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UC: how changing the engagement game brings competitive advantage

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The true competitive advantage of UC lies in a holistic approach across the enterprise which encompasses employees, customers and ‘back-office’ processes. In this article establishing the real business impact and ROI of UC, Manish Sablok, Head of Marketing for CNE Europe at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, looks at how UC provides competitive advantage with a seamless line of communication between front and ‘back-office’, partners and customers – increasing employee productivity and engaging customers

Here are some eye-opening facts: according to Fonality Research, employees spend 67 minutes a day trying to find key information – with UC this is cut to just 17 minutes; meanwhile the time they spend trying to contact colleagues can be halved to 37 minutes with UC; the time wasted duplicating the same communications is reduced to just half an hour a day.

But this is not enough to provide real business competitive advantage. Yes, Unified Communication is the essential communication ‘glue’ between employees, partners and customers, but for businessses to see the real benefits, UC must be integrated into the business processes to enable a seamless experience, ultimately bringing competitive advantage.

How UC provides the tacit encouragement for employees to be more productive

The key is to recognise the varied jobs within your organisation and assess their communication needs – this could depend on employee role, department or even location. This way you can provide employees with the best tools – devices and communication facilities – to fit their specific role, and in this way provide tacit encouragement for them to be more productive and engaged.

But then what UC does is to enable each employee not only to use the best device and communication service for the job, but to also enable that employee to use several technologies into his/her daily routine, switching between devices when necessary. An employee may start a conversation on their phone in the car, but then walk through the office and sit at their desk – they need to be able to seamlessly transfer that conversation to their tablet or laptop, expand the collaboration with video and enhance the communication experience if required.

The benefits of this are threefold:

• Enhanced productivity from employees – As shown in the statistics at the beginning of this article, the average employee could halve the time spent trying to communicate with colleagues using UC, freeing up time for other important tasks.

• Decreased frustration as a result of more successful attempts to contact colleagues – Less time spent attempting to contact colleagues and duplicating information means less frustration for employees, enabling them to better focus on their tasks.

• The facilitation of decision-making and collaboration – less time wasted on searches for key information means that decision-making processes are sped up, through better collaboration between employees.

How UC works to enhance customer engagement

Only one third of customer complaints are resolved successfully in the first instance, according to Consumer Focus research. So no small wonder that of the top 10 pain points researched in communication by Insignia Research, the top priority for companies in using UC was to reduce customer complaints (42%).

Again UC provides a vital communication key to enhancing customer engagement. How? There are three key ways.

Reduce customer frustration: Figures show that nearly 95% of customers will give businesses a second chance if their complaint is handled successfully and in a timely manner, so reduced response waiting times are vital in retaining customers. By not only reducing customer waiting times, but also by providing agents with access to the account information they require and access to communicate with colleagues in other sections of the business, companies can dramatically reduce customer frustration.

More time to spend on customer care – just as we saw UC saving wasted time in attempted communication for the employee, the same employee now has more time to spend on tasks that are directly involved with resolving the complaint.

Third is improved collaboration between the front and the ‘back office’. UC provides better communication between customer-facing employees and the back office, a communication line that is vital for ensuring high levels of customer service. If this communication line is not optimised, it can lead to delays and misinformation, potentially to the detriment of the customer relationship. Research shows that a complaint resolved in favour of the customer leads to 70% of customers returning to do business again.

Redefining the contact centre

Customer service and call centres are no longer just about dealing with phone calls – more and more they are becoming ‘Customer Care/Service/Interaction Centres’. Customers are increasingly expecting competent, quick processing of their concerns and questions – and these are now expressed via a variety of media – mobile devices, email, social media – and it all needs to be unified. Unified Communications eliminates the boundaries between back and front office, allowing employees to quickly share information, enabling seamless customer management, regardless of the device first used to make contact.

And the answers for a customer question may come from accounting, or logistics or another back office department. This communication across all departments is vital in optimising both sides of organisations: sales and customer-facing and operations. And if employees can see the presence of colleagues, it’s easy to find the right person to answer a question quickly – particularly with Instant Messaging or even video collaboration – and answer the customer query immediately and correctly.

Maintaining Competitive Advantage

This article explains how the true competitive advantage of UC lies in a holistic approach which encompasses employees, customers and ‘back-office’ processes. Technology such as our OpenTouch solution is enabling this now, across the enterprise, bringing business benefits from front to back office, from employee to customer to business partner. The key of this technology is to enable full collaboration, wherever people happen to be working, allowing employees to be more accessible and informed wherever they are, which in turn leads to faster, smarter decision making