We’ve already learned a lot from the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, both externally and in our own operations. One of these key lessons, which is often overlooked, is just how important strong communication and collaboration is to the efficiency of any business.
When we’re all in the office it’s more natural – which is why communication is often taken for granted – but since most are now remote working (certainly our whole business is), it’s more vital than ever for teams to work closely together so that everyone stays on-task, remains productive and secure in their sharing of information.
While there is still so much uncertainty as to when businesses will be able to return to the office and ‘get back to normal’, there are several technologies that present solutions to the challenges of fostering these strong communication practices. The most significant being a Unified Communications solution that will – as the name suggests – combine all the various ways that your team collaborate, into a unified experience.
Unified Communications Platforms
Gone are the days of only having phone calls and emails to communicate within your team and with your clients or customers. Nowadays we have video conferencing, instant messaging, audio conferencing and more! While this range of platforms helps give people choice as to how they want to communicate, it can become difficult to find that attachment that’s hundreds of emails down in your inbox, for example.
A Unified Communications service, like Vaioni Clear Voice, brings all those methods of communication in to one central application that teams can use to stay in touch. What’s more, employees can take control over how they want to work, with easy-to-manage call diverting from office numbers to mobiles or even their laptop or desktop computers.
Not only does this solution mean you can get rid of those ageing desktop phones, it also means your remote workers can take advantage of extra features including SaaS integrations like Office365, IM, voicemail to email and more to keep your staff on the right track; but you can also let them add personality to their correspondence, stay on top of file management, save time and increase productivity.
Of course, moving your team to use cloud based services puts IT security right at the top of your list of concerns. As your teams start to collaborate more on digital platforms – whether that’s email, video conferencing or instant messaging – it has to be considered as no business wants their confidential information to be intercepted. It’s been shown that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the remote working environment is quickly becoming the new Wild West for hackers and cybercriminals, looking to skim personal information that can be used to access business systems or sold on the black market.
In other words, you’ll need to strengthen your cybersecurity when making the move to UC platforms, but this remains a challenge as most businesses don’t have the resources or technical knowledge within their team to make these changes a reality. Therefore, outsourcing IT security responsibilities becomes the most cost-effective solution. We offer a Managed Firewall service that scrutinises data flowing in and out of your network, scanning for malicious or unexpected usage. It can even extend those protections to your remote team’s mobiles, tablets and laptops, through a Virtual Private Network to add an extra level of protection during the lockdown.
Now that so many of us are working remotely, the data that flows in and out of a business’ central network hub can quickly become bottlenecked, causing delays in accessing data and affecting employee productivity.
Software-Defined Wide Area Networking, or SD-WAN for short, reduces the chances of experiencing bottlenecks by automatically allocating data-traffic to the most efficient pathway. Data-heavy functions like video conferencing gets prioritised to improve user experience and end-to-end encryption is provided for added data protection.
With so many operations diverting calls to employee’s mobiles, the customer-call experience is at risk of falling dramatically. Without robust on-hold messaging, callers do not know if they are through to the right department, and a continually ringing phone does not infer a strong corporate presence.
Therefore, a robust on-hold messaging solution (in conjunction with Unified Communications) will keep callers engaged, offers a periphery opportunity to educate callers while they are waiting for an operator, and prevents them wondering if their call will ever get answered and choosing to call a competitor instead.
Playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ for a minute, if an internet connection, server or your office’s power suffered an outage, can you recover remotely without having to rely on an engineer callout – that, in the current climate, could be significantly delayed? While our engineers are fully prepared for callouts during Lockdown, having secondary or ‘failover’ connections for your business-critical services (as well as data backups for your servers) will ensure your business can recover quickly from an unforeseen outage. This would not only protect your business while offices are closed, but these benefits would also carry over when everything’s back to normal.
Customer Feedback & Reporting
Now is the time to make sure staff are giving the expected levels of customer service but with so many businesses using simple call diverts to facilitate remote working, are those calls still being recorded? While working remotely, team-leaders naturally have less visibility of customer interactions.
While call recording services are usually ‘part & parcel’ of UC solutions – they are in ours at least – these can be augmented by adopting a customer feedback service, like NetPromoter or TrustPilot, to help increase visibility and provide metrics that can offer team leaders evidence of what’s working and what isn’t and provide further insights into customer experience.
While everyone is working from home, tech-novices can no longer rely on ‘that techy-guy down the hall’ for quick questions or troubleshooting, plus with so many extra meetings, the right member of the team isn’t always available.
Ensuring your team has a port-of-call for simple issues, as well as a highly-skilled team to resolve any mission-critical issues, should a major issue present itself, will prevent your operation grinding to a halt while we’re working remotely or after we’ve all moved back to the office.
Through the adoption of a solid Unified Communications platform and key periphery services, operations can protect themselves and adapt to this climate as much as possible, while preparing for the eventual return to normality.
If you are looking to adopt a UC platform, or have any questions about the other services we’ve mentioned in this blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to help and have made changes to our services to make certain features free of charge and therefore easier to adopt for businesses in the current climate. No matter the remote working challenges you’re facing, we’ll be there to support you through it.