Remember when phone and email were the best tools for effective employee communication? Way back then — roughly five to 10 years ago — these were the only tools available for most workers, and the only way to have face-to-face conversations was to get in the same room. Now, between mobile, social, video, and messaging, employees can engage customers in real-time communication across a variety of channels, and teams who have never met in person can talk face to face with one click.
Yet, with employee interactions happening across so many different channels, from a wide variety of business and personal devices, the communication data from those interactions can get lost or siloed in one department's software. This amplifies human latency, creates operational redundancies, and makes it hard for your company to leverage data analytics or AI solutions. It also prevents you from recognizing your customers across channels. Customer-facing teams, such as sales, marketing, and customer service, don't know how to best engage or serve individual customers, because they don't have all the information.
The more communications touch points there are between your employees and customers or between internal teams, the harder it can be to pinpoint where the communication and efficiency gaps are across applications and tools. How can you assess the existing solutions in your organization, and what tools might help to bridge any gaps?
Start by considering the following questions:
1. Are Your Employees Engaging in Shadow IT?
Your employees have access to a plethora of communication devices, apps, and channels in their personal lives. These tools help them stay organized, communicate from anywhere, and boost their personal productivity. When they don't have access to similar tools at work, they're likely to use personal accounts and applications for business communications — for example, using their personal phones to send SMS messages to customers or their private Facebook Messenger accounts to communicate with colleagues.
At best, this looks unprofessional. At worst, it can compromise corporate data and customer privacy — a particularly costly risk in healthcare, financial services, and other highly regulated industries. It also means that your company doesn't have a record of these conversations or the communication data that results from these interactions.
Look for instances of shadow IT in your organization. Which consumer tools are your employees using at work, and why? This will tell you which tools they need so you can provide them with options that are secure, professional, and integrated into your larger communications stack for effective data collection.
2. How Many Communications Solutions Are You Using?
Too few communications tools might not be your problem. You can also have too many. If you're using multiple solutions from multiple vendors, it's likely that your communications stack is overly complicated, your communications bill is overly expensive, and your communications data is siloed.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) enables you to consolidate all your communications services and applications into one cloud-based platform. That includes voice, messaging, video, conferencing, contact centers, and chat.
With UCaaS, employees can access the platform from anywhere, via any internet-connected device, using whichever touch point makes the most sense for the conversation. All employee communication happens across official channels, and communications data is stored in one place. With UCaaS, you avoid the productivity pitfalls of having too many tools by connecting all communications channels in one central platform.
UCaaS lets leaders and teams record important calls, video conferences, or meetings. That information can then be transcribed, stored, and shared.
3. How Are You Collecting and Sharing Customer Communication Data?
Depending on your business, you likely have multiple customer-facing departments — including sales and marketing, customer service representatives, customer experience teams, accounts payable departments, and (to some degree) shipping and receiving. Each department has its own business applications and databases, and if customer interactions are recorded in those silos, other departments can't access the information and insights from those interactions. As a result, each department has only a partial view of individual customers and how to best serve them.
Sure, everyone could log into the CRM after each customer interaction and add detailed notes about the conversation, but will they actually do this consistently? Most companies have found the answer to be "no," unless they make it easy and (as much as possible) automated.
UCaaS can be integrated with CRM to automate data sharing and boost employee efficiency. With CRM integration, employees can click-to-dial (or message or video chat) directly from CRM. UCaaS automatically logs calls into CRM, and employees can view customer information from CRM inside the UCaaS platform. For example, call center service reps see screen pops for incoming calls, so they can greet customers by name and easily access all the information they need to answer questions and provide support.
4. How Are You Preserving Internal Knowledge Transfer?
Team members transfer Important internal knowledge all the time within your organization. Sometimes this happens during planned team meetings and formal training sessions. Other times, they share information during group strategy sessions, C-level meetings about the future of the company, or calls with vendors and other industry experts. Assessing how your organization is preserving this knowledge — or whether you're preserving it at all — is critical.
UCaaS lets leaders and teams record important calls, video conferences, or meetings. That information can then be transcribed, stored, and shared via UCaaS, and other employees can review information on their own schedules and in their preferred formats. This information can also be used for onboarding new employees or for employee development. Either way, teams will have access to a treasure trove of multimedia learning tools and corporate insights.
Solving the problems that can emerge by having too few or too many tools is crucial for businesses who want to improve their internal and external communications. The first step is assessing your organization's communications situation. How does your employee communication stack up?