Combining your telephony service with your collaboration platform not only saves your company thousands in subscription and setup costs, it also streamlines your business’s communications and helps your employees get more done with less.
Unified communications (UC) has become a hot topic in business operations and telecommunications. This cloud-hosted platform offers apps and integrations to increase employee productivity as well as many awesome features for collaboration and connectivity.
We’ve put together a list of 9 must-have unified communications features you will need in a collaboration tool for your company.
Must-Have Features to get the Most Out of Your Unified Communication Platform
If you want the best unified communication tools, you want tools that will increase productivity, not hinder it. These essential unified communications features are sure to improve your team’s performance and uplift your company to the next level.
1. Integrated Audio and Video Conferencing
When considering unified communications for your business, you need a powerful audio and web conferencing solution.
Most people are familiar with conference calling – to the point where it’s often regarded as a commodity. However, not all conferencing solutions are created equal. It’s important to look for one that your employees and clients will enjoy using.
For example, some business units may be more likely to use only video calling, while others consider meeting recording and transcripts the most useful part of a conferencing solution.
2. Chat with Presence
An integrated chat app is essential to a unified communications platform because it allows employees to communicate project updates, small-scale requests and other intra-office conversations. When that chat app is part of a unified communications package, team members can use the app’s integrations to schedule a meeting, bring a manager up to speed or send an email SMS message to a client without having to switch platforms.
Additionally, a chat app with a presence feature offers a way to keep track of who’s online and who’s unavailable. It is essential to know whether your coworker is logged in so they can easily set expectations for when you can expect to hear back from them.
A softphone is technology that allows employees to have a virtual phone for business use instead of a physical iPhone, Android, or desk phone.
The softphone app looks like a regular phone interface and is accessible from multiple devices so that a client doesn’t have to try calling multiple numbers to reach a specific team member whether they’re in the office or not. Softphones also cut down on the need for team members to give their personal mobile numbers out to clients if they’re not eligible for a company-purchased cell phone.
Since your softphone is managed through an app, features such as call forwarding, call transfer, single-click calling and more can be managed on a per-employee, per-team or company-wide basis, according to your business’s needs.
4. Screen Sharing & Drawing
Screen sharing and drawing features enhance your unified communications service by providing an additional way to demonstrate complex ideas.
For example, a client may have trouble navigating through your product interface and find it challenging to describe their situation. In this case, screen sharing can help them find a solution immediately, rather than committing all parties to a support request email chain.
Similarly, you can more easily ask for clarification or recommend an edit on a presentation or document being shared with integrated screen sharing and drawing features.
5. Email/Calendar Integration
Conferencing apps often come with email or calendar integrations, and unified communications should be held to the same standard.
Email and calendar integrations help maintain the flow of a meeting or client communication by ensuring that no one has to switch platforms to schedule a follow up or send a reminder.
6. Corporate phone books
While it’s admittedly rare to see a rolodex on most office desks anymore, the need for a collected corporate phone book still exists. That’s where your unified communications software comes in to save the day. The same system that you use to call, text, email and schedule appointments with clients and coworkers can also be used to store their contact info and helpful notes about the best time to reach them or when they’re due back from their vacation – then provide them to you when you need them most.
7. International Accessibility
Whether you’re reaching out to a multinational client or need to attend a weekly stand-up with your offshore IT team, everyone on the call will appreciate access to a domestic number.
At minimum, we recommend contracting a UCaaS that offers local numbers for countries that you already have clients or team members in.
8. Inter-Channel & Inter-Device Communications
One of the advantages of unifying your communications is that records from one device are accessible on another. For example, you can access the transcript from your last client meeting on your laptop, even though you took the meeting call on your smartphone.
The other advantage is that your work also transfers across platforms. With unified communications, you can chat with your product team via the chat app, create a meeting on your calendar through the integration and email a summary of that meeting to your client, all without leaving that original app.
9. Analytics & Management for Team Leads
The cherry on top of our must-haves list is the back-end analytics and management platform.
As the name suggests, this will make it possible for managers to assess which channels their teams use most often, correlate with team successes and make informed suggestions for process improvement. This is also usually where setup customization can be accomplished, so that non-client-facing team members don’t regularly get copied on client updates, for example.
More than just a buzzword – why adopt unified communications?
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) was born from the necessity of making sure that a business’s phone plan, meeting software, conference room hardware and miscellaneous communications channels are all compatible.
Obviously, there’s more than one way to approach this: you could choose to implement a UCaaS solution that uses your existing hardware or you can engage a provider who issues you the hardware and software that you need. With a unified communications solution, some or all the burden of support can be shifted to the provider, freeing up your IT team for bigger and better tasks.
To tie it all together: unified communications marries all the features you rely on from telephony and the ones you would expect to see in a top-of-the-line collaboration solution to deliver a service that allows clients and employees to communicate in more ways while increasing measurability of success and utility for managers.