The biggest obstacle we face when talking about unified communications (UC) is incredibly simple. For many people, the term is just too vague.
Are we talking about a phone system? Instant messaging? Faxes? Email? Voicemail? Video conferencing? Or all of the above? (Spoiler: it’s all of the above.)
And what does it mean for it to be “unified”? Or . . . is “unified communications” just a gimmicky sales term to make all that other stuff sound more impressive?
Unified communications is a real thing. It’s not just jargon.
And it represents a legitimately helpful approach to managing every aspect of your company’s interactions, both internal and external. Today, we’re going to explain what it is and why you want it for your business.
What unified communications is.
UC includes all the tools your business uses to maintain contact with staff and customers. That covers everything from email to a VoIP phone system to video conferencing.
But it’s not just a collection of communications tools. It’s a strategic approach to how you use them and how they interact with each other.
For example, what happens when someone leaves a voicemail message for you? Well, if you’re using a traditional phone system, the phone blinks to let you know you have a message. If you’re at the vet with your dog away from your desk, you won’t even know you missed the call.
Unified communications systems link your voicemail to other mediums. So you might get an email or a text message to let you know you missed a call. The call might ring through to your mobile phone when you don’t answer within a couple of rings at your desk. You might even get a transcript of the voicemail message via email, allowing you to get the gist of what the caller wanted at a glance.
That’s unified communications. All the standard communications tools you already use work together making it even easier to stay connected and informed. And if your UC system is set up well, it all happens automatically.
“Unified communications and collaboration solutions make it easy to call, chat, screen share and video conference from a single solution that is integrated with your business phone system. By delivering a total solution, it eliminates multiple screens and enables users to increase productivity, streamline workflows and collaborate with ease.”
Why you want unified communications.
The advantage of UC comes down to three things: connection, convenience, and value.
The entire point of your communications system is to keep you connected—to your customers, your vendors and your employees. A unified communications approach dramatically lowers the chance that you’ll miss something critical.
It’s not just having more ways to communicate. That would get confusing pretty fast. It’s having smarter ways to communicate and make sure all those communication tools are working in harmony.
Can you really afford to miss out on business because a potential customer couldn’t get in touch with you? Do you enjoy working twice as hard to make sure everyone on your staff knows about the change in procedure?
Of course not. And you don’t have to.
Unified communication is where connection meets convenience. If any element of your communications strategy is too unwieldy, you won’t use it. The bells and whistles don’t matter if you need an owner’s manual just to make a call.
A UC strategy hinges on proper setup. If you’re not 100% sure you can do that on your own, we encourage you to call in the pros.
Once everything is set up, you’re ready for a whole new level of convenience. You can work remotely with ease. You’ll be able to share files, fire off quick instant messages, check voicemail, and even take advantage of advanced features like automatically forwarding calls to your mobile phone when you’re out of the office.
It can be hard to quantify things like productivity, efficiency and employee morale. All of those things increase when you take advantage of unified communications . . . but folks still inevitably ask, “How much is this gonna cost me?”
The answer to that question varies. Estimates vary wildly—which makes sense. Some business owners cut their communications costs by a huge factor. Some spend more. It depends on what you’re using now and which features, tools and options you want to use in the future.
Cost is important, of course, but we encourage you to pay more attention to value. Will a UC approach allow you to get more done? Work more efficiently? Lower your stress levels?
Then it’s probably worth it.
Get on it.
There you have it. That’s what a unified communications strategy is and how it can help your business. If you’re convinced, then perhaps it’s time to start looking into some UC options.