How Are Unified Communications Platforms Changing the Way We Work?
Ira Brooker October 2nd, 2023
For generations, the surest method of communicating with co-workers, customers, and business partners was to pick up the telephone and make a call. More recently, sending an email replaced phone calls as the default means of business communication.
Today, however, businesses have an almost unlimited range of options for keeping in communication. Video and audio conferencing tools, instant messaging, text messages, and cloud-based file transfers are just a few of the methods we use every day to stay in touch and convey important information.
As those options continue to expand, organizations need a dependable system for managing all of those technologies while keeping confusion and complexity at a minimum. That’s why unified communications platforms are one of the hottest topics in business.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Are Unified Communications Platforms?
- How is UC Changing Digital Work?
- 8 Key Benefits of Unified Communications
- Build Unified Communications with MHC EngageCX
- How Smart Documents Support Unified Communications
- Smart Document Sample Gallery
- How to Fix Common Enterprise Communication Challenges with Unified Communications
- Why Are Unified Communications Growing in Popularity?
- How Is Communication Different From Collaboration?
- How to Start Unifying Communications with MHC EngageCX
What Are Unified Communications Platforms?
Unified communications (UC) is a blanket term used to describe a platform that integrates multiple communications tools into a single interface. By streamlining multiple methods of communication into one easy-to-use interface, a UC platform can make day-to-day functions more efficient and productive while also significantly improving user experience (UX). Just a few of the communications tools that might be integrated into a UC platform include voice calls, instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, voicemails, and call routing.
A UC platform makes it simple for users to navigate seamlessly across all of these methods of communication without needing to access individual tools or accounts. That access flows smoothly across multiple devices. For example, a user may move between a smartphone, a laptop, and a desktop computer without interrupting a conversation.
How is UC Changing Digital Work?
In an era where more and more work is taking place online and from remote locations, unified communications platforms are becoming more and more of a necessity for businesses of all kinds. UC is more than a method for integrating communications tools; it also allows for easy collaboration across a digital workforce. In fact, some organizations refer to their platforms as “unified communications and collaboration (UC&C).”
Replacing siloed communications tools with a platform that integrates most or all of the communications channels regularly used by your employees makes it much easier for them to remain in close contact regardless of their physical locations. With remote collaboration playing an ever-increasing role in business operations, providing your team with tools that make it simpler to collaborate with co-workers, vendors, and business partners simply makes sense.
For example, a video conference might include a team in an onsite office conference room, a third-party freelancer calling in on a smartphone, and a vendor working from a laptop in a different country. A UC platform allows all of those parties the same level of access and collaboration, creating a more efficient and effective communications system for everyone involved.
8 Key Benefits of Unified Communications
Not so long ago, maintaining consistent business communications required navigating unwieldy email chains or trying to get a word in during a hectic conference call. Advancements in technology have made communicating and collaborating in the workplace smoother and more effective than ever before. Unified communications platforms take that efficiency to another level by integrating a wider range of tools into a single user experience. That integration benefits your workforce in many ways, including:
Giving your workforce the ability to stay in direct communication with co-workers, supervisors, and clients from any location with an internet connection not only allows them to work wherever and however they feel most effective, it also expands your team’s hiring options to include a larger remote workforce.
More Channels for Communication
Studies show that both employees and customers strongly prefer having more choices when it comes to communication channels. A UC platform offers multiple channels within one cloud-based system, offering options that might include texts, video conferencing, emails, phone, instant messaging, call recording, and even faxes.
Stronger Workplace Culture
As remote work becomes more and more the norm for the modern workforce, some employers worry about the impact on workplace culture. A UC system helps to maintain the unique and valuable culture of your workplace by making it easy for your teams to stay in regular contact no matter where they work.
Faster Customer Assistance
In the recent past, a customer who needed help or guidance might have had to navigate a complex telephone system before reaching the contact they needed. A UC platform eliminates long hold times and frustrating transfers by allowing customers to choose which works best for them from multiple communications options, all of which can be easily integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM) software.
More Options for Personalization
There’s seldom such a thing as a one-size-fits-all solution in communications. Unified communications systems allow customers and internal teams to find the method of communication that best suits their needs. That makes it easier for your business to accommodate every customer, no matter their preferred channels or technical expertise.
More Secure File Management
Sharing files is an essential part of modern business communications, but it’s also an area that carries some risks, especially for organizations dealing in personal data and other sensitive information. Moving communications to a cloud-based UC platform helps to keep those files secured and backed-up at all times.
Searching through communications tools to track down an older message is more than just an annoyance; it can be a legitimate drain on productivity. Studies show that it takes the average worker around 23 minutes to get themselves back on task after an interruption. A UC platform makes it much faster and easier for employees to access important data and conversations across multiple channels, allowing everyone to stay more focused and productive throughout the workday.
Improved Reporting and Analytics
Being able to track and study your communications methods is crucial for streamlining operations and maximizing efficiency. A UC platform provides deep, real-time visibility into your communications, generating detailed data analytics that lets your team determine what is working best and what areas are in need of fine-tuning. Simplified data reporting can also be extremely helpful during internal or external business audits.
“ MHC worked with a business services organization whose entire focus is around compliance and helping share information. They were dealing with a lot of different data sources to pull in and then quickly share information. The pace of change was extremely high. They needed a systematic solution to manage that change, and scale and flex with the type and volume of changes coming in.
They were able to empower business users to drive results without relying on IT to make and manage all these inbound sources of compliance and regulation information. They were also able to move their support to the cloud. They were able to accelerate the speed at which compliance information could be distributed to their customers. For employees, that meant less overtime and improved collaboration across departments. It allowed them to source and approve content and have an easy way to track approvals and version control the changes that were being made. “
Build Unified Communications with MHC EngageCX
MHC designed our EngageCX platform to help organizations take a more unified approach to customer communications management (CCM), from production to delivery. EngageCX simplifies the process of building complex communications with a diverse range of tools, including:
Easy Template Management
A flexible, easily personalized template management solution allows your team to communicate with each recipient in the way that works best. Reduce template overpopulation by building templates from a deep library of reusable content, metatags, filters, and branding elements.
Data Integration and Omnichannel Distribution
Integrating all of your customer communication data into a single solution makes it simple to pull and process data from multiple sources, including cloud services, cloud, databases, xml, and websites. That data can then be distributed via the channels your customer prefers.
Scalable CCM Software
EngageCX is a full-stack customer communication management platform designed to scale and evolve along with your business needs, changes in technology, and shifts in goals.
EngageCX employs access-based workflow processes that allows managers to delegate work to the correct resources automatically, keeping communications and messaging consistent across all of your workflows.
Workflow Review and Approval
Integrated version control provides deeper visibility into each version of your communications. That allows managers to identify patterns and trends, make sure internal policies are being followed, and review and approve communications for distribution.
How Smart Documents Support Unified Communications
One of the most useful components of EngageCX for unifying communications is the smart documents tool. This allows users to easily create interactive PDFs and documents tailored to specific goals and customer experiences. Smart documents functionality plays a major role in unified communications efforts because these documents are:
Elements such as clickable buttons, fillable form fields, and data filters allow a customer to interact with your documents, generating more engagement and tailored user experiences.
The responsiveness of smart documents creates a customer experience that resembles visiting a website more than a static document, further driving engagement and generating more usable data.
Smart documents not only allow your team to create highly personalized documents for every customer’s preferred channels and delivery methods, they also create personalized pathways that allow users to explore the data that interests them most.
Suitable for all devices
Using smart documents makes it simpler to craft communications that can be easily shared across any business devices, ensuring that customers get the same experience on a mobile phone as they would on a desktop computer or tablet.
Self-service features empower customers by allowing them to access the documents they need, when they need them, without having to go through a formal and lengthy procurement process
“ The win for them by centralizing control of the composition of those communications was around being able to dynamically generate documents and communications to keep maintenance to a minimum. It allowed for fewer individuals to do the work without losing productivity. When content can be generated dynamically, or certain components of content can be reused, it allows organizations to make changes very quickly. One change can impact thousands of different communications because it’s done centrally, it’s controlled, and it’s reviewed and approved before it’s distributed. “
Smart Document Sample Gallery
To illustrate just how useful smart documents can be to your business, we’ve assembled a gallery of useful examples. Explore the document options available to you with EngageCX and try them out for yourself!
No Centralized Platform
The lack of a single, “digital-first” platform to manage the brand, language and tone of outbound customer communications creates confusion and conflicting messaging
Switching to a Centralized Platform
With EngageCX’s centralized templates, all elements of communications can be managed at the enterprise level. Any updates, such as a new logo or brand tagline will be automatically added to all applicable templates.
Lack of IT Support
Building a communications platform in a siloed system often requires assistance from IT, which can lead to delays and complications.
Ready-to-use Omnichannel Communications
EngageCX makes it easy to build omnichannel communications without IT assistance. The system is built to be used by non-technical employees, helping to empower your communications team and reduce your IT workload.
Tracking Collaborative Projects
Keeping track of changes in a project that several people are working on can be confusing and lead to miscommunications and duplicated work, especially if team members are working from different locations.
Level-based Access System
EngageCX lets team leaders grant level-based access to documents and files to all relevant employees. That simplifies collaboration by ensuring that all team members can access the latest versions of documents, even when working remotely.
Too Many Individual Platforms
Many organizations’ communications platforms rely on an array of solutions to provide smart document features. If building documents requires separate solutions for every feature, the process becomes more time-consuming and complex — not to mention the difficulty of integrating with other systems
One Platform for Everything
EngageCX makes it easy to create smart documents with built-in features like omnichannel distribution, complex feature implementation, data integration, and databinding. That not only eliminates the need to invest in multiple solutions, it also creates a single solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems.
Relying on a patchwork of solutions to build your communications can become expensive very quickly. Expenses like multiple subscriptions, maintenance fees, and add-ons for building smart documents add up, not to mention extra work for your IT staff.
Why Are Unified Communications Growing in Popularity?
UC platforms are being adopted at a faster rate than ever, largely because the timing for them has never been better. Technological advancements have been driving a shift from physical to digital communications for more than a decade. The move to remote work made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic pushed that change even further (Time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings increased by nearly 150% over the pandemic, for example). Current advancements in artificial intelligence are transforming workplace communication in ways that would not have been possible even a few years ago, with 74% of companies considering AI to be a key advantage for their future business ventures.
That increased demand for high-performing communications tools, combined with an increase in the availability and accessibility of advanced communications methods, further establishes UC platforms as the way of the future. Streamlining and integrating a wide variety of tools into a single, cloud-based system makes communications more flexible, scalable, and effective for organizations of all kinds.
How Is Communication Different From Collaboration?
As we’ve mentioned several times, the biggest advantages of a UC platform include major improvements in both communication and collaboration. That raises an important question: what is the difference between the two?
Communication and collaboration are closely related, but there are some key differences where UC platforms are concerned. To start with, communication is a broad-reaching concept that includes many elements, one of which is collaboration. For most organizations, communication includes both external strategies (communicating with customers, vendors, suppliers, shareholders and other third parties) and internal strategies (communicating between employees, both onsite and remote).
Where external communications focus on relaying information to another party outside your organization, collaboration is considered an internal strategy because its mission is to connect people within your organization and enable them to work together toward common goals. The key difference between communicating and collaborating comes in taking action. Using an instant messaging system to share the details of an upcoming project, for example, would be considered communication, while using IM to arrive at a collective decision about how the first steps toward completing that project would be collaboration.
How to Start Unifying Communications with MHC EngageCX
For any organization that regularly relies on multiple avenues of communication, having a system in place to keep all of those tools well-managed is an increasing necessity. Without an organized plan for how your teams communicate and collaborate both internally and externally, your business runs the risk of expensive miscommunications that can take a great deal of time and money to correct.
MHC’s EngageCX is a full-stack platform that simplifies the way your organization processes communication, from production and assembly to omnichannel delivery. EngageCX helps managers and other business users navigate complex communication processes without the assistance of IT or other technical employees. That keeps onsite, remote, and hybrid teams in touch with each other, your customers, and your business partners no matter what their preferred channels of communication.
Ready to learn more about the ways EngageCX can help to transform your business communications? Schedule a demonstration today!