Talk is cheap, but a solid communications infrastructure is not: Gartner estimates that companies worldwide will spend $1.46 trillion on communications services in 2022 and will grow that investment by 2.2% in 2023. Even small businesses spend an average of $5,736 on SaaS per employee.
Why the expense?
1. Businesses are investing in tech again: Part of the reason is that businesses are once again investing in infrastructure after putting major purchases on pause for two years during uncertain pandemic times. As economies worldwide rev up, companies are bringing on more employees and needing to expand their communications seats. These are welcome costs as companies look to enjoy renewed prosperity.
2. Communications are still siloed: The other reason is that some companies still manage communications in siloed channels. They’re using multiple platforms that hamper productivity and customer satisfaction through networks hosted on outdated equipment that’s expensive to maintain.
When thinking about refreshing your company’s communications infrastructure, smart companies are migrating to cloud-based unified communications (UC). UC offers a robust, interlinked platform of multi-channel communications that lets your customers interact with your company in their preferred way and your staff grow their productivity. The cloud-based functionality of UC systems means less time spent on maintenance and less money spent on equipment and overhead.
If you’re making decisions about communications systems at your company – whether for a call center setup or a remote team network – you need a platform that maximizes your budget while minimizing the total cost of ownership (TCO). A cloud-native, VoIP unified communications platform offers these benefits in several ways.
What is Unified Communications?
Unified communications (UC) is a cloud-delivered integration model that supports six primary communications functions: enterprise telephony, conferencing (audio/video/web), instant messaging and presence, mobility, optimized business processes, and email.
Companies are loving cloud-based unified communications to simplify work for their international remote teams and streamline their infrastructure. With a UCaaS system in place, companies enjoy these benefits:
- Increased Productivity. It’s easy to integrate business management tools with internal and external communication systems to give agents a complete view of their customers and productivity.
- Intuitive Interface. Cloud-based unified communications are plug and play. Meaning if your company needs to add another channel or app, the API-based foundation allows you to do so seamlessly in just a few clicks.
- Better Reach. UC systems expand the ways customers can reach your company. Whether they prefer phone, email, live chat, or social, your call center agents can provide the support or sales experience the client feels most comfortable with.
- Reduced Costs. UC is an effective way to operate and grow while lowering TCO and operational costs.
Cost savings is arguably the biggest benefit of migrating to a VoIP unified communications platform. This is because hard-wired, on-prem PBX networks incur monthly maintenance costs, often in the thousands of dollars. Furthermore, a majority of companies that use on-prem hardware refresh their servers every three to five years. That’s a major budgeting pain point for any size company!
In contrast, cloud-based UC is an effective way to operate and lower your organizational costs. There’s no expensive hardware to buy, and adding team members doesn’t require a costly phone architecture plan because there aren’t any wires to reconfigure—your in-house IT support team can do it (almost instantly) in the cloud.
How to Lower Costs and Achieve More Profitable Conversations with Optimized Unified Communications
Communications is a large but necessary expense, so it’s important for telecom leaders to find ways to maintain reasonable TCO. This is where the cloud comes in. Businesses save an average of 50-70% after making the switch to a cloud-based voice environment.
Let’s review five ways you can host more profitable conversations with an optimized UC.
1. Consolidate Your Business Number Carriers
Time is money, and there are better ways to spend your working hours than updating number mapping sheets. Phone number management is easier in a cloud-native communications environment. Using a UC system for your communications allows your organization to port, configure, and manage thousands of phone numbers through one interface.
You don’t need to manage groups of phone numbers from different carriers in different regions. Your VoIP UC provider acts as your point of contact for all local carriers in the countries in which you operate. If you want to stick with a preferred carrier (BYOC), you can. Most UC providers offer an open telephony interface that allows SIP trunking partners to connect with their platform via virtual or traditional PSTN.
If your phone number needs grow, a unified communications provider grows with you at an affordable cost. Because VoIP companies work with carriers all over the world, they’re able to negotiate extremely affordable rates for phone lines and numbers. SIP trunking via UC allows your system to expand and contract as you need, without the hassle of adding physical lines or managing individual carrier contracts.
2. Rely on Network Redundancy
Your business’s financial success depends on your communications being up and running as much as possible. VoIP providers build networks with multiple failover servers and mirrored routes to ensure that their customers’ calls will always have a successful termination. If one route fails, your calls quickly re-route to the next available line. This redundancy equals minimized downtime and little-to-no business disruption for your teams, saving you the headache of lost time and the cost of lost business.
Network redundancy also saves your business the stress and expense of deploying your own maintenance and troubleshooting resolutions. UC providers take care of this on the back-end, whether it’s through routine maintenance or automatic support tickets. So when network glitches happen, your internal teams can stay focused on business.
Another way cloud-enabled network redundancy enables your profitability is by increasing customer lifetime value. When calls are crystal clear, no one has to repeat themselves, interactions go faster, and customers leave the conversation feeling like their time talking with your business was well-spent.
3. Embrace Mobility
The cost of conversing with your customers isn’t measured in just equipment or maintenance costs but in the cost of recruiting and retaining staff. UC fits the remote (and nomadic) work trend perfectly. When basing your communications in the cloud, your company can recruit talent from anywhere. And if your team needs to relocate because of family or other needs, or just needs a temporary change of scenery, they can continue to work productively from anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, your company saves on overhead and operating costs thanks to your reduced need for office space.
Many UC systems offer a business VoIP app that promotes productivity from anywhere, as well. VoIP apps turn any mobile device into a softphone with the same call routing, call monitoring, and call recording features as a desktop-based softphone. The main benefits of such apps are increased productivity thanks to the availability of your UC tools anywhere, the ability of your staff to make and receive calls from anywhere, and a centralized place for agents to access and store customer data and business phone numbers. Through business VoIP apps, unified communications and collaboration can continue without interruption.
UC systems also help companies lean into the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend. With no hardware required, companies can save the cost of what they would have had to spend to supply their teams with mobile devices and computers. Furthermore, BYOD greatly reduces equipment training costs and speeds up the time-to-competency on the devices they know best! Companies that use a UC system and need to expand don’t need to purchase new equipment but simply reconfigure their SIP trunks. SIP trunking, in turn, offers smart routing with lower monthly calling costs and faster service.
4. Optimize Your Tech Stack for Resilient Interoperability
The resiliency and interconnectivity that characterize unified communications help businesses adopt tools that save money, improve productivity, and prioritize revenue-generating tasks. The collaborative nature of UC-enabled communications means teams can share customer data, ideas, files, and insights from anywhere. Cloud-based communications support new, local presence in previously unreachable markets. VoIP unified communications still offer the same feature-rich cloud services in these places. Connecting your PBX to a UCaaS, CCaaS or CPaaS system lets you operate in your preferred voice environment while collecting data to improve your customer experience.
UCs are built on a foundation of sample code, APIs, and user-generated integration libraries. This means that your business can easily integrate VoIP into your existing (or desired) CRM, communications, and sales automation tools. In return, you can lower overall costs by streamlining workflows while sharing data that increase productivity and revenue. For example, a UC can help you automate some processes between software platforms that were previously manual. Your agents can more easily share and analyze data across your tracked KPIs to ensure they’re on track to achieve their goals and improve customer satisfaction. Interoperability becomes more real when your communications platform unifies and increases the visibility of your external and internal data points.
5. Seek Adaptable & Flexible Solutions
Unlike hardwired on-prem phone systems, cloud-based systems can scale as needed. You can adjust call routing flows from a UC dashboard with just a few clicks. This feature is especially useful for businesses with a continuity plan that needs new call routes during a crisis and must re-route inbound calls to a different location or person.
UC platforms are also great at adapting to your needs. You can add new integrations, adopt newly-published features, and provision new inbound and outbound numbers without having to call in technical support or update the entire network. All it takes is an admin configuring such adaptations in an online portal.
Finally, UC systems offer flexible billing strategies. You can often choose from a pay-as-you-go subscription, an annual contract, a monthly payment plan, or a hybrid billing plan. If your business experiences seasonal peaks and valleys with your workforce, you can scale up (or down) the number of seats you need, often through a convenient self-serve online admin portal. When you only pay for the numbers and lines you need, it’s easier to save on communications expenses.