Businesses considering Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) may not fully understand what it consists of. Some customers are afraid UCC may just be another expensive, complicated addition to what they already have, creating more silos and complexities within their infrastructure. UCC is designed to avoid all of these issues and, as long as a customer is clear on the benefits, can be a valuable solution to invest in. Value-added resellers (VARs) can explain UCC technologies to their prospective customers using the following suggestions:
What is Unified Communications? – While there are many definitions of Unified Communications, the most comprehensive explanation is “Unified Communications is the integration of communication and collaboration technologies with business applications and processes in order to improve those business processes.” Examples of communication and collaboration technologies include voice, video, conferencing, instant messaging (IM), presence, messaging, calendaring, and scheduling. Business applications include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.
Why implement a Unified Communications Solution? – The communication and collaboration technologies referred to above often operate in silos with separate addresses across multiple devices for email, voice, and IM. Unified Communications removes these silos and enables contact via multiple methods using the same address, device, and interface. The ability to see a coworker’s presence status, manage the preferred method of receiving communications, and contact coworkers directly from an address book via “click to call” provides considerable time savings. The storage of email faxes and voicemail in one inbox (Unified Messaging) provides easy access to these messages from multiple locations and devices. This convenience is enhanced through text-to-speech and voice recognition technologies that allow an employee to have their messages read to them and to dictate a reply instead of having to write it. These benefits show the value of converged communications in all types of organizations.
Benefits of UCC – The ability to combine multiple communication and collaboration technologies into one application accessible via a single interface and integrate this with enterprise applications provides significant benefits to companies and their customers. These benefits include enhanced customer service, improved employee productivity, better internal collaboration, upgraded business processes, and reduced costs.
- Unified Communications reduces email chains and back-and-forth voicemail messages, while the ability to reach geographically dispersed coworkers increases productive hours.
- UCC enables employees to be contacted anywhere at any time; it also allows people to control this availability in order to prevent unnecessary intrusions.
- Contact-center agents and sales staff are able to solve customer queries by instant messaging, chat, or video chat with available subject-matter experts, regardless of their location. By speeding up resolution of customer queries, UCC results in more satisfied customers, higher revenues for the organization, and reduced lost-opportunity costs.
- Use of the same user interface prevents a user from having to switch from one application to another and makes it easier to collaborate on documents.
- Video technology can improve productivity among users, and because users may be spread across the globe, UCC also allows for reduced travel costs.
- The integration of communications with enterprise applications provides triggers from the applications to initiate communications automatically. An example of this in the healthcare field would be a self-service patient-booking system with automatic voice or SMS reminders to patients to reduce no-shows.
Once VARs thoroughly explain UCC to prospective clients, they can help the customer justify the potential investment via the returns it will bring by helping develop a business case. Many of the benefits of a Unified Communications solution are considered to be “soft” rather than “hard,” and it may appear to be difficult to calculate a financial return on investment. VARs should help customers attempt to show the financial benefits that functions such as improved customer service bring to customer acquisition, retention, and income, since this will provide them with a more quantifiable business case. VARs should suggest piloting the preferred solution in an area with the greatest benefit or quickest returns. This approach will also reduce implementation risks.
Does your company have other ways of explaining what UCC is to potential clients? Please share below.