It’s evident we’re not going back to all things 2019 and we’re coming to understand what will stick after the COVID-19 induced scrambling of 2020 and 2021. The word “virus” continues to dominate conversations and as economists warn of tough times ahead there’s three themes business owners and operations managers are grappling with:
- It’s unlikely that knowledge workers will snap back to a purely centralised workplace, instead preferring a mix of office and working from home/anywhere
- Skilled staff shortages and rising inflation means businesses are actively seeking out productivity improvements to thrive
- Moving to a resilient operational structure that can respond to headwinds (e.g. higher levels of staff sick leave)
This means communicating with your team and customers from anywhere is imperative.
And so the backbone of every business is now voice and data i.e. phones and internet. Once quite separate, a business’s communication tools are now largely intertwined. Phone calls, chat, call centres, faxes (if that’s still a thing for you), video conferencing and data networks are often overlooked when it comes to improving operations. If you’re feeling disconnected and frustrated by your team’s productivity, it’s likely your current voice and data strategy is holding you back.
Consider these options to minimize the disconnect and improve productivity:
VoIP systems (Voice over Internet Protocol)
VoIP technology goes beyond simple voice calls made over an internet connection rather than traditional phone line. Typical features also include built in messaging, voice mail and caller ID built on an infrastructure that’s scalable.
Two of the biggest advantages:
- Cheaper call costs, with research1 showing average savings from VoIP ranging from 90% on international calls to 30% and 40% on teleconferencing and local calls respectively.
- The ability to communicate with anyone over the internet, independently of expensive landline installations. Applications like Microsoft Teams, Webex and Zoom mean your team don’t need a fixed phone line to speak with other team members or customers.
Another advantage (but you’ll need to shop around for it) is tri-carrier redundancy.
A short example to explain: Your carrier has 3 data centres that can manage your data and it’s movement. If one falls over (e.g. an electrical fault) there are 2 remaining data centres that can take over and keep you operational without loss of connectivity.
If you want even more peace of mind, geo-redundant data centres are offered by some carriers – efex included. We offer 2x geo-redundant data centres. If one goes offline, you’re automatically diverted to one in another state thanks to an algorithm that continuously monitors for dropouts.
VoIP systems integrate with your existing business technology. A couple of examples: your sales team makes calls to clients by clicking on the phone number stored within your CRM; or Customer Service are logged into your CRM and can respond to a client enquiry via SMS social media DM. VoIP integration requires some planning & alignment with your other business applications to ensure your customers have a smooth experience and your team’s workflows are efficient.
We touched on it earlier, integration streamlines productivity when it works properly. Investing time and effort in the setup is important. But success hinges on your internal maintenance (i.e. processes) to keep the integration healthy and operating effectively. If for example your customer changes their phone number, and you don’t have a process to update your CRM, calling them via your CRM may prove challenging & slow up response time – highlighting your integration investment is not being maximised.
Call recording capabilities
Virtual meetings, video calls and chat have all become ‘standard’ in our work lives. Their digital nature means every conversation or video call can be recorded. Make the most of this capability. It’s never been easier to manage hand-offs between the team or bring them up to date on meetings they’ve missed.
Data & connectivity
None of the above matters if you don’t have data & connectivity that keeps up with your business.
And data is data, right? Technically yes - the data you use is physically no different to the next person.
But in practical terms (and something you should factor into your voice & data strategy) your data may be different to the next person depending on how much you need to access & move it around, how quickly and when you need to rely on it.
If you regularly access large files during ‘peak times’, you might want to consider an enterprise data solution that guarantees the speed and reliability you need at times of day that suit your business. Think of it as a ‘private data lane’ just for your business.
At the end of the day, you should expect more from your voice & data set up. Evolution in capabilities and cost-benefits means many businesses are missing out on bottom-line advantages. You don’t need to be one of them.
We strongly encourage you engage a voice & data specialist to develop a strategy and implement a solution that works for your business. And surprise, surprise… that’s right in our wheelhouse! Please reach out if you’re looking for a better approach.
1Research source: Harbor Network, Vonage, Nextiva (https://financesonline.com/voip-trends/)