The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of flexibility for both employees and customers. From working remotely to offering customers more options to shop and get in touch, expectations have shifted on both the employee and customer end.
Your business can rise to the occasion by taking advantage of stronger tools that allow you to be more nimble. One such example is Unified Communications, which does exactly what it sounds like – it unifies your communication channels under a single platform.
In this article, we’ll explain what unified communication platforms are and how they transform your employee and customer experience for the better.
What is Unified Communications?
Unified communications (UC) services provide and integrate multiple communication channels – including VoIP, chat, file sharing, internal messaging, video, and more – into one platform.
Unified communications can consist of both software, such as mobile apps, desktop apps, and websites, as well as hardware, like specific headsets or speakers.
Why Do We Need Unified Communications?
Unified communication platforms offer many critical benefits to businesses of all sizes. They help centralize your team’s information and simplify your day-to-day operations. They also allow your team to communicate with prospects, customers, and each other from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using different communications channels that don’t integrate with one another can slow down productivity, cause headaches, and cut into your profitability.
Unified communications platforms have become especially relevant and needed since hybrid and remote work have become more commonplace.
How Does UC Enhance Your Employee Experience?
When your employees have access to tools that make their day-to-day work less complicated, everyone wins. With unified communications in place, employees can get more work done, perform their jobs at a higher level, and feel more empowered in their roles, as described below.
Makes working more flexible
Unified communications gives your employees the power to work from any location with a reliable Internet connection. With the option to work from home or greater distances from the office, employees are more likely to be happier and more productive in their roles – which can spell a boon for your business.
Provides a single interface for communication
When work communications are split amongst different platforms and channels, it’s easy for important information to get lost. A unified communications platform gives your employees a more centralized place to chat or call one another – giving your workplace more clarity and insight into project statuses and day-to-day operations.
Not only do UC platforms make it faster and easier for employees to communicate with one another, a single interface means there is a source of truth for what information was exchanged and when.
Improves and encourages productivity
When communication amongst teams becomes easier, productivity levels rise. Unified communications allow for teams to reach each other faster and through different channels, which can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete projects.
Not only that, some UC platforms come equipped with project management features or integrations, helping your team track and finish projects more effectively and efficiently.
How Does UC Improve Your Customer Experience?
When your communication channels are unified, your customers will likely have a more positive experience with your business. Here are the main ways unified communications can strengthen your customer experience.
Gives a better first-call resolution process
First call resolution refers to the idea that customers want their issues resolved the first time they call in. Unified communications make it possible for customers to get routed to the correct department right when they call, without having to be transferred between agents.
Even better, when your unified communications system is integrated with a customer relationship management (CRM) system, agents can view a customer’s entire contact history with your company. They can leverage this to provide the customer with the exact service they’re looking for and expecting.
Improves uniformity and standardization across communication channels
When your entire team is using the same tool to communicate with customers and one another, it’s easier to establish guidelines and standardizations for how work is done. For customer-facing teams, you can create brand guidelines for how to speak and present information to customers over the phone, video, chat, and email and track how closely these rules are followed.
For internal communications, similar protocols can be established. You can put standard processes in place for communicating between teams so that everyone has the correct expectations and understanding of how work is to be conducted.
Provides 24/7 support with ease
With on-premise communication tools, you are limited to only hiring those near your call center or office. Offering 24/7 support, then, requires you to hire people to work non-traditional hours, which may pose difficulties or get costlier.
When you invest in a cloud-based UC system, you can hire support agents across different time zones and locations to more readily provide 24/7 service. You won’t have to worry as much about customers speaking with groggy employees, and customers will appreciate the consistent, round-the-clock service.
Helps answer customer questions more quickly
Since unified communications lets agents interact with customers across multiple channels such as helpdesk software, chat, email or phone, it becomes much easier to provide responses. Not only that, but agents can also communicate with one another more quickly, and route a customer to the appropriate person or department relatively seamlessly. This translates to customers getting their questions answered quickly and accurately, and having a better experience with your brand.
Allows for remote agents
When your call center relies entirely on on-premise agents, you’re limited as to who you can direct customer calls. Unified communications give you the ability to connect customers to remote agents, which can reduce wait times and allow for faster service on the customer end.
Improves the quality of your audio
Poor audio quality is bad news for businesses. It can not only leave your customers with a poor or confusing experience but even tarnish your brand’s reputation and credibility.
Unified communications offer better audio quality than regular phone systems, meaning your customers will be able to hear you more clearly when they call in. Crystal clear audio will help minimize confusion and errors on both the customer and employee ends.
Benefits of UC for the Employee and Customer Experience
Most unified communications platforms come equipped with features that benefit customers and employees alike. Here’s how both sides of your business can benefit from the same features.
Easy to operate and adapt technology
Unified communications are designed to scale as your business does. You can onboard new agents and add on more specialized features and integrations as and when needed, without having to invest in additional costly hardware.
Most UC platforms are also well-designed and easy to operate. Employees can learn to do their jobs more efficiently, and won’t run into as many technical or operational issues while on call. Your customers will fare better when their interactions with your company aren’t marred by technical difficulties.
Fosters stronger collaboration
UC platforms are collaborative by nature. Your employees can more readily communicate and exchange information with each other, as well as record updates and notes that can be shared amongst your wider organization.
When information is more accessible between employees, your customers will be on the receiving end of that benefit. They’ll likely receive more clear, tailored, and prompt responses, making for a more positive interaction with your service.
Saves on costs
Since UC platforms combine multiple channels and functions into one, cloud-based tool, you can cut down on business expenses. Instead of paying for separate communication platforms, you can pay one provider for the same functions, housed under one login. Cloud-based software is also much cheaper to maintain than on-premise software because it updates automatically and maintains your data storage.
You can also look to hire talent in more cost-effective labor markets, as UC software lets employees connect and access the tools they need to do their jobs from anywhere.
Makes business agile
The state of the world can change nearly overnight – so agility is key to keeping employees on track and customers empowered. UC allows business to continue as usual, even if offices need to be closed or moved around.
Customers are impacted by such changes as well, but also may naturally evolve their habits and tendencies. No matter how their preferences change over time, you’ll be able to meet their needs with a more agile communications system.
Offers personalized communications
Personalization has become a must – 71% of customers expect a personalized experience when interacting with brands. Unified communications give your sales, marketing, and customer service teams the ability to keep detailed records of each interaction so that you can send personalized follow-ups and engage customers on a deeper level.
Stand Out to Customers and Employees
Unified communications can set your business apart from those competing for your customers and your talent. When your team feels more prepared to take on their daily challenges and is given the freedom to do so from anywhere, they’ll be able to drive better results for your business. Your customers, in turn, will receive better, more personalized service.