Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become such a no-brainer for budget, productivity, and usability that it’s nearly ubiquitous in the business world.
Telecom companies are hemorrhaging landline users. Experts predict that by the end of next near, only 6 percent of the U.S. population will still be making calls from a landline. That’s a remarkable shift when you consider that just four years ago, nearly 60 percent of Americans were still landline users. Of course, much of the loss is to cellular communication, but increasingly, businesses and individuals are making the switch to VoIP.
The Challenges of VoIP
It’s estimated that VoIP can save companies 45 percent per month over traditional phone services and nearly 50,000 hours in productivity per year. These statistics hold true to experience. Yet VoIP by itself became so synonymous with increased efficiency in enterprises that it began to settle into issues with syncing, loading, outages, and more. VoIP was due for a serious upgrade. Enter unified communications (UC).
What is Unified Communications?
UC is the seamless integration of real-time communications like VoIP with non-real-time communications like email and SMS. More than just a single product, UC is a set of products and solutions that glues together the user’s communication experience across all devices. In a world where the gig economy, digital workplace, and BYOD culture are rapidly increasing trends, having such a unified experience isn’t just helpful to enterprises—it’s critical to their success.
How is Unified Communication Changing the VoIP Industry?
Unified communication is taking the cost and time efficiencies created by the VoIP industry and bringing them to the next level. As a simple example, picture an employee at your company who needs to contact another team member with an urgent request. Your VoIP system has made it possible to call through the computer the employee is already working from and to see the status listed by their target. But the target hasn’t changed his status, despite being away from his desk. Your employee wastes valuable time trying to track down that teammate before ever getting through.
With UC, every employee device is synced so that communication becomes one seamless effort. It’s estimated that organizations with UC save 32 minutes per employee per day simply because they are able to reach one another on the first try. In consumer-facing enterprises, VoIP by itself can reduce the cost of customer contact and improve call speed. But when combined with unintegrated channels from the web to SMS to email to fax to multiple lines and more, the savings are overrun by the cost of employee time, lost leads, and dissatisfied customers. Case studies show that when companies unify their communications channels, revenue grows. This is why nearly three-quarters of U.S. businesses have or plan to implement UC.
Many help desk software providers are also starting to embrace multichannel support and add more integrations with VoIP systems. With a UC approach to customer service, your reps can address issues and questions wherever they occur and reduce call handle time through more efficient techniques like instant chat. They can also use screen pops to capture caller info and verify customers faster.
And that’s just the beginning of UC. With Cloud PBX, digital collaboration, multidevice file sharing, multimedia-rich conferencing, reporting, recording, and more all housed under one system, the possibilities are endless. UC isn’t replacing VoIP, it’s changing it, adding more bells and whistles than most of us imagined possible a few short years ago.
Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com. She's a marketer, storyteller, and techie who loves to learn about and cover VoIP, unified communications, and other industry topics. When she's not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.