Unified Communications gives you an unfair advantage.
A central aspect of choosing the right phone system for your business is the “Total Cost of ownership” (TCO). This is where many buyers have experienced hefty ongoing maintenance and support costs, not considered in the initial sales process. What looks like a great deal may have some hidden pitfalls later. Calculating the TCO of a Unified Communications system can be complicated, but at least it’s possible. The advantages offered by UC, allows business owners to expect savings and most importantly a return on their investment. Many small Telephony benefits quickly add up to show an investment return.
While the benefits of Unified Communication systems are unquestionable, they’re not always easy to quantify. Some, such as the savings on equipment, IT Personnel and Telecom costs, are straight forward calculations. Others, such as making customers more comfortable in dealing with one’s company, are difficult if not impossible to translate into dollars. Here’s where you’ll learn nine ways a Unified Communications investment pays for itself, along with some hints about how to get at least a rough idea of the value the investment will return.
1. Massive Telco savings.
Businesses spending $487 or more on usage per month can typically realise a 50 to 70% reduction in call costs. This potentially saves many businesses thousands every year. You can either put this in your pocket or put it towards improving the communications technology that your business depends on.
Multi-site organisations will see an immediate measurable benefit moving to a Unified Communications platform. One of the biggest savings for multi-site companies is call savings between branches. Placing calls on the corporate IP data network virtually eliminates long distance call charges and further more companies need fewer Telco lines to operate. Thousands of dollars per year can be saved interstate and global companies with offices in different parts of the world.
2. Cut phone system costs.
Because Unified Communications systems typically run on licenced based hardware, just like your desk top computer, they can be economical for even a one-office company than a traditional phone system. When the deployment spreads to multiple sites, the savings multiply. For one thing, it’s no longer necessary to have equipment in every site. Since phone traffic can travel via the IP data network it also offers tangible redundancy options for single or multi-site companies. Less hardware also cuts the need for system administrators in each site along with fewer costly maintenance contracts.
3. Soft phones and SIP phones can slash purchasing costs.
Usually the largest part of a Unified Communications investment is phone handsets. It is possible to replace desk phones with “Softphones” where your desk top PC is converted into a phone with the addition of a low cost headset.
“SIP phones are low cost in the sub-200- dollar range, which is much less than a digital key telephone system handset. This sounds great but you’ll need to be aware of any potential functionality loss by using generic handsets as many VoIP phone system manufacturers do not support all functions on 3rd party handsets.
4. Trim network infrastructure installation and maintenance costs.
A Unified Communications system runs on the same infrastructure as your computer network. This is where your telephone plugs into the same blue cable as your computer.
Existing deployments don’t see much in the way of savings however when relocating or retrofitting offices can save thousands of dollars because there is no need for additional phone cabling. On average Unified Communications deployed on the same computer network infrastructure saves approximately $210 per desk top. A small SME 50 user site can see savings of more than $10, 000.00.
5. In house administration.
With traditional digital key telephone systems, every time it’s necessary to move, add or change users, you’ll have pay the company that deployed the system. It requires specialised knowledge and can cost over $200 each time. Unified Communication systems allow users to log onto any phone and have all their parameters follow them, denying the need for any changes, unless the user is moving to another branch office permanently. Simple ads moves and changes can easily be completed by junior staff members on most Unified Communications systems.
6. Reduce staff costs and extend opening hours.
Organisations with branch offices can use their corporate IP data network to put calls through to an alternate receptionist; in fact with suitable bandwidth receptionist can operate effectively from their home office. Interstate branch offices can extend their opening hours by taking advantage of the different time zones. Daylight saving time zones can be very confusing for business, this is where Unified Communication systems can help your business benefit.
The IVR (interactive voice response) and ACD (automatic call distribution) features of IP phone systems can often handle calls as well as a person can. They let callers choose from options including dial by name, and make sure calls get to the right employees. That means customers dial 9 for operator less often, and may even make it possible to do without a receptionist altogether.
7. Send your staff home.
The ability to access the full features of a Unified Communications system from anywhere there’s a broadband Internet connection. This means employees can easily work from home. A perk for the employee and a cost saving for the company. Central business district real estate and travel time are on the increase. Working from home 2 days per week can save the average Australian worker $3 000 per annum on fuel and vehicle upkeep. Working from home is not for everybody and all industries, however for those who can, it has significant benefits for employee’s and companies alike.
Smart phones allow users the ultimate in Mobility whereby they can experience the same functionality seated at their corporate desk when they are actually working from home or perhaps a customer’s office.
8. Be smart about customer calls.
It’s hard to measure the benefit that results when a customer call doesn’t go to voice mail but is instead answered by a live person. Don’t underestimate the potential damage of a poorly answered call. Put yourself in the shoes your customers make those calls to your business during busy periods or after hours to appreciate the experience.
Unified Communication systems allow individual users to easily control sophisticated call routing options.
Calls can be distributed based on
– Callers phone number/s (Caller ID)
– Time of day, day of week
– Hour of day
– User presence status to name a few.
These are all easily set by each individual user so their time is used effectively. The most likely outcome of this feature is customer satisfaction improvement over a cost saving.
Staff can save time handling the issue in one call enhancing their productivity. With flexible call routing callers get the very best opportunity to reach the right person in your business the first time every time.
9. Save time click-to-search and click-to-call.
Clicking a button or name on the computer screen instead of pressing keys on the desk phone may save only a few seconds per call. Multiplied by hundreds of calls, it could save quite a bit of time. In fact, click-to-call and other personal productivity features can save individual employees around 30 minutes per week.
Some less tangible advantages are more user friendly, more functionality and more flexibility.
While many of the above benefits of Unified Communications systems don’t produce easily measured returns on investment, that doesn’t mean there’s no way to know their value. I’d recommend reviewing many case studies of deployments in similar industries or enterprises. It may be possible to estimate the financial benefits and a good vendor should willingly provide such information.