A customer contacts a business with a question or problem. While he is on the phone with them, he checks his email on his smartphone and calls up a previous communication which he wants to email from his smartphone, while the employee has to put him on hold and transfer the customer to another department which can access his file. When the employee has undergone his fifth transfer, the employee who answers doesn’t understand why the customer is so annoyed. The customer secretly (or not so secretly) decides not to continue doing business with this organization, if he can help it. And while he’s been bouncing around from department to department, valuable man-hours have been wasted. This might sound like an extreme example, but it’s not as extreme as one might think. Haven’t we all been in situations like this unfortunate customer? The lack of unified communication can damage customer relationships and kill productivity. Outdated communications tools can make a company appear unorganized and out of touch.
What is Unified Communication
Exactly what it sounds like. Unified communication means implementing an infrastructure in which multiple forms of communication, both real-time and non-real-time, from HD video, phone calls, instant messaging, and email are all fully accessible from a PC, Mac, Smartphone, or tablet. This isn’t one produce, but is usually a suite of several solutions. There are several advantages to unified communication. One of the primary advantages is that it reduces dependency on one product. An employee doesn’t have to physically go to his office to access voice-mail from a specific phone or email from a computer; instead, he can access these communications through a variety of communications tools. This is especially advantageous to employees who frequently travel or need to deal with situations after office hours. This ensures prompt communication with customers and eliminates multiple departments covering the same ground. Employees can easily update customer records, which will then be easily accessible from multiple mediums. Information that previously had been buried in one department now can be accessible by all. For example, say there’s an inventory shortage. With unified communications, this could trigger an email to key personnel and management to initiate a conference call to discuss marketing trends related to this product, which will lead to improved placement of this product in the future.
Some employees, or employers, might be resistant to unified communication for a handful of reasons. Cost of hardware and expense of training might be raised, but it’s important to consider how improved efficiency will be. Others might balk at the perceived complicatedness of unified communication, but, in fact, in many ways it is simpler than juggling multiple platforms, many of which may not be compatible. Also, a unified communications Dashboard can eliminate many of these concerns. A Dashboard simply allows users to access many communications via one front-end. Another criticism might be that unified communication might lead to an oversaturation of information, but if unified communication is tailored to fit a business’s specific needs, it can easily avoid misdirected communication.