There is one thing that superior customer service, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity have in common: Communication. It’s the backbone of any company’s structure. With so much technology developed to improve the way humans interact with one another, businesses have begun to use technology to achieve a level of customer satisfaction and understanding that has never been reached before.
To do this, businesses call upon a unified communication and collaboration (UCC) strategy to encompass all the aspects their business needs to grow in the digital age. These are ten common elements that you might find included in a UCC.
Instant Messaging (IM)
When it comes to preferred methods of communication, instant messaging has been popular among individuals since the days of ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger. Since then, it’s proving to be useful as part of business communication strategies. It allows simultaneous and group conversations and immediate delivery/response. Are you concerned that instant messaging will prove a distraction for you and your team? Don’t be. 83% of employees reported being as productive or more productive with instant messaging than without. Companies who are already using IM in the workplace have cited work-efficiency, team collaboration, and email volume reduction as the top three benefits experienced after adopting instant messaging.
When programmed and executed properly, a ChatBot can be an effective communication tool for a business website. Most commonly associated with a popup, instant message-like blurb, ChatBots combine the use of human and artificial intelligence to improve the customer service experience. Chatbots serve a few basic functions.
- Encourages Engagement: One of the main objectives of a company’s website is persuading visitors to engage or interact with the site using calls-to-action. ChatBots can be looked at as a call-to-action that follows the user as they navigate through the site, offering information and assistance.
- Boosts Conversion through Personalization: When a user engages with a ChatBot, they’re going to give you an idea of why they’re on your website. This information can be utilized in a few ways. Not only will you learn how to personalize your sales approach for the visitor’s company but you’ll be able to track and evaluate user behavior on your site. This allows your organization to gain insight on what types of content are most valuable.
- Improves User Experience: Practically every business has a list of frequently asked questions or requested information. With a ChatBot, you can set it so that certain responses are triggered when a website visitor uses certain keywords in their conversation. The ChatBot can then use that information to find the answers visitors are looking for, easily.
Another approach to simplifying a user’s search for information is through a discussion forum. For most businesses, forums offer a way for clients and prospects to collaborate with their peers, as well as, allowing your team to address issues, concerns, comments, and suggestions when needed. Rather than a direct ask/answer session between you and a single prospect or client, making and using forums are a great way to nurture sales and drive revenue by establishing you and your team as thought leaders.
As with ChatBots, discussion forums give you just as much information about your target market’s behavior and demographics as they are able to learn from the information about your products and services they find there.
Even though some primitive versions of the technology have been around for decades, video conferencing has really become practical over the past five years. Improvements in technology and higher Internet speeds allow clear audio and visual communication, in real time, from anywhere in the world.
A few statistics to consider when making a decision about video marketing for your MSP:
- 96% of survey participants agreed that Video Conferencing improves productivity. (IDG Enterprise Video Conferencing Trends in 2016)
- Companies that use video conferencing see a 30% reduction in travel costs. (IDG Enterprise Video Conferencing Trends in 2016)
- Up to 37% of an employee’s work day consists of attending meetings. (United States Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Look at it this way: A podcast gives you the opportunity to cohesively educate or address a topic you know your audience would benefit from with less opportunity for interruption. The benefit of offering this type of ‘on demand’ content gives listeners flexibility to listen to your message in its entirety, as they see fit. Additionally, many people listen to podcasts exclusively through headphones, forging a deeper connection with the contents of the program. For those of you considering a podcast, here’s some essentials you should have ironed out when you begin planning your podcast.
Project Management Software
When it comes to project management, the majority of businesses make use of at least some type of business management software for a variety of tasks including planning and monitoring of project development, information centralization, simplification of exchanges, transparency and visibility. The right project management software can encourage collaborative work and organization among the team, as well as improve performance and effectiveness.
- 77% of companies use project management software.
- The most used features are document sharing, time tracking, email integration and Gantt charts.
- 66% of organizations use project management software to communicate with their clients.
“If you’ve got development centers all over the world, you’ve got a sales force out with the customers, the fact that tools like Skype [and] digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance—that is a wonderful thing.” - Bill Gates
Considering the popularity of the Microsoft Office productivity suite and the G Suite, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the concept of collaborative software. These popular apps are just a fraction of the software available that allows multiple users to work on a project or document simultaneously, in real time. Many also include their own instant messaging and video conference software. Considering the number of employers who allow their employees to telecommute or work remotely, collaboration software resources are integral to keeping your team connected and in sync with one another regardless of where they’re actually located.
Enterprise Social Networking
Despite what the name implies, Enterprise Social Networking has some great benefits for businesses of any size. The premise of enterprise social networking is that a company uses social media to develop their business both internally and externally. Public facing social media can be used as a way to seek out businesses that might benefit from their services or offer raw materials needed for a fraction of the price as a local distributer. Additionally, many businesses encourage employees to use social media to be a brand ambassador - promoting your business through company culture and audience engagement. This trend continues to grow as more businesses are deciding to take a risk and engage with their target audience on social media.
In terms of a UCC, businesses can choose from a variety of applications and software that improve internal collaboration and communication, driving productivity and streamlining processes. Luckily, many line-of-business applications are now being built with enterprise social media platforms as a component.
Last but not least is email. Businesses no longer see it as a mere method of exchanging a message with a person or group. It’s now viewed as the primary record of more than three-quarters of business related correspondence. Businesses often call upon an archived email to remind them of a transaction. In the event of a lawsuit, companies have been penalized because of failure to produce email records that corroborated one party's version of the events.
When including an email platform into your UCC solution, you’ll want to make sure that your email is secure, has searchable archives, can be accessed easily on mobile devices, and integrates with your other software and applications when possible. Many offer the opportunity to archive emails in the cloud, as well as locally.
The number of businesses that are seeking a unified collaboration and communication solution has grown significantly over the past several years. As technology continues to evolve, so will the way businesses communicate. Would you like to learn more about how a UCC can enhance your business communications? Call us at (408) 248-9800.