7 Ways Unified Communications Increase Operational Efficiency
We’re all aware that communication is important to keep up good relationships with our friends, family, and loved ones—but we often underestimate how important it can be to our business relationships.
Communication is the bedrock of any business. It affects every aspect of your work, from dealing with customers to ensuring efficient and positive relations among your staff. Studies have shown that businesses with good communication practices are three times more likely to succeed versus their competitors.
Good communication helps you avoid costly misunderstandings, prevents delays, and boosts your productivity. This is why more and more businesses are taking the step towards unified communications. Time is money—and for small businesses, every dollar saved counts.
What Is Unified Communications?
The term “unified communications” seems vague and elicits more questions than answers: What communications? Who is communicating? How is it unified?
A basic definition of unified communications is “the optimization and integration of communications to increase efficiency and productivity”.But “optimization” can take many forms, such as streamlining communications between departments or even changing your communication habits.
When we talk about unified communications, we mean the integration or merging of various methods of communication (such as calls, chat, email, and more) under one system.
With UC solutions, you can make a one-on-one call, conference with multiple people, message someone instantly, and view all of your work contacts on the same platform. This eliminates the need for multiple channels, making it faster and easier to get work done.
Unified communication platforms are usually collaboration programs specifically made for business use; Slack or Weave are good examples. But you can also find the key concepts in some personal communications; prime examples would be internet messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp, or even Facebook Messenger. These apps allow you to have one-one conversations with people via chat or call, but you can also talk to multiple people at the same time via a group. You can also share files, photos, and much more.
The main difference between business-oriented unified communications platforms and social-oriented ones is the features. Business-oriented UCs usually offer multi-way conferencing, the ability to collaborate, and integration with other tools—features that personal UCs often lack.
7 Ways Unified Communications Can Make Your Workplace More Efficient
Now that you understand the basics of unified communications, let’s break down why it’s valuable to you. Here are seven ways unified communications can help your business.
Greater Mobility & Accessibility
How we do business has changed dramatically in the last decade. It used to be that if you worked in an office, you were expected to clock in, do your eight hours, and then clock out. But today’s work environments are much more flexible.
Employees today prize mobility. Being able to work from home has been proven to increase both productivity and job satisfaction. But for all of the benefits of working remotely, it does make effective communication more difficult.
That is where unified communications come in. UC allows you and your staff to work from anywhere in the world without sacrificing the ability to communicate and collaborate. Technology such as instant messaging, voice calls, and video conferencing have made communicating across borders and time zones almost as easy as doing it in person.
Increased Worker Happiness & Productivity
We touched on this a little bit in the previous section, but we want to expand on it a little more.
Millennials are shaking up the workplace in more ways than one. But perhaps one of the biggest changes we’re seeing is the redefinition of what productivity and job satisfaction look like in a work environment.
Workers simply don’t want to waste time. When a meeting gets dragged out unnecessarily (or when a lengthy meeting could have been an email in the first place), people get frustrated. They could have used that time to finish other work, or better yet, spend time with their loved ones.
Unified communications allow you to send out and receive important messages wherever, whenever. You don’t need to pull people out of their work just to make an announcement or even require them to come in at all. Communications become short, instant, and efficient. This, in turn, gives your staff more control over their time and helps them feel more positive and motivated toward their work. And you know what they say—happy workers means happy customers, and happy customers means more profit!
Fewer Obstacles & Distractions
Have you ever had a quick 15-minute meeting extended into a two-hour time-waster, just because the people involved couldn’t stay on topic? If this happens often, your business could be losing a lot of money.
Imagine this: a team of five employees, earning $15 an hour, spend an extra hour a day in a meeting. That’s $75 per day, or almost $20,000 a year.
Unified communications allow you to cut through the side conversations that often derail a meeting. You can set a clear agenda for the day, ensuring that you make the most out of your time. You can even record each segment, monitoring the amount of time you spend tackling each item.
There are many times that you’ll have to retrieve a piece of information to do your work. But what if that information is scattered across multiple channels and platforms? Digging through emails, texts, and chat conversations just to collate all of the info you need can waste a ton of time and energy.
With unified communications, all of your business dealings are stored on the central platform. This is especially great for businesses that have multiple locations or teams. Instead of having separate communication systems at each location, for each team, or for each project (which puts you at a high risk of miscommunication and delays), you can collate everything in one easy-to-access platform.
We throw around business buzzwords like “collaboration” and “synergy” so often that we forget what they mean.
Collaboration happens when two or more people come together to share ideas or to create or improve on something. This exists in contrast to working in isolation, where one person completes a project on their own without help from anyone else.
It’s a widely-accepted truth that fostering collaboration in the workplace leads to success. Employees work harder, and the final product is almost always significantly better.
Yet almost 40% of employees believe that people in their workplace aren’t collaborating enough. This is because there are many obstacles to collaboration, one of which is the inability to provide a proper channel for communication.
Unified communication platforms allow people within your company to form groups, whether it’s for their team or for a one-time project. They can share ideas, suggestions, files, links, documents—and have everything they need in one place without needing to use other unofficial channels.
Integration With Business Tools
Even with all of the benefits, you could argue that a free social app like Messenger or Viber could achieve the same thing. But there is one major thing that unified business communication programs have that social apps don’t—the ability to integrate with other business software.
This is a big deal for businesses that use patient communication systems or customer relationship management software.
Instead of going to another program and looking up data, you could pull up whatever information you need right from your unified communications platform. You could send an email without signing into Outlook. Or you could collaborate on a web graphic and post it immediately to social media—all with just one software.
With so many providers of unified communications, prices are now more competitive than ever. Most operate on a Software as a Service (Saas) model, which means that, instead of paying a large amount of money once for the software, you pay a smaller monthly fee.
This is easier on the wallet, especially for small businesses. Plus, cloud-hosted unified communications don’t require new infrastructure or an in-house IT manager for maintenance, repairs, and support because the UC provider handles all of it on their end.
Now, the low cost of a unified communications platform doesn’t directly contribute to operational efficiency. But packaged solutions like this allow small businesses with limited capital to refocus their budget elsewhere. You can be more flexible with your spending, putting money into optimizing other aspects of your business, and allowing your operations to be more efficient overall.
Don’t waste any more time, energy, or money. Investing in a unified communications platform is one of the best business decisions you can make. All of your employees will be able to communicate and collaborate through one system, which will minimize the risk of miscommunication and makes your operations more efficient.
Weave’s Patient Communication System allows you to manage your business and collaborate with your employees no matter where you are. Schedule a FREE live demo today and find out why our clients love Weave.