Use Unified Communications To Optimize Business Procedures

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Modern business communication can take many different forms, including phone calls (both landline and cell), faxes, voicemail, instant messaging, video conferencing, and social networking. Unified communications allows you to integrate all of these communications into one streamlined platform, which can then be managed through a single Web interface. Unified communications can also incorporate things like interactive voice response (the auto-mated recordings that provide callers with a list of options to properly route their calls), conference-calling capabilities, call recording, and queue management. We’ll examine how you can use unified communication in your business and talk a bit about where you can get it.

Unified communications bring together audio, written, and visual communication in a single, easy-to-use tool

Unified communications bring together audio, written, and visual communication in a single, easy-to-use tool

Partial or full

“Unified communications” is a broad term that covers a service that aggregates the various communications within your business. But unified communications isn’t an all-or-nothing type of service: Most providers offer several plans to suit the needs of your business. For instance, you could invest in a basic unified communications (or UC) plan that would bring your emails, faxes, and voicemails into one inbox or maybe one that manages how phone calls come into your business to ensure that all calls reach the appropriate contact.

Videoconferencing is one the key elements that unified communications can integrate

Videoconferencing is one the key elements that unified communications can integrate

Let’s say that you’re a company that relies heavily upon your salespeople to work with clients. These salespeople often travel and must have access to a history of the people with whom they’ve communicated. You could invest in a unified communications service to en-sure that any missed calls coming into a salesman’s incoming desk line would be forwarded to his smartphone. Your salespeople would also be able to access any email, voicemails, and instant messages from their smartphones or laptops while traveling. Even better, you could have the UC service integrate the calls with a CRM (customer relation management) client, so that all calls, emails, and messages would link to the contact of record stored in the CRM; this way, it’s easy for managers and employees to track the communication history of a client.

Benefits of unified communications

By combining the various communications into a single interface, you’ll increase the efficiency of operations. Additionally, you can avoid situations where calls and customers fall through the cracks, because call management helps to ensure that people aren’t left on hold or put off by busy lines. Another key benefit is that unified communications can work with telepresence, call conferencing, screen sharing, and other advanced collaboration tools that bring people together. Acquiring tools that once required difficult-to-setup third-party services can now be as simple as selecting a menu option.

Some unified communications services can integrate with your CRM client

Some unified communications services can integrate with your CRM client

Unified communications can also simplify the basic communications and transfers between employees. For example, local directories stored in the phone (along with skill information) can be referenced with corporate profiles. No need to go through multiple systems just to reach one another. Because everything is connected to a server, you’ll also have convenient access to archived items, such as a fax or voicemail that you might have accidentally deleted last week. Moving to one system can also reduce business costs, because you’ll no longer need to pay for multiple (likely costly) services to get the job done.

Do you need unified communications?

With unified communications, you’ll be able to adapt the service to your specific needs, but you may need to change somewhat how you do business. You may currently have in place a system that you’ve used for several years and that everyone knows how to use; that can be a powerful argument for sticking with what you have. That said, you should also consider what you’re missing out on: lowered expenses and increased productivity, efficiency, and customer service quality. In short, unified communications provides new ways to manage and operate your business and that can result in streamlined operations, and thus additional revenue or enhanced profits.

How to choose a unified communications provider

Begin by outlining the type of business communications that are most important to your business. For example, if most of your work involves customer support, look for UC providers that can provide the easiest, most affordable way to improve upon your current setup. You want a provider that covers your current needs, but you may also need to add other features later. Talk with several different unified communications providers and ask for competitive bids.

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