Unified messaging (UM) offers several benefits for employees by providing a single inbox for many message types. This single inbox not only makes administration and maintenance easier for IT, but also gives users a simple way to manage and interact with all of their communications in an organized manner. While the features may vary from vendor to vendor, in order for value-added resellers (VARs) to effectively sell and implement UM for their clients, they need a quick tutorial on key features of most UM systems, as outlined below:
An automated attendant is a virtual receptionist that can route incoming calls by having callers use either intuitive touch-tone menu input or voice-response recognition. Callers can reach departments or individuals quickly and easily using this feature of UM, saving time and preventing frustration. Businesses can benefit by decreasing the number of personnel required in order to answer and route calls. VARs should get the customer to commit to the number of hours or personnel that can be reduced using an automated attendant in order to help cost-justify the use of automated attendants.
With UM, voicemail messages are stored in a common inbox along with e-mail, fax messages, and other communications. Voicemail messages can be played to the recipient through speakers, a handset, or a mobile device. Voice messages that are stored in a common inbox can also be attached to the e-mail as an audio file. Employees benefit from having a single inbox for incoming messages, because they only have to go to one place in order to check for messages, preventing lost or missed communications. Businesses will realize enhanced employee productivity.
Employees using UM have more options for message retrieval. Voice messages can be retrieved from a phone, from the e-mail client, through browser-based e-mail access, or through e-mail access on a mobile phone. In addition, messages can be prioritized by importance within the inbox. This means that messages can be retrieved from anywhere the employee is, and in a timely manner. Faster response times mean happier customers.
Stand-alone fax machines are going by the wayside. They require constant maintenance from jamming up or being out of ink or paper. In addition, only one incoming fax can come through at a time. As a result, most companies today use fax servers instead of stand-alone fax machines. Combine a fax server with UM and faxes can be rerouted to a UM inbox. Workers don’t have to get up and run to the machine to make sure it is in working order or to see if their fax has arrived; they simply check their e-mail inbox to see if the fax was received, even if they are not in the office. Employees save time and are more productive, and businesses don’t have to spend so much on machine maintenance.
When a new voicemail message arrives, employees typically are notified via a flashing light on their office phone or by a stutter dial tone. In the world of UM, the voicemail is delivered into the e-mail inbox, allowing the recipient to access the message anywhere at any time. Mobile devices and softphone clients will automatically notify a user if there is a new message in their e-mail box, whether it is an actual e-mail, a voicemail message, or an incoming fax.
Direct Access to Voicemail
There are many ways to leave a coworker a message these days; users can send an instant message or an e-mail or even leave a note on their desk. But with voice messaging tied to UM, an employee can record a message and send it to a coworker without ringing their phone and interrupting them. The message recipient can then check the voice message when it is convenient for them, leading to fewer interruptions and greater productivity.
Route Playback to Phone
UM gives employees the ability to play voice and e-mail messages back through speakers on a computer, but this is not always desirable. UM can also provide the capability to reroute messages to a handset or mobile device so that users can listen to messages privately. This is important for workers who need to keep their messages secure and to avoid interrupting other people in public places.
Unified Message Forwarding
Because UM enables users to receive voicemails and faxes in a unified inbox, messages can be forwarded to other individuals or groups in their original format. This simplifies sharing information and ensures that users who need the information get it in a timely manner. In addition, these messages can be saved and backed up for future reference.
VARs can demonstrate the value of UM to their clients and relate the benefits and cost justification of having one inbox for all messages. Customers will appreciate the simplicity of UM tools and wonder how they ever worked with separate applications. The bottom line is increased productivity—faster response times and fewer missed messages, important for businesses that want to get and keep a competitive edge.
Does your business sell UM products? Do you use these tools yourself? Please comment below.