How to Choose a Unified Communication Solution for the Remote Office
In today’s remote work world, a unified communications solution can improve employee collaboration, boost efficiency, and simplify remote workflows.
As the work environment becomes more dynamic, fragmented, and virtual, centralized communication tools are becoming more necessary than ever.
Before investing in a communications platform it is important to understand what unified communications solutions are and what problems they solve.
What problem does a unified communications solution solve?
Digital technology has shifted the way we work, collaborate, and communicate.
On the one hand, this change has dramatically improved the way we work, spurring innovation and increasing employee productivity at every level of the organization.
Yet at the same time, the explosion of technology has significantly increased complexity in the workplace. The multiplication of new tools can result in fragmentation that actually reduces efficiency instead of increasing it.
Consider the growing variety of communication tools that are available today:
- Messaging apps
- Video conferencing apps
- Workplace chat apps
With so many options, it is crucial for businesses to standardize communication protocols and find a solution that streamlines collaboration. This is especially true in a remote workplace, where all communication takes place via digital channels such as these.
One way to standardize communications would be to restrict employees to specific tools or channels, such as email and telephone.
This approach can be problematic, though, particularly when it comes to customer-facing communications. Customers often have preferred methods of communication, and maintaining good customer relations often means meeting them on their preferred channels.
Another way to standardize and centralize communications is to find an application that integrates those various channels into a single network, which is exactly what unified communications solutions are designed to accomplish.
What unified communications solutions do
Unified communications solutions, or unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), plug different communications channels into a single app or dashboard.
Rather than navigating between multiple apps, employees can simply use one tool that combines them all.
There are several benefits to investing in unified communications platforms.
Help to standardize communications protocols. Standardizing corporate communication is by no means an easy task, and it requires the implementation of communication frameworks, policies, and technologies. Nonetheless, it is a necessity in modern enterprise and the right communication software makes this job much easier.
Increase efficiency and productivity. Centralized communication platforms reduce errors and miscommunications. Better communication can result in a number of other benefits, such as decreased friction among teams, greater levels of employee productivity, and more efficient workflows.
Simplify the customer experience. As mentioned, communication preferences differ from customer to customer. Some prefer the telephone, some email, and others online chats. Unified communication solutions enable companies to deliver on those expectations, while allowing employees to continue using the same app, ultimately delivering a seamless experience for both employees and customers.
Enable employees to collaborate remotely. For the remote workforce, online communications platforms are a must. Cloud-based communication tools allow employees to communicate more easily and efficiently, regardless of their location, device, and in some cases, operating system.
Naturally, not all centralized communication tools are created equal – and not all are designed to meet the same business needs. It is important to carefully evaluate one’s own needs and potential solutions before making a commitment.
Choosing the right communications tools for the remote workplace
To solve a problem, it is first necessary to understand, define, and assess the issue.
When searching for a business communication platform – or analyzing any business problem, for that matter – it is important to ask questions such as:
- What is the communication challenge we are trying to solve?
- How does that problem impact the workplace?
- What are the underlying causes of that issue?
- What are the different solutions available?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks to those solutions?
One of the most critical areas that can be affected by workplace communication is the customer experience.
Applying the questions above to the customer experience, managers could come to conclusions such as:
- Juggling communication tools reduces employee efficiency
- Ineffective communication results in more customer complaints and dropped calls
- A unified communications solution would allow employees to talk to customers with a single online tool, regardless of location or device
Customer care should naturally remain a top priority in the remote workplace, yet as many businesses realized in 2020, online communication also has an enormous impact on the remote workforce.
The right communication platforms can impact:
- Organizational communication
- Software adoption, onboarding, and training
- Employee onboarding
While unified communication solutions can integrate conversational channels into a single dashboard, they lack certain features that are useful for in-house communications.
Designed to enhance and automate software-related communication, this tool includes features such as:
- Targeted notifications that can be broadcast to specific groups or the entire workforce
- An “always-on” digital hub that can be used to communicate with employees, improve engagement across apps, and centralize help
- Automate and streamline employee onboarding through task lists, self-service support, and software usage analytics
Integrating digital tools and communication channels is the key to solving many problems associated with fragmentation in the digital workplace.
Unified communication solutions can combine various channels into a single dashboard, which simplifies both the employee and the customer experiences. In the world of remote work, however, it is just as important to look at other communication tools that can streamline and centralize in-house communications, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs).