What are the benefits of Unified Communications to a small business?

VoIP Unified CommunicationSmall businesses are discovering the appeal of a communications solution that extends the power of their business phone system far beyond their office desktop and conventional dial tone. Unified Communications can be a competitive advantage for businesses that need a single system to manage multiple channels of communication, making their business more productive and helping smaller companies take advantage of features that make them appear larger and more competitive to their clients. Think of Unified Communications as the Swiss Army knife of small business communications.

As might be expected, given its flexibility, interest in Unified Communications strategies continues to rise.  ANP is holding a webinar this month on Unified Communications; you can register by clicking here.  Many small businesses perceive additional value in the deployment of Unified Communications. Large and medium sized companies and those with a higher proportion of telecommuting workers are the most bullish about the benefits of Unified Communications.  I have noticed, as a Managed IT Service Provider that Unified Communications, or communications and collaboration solutions, are getting equal, if not more, dollars from annual IT budgets compared to other technologies. There must be a business return for the investment; many businesses have a clear vision of what they expect to gain from implementing Unified Communications; they expect greater employee productivity, reduced dial tone cost and a means to improve customer engagement.

Having a nimble Unified Communication solution makes integration and ease of use possible for small and medium-sized businesses to manage communication styles that were once considered to only apply to larger organizations.  Why should your business consider upgrading an existing phone system to get Unified Communications? If you have a small and medium-sized business, there are critical advantages that you can, and should, expect when implementing the right Unified Communications solution. These five key business benefits are helping drive the strong adoption rate of Unified Communications by businesses today.

  1. Communicate more effectively with employees, customers and vendors: Particularly important to smaller businesses is the ability to implement any technology that provides enhanced functionality and is simple to take advantage of.  Unified Communications is increasingly recognized as a technology that allows small and medium businesses to take advantage of proven increases in productivity and functionality while realizing significant savings.  Once Unified Communications is implemented every employee will be able to use any computing device from anywhere in the world to connect to your phone system without dial tone and long distance charges. They will be able to Instant Message colleagues, make phone calls, listen to voice mail and perhaps most interesting, send and receive video calls.  They can also tell if another employee is on the phone, in a meeting or away from their computer.  Imagine the level of engagement between your employees and your customers and vendors when using video during your phone calls and not spending a penny extra for the enhanced level of communication!
  2. Connect your growing mobile and remote workforce by incorporating mobility: An office is just about anywhere you need it to be today, and your company’s business is taking place more often outside of your office walls so it is increasingly important for remote and mobile workers to access the same phone system features, whether working from their cubicle in the office or out on the road with their cell phone, or at home on their laptop. By implementing a Unified Communication solution, it makes it easy to stay connected to your employees, from any location, and from any device. It also provides flexibility in managing off-site employees, using features like presence (where you can see if an employee is on the phone or away from their computer or if they are in a meeting.)
  3. Saving money on overall operating costs: One of the greatest benefits of implementing the right Unified Communication solution is taking advantage of the cost savings it provides. This includes both savings on the initial cost of the system, as well as, savings on the long-term costs that leads to a good Return on Investment, such as the removal of a lot of the dial tone delivery costs.  When shopping for a cost-effective Unified Communications solution, make certain you understand the software licensing costs, insure that all of the Unified Communications features, such as, Instant Messaging, video conferencing, and presence updates are all included in the cost of the system and are not extras.
  4. Gaining uplift in customer service capabilities: The right Unified Communications solution should be more than a phone system; it should be a better communications system that helps you improve your customers' telecommunications experience with your business.  A quality Unified Communications solution allows small and medium businesses to serve customers more effectively, using features such as call queues and contact center features to handle every call with care.  Small and medium businesses should be able to use a Unified Communication solution to know more about every incoming call, in order to route each call appropriately, ensuring there are no more missed calls or lack of visibility. You should be able to route each call to the right employee every time no matter where the employee happens to be located when the call comes in.
  5. Moving beyond basic dial tone phone functionality: Too often, small businesses will evaluate new technologies based on whether or not the system can meet the organization’s current needs - in reference to both basic features included with the technology and in reference to the current size and structure of the business.  That type of decision can cost a small business thousands of dollars in future upgrade costs when choosing a business phone system.  When considering “future expansion,” that term may not mean something as extensive as expanding physical locations; it could be as simple as adding or moving an employee. The right Unified Communications solution will allow small and medium sized businesses to opt for a flexible system that provides extended functionality and that will also grow with the business.
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