Modern business communications have grown from merely governing workplace information-sharing to offering distinct competitive advantages. Savvy corporations recognize that business communications now encompass nearly every interaction, from marketing to employee engagement to customer support. New channels have also opened up, creating new opportunities but also requiring enterprises to evaluate their online presence and social media footprint.
Most of these advances are due to the expansion of communications technology. We interact differently between employees and with customers, relying on new platforms, channels, and terminology. These include video and web conferencing, business chat and text, and cloud phone systems, to name a few. State-of-the-art communications technology has also enabled companies to react with greater flexibility, precision, and reliability than ever before.
In this article, we’ll discuss these technological advances and the competitive advantages companies can glean from them.
Perhaps the most touted business advantage offered by enhanced communications is the financial savings. With multiple communication channels available, employees can reach colleagues with less friction and time-loss by relying on preferred channels. Perhaps your boss responds better to chat than email or phone calls. Knowing that, it’s easier to solicit regular follow-up and collaboration on a task. This heads off misunderstandings or duplicated efforts that cost time and money to correct. Most companies (69 percent) say that operating or capital expenditure costs were reduced by implementing advanced, customized communications programs.
Improved business communication technology streamlines your business processes, increasing work velocity and allowing for trajectory corrections along the way. As previously mentioned, improved communications can cut down on misunderstandings and delays. For example, rather than wasting time plowing through a project, you can avoid misconceptions and reestablish expectations by connecting regularly via conferencing, chat, and texting. You can ask clarifying questions and course-correct using your preferred personal device rather than being tied to a desk phone or office computer. With these improvements, you can own you tasks and move forward with greater confidence. By knowing you’re on the right track, you can also harness the full potential of any multitasking and automation resources you have on-hand.
Current projections predict that by 2020, mobile and remote workers will make up 72 percent of the U.S. workforce. Company communications technology should reflect this change—and embrace it, not just try to keep up with it. It’s no fluke that remote work often tops the list of modern workforce trends. Remote and mobile work frees you and your employees to respond with greater flexibility to challenges that come up in the course of a task. In fact, companies that invested in communications technology to accommodate remote employees saw their productivity jump by nearly 20 percent.
There aren’t many qualities that will build stronger bridges with your customers than clear, simple, easy-to-navigate customer communications. This is particularly true when it comes to customer service. Despite the new channels available through social media and chat, the phone is still the go-to for customers looking for help. In that case, social media channels handle a mere 3 percent of the customer service load. Meanwhile, 68 percent of customers still prefer to receive help via the phone.
The problem is that companies aren’t very efficient when it comes to phone support. The numbers tell the story on this. Only 14 percent of customers’ calls avoid being placed on hold. Three-quarters of customers (75 percent) say it takes too long to reach a person. A majority of customers (67 percent—still a lot!) have hung up the phone when it’s taken too long to get through. And 83 percent of customers say they’ll avoid a company after a poor experience on the phone.
That’s why it’s important to have a phone system in place that’s customized to your customer. Cloud phone systems in particular can streamline wait times and enable you to easily fine-tune elements like call routing, hold music, and hold messages—all of which help craft a satisfactory customer experience.
Business communications are critical when it comes to disaster recovery. In recent years, enterprises have had a front-row seat to natural disasters. Yet there’s only so much you can do in the face of a flood or hurricane. Recovering from a disaster cost you valuable time and can drive away your customers. A mere two percent of businesses say they recovered from a disaster in under an hour. For the rest, it took days and even weeks before they could reconnect with clients. Data shows that businesses lose between $926 and $17,244 or every minute their services are stalled.
There are ways to prepare for a disaster. The first is to implement a disaster plan and make sure your staff understands it. Most businesses (70 percent) have some kind of disaster recovery plan in place, but only 30 percent test it multiple times a year to make sure it’s functional.
Your disaster recovery plan should also include plans for communications during a disaster. If customers can still reach your service line, and your staff can call each other and coordinate tasks, then your business can continue even if your office is underwater.
This is where a cloud phone system proves its value. Because a cloud phone service is remotely delivered, knocking out your office won’t knock out your business extensions, voicemail, etc. Calls can still get through, and customers can still receive help. But you have to configure your system in advance before disaster strikes. Check out our ebook on how your phone system can help you ride out a disaster.
These competitive advantages rely upon the technology you choose to support your enterprise. An important technology to consider is a cloud phone system, or Hosted VoIP (voice over Internet protocol). Hosted VoIP delivers critical support for remote workers and provides more hands-on system management without requiring a technical background.
Find out how Hosted VoIP is more of an asset than a utility—and how to find the right provider for you—with the Hosted VoIP Buyer’s Guide.