Written by, Richard Marsden, Technical Director, The Technology Group:
I have the very fortunate position of getting to speak with new businesses every single week. Often we are talking about the world of Unified Communication (UC), Telephone Systems (PBX) and the newer messaging and collaboration tools available. Quite often these discussions are around the actual impact that replacing an older PBX with a new UC system will have on business. Many business owners and IT managers are doubtful the need for change and to upgrade is that great.
I have a fairly standard set of reasons that I often run through, which I thought would be good to share:
1. It costs you a fortune
The instant response I get to this is "actually we own ours outright". "I'm glad," I say, "because otherwise, it would cost you even MORE of a fortune that it already is". "But if we own it already how is it costing us anything?". "Well . . ." I say (suppressing the know-it-all smirk I can feel coming across my face), "what about these things":
If you have an on-premise PBX then you most likely have ISDN lines connected to it (a.k.a. BRI, PRI, TDM). These can cost anything in the region of £10 - £25 per line, plus call costs on top of that. Modern UC platforms use SIP technology, which often reduces this cost by as much as 75%.
Annual maintenance costs can run into thousands of pounds for an SMB telephone system. These costs increase as the hardware gets older, and the parts and skills to maintain get rarer. Modern UC platforms are often software based, and as such are much easier to maintain and upgrade, which often reflects in the maintenance costs.
I measure my entire life in time, I honestly believe it is the only currency we universally trade in. So one of the most pleasing elements to me (and the many businesses I work with) of a UC platform is the time it saves in nearly every aspect. Time to install, time to upgrade, time to make changes, time to make more changes. All of the time that these things take is greatly, and I do mean greatly, reduced with a UC platform.
UC solutions not only provide you with a host of new features and tools but often cost less monthly that your current PBX. I repeat . . . a brand new UC platform which costs less than you currently spend on the old one!
2. Your team hate it
Thinking about your communication, how much of that has changed from being verbal to being electronic? Don't get me wrong; I still believe a good one-on-one phone conversation can beat anything electronic, but surely not for all business communication? I know a lot of my business conversations take place on email now, but also instant messaging, video calls, and conference calls. Better yet, they all take place in a single collaborative environment that is provided by our company. I can liaise with colleagues in a number of ways with just a single click. Yours probably can't, and that is why they hate it. Let's take a quick example which I bet you can associate with:
John wants to quickly liaise with his manager Sarah about a project that needs a fairly urgent adjustment. He knows she is super busy, and he doesn't know if she is available, but he calls her anyway. There is no answer, and it goes to voicemail. He leaves a voice message, but he knows this message just sits on the phone for the next time she is at her desk. Does she work from home today? I'd better try her mobile he thinks, which also goes to voicemail but he doesn't want to leave ANOTHER voicemail as it feels a bit too ‘stalker' like he thinks. Grrrr . . . now he is frustrated that he ‘spent' his voicemail message on her desk phone and not her mobile, as she probably won't even listen to it until it is too late.
Next, John thinks about sending Sarah an instant message (IM), so he fires up his Skype client, but he cannot find her (does she have Skype?), so he looks on his Google Chat client but then remembers that was banned by IT because of a security leak last month. He thinks about sending her a text message, but he isn't sure he wants Sarah to have his mobile number as it could get awkward if she starts sending him messages out of hours expecting him to respond.
Finally, he just sends her an email, which she replies to 90 minutes later, which was 30 minutes after he had to make the decision himself. It was the wrong decision, which neither Sarah, John, the client or the company were particularly pleased with.
Three months later the same situation arises again, except this time John has his companies new UC platform at his disposal. He takes a quick look at the 3CX app that sits on his PC and sees that Sarah is on a conference call, which only began 5 minutes ago. So he clicks on the IM feature within the same app and sends Sarah a quick instant message for a decision, she responds a few seconds later from her 3CX app, and the decision is made. Happy John. Happy Sarah. Happy Project (Happy Client). Happy Days.
3. It is losing you clients
When clients want to contact you, it is a glorious thing. You have been trying to reach them and create engagement and relationships for a long time, and finally, it is paying off. They want you; they want your products and services. Yes, Yes, YES!
Then they call you . . . except Margaret was making a cup of tea, so it didn't get answered. Or it rang Steve, but he was talking to someone else at reception, so it bounced to Mike upstairs, and he wasn't paying attention so just answered it with "hey".
Not the professional first impression the client was perhaps hoping for, that is assuming they now become a client after all. A modern UC platform has call queue, IVR and auto-attendant options as standard that can handle these scenarios. These features are available regardless of whether your company is a growing start-up of two or an enterprise of ten-thousand.
Actually, what if they didn't want to call you at all, perhaps they just wanted to chat instead? Perhaps they wanted more than a call; perhaps they wanted a video call to get better engagement? Surely you want that too! Businesses often spend thousands with other businesses, wouldn't it be nice for them to actually ‘see' you first? Perhaps they wanted to be presented to instead. Once they become a client, they might want to continue collaborating with video, chat and voice all in one place.
After I've run through these three points, I get various questions, responses and reactions. Some are blown away; others want to know more or trial it first. However, I am pleased that it makes a lot of sense to many of them. How do I know this? Because I am delighted to say that most of them are our clients now :)
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