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What are Unified Communications? A guide for SMBs

unified communications

Even if you haven’t heard of the term Unified Communications, you may already be using it.

Unified Communications brings your phones, messaging apps, data sharing and video calling together into one platform, so you can move between each seamlessly.

Microsoft Teams is one example of bringing technologies together to greatly improve how your employees interact with each other, driving collaboration, efficiency and productivity.

Here’s all you need to know about Unified Communications and how it might benefit your business.

How does Unified Communications work?

Unified Communications works by sending and receiving your voice, video and text data from a single app over the internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This system is like a central hub for your team, they can move between tasks without leaving and opening a new application. You can make calls to colleagues, switch over to a group chat or initiate a video call all from the same app.

If you’re already using Microsoft Teams, for example, this can be integrated with your telephony system and you can make and receive calls within the app. All you need is an internet connection and a headset.

The benefits of Unified Communications

There are a number of benefits and savings that could be made with a unified communications solution designed for your business:

Cost savings

Replacing legacy telephone technology (think ISDN and PBX landlines) alone can bring immediate cost savings. Moving your phone system to the cloud as part of a unified communications solution means there is no cost of renting phone lines from a service provider, so your operating costs are reduced.

Your business will also have to supply less hardware – most people today expect to use their own devices or the same for work and leisure, and unified communications can enable this.

We offer our customers a number of options from different vendors for cloud-hosted or hybrid telephony systems, based on your exact requirements now, and for the future.

Productivity and collaboration

With today’s way of working, teams are rarely all in the same place at once and that makes it difficult to communicate and be productive.

With unified communications, staff can work closely together across departments and collaborate on documents at the same time, reducing the time spent sending things back and forth. Teams can have conversations in real-time around documents.

Not only does this speed up completion of a task, you can also see the status of an employee – whether they are able to communicate and choose the best form of communication.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Many employees now routinely expect to be able to use the same devices for work and home. Unified communication solutions allow this to become a reality. Couple this with a managed cloud solution and this can go towards improving work-life balance by allowing staff to work anywhere and hours to suit them.

Why your business needs a Unified Communication solution

Your workforce may be made up of remote or hybrid workers, in this case, flexible workplaces make unified communications more important than ever.

To enable hybrid working

Unified communications allow hybrid workers to split time between home and the office without the need to lug heavy office equipment back and forth.

Employees have access to all the communication tools they need via their laptops and mobile phones. All they need to do is log into your company’s platform of choice and they will have access to all the tools they need to make calls, message and collaborate effectively.

To improve the customer experience

Unified communications will allow your business to communicate with customers reliably and in the most appropriate way at the time.

You can integrate your CRM tools with your cloud phone system which provides your employees with the tools to deliver tailored communications to your customers, they can speak to your customers wherever suits them best – web chat, WhatsApp, phone call or video.

When customers want to reach someone directly at any time, even if you’re away from your desk, office numbers can be redirected, or ring groups can be set up to send the call to the next most suitable person.

Giving your workforce a single, unified interface makes accessing the tools they use to work effortless. Employees will be able to obtain the information they need to solve customer problems faster, helping them to deliver excellent customer service.

It also gives your customer service or contact centre agents the resiliency and scalability to keep up with demand. Your customers will need an immediate response on a variety of issues and with a unified communications system in the cloud, it can ensure high levels of service are maintained.

Business continuity

Would your business suffer if all your applications and data became unavailable? If there are any unforeseen circumstances, you can reduce disruption of business operations with unified communications.

In an outage, staff can work from anywhere with cloud-based workspaces. You can also redirect phone calls from office lines to mobiles with modern telephony, meaning staff can be on call during office hours.

How to choose a Unified Communications system

The unified communications system you choose will depend on the features you need, functionality and scalability. You may want to consider the following

  • How many employees and devices will access your unified communications solution and are they on or off-site?
  • Will you use existing devices or will you want new equipment?
  • Can your current WiFi support unified communications or do you need to upgrade?
  • What types of integrations do you need? For example, with your CRM system and workflow.

A unified communications solution from Aura means that maintenance and upgrade are included as part of the service. Employees can access 24/7 support when they need it.

For more information about how we can build a unified communications solution designed for your business, contact us at info@auratechnology.com.