Five Steps for Implementing the Cultural Shift Required by UC Systems

Over the last decade, email has become second nature to people all around the world. For businesses too, e-mail has been one of the primary means of communications for many years.

But today, email simply is not enough. Users and businesses altogether have been looking at complementary ways to communicate. Instant messaging, social media platforms, and think of just how much are employees starting to use their personal devices for business communications. This search often results in embracing state-of-the-art Unified Communications (UC) solutions.

Often overlooked, or without much importance-attached, is the fact that you need to train your employees on all the new ways to communicate. Teaching them on how to use presence, instant messaging, conferencing and many more UC features is essential in achieving ROI for your company. Implementing such technology however requires a fundamental cultural shift in order for your employees to embrace the change. You may think that this change from traditional ways to communicate all the way to VoIP, advanced PBX functions and communication-enabled-business-processes is all about technology and only the IT department should be involved. Yet, you are only partially right because it’s us, humans who use all this technology. And if not properly understood, its benefits explained and adoption rate tracked, our old human habits take over. We are just not that willing to change and an expensive UC system implementation will fall flat on its face.

So how will you engage your company in adopting the Unified Communications solution? Here are some ideas:

  1. Involve everyone. To implement UC successfully, you need buy-in—from the entry-level call center agent who will rely on it for customer service to the CEO who will act as a beacon, leading the change. As such, all of your department leaders need to work together, learning about the UC vision your company has. They should be informed about the opportunities UC will bring to their day-to-day lives such as increased revenue, more-timely interactions, and even CAPEX/OPEX savings. To get your company on board, seek feedback from all the different stakeholders within the organization prior to choosing your platform.
  2. User acceptance testing. Department leaders should also be involved in the piloting phase, when user acceptance testing takes place to make sure the software can be used in real world situations; don’t only use your IT department. You can hold demo sessions for key executives, so they can provide feedback for enhancements to the UC solution. It’s important to be open-minded to everything they have to say. Also, to learn from them what is blocking their operational processes and working flows, so that you can find an appropriate UC solutions that better accommodates their needs and serves your business objectives.
  3. Grant access to necessary resources. Because there are so many features to learn, your employees may be all over the map during the training phase. Some will need a thorough primer on audio conferencing platform while others will need to focus on advanced PBX functionality. During training, make sure to have subject matter experts on hand—including key personnel from your UC vendor, if applicable, to ensure each employee receives comprehensive specialty training for the system.
  4. Explain the unique value added. The vendor should also help walk your employees through every hidden feature, specifically pointing out how to use each to attain maximum ROI for the company. For instance, do your call center employees know that they can leverage UC solutions to quickly ping an available expert when they don’t know an answer for a customer rather than having to transfer a call? This new capability can pay huge dividends for your company in the long run, helping retain customers.
  5. Measure, measure, measure. It’s an old adage but often overlooked. Perhaps everybody is tired going through this change. Perhaps no one within the company was appointed to this task, whatever the reason, if you are not going to measure the adoption rate, all effort will amount to naught. Measuring the rate periodically allows you to identify the “pockets of resistance” and help those people directly overcome whatever obstacles they have in using the new technology.

So there you have it, the big 5 steps that you should follow when deciding to bring all your employees on board of a brand-new Unified Communications system.

For more information on cloud-based Unified Communications, check out our platform.

Email Is Dead (Not Yet)! Long Live Collaboration Tools!

Imagine this: two employees located in separate offices have only an hour left to meet the deadline of a critical project. Instead of settling for the outdated approach of sending countless emails back-and-forth, they leverage the company’s communications and collaboration tools, such as audio conferencing and instant messaging, to conduct a much more effective conversation and strike a business deal in time.

This is very much today’s reality, as people are simply not as attached to email as they used to be. In fact, one could argue we are witnessing the demise of the golden age of email. Read more

Improving Customer Experience in Banking with Unified Communications

The banking sector has been through a lot for the past 6 years. Starting with the 2008 financial meltdown and continuing with a perpetual lack of customer trust, the banking industry seemed to be on a continuous downward spiral.

Yet, there are signs that banks have finally learned their lessons and have managed to turnaround consumers’ confidence. The 2014 Ernst & Young Global Consumer Banking Survey shows that consumer confidence in banks has risen 50% versus previous year. The report goes on to state that this increase is not the result of consumers turning back to “normal” but rather the result of banks taking an active stance on building trust again. And this trust resides on customer experience. Read more

Why Businesses Need to Leverage the Power of the Cloud

Businesses today are increasingly migrating their digital resources and tools into the cloud for a variety of reasons. As such, it should be no surprise if the global end-user spend on cloud services will reach $180 billion by next year. It is bound to happen.

By the end of last year, more than half of U.S. businesses were already taking advantage of cloud-based tools. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits these technologies bring. Read more

Saving Money and the Planet with Unified Communications

There is no question that Unified Communications solutions are good for business. But it’s often understated that UC solutions can have a great impact on the environment too. UC tools are all about connecting people and making their lives as easy as possible through smart deployment of technology.

Consider the following two aspects and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

Virtual Meetings Do Pay Off

With the power of UC solutions to unite business partners around the globe at a moment’s notice, in many cases in-person meetings are no longer the necessity they once were. Rather than having international business partners travel to a specific location to negotiate, consuming a lot of resources and time in the process, partners can now call from anywhere they are, with the same personalized, seamless interactions they would have in real life. Add to that the recording capabilities of the best UC software, and you will get an even more powerful means of following up on meetings. Read more

With Unified Communications, Remote Working Is Easier Than Ever

Last year, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made the headlines when she announced that her employees would no longer be able to work from home. Some industry pundits speculated as to whether that meant the end of remote jobs. A few months later however, Dell CEO Michael Dell announced his intention to enable half of his 14,000 workforce to work from home. At the time of his announcement, 20 percent of his team were already working from home.

So, while the jury is still out whether Yahoo fares better or not, Dell’s decision merely expanded what already proved to be a good decision: in 2012, thanks to its remote working policy, the company saved $14 million—and 6,735 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. It seems that offices will soon be a thing of the past, or at least will need to be re-imagined, as more and more companies are shifting to flexible working policies. Read more

Unified Communications and the Future in Education

With technology advancing so fast, it’s often a wonder that the process of delivering education is still a piece of the twentieth century. It’s true that the world of online universities and learning websites from Coursera to Kahn’s Academy and other MOOCs is taking off, but many traditional schools, high-schools and universities are still stuck with paperwork when it comes to collaboration, and to simple voice when it comes to communication. Education should be at the forefront of what tech has to offer.

Some schools are making inroads into how to leverage technology. For example, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) provides interactive video courses for K-12 schools across North Carolina. Students from across the state can collaborate in project teams and class discussions. Meanwhile, NCSSM teachers monitor the class in real-time and assess student learning. Yet, such schools are the exception, not the norm. The 2011 CDW Unified Communications Tracking Poll found that only 17% of higher education has implemented some of the features that are part of Unified Communications. Read more

Summertime Is the Perfect Time to Assess Your Contact Center

Business slows down in summer due to vacation time. That’s a fact. Be that as it may, for contact centers, considering the relatively low call center activity, the summer looks like the perfect time to see if they’re making the grade.

When business starts ramping up again, the quality of your customer service needs to be at its peak so as to bolster revenue, enhance customer satisfaction, and reduce costs. If your contact center isn’t ready for that kind of influx of traffic as business picks back up, you may be in for a surprise. For instance, according to a recent survey by Accenture, 51 percent of consumers in the U.S. will abandon a business if they are not fully satisfied with their customer service.

So what exactly can you do so that your company doesn’t become part of the statistics? Read more

Africa Is on the Brink of a Unified Communications Revolution

For quite some time, VoIP telephony and Unified Communications tools (voice, instant messaging, video calls, audio conference, and presence combined into a single communication stream) have proliferated on many markets, and now it appears as though Africa too is on the brink of this communications revolution. With technology evolving so fast, businesses in developing areas of the world are catching on to the need to deploy robust communications tools.

By taking advantage of both VoIP and UC, companies benefit from cost savings and increased functionality which, in turn, improve business processes and boost productivity.

As the number of reliable Internet connections increases, so does the number of businesses that can leverage IP telephony. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two countries in particular—South Africa and Nigeria—and how VoIP and UC are making an impact there. Read more

VoIP Market: Revenue Set to Triple Yet Lack of User Awareness Jeopardizes Success

Due to the myriad of benefits brought by technology, like business flexibility, reduced costs, and bolstered collaboration, the VoIP telephony market is looking particularly sunny. In fact, according to Frost & Sullivan, the North American VoIP market (including SIP services) is expected to at least triple in revenue from $2.83 billion to $9.35 billion between 2013 and 2019.

Businesses are transitioning from legacy private branch exchanges to IP-based Unified Communications platforms and, as such, are looking to VoIP access and SIP trunking services to complement these new platforms,” said Michael Brandenburg, communications analyst at Frost & Sullivan. He also noted that VoIP and SIP trunking offer business recovery and mobile features that “are simply not available on more traditional telecommunications services“. Read more

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