Most will agree that the Internet has given rise to a major upheaval in Unified Communications, including Voice over IP (“VoIP”). Business worldwide is embracing VoIP solutions as a tool to reduce communications costs, increase communications effectiveness and increase company profile.
It’s not just in the ability to make toll-free or low-cost calls that VoIP Solutions are having an effect. Company culture is changing too.
If we take the cost benefits of VoIP Solutions as read, there are many other ways in which they can impact a company.
VoIP implementations can significantly improve a company’s public profile to existing and potential customers:
- Using VoIP can extend a company’s reach many folds and give the impression that the company is significantly larger than it actually is, looking like it has bricks and mortar physical presence in places it has only a VoIP call-forwarding service.
- One common use is to have a local office number which is automatically forwarded to a central office or call centre. The customer has the impression that the company is local when in fact it is not. The company profile is enhanced by this trick.
- This technique also works for support and help desks.
- As second is Direct Inward Dial. In this technique, the company has a root number, and adding the extension number to it takes the caller directly to the desk of the person they want to talk to.
- The use of hunting groups can also bring significant benefits. An incoming call need not go unanswered if the recipient is not at the desk. Another employee can pick up the call, or it can be automatically forwarded to another desk.
It is not just being able to use the Internet to place long-distance calls at a very low or zero cost where cost savings can be made:
- Customer Support. The use of call forwarding and the company website can bring significant reductions in support costs. With call forwarding, callers can be redirected to a central support site, thereby reducing staff costs and improving service levels. On the other hand, it can give rise to everyone’s pet hate, “Please wait, you are number 12 in the queue, and your call is important to us”.
- Technical Support. A lot of the calls to a technical support centre address the same support issues. User selectable informative voice messages, putting a FAQ on the website and providing tools and technical advice that can be accessed on the website reduce the number of calls. The website can also act as a repository of technical documentation. Strictly speaking, not a VoIP function, but when allied to VoIP can enhance a company’s profile. Again, having a centralised support function can bring cost savings.
One of the effects of Digital Convergence is the expectation that customers will be able to contact the company and have an immediate response. Allied to the increasing availability of WiFi in public spaces, a VoIP system can provide that level of immediate contact:
- On-Site mobility. It is now possible to use apps on smartphones that make the device look like a desktop phone. When the smart device is linked to the corporate WiFi system, the owner of that extension number is always immediately contactable wherever they are on site and can make toll-free calls over the corporate network.
- Off-Site mobility. Customers can use public and private WiFi services to contact the company, and if the configured call in over WiFi on their smart devices or by using Social Media. Most VoIP installation will support these type of connections.
As can be seen, these are mainly the external effects of VoIP Systems. Internally, they can bring great benefits to the workforce.
Because employees can use the VoIP system to make long-distance calls over the Internet without restriction, they can immediately contact customers and colleagues rather than waiting for permission to make the call. The use of Video-Conferencing where you can see the person you are talking to over the VoIP connection brings a sense of community and shared experience, improving the company culture.
Other productivity benefits affecting company culture:
- The use of hunting groups and automatic call-forwarding makes it easier for employees to pick-up and redirect calls.
- Voice messaging can be used to answer common problems, reducing the frustration of needing to provide the same explanation to the customer after customer.
- As mentioned above, the ability to make and receive calls anywhere on site.
- The sense that you are working for a company that is keen to keep up with advances in technology. That improves job security and the potential to move on to companies using the same technologies. Again, improved morale.
VoIP Systems are only one of the things impacting on a company’s internal and external culture. However, having said that, they can make a significant contribution towards establishing a positive company culture.