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How Improved Communications Fuel Business Growth

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Many businesses find the key to maximizing their communications in a Unified Communications (UC) solution. UC offers the functionality of the most sophisticated business phone system, with …

Many businesses find the key to maximizing their communications in a Unified Communications (UC) solution. UC offers the functionality of the most sophisticated business phone system, with communication tools that help companies make smart decisions faster to gain efficiencies and accelerate growth.

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  • 1. A publication by: www.fonality.com How Improved Communications Fuel Business Growth
  • 2. No matter what products companies build or which services they provide, everything they do rests on their ability to communicate with people: customers, employees, the public. The Internet revolution has radically redefined the abilities of companies and people to communicate with one another; and it has reshaped their expectations. The same infrastructure that lets people stream their favorite movies into their living rooms enables businesses to maintain an around- the-clock, around-the-globe conversation with their workers, suppliers and customers. In an age when a machine shop in Chicago can videoconference with a supplier in Shanghai, small and midsize businesses can collaborate like never before — if they choose the right tools.
  • 3. Companies today face a mind-boggling array of communications challenges. In addition to providing the best products and services, companies have to provide workers and customers around-the-clock connectivity. Small and midsize businesses want to: • Increase productivity of their employees • Enhance the experience for every customer • Help teams work smarter and faster • Leverage mobility to make the most of every business hour • Integrate systems offering simple user experience Improve Productivity For many companies looking to modernize their communications systems, the first decision is between a traditional phone service and one based on newer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. VoIP uses the same networking technology that enables websites and email. But as anyone who has spent five minutes surfing the Internet knows, that connectivity can bring chaos. Companies need a simple, elegant solution that improves productivity by taking advantage of Internet technology. Communication Challenges for Small and Midsize Businesses
  • 4. Improve Customer Service Small and midsize businesses need access to automation tools that answer customer queries, provide product support and direct callers to the people and information they need.Today’s consumers expect even smaller companies to have the same communications capabilities of a large call center. Improve Collaboration with Employees Supervisors need communication tools that can help them hire great people and keep them engaged, productive and motivated. Those employees expect to be able to use all their tools, all the time, wherever they are. Leverage Mobility Across the Company Ecosystem These days everyone is connected via smartphones, tablets, laptops and traditional desktop PCs. Companies need to be able to tie everybody together and make sure nobody — remote employees, suppliers, customers — gets left out of the conversation. Integrate Multiple Communications Systems A small or midsize company aiming to upgrade its communications capability needs to make sure its VoIP provider can Communication Challenges for Small and Midsize Businesses
  • 5. The right communication tools can help companies attract top talent and keep them satisfied and productive. Those same tools also can enhance employee engagement, which can make companies more efficient, and hence more profitable. A 2010 report by human resources consulting firm Towers & Watson compared the financial performance of firms with highly engaged workforces and those whose employees were less engaged. Companies that focused on employee engagement had an operating income improvement of 19 percent in the span of a year. Firms whose workers were less engaged averaged a 33-percent decline over the same period. How should growing companies keep their employees engaged? Start by instituting a regular series of milestones for check-in, feedback and increased responsibility, says business growth consultant Bill Ringle, founder and CEO of LearnWell, a business advisory and training firm. Ringle advises companies to engage with new employees once a month to provide feedback on their performance and find out what they think company management is doing right and what could be improved. This helps employers to learn about problems or dissatisfaction early enough to keep their workers from jumping ship. Leveraging the Power of People
  • 6. Today’s employees expect their toys to be tools: They want to be engaged via their smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. The key to making that happen is to employ a unified communications (UC) system, which can help companies seamlessly integrate multiple locations and connect mobile workers while ensuring that internal communications can scale quickly as the company grows. UC is built on an integrated platform to support and enhance the wide range of communications functions that competitive workplaces require. Voice, data and video communications are all managed on a single IT infrastructure accessible from a range of mobile phones and devices, laptops, tablets and in-office equipment. By allowing employees to access data, applications and other critical business tools by simply “plugging in,” a unified communication system improves productivity and allows organizations to quickly support a growing employee base without heavy investment in IT staff and equipment. Build Engagement with Unified Communications
  • 7. A business process is a series of steps or tasks that produce a product, service or outcome. For companies upgrading their communications systems, developing a map of their business processes is essential. A process map defines each step in a company’s critical tasks. Examining their processes one step at a time helps companies eliminate waste, speed cycle times, improve customer service and enhance employee motivation. Process maps also make it easier to train new employees because they can simply refer to a list or diagram for guidance on how to do certain tasks. Process maps can be developed by asking employees in a specific department or division to write down the specific steps involved in the work they do every day. The employees’ lists can be synthesized into a process map that outlines all the jobs that must be done to satisfy customers and operate the business at a profit. Companies looking to upgrade their communications systems can scan their process maps to identify steps where communication happens. This helps them determine which services they need and avoid purchasing unnecessary services. Creating Effective Processes: Mapping
  • 8. A well-executed process map can show a company where it needs to change its ways, but it’s up to the company to implement the most effective, workable changes. One priority is to keep employees connected. Salespeople on the road, customer service people in call centers and distribution personnel handling shipping and receiving should all have centralized information centers where they can add information to customer files and share order and scheduling information. Allowing mobile or remote employees to connect via a variety of devices and into a centralized, cloud-based system increases their effectiveness and productivity while making it easier for them to update data and customer feedback. For example, a cloud-based customer relationship management system makes up-to-the-minute information available to all employees who are authorized to access it, reducing miscommunication, errors and delays that can cause issues with customer orders. Setting the right priorities when streamlining businesses processes pays immediate dividends and puts small and midsize companies in a better position to respond quickly and effectively when it comes time to scale up their operations. Creating Effective Processes: Setting Priorities
  • 9. A traditional telephone network, while dependable, brings with it high prices and limited features. Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is much more efficient than traditional phone networks, offering lower rates, no long-distance charges and all the multimedia options Internet users enjoy. VoIP systems are deployed in two ways: Hosted, or Cloud-based Hardware and software are owned, managed and operated by the provider. Service is accessed using the Internet. Some benefits: • Quick set up - New users can be added in minutes, new locations in several hours • Reduced cost - No need to purchase equipment, software, or maintenance contracts • Simplicity - Web-based interface removes the need for specialized training. On-Premise For larger companies requiring customization or those with multiple locations, an on-premise solution often is the better solution. Benefits include: • Combined VoIP and analog voice services • Support for multiple offices, telecommuters and remote workers • Compatibility with existing telecommunications carrier contracts • Enhanced reliability enabling switching back to analog services when a VoIP link is unavailable. Considering Options: Traditional Phone Service vs. VoIP
  • 10. Unified communication (UC) systems combine traditional email, chat, Internet access, and application support while integrating traditional phones, smartphones, tablets, and computers. With UC, a phone call may trigger a voicemail prompt and allow the employee to return a call by simply clicking on the message. UC also is integrated into a company’s customer contact system, so calls in progress and on hold are visible on a computer dashboard and can be moved with a drag- and-drop feature, which helps direct calls more quickly and efficiently. Video Visual communication between workstations improves productivity while giving your employees and clients relationship-building “face time” and saving a bundle in travel costs. Collaboration A good UC system keeps employees informed of co-workers’ presence and preferred method of communication. By checking the system’s dashboard, employees can usually see whether colleagues are available and whether it’s best to communicate by phone, chat, email, or another method. Unified Communications Brings Everything Together
  • 11. A company with 50 knowledge workers earning salaries between $40,000 and $100,000 migrates to UC. Downtime is reduced and the IT staff is allowed to refocus on activities that benefit the company’s bottom line. A modest, two-hour-per-day gain in efficiency results in an annual productivity gain of nearly $1 million. Because UC offers the functionality of the most sophisticated phone systems, small businesses can offer sophisticated, responsive customer service just like a large corporation. The business can receive unlimited inbound calls and make unlimited outbound phone calls and maintain standard functions such as call forwarding, hold, paging, intercom, and voicemail, among others. UC systems also offer transfer between stations, even when those “stations” are someone’s home office or mobile phone. This reduces the productivity drag of having to track down employees to get important information. Such systems support audio conferencing and also allow employees to have a single extension that rings both desk and mobile phones, allowing them to receive calls efficiently, even when they are out of the office. A well-designed UC system is built to scale up with a company’s growth, ensuring that communication needs always keep pace with customer and employee demands. Supporting Growth with Unified Communications
  • 12. Amtec Human Capital California-based Amtec Human Capital found that as its business expanded, so did its need to find solutions for mobile workers and various offices. CEO Scott Kuethen said a new communications system from Fonality cut costs and made employees more productive. “People feel trusted. They’re diligent and hard-working when they’re working from home. When I consider the system, it’s more than just a set of features. The communication allows us to coach people more effectively, wherever they are.” Case Studies in Growth: Amtec Human Capital When I consider the system, it’s more than just a set of features. The communication allows us to coach people more effectively, wherever they are. -CEO Scott Kuethen
  • 13. ProVest A unified communications system has transformed the business of ProVest Insurance Group, an Allstate Insurance affiliate based in North Carolina. “The challenge insurance agencies face is communications with the staff and knowing what the staff is doing throughout the day,” says ProVest owner Jay Adkins, who installed a UC system from Fonality. “Being able to see what’s going on from your office, in real time, all the time, has just made a huge change in the way that I do business.” Adkins said the improved phone system was pivotal to expanding his business to Texas and Florida. “The system can scale seamlessly as the business expands,” he said, “and the features have allowed my staff and me to be completely mobile.” VariQ An IT firm based in Washington, D.C., VariQ turned to UC when it needed the ability to transfer calls between a small network of employees and contractors working in various locations. “UC makes us look, to the outside world, like a cohesive organization, and allows us to work anywhere at any time,” President and CEO Ben Edson said. ”That’s a huge advantage for small companies.” Case Studies in Growth: ProVest and VariQ The features have allowed my staff and me to be completely mobile.
  • 14. Small and midsize businesses have a host of questions to ask before they settle on a new business communication system. Among them: Can your solution grow with my business? Make sure the provider can say how fast it can it adjust to rapid changes in payroll, suppliers and cus- tomer base. Will your solution integrate with my CRM system? Each CRM software package has its own quirks in addition to any customizations you have added. Make sure the vendor can adapt to your precise needs. How elaborate is your implementation process? You need to know if your communications will be interrupted, and how much training your employees will need. What features cause additional charges? High-bandwidth services like videoconferencing could cost extra, depend- ing on the vendor. What size business is best served by your solution? A vendor that supplies enterprise phone systems to Fortune 500 corpora- tions might not be the best match for a company with a few dozen employ- ees. What deployment options do you offer? Make sure your vendor can offer you choices and has the flexibility to let you change later if needed. Considering Options: Questions to Ask
  • 15. Your business communications vendor must support the technological functions your employees use each day. Other musts: improved support for mobile and remote workers, excellent customer support and a reliable roadmap for installing your platform with minimal downtime. Your vendor should base its solutions on your current size and communications practices without expensive add-ons your employees won’t use. Look for a provider that has tiers of service and can easily upgrade your company to the next level when growth demands. Make sure your vendor offers the widest range of options: Public Cloud – Pay as you go, low-cost and scalable with no equipment to manage On-Premise – The best of both, with UC functions in the cloud and VoiP voice service backed up by legacy PSTN systems. It’s clear that improved communications can help fuel the growth of your business. But don’t just buy a system. Find a partner. Considering Options: Choosing a Provider Fonality provides business phone systems and contact center solutions designed exclusively for small and midsize businesses. Fonality is the only provider that can deliver the same user experience in the cloud and on-premise, with innovative features that help small businesses save time, communicate more efficiently and reduce costs. For more information, visit www.Fonality.com or call 1-888-768-3770.