the best service possible.
- Empower Your Employees: In the wake of the 2020 pandemic, remote work has increased in popularity across industries. With a unified communication platform, you can empower your staff to work from anywhere with a stable internet connection.
- Do More with Less: With traditional telephony, scaling your business is costly and can be tedious. With a unified communication platform, you can do more with less, scaling your team efficiently and cost-effectively.
Getting Maximum Value from your Unified Communications Platform
Organizations that adopt and optimize cloud-based communication tools have an opportunity to unlock world-class tools for mobile collaboration and business agility.
However, digital transformation requires implementing the right UCaaS tools in the right ways. Not all Unified Communications service providers and vendors are created equal.
Here's what you need to know to drive the most value from your Unified Communications investment from day one and achieve significant business transformation.
1. Shop by Platform, Not by Vendor
When it comes to any cloud service, careful vendor selection is crucial. Unlocking the reliability and quality advantages of UCaaS requires focusing on vendors who deliver the best value to their customers. Leading cloud communication providers can be identified by a track record of happy customers, locally-owned media and facilities, and support availability. In contrast, signing on for UCaaS with a reseller with little industry experience could result in your business implementation being a test case.
The right UCaaS vendor can be your organization's long-term strategic business partner. Learn how this proved true for one happy customer in True Story: Atlantech Saves the Day for a Montgomery County Law Firm.
Unified communications are based on a single platform for management and end-users, for better or worse. Since you're fully reliant on the platform for your multimedia communications, it will have a significant impact on your experience. Not all platforms are created equal, and your options include everything from open source tools to enterprise/carrier-grade options like Atlantech's instance of Broadsoft.
When it comes to evaluating a prospective vendor's platform, some important questions to ask could include:
- Is your system open source (OS)? While OS tools are the right choice for some UCaaS users, they typically are harder to learn, more technical, and more challenging to customize.
- How will this platform limit or enhance our information security?
- Is the platform easy to customize?
- Does the platform include options to accommodate team and contact center communications?
- Are there built-in integrations for our organization's apps, like Salesforce, Google Drive, and Microsoft 365?
Choosing a platform that doesn't meet your requirements for necessities such as information security, integrations, and customization can lead to lengthier and costlier implementations and lower satisfaction with your investment.
2. Drive Process Improvements with UCaaS
Integrating information can have a massive impact on your business productivity. Centralized tools for communications, like Broadsoft Team-One for project-based communications, can provide access to keyword-searchable communications around documents, discussions, and other important information. McKinsey's research suggests these features can decrease the time your employees spend searching for needed documents and information by 35 percent EVERY WEEK.
Integrating UCaaS with your business processes, an idea sometimes referred to as communications-enabled business process (CEPB), could allow your organization to simplify your workflows and achieve unprecedented efficiency. By integrating your communications tools with your processes, your company can achieve real-time communications and automate redundant work.
Some on-the-ground examples of smart integrations for process improvement with UCaaS include:
- Developing UCaaS-supported business continuity and disaster management processes, including broadcasting communications via voice phones, instant messages, text, and email.
- Eliminating redundant technology and the need to switch between programs or applications by integrating UCaaS with apps like Salesforce, Twitter, and document management solutions.
- Reducing the need for manual data entry and research by automatically-populated customer profiles for sales and customer service teams that contain a complete record of multi-channel customer communications.
3. Expand Your Talent Pipeline and Enable Global Collaboration
The current hiring environment is challenging to say the least. In the face of the Great Resignation, organizations are scrambling to fill many vacant roles from a limited talent pool. The shortage of workers and high turnover is forcing many employers to turn to non-traditional talent pools out of sheer necessity.
For some organizations, hiring employees or contractors to work remotely from a different time zone or country is a matter of survival. UCaaS can deliver value by providing a mobile-first approach to team-based communications.
Your organization can remove barriers to non-traditional talent pools and a remote workforce with some of the leading technologies for globally-based teams. Broadsoft's UCaaS offering Team-One supports your talent's need to collaborate from any location, device, or time zone by:
- Contextual intelligence-based productivity features, including automated access to the files and information team members need to participate in conversations, web conference calls, and client interactions.
- Mobile-first features, like click-to-call and multimedia meetings automatically integrate rich features like video conferencing, screen sharing, and video chat.
- Built-in project management capabilities allow users to create projects, assign tasks and attach files and communications.
UCaaS can also expand the impact of your existing talent resources and eliminate the need to search for hard-to-find cloud specialists to manage your communications tools. When your IT team's need to perform routine maintenance and support tasks is reduced, there will be an opportunity to shift time and focus from operations to innovation.
4. Integrate Social Media and Social Collaboration
Today, the average person spends nearly two and a half hours per day engaged with social media and social messaging apps. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and have an observed preference for social media-based methods of communication and learning.
Forbes' Jimmy Rohampton writes millennials have a strong preference for social technology-based work modes, including social tools for employee recognition, workplace learning, and collaboration. Integrating internal and external social media with your UCaaS system can improve employee engagement and customer happiness in exciting ways, including:
- Real-time feedback: Organizations can become more agile as they use social media's real-time features to engage with employees and promote internal collaboration in real-time.
- Open collaboration: By integrating UCaaS with social tools, organizations can inspire their employees to engage in a culture of open innovation and design thinking, discussing projects and ideas with colleagues from worldwide.
- Better customer service: Social tools can aggregate customer feedback from social media networks with your customer relationship management (CRM) tools, allowing your customer-facing employees to understand your customer's needs and reach out proactively.
5. Improve Mobility Without Massive Security Risks
Today, over half of American professionals use their own devices--laptops, smartphones, and tablets--to work.
Organizations are balancing some real challenges when it comes to effectively implementing BYOD programs; while most of today’s talent expect to be able to do work from their own device, there are some real security risks to corporate data privacy. Employee mobile devices are linked to 21 percent of security incidents and data breaches.
UCaaS can allow organizations to drive employee engagement and mobile productivity by making BYOD a secure possibility. With all-in-one apps for any device, employees can securely access sensitive data and communicate through UCaaS apps instead of balancing a series of apps that IT has not approved to complete routine tasks.
Organizations can eliminate the risks associated with unapproved file-sharing software or employees who download data directly to personally-owned smartphones with cloud-based access to need-to-know information.
UCaaS doesn't eliminate your organization's security risks or mitigate the risks associated with the BYOD movement. However, it does encourage your mobile workers to behave in much more secure ways by providing a convenient, centralized way to access information securely. Your organization can encourage employees to work securely with contextually-based tools for remote work that your employees enjoy using because they're intuitive and effective.
Unified Communications Platform Options: 5 Top Choices
Atlantech offers top-of-the-line solutions for voice, fiber, and data. Atlantech allows you to customize your solution to meet your exact needs. At Atlantech, we pride ourselves on empowering clients to optimize their operations and customer experience for maximum impact.
Some features available through Atlantech's UCaaS services include:
- Desktop and file sharing
- Seamless CRM integration
- Incredible customer support, featuring a US-based team available 365 days a year
- Video chat
- Unified messaging
RingCentral offers a unified communications solution designed to be the pinnacle of simplicity. They offer three solutions: RingCentral MVP, offering messaging, video, and phone integration; RingCentral Contact Center, offering customer support and engagement solutions; and RingCentral Video, offering unlimited video meetings to your team.
Some of the tools RingCentral offers include:
- Video chat
- Add-on tools for Webinars and standing meeting rooms
Dialpad’s unified communication solution is designed to combine the dashboard for team and customer communications. Dialpad integrates artificial intelligence (AI) tools into its sales outreach and customer self-service offerings. You can invest in packages for business communications, meetings only, customer contact center, and sales dialer for outbound-only calling.
Some of Dialpad’s tools include:
- Video chat
- AI contact center
- Sales dialer
With Vonage’s unified communications, you can integrate your communications related to the customer experience. Vonage focuses on industries like healthcare, education, finance, and retail.
Vonage’s features include:
- Cross-channel collaboration
8x8’s contact center links your business phone, video, chat, and contact center solutions. You can integrate your 8x8 solution with CRM applications like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Freshdesk. You can either implement only the all-in-one communications package or a package that includes all-in-one communications plus a contact center solution.
8x8’s features include:
- Business phone
- Team chat
- SMS integration
The Value of Your Unified Communications Platform: Expectations vs. Reality
For your organization to secure future profitability and happy customers, you need to anticipate a need to change and evolve. As your customer’s habits and behaviors change, so will their purchase patterns. Developing the ability to change and adapt in response to your customers quickly is among the best ways to ensure your success in the years to come.
By switching to UCaaS, organizations can achieve the most flexible approach to business communications and collaboration available.
Your organization can scale your services up or down in real-time, adopt new technologies immediately, and benefit from mobile-first, user-friendly tools designed for the way people collaborate in the modern age.
By integrating your communications into a single, globally-accessible platform, you can pave the way for digital transformation.
While UCaaS features can increase team productivity and drive collaboration for your company, they’re not the only angle you need to consider. It’s important to evaluate vendors on experience, platform, customer satisfaction, value, and more.
To learn more, instantly download the free eBook: 10 Questions To Ask Before You Buy Unified Communications as a Service.