Your Guide to Unified Communications Tools and Accessories

Your Guide to Unified Communications Tools and Accessories
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Time to Read | 8 mins

Imagine a true one-stop solution to all your business communications.

You need a set of unified communications tools that brings together all your needs:

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Get all your communication needs in one place with Microsoft Teams.

Imagine now that this toolbox is not only full of all the tools that your business needs but that it is simple to use, reliable and flexible, allowing you to move seamlessly from home to office or from city to city as your business demands.

Imagine a toolbox as hardworking and dedicated to growing your business as you are. You can just imagine what is known as unified communications. You have just imagined the future of your business.

Why Businesses Turn to Unified Communications

Unified communications solutions provide businesses of all sizes a reliable and easy-to-use set of real-time communication tools in one toolbox.  But let’s be honest, business is about delivering the best possible service to your customers at the lowest reasonable costs for your business. Unified communication products serve both those goals in several ways.

Benefit #1: Idea here, UC products improve efficiency and productivity by allowing your staff to save time on simple things.

Incoming calls can be routed to any UC device, wherever it happens to be. Whether you are writing a report in your office or working from home, a call comes to you. And whether you are with your family at the cottage or sporting event, you never have to worry again about missing another important call or meeting. Imagine that.

Benefit #2: Reduce costs drastically

Using an innovative Voice-Over IP technology allows unified communication vendors to skirt the limitations of traditional analogue phone lines while delivering a fully integrated set of communications tools.

Gone are the familiar line rental costs, multiple lines and overly complicated equipment (and the repairs they always seem to need). Some businesses report a real cost saving that’s close to 40% when they shift to a unified solution.

Improve both customer service and customer experience. The benefits of a seamless (also known as omnichannel) customer experience has been proven over the years. A unified system is the definition of a smooth and rich presence that allows every member of your team to know where each other is at any time.

Customer calls can be directed to open lines and messages can be taken from the initial point of contact rather than from the second or third point.

Thanks to the UC presence feature (showing members of your team who are currently available to take a call) wait times are dramatically reduced.

No matter what your business is, a unified messaging service allows you to guarantee with confidence that every customer question will be answered within 24 hours. Customers feel cared and respected, meaning that your business wins.

Today business is no longer only about the local or even regional market; it is truly a global marketplace, and your business must be prepared whenever an opportunity arises, whether it is around the corner or halfway across the world. Unified communication devices are reliable and practical tools needed for empowering a mobile workforce.

Working with confidence that calls or messages will never be missed regardless of where you are in the world or what time zone you find yourself in. UC allows you to tackle your work, knowing that you are using the best communications package available and enjoying the benefits that traditional analogue lines could never provide.

A Breakdown of Unified Communication Features

So, what is inside a typical UC toolbox? The answer is: whatever your business needs and nothing it does not need to make each day as productive as it can be:

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Need to add PC-to-Phone or Phone-to-PC? Do it easily with a UC solutions package that is fully scalable. The system can grow as your business needs change. Just contact any of the many qualified unified communications vendors in your area to assess your needs and budget.

A toolbox full of unified communications products is not that useful if it’s overly complicated. An entire UC package is quick to set up, whether with the help of your IT support or as a DIY. A UC phone system is fully operational in 5 minutes, reducing downtime and increasing your customer service experience almost immediately.

Unified Communications Tools You Need for Better UC Experience

An added benefit of choosing UC solutions is the range of add-on products that you can choose from to enhance your business’s UC experience, ranging from video cards to headsets. Whether you are looking for audio tools, video tools, or customer relationship management (CRM) tools, a UC system has options to meet every need and every budget.

Audio tools

One of the most common add-on features is a headset that is key to managing sound clarity as well as inevitable background noise that occurs when doing business in an office, an airport, or on a busy street. Not surprisingly, it is crucial that when you choose a headset, you should think about where it will be used and for what reason.

If you take most of your calls in a private office or hotel room (think closed-door) a simple portable speakerphone might be all you need. A small disk that plugs into your computer or laptop allows you to get the benefits of hands-free operation like a traditional conference phone would. Speaking is natural and comfortable.

Do you spend the majority of your time listening to messages or transcribing orders from an integrated ordering system? Bluetooth stereo headsets allow you to listen to your caller with no distractions while responding through your computer or laptop microphone.

On the move? A neckband headset combines high-quality earbuds with a noise-cancelling wideband microphone for plug-and-play mobility that allows you to close that important deal while walking to the next departure gate. Simple, efficient, and super stylish.

And for those users who still love the traditional desk phones, UC solutions integrate easily with a wide range of models from the simplest common area phones (single-line analogue replacements) to what is known as knowledge worker models complete with:

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Mobility is a massive plus of unified communications, so the ability to use UC tools on the move is an essential question when considering any system. Mobile phones are generally broken into two groups:

  1. Smartphones, which have a touch-screen interface, fast internet connectivity, and a deep catalogue of applications that can be downloaded for use. Smartphones are a clear winner when it comes to integrating with unified communications packages, allowing for optimal or near-optimal use of all the package features.
  2. Feature phones tend to be the familiar flip phone, with a dialling pad and far fewer options (if any) around touch-screen technology and application options. Hence they are less useful as a fully optimised tool within a UC system.

Once you have determined your comfort level in terms of functionality, the next decision is around the operating system that drives your mobile connectivity.

Apple, iPhone, and iOS are familiar and accessible platforms. These platforms have driven development of many of the features that we now consider standard on business smartphones, most notably those applications that allow your phone to act precisely as your laptop or desk computer has in the past.

Google and Android operating systems are the main rival to the Apple family, and not surprisingly work very similarly. Many UC functions are designed for both the iOS and Android platforms with limited (if any) impact on functionality.

Microsoft is the new player in the mobile game despite having dominated laptop and desktop operations for decades. Surprisingly, it is still catching up in terms of UC integration, so ask plenty of questions of UC providers before equipping your team.

Given that phones are a big-ticket item when considering the Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) of UC, you should select carefully to ensure that your system is designed to support your business needs now and into the future. With UC evolving every year, you want to ensure that your business can handle the next important feature that helps drive sustainable and ongoing success.

Video tools

Video communication is a powerful solution to many business needs. It reduces the need for travel, increases productivity, and supports the growing trend of face-to-face conversations. Depending on your current computer system, video cards might have to be switched out to optimise the video features of any UC package, so be sure to check technical specs before venturing down the DIY path.

Video is about picture quality, which makes your choice of a camera a vital decision when expanding your UC package. With so many options on the market to choose from, here are some initial questions to kickstart your selection process:

  • Office or conference room? If your conference room is the most commonly used location, consider a camera with wide-angle support to capture everyone seated at the table.
  • High light or low light conditions? Low light is a common challenge, so be sure to ask about how a camera performs in those situations (also known as low light support).
  • To connect or not connect? Cameras with USB connectivity are a clear preference for many users, but you can also opt for Bluetooth or WiFi models if they suit your needs better.

Some recommendations for cameras that consistently show high performance without breaking the budget:

  • Logitech has a couple of USB models of note, including the C920 and C270 series cameras. They provide a full range of options, including 1080p resolution, autofocus, 78-degree field of view, and built-in stereo microphones. The C922x Pro model is especially suited for large conference rooms.
  • Genius F100 is an excellent wide-angle (120 degrees) that has the bonus of 360-degree rotation. With USB connectivity, it produces a 1080p picture that is not disrupted even during rotation.
  • Suppose you need a camera with a built-in light (for low-light situations). In that case, the Razer Kiyo is a popular streaming camera (for platforms like Twitch) but is also perfect for business situations. With 5600k of built-in daylight (brightness levels are adjustable) it allows for either 720p or 1080p resolution across its USB connection.
  • If Ultra HD resolution is a necessity, the Logitech BRIO offers exceptional output in 4K and 1080p as well as providing 5x zooming features, fully customisable settings to optimise 3 angle settings, and two omnidirectional microphones with full noise cancellation.
  • And finally, if Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity is a deciding factor, the Mevo Plus offers 4K output with a full onboard suite of editing features and built-in microphone. As is always the case when shopping for non-USB cameras, be sure to check out the battery life, which often runs to only an hour or less on many models.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools

No matter the business you are in, ensuring that your customers are happy and feel valued is a key. Increasingly this means that your staff need to be able to get in contact with each other quickly to get the information customers to need when they need it, to resolve issues when they arise and keep in touch with customers when they want to talk.

Whether onboarding a new CRM as part of your UC subscription or integrating your existing CRM, a UC package multiplies the power of data analysis to improve relationships with your customers, improve customer retention, and drive sales growth. Regardless the size or type of business you run, can you imagine the benefits of being able to customise your products, services, and even customer responses to suit the individual needs and tastes of each customer individually.

Some of the most popular choices when looking at adding a CRM to your UC package:

  • Salesforce is one of the most commonly used cloud-based CRM platforms with over 3 million subscribers. Notable for its ease of use, scalability, and straightforward customisation options.
  • SAP is a German-made cloud-based CRM that focuses primarily on supporting financial services and large public-sector organisations as well as the manufacturing and service sectors.
  • Oracle is a cloud-based platform suitable for businesses of all sizes. It provides built-in tools for data analysis, customer management, and return-on-investment (ROI) measurements.

Other familiar names include NetSuite, Jungo, HubSpot, Zoho, and Zendesk. Finding a CRM to meet your budget and needs is not as daunting a task as it might first seem given the options available.

The benefits of adding a CRM are limited only by how you decide to engage the data that a unified communications package can deliver to your fingertips:

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All connected through a single, easy-to-use platform that makes your business more productive, more efficient, and more profitable.

Imagine Your Future Today

For most businesses, the critical question when considering the move to a unified communication solution summarise all statements is not if but when. The most important piece of advice: the answer is not about the technology itself but the partner you choose to work with. Having the confidence that your UC vendor is working with your business to provide the best fit for your needs and budget is the most important step that you can take.

Call a qualified and reputable UC provider like VoIPTech today to purchase a monthly Unified Communications Subscription to Communicator and see first-hand the power of communications to build your business today.


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