Justin Turner, OneVoice Business Manager at distributor Comstor says over the past few years voice technology has moved on significantly and the price point of more sophisticated IP-based voice applications has also fallen as have data storage costs.
“This twin development has brought advanced voice-based applications, which have traditionally only be bought by enterprises, within easy reach of Small and Medium Sized businesses (SMBs).
Demand amongst SMBs has simultaneously been driven by a need to increase business efficiencies. Recent SMB research conducted by Sage found that 36 per cent of SMB employees were unable to reach co-workers on the first attempt and this resulted in missed deadlines at least once a week for nearly one in five (13 per cent) of respondents. Staff productivity is definitely being lost, in our view, because most of us have too many devices to check. We all spend too much of our working lives checking multiple email accounts, as well as our IM, mobiles and voicemail systems for messages.
Wouldn’t it be better if we could at least display and prioritise response to all incoming communications through a single device, whether that be through our desktops whilst in the office or PDAs whilst on the move, rather than constantly scanning systems to get the complete picture? This is an area where IP-based unified communications can genuinely help and this message is starting to get through to smaller businesses.
Industry research bears out this trend. Cisco Systems-commissioned research* reveals that 29 per cent of SMBs have already integrated voice systems into their IP networks to cut voice costs and enrich system functionality.
We are also seeing demand in SMBs’ call centres and helpdesks for tighter integration linkage between voice systems and Customer Relationship Management packages, for example. Practically, this means a call coming in can be routed to the operator who normally handles that customer, as identified by his normal telephone number, and can then display his record on the operator’s screen even before he or she takes the call. This sort of integration drives up efficiencies and reduces the time it takes to process orders or handle customer problems. It also gives staff more confidence in handling of the call because they have everything they need at their fingertips.