Modern Unified Communications Solutions are a Game Changer for SMBs

2 min read

Martin Bitzinger | October 11, 2023

This was originally published on September 27, 2023, on Small Business Currents.

There are over 30 million small businesses across the US, and today’s small business owners have seen almost everything.

From a global pandemic to inflation-hitting highs that have been unseen since the 1970s, small business owners know all too well the importance of preparedness to handle business disruption. Not to mention, customer expectations have reached an all-time high, and delivering an optimal customer experience has become more critical than ever before. On the flip side, employee needs have also changed, with many desiring more flexible and fulfilling work options.

This presents new challenges for small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners and IT professionals who now must develop a strategy for connecting a distributed workforce while meeting customers where they are. The SMBs that will be the most successful in this new era will be those who are future-ready and well-equipped to weather the storms of today and for the years to come, implementing the proper tools to set themselves up to be resilient in the long term.

Modern Unified Communications (UC) is about more than a telephone on a desk. Today’s UC tools are integral in streamlining business processes by combining features like team messaging, AI-powered chatbots, video chat, and various third-party integrations.

SMB owners and entrepreneurs typically need to be scrappy when deciding what’s best for their business. UC tools uniquely benefit this group as they can now select a communication method that works best for their employees, customers, and bottom line.

The Cost Consideration

Small business owners don’t have the same financial resources as larger enterprises, making it critical for them to spend strategically.

Lost productivity from poor communications strategies can cost SMBs significant dollars – funds that small business owners can’t afford to lose. Preventing this threat to long-term business growth can be achieved by implementing reliable UC tools that are scalable and well-equipped to grow and change alongside your business.

Flexible deployment models are a necessity for SMBs. UC solutions must adapt to what’s best for the business, whether on-premise, in a private or public cloud, or hybrid. Business owners also shouldn’t have to start from scratch when modernizing. For example, leveraging legacy technology while modernizing can potentially lower costs while ensuring access to critical analog devices.

Delivering an Optimal Customer Experience

The past few years have given today’s consumers a new desire for businesses and brands to satisfy their digital needs. Given this new environment of remote everything, customers are more attuned to companies' requirements.

Modern UC solutions provide SMBs with the flexibility to meet customers where they are on their preferred channels – whether it be contact center, SMS, Web chat, email, social media, or even virtual agents – while achieving top business goals such as growing their business, attracting and retaining customers, optimizing business processes, and more.

With customers preferring vastly different channels, brands and businesses must provide personalized, customized experiences to keep consumers engaged. Modern UC solutions offer the perfect vehicle for tailored interactions that align with consumer preferences in this omnichannel era. These solutions allow businesses to easily follow a customer conversation from virtual chat to phone to email. With these tools, employees have a new ability to gather the correct information and resources quickly to resolve customer qualms effectively.

Providing Flexibility to Employees

Unsurprisingly, 98 percent of employees want to work remotely at least part of the time. As such, SMB owners must provide the proper IT tools for employees to collaborate from various geographic locations.

As the workforce moves toward a hybrid work model, long-distance collaboration will be essential for business success. Business owners looking to update their hybrid work technology must be sure the new systems they’re implementing are compatible and that their employees know how to use them. Having one easy-to-use tool simplifies this process for both employees and IT departments, as it eases the learning curve for employees and management for IT departments.

UC tools that bring together multiple methods of communication make it easier for employees to work together and work flexibly no matter where they are. A few options include phone, chat or messaging, audio and video conferencing, web collaboration, and more. For multi-location businesses, centralized, private, or public cloud-based systems can help minimize the hassle of owning and managing systems in multiple locations and help to keep businesses agile.

Looking Ahead

As many SMBs prepare for the peak retail season, there’s no better time to implement UC tools into business practices. Customers will be looking to spend money with businesses that are easy to communicate with and can solve any issues that may arise quickly and efficiently. Employees looking to pick up holiday work will also be attracted to businesses with systems that make their jobs easier.

Modernized UC tools set SMBs up for long-term business growth and stability in a hectic environment. It’s a wise investment, providing value wherever your business journey leads.

Martin BitzingerSenior Vice President, Product Management

As Mitel’s Senior Vice President, Product Management, Martin Bitzinger is responsible for Mitel’s product portfolio and product marketing including UC platforms, applications, and devices. Martin joined Mitel through the acquisition of Aastra in 2014, where he served as Vice President, Strategic Technology Development. In that role, Martin coordinated innovation activities and technology. He has more than 15 years of experience in the UC industry and has worked in a number of R&D and consulting positions in the IT industry. Martin holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Science from Santa Clara University as well as a Master’s degree in Information Technology from the Technical University in Munich.

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