Effective communication is vital to any business venture. Over the years, communication technology has gone through an evolutionary phase. Today, technology is transforming communication into digital experiences.

Unified communications (UC) has done away with the need for multiple communication devices. With UC, you combine the functionality of many devices in one platform.

This guide provides comprehensive information on how unified communication phone systems work, the business benefits and how to use them for your business.

Unified Communications for Businesses

There are several ways in which you can set up a communication portal for your business. But not all will be efficient or effective in the long-term. A unified communications system is a powerful and reliable strategy that eliminates the need for multiple standalone communication devices.

To understand the advantages of this modern platform, let’s take a look at traditional communication technology or legacy systems.

You have a phone system to take calls. Text messages are managed either through computers or smartphones. Other devices you have available may not have the functionality to receive voice mails or other media files like photos and videos.

With each device that you set up in your office, you are:

  • Investing more in hardware and equipment
  • Lessening interior space
  • Adding complexity to the system
  • Incurring multiple bills

Unified communications, as the name suggests, is a way to bring together different communication devices in one centralized environment. It achieves this through cloud technology as opposed to regular phone lines.

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is the latest standard in high-quality audio calls. It uses the internet to transmit phone data. The result is crystal-clear calls, lower dropped call rates and lower latency for cross-country communications.

Unified Communications Hardware

Some of the most popular unified communications hardware are:

Desk Phones

True “plug and play” functionality, along with powerful features, come standard with desk phones like the Polycon VVX series. Make sure that the hardware you choose for desk phones offer full-duplex speakerphones with excellent voice clarity and LCD screens.

Cordless Phones

Bring in the convenience of wireless devices to work. A cordless phone gives users the freedom of movement without the fear of losing network connection. With a central WiFi system, all wireless communication devices gain access to the internet and users get to enjoy the wireless experience.

Conference Phones

Conference hardware requires a certain level of quality and capability, or the entire experience can be ruined. The device you choose must be able to pick up directional audio from people sitting around it and effectively translate the data into electrical signals that can be converted back to clear audio at the other end.

Nowadays, conference phones have become very advanced and have many features like mute, hold or switch.

How Unified Communications Phone Systems Work

We have discussed briefly how unified communications platforms use the internet to facilitate communication. We will dig a little deeper into the specifics of how this is done.

Most companies rely on legacy phone systems. These communication workhorses have been the backbone of enterprise communications for the last century. The internet and cloud applications have given rise to unified communications phone systems. These systems are the next generation of phone networks and provide greater convenience, accessibility and security.

Businesses must realize the shortfalls of legacy communication systems that make them incompatible with the modern workspace. Nowadays, businesses want more from their communication investments, and only internet communication methods can rise to the challenge.

This brings us to the most popular communication service used by businesses: UCaaS or unified communications as a service.

Understanding UCaaS

UCaaS is an all-in-one cloud communication platform that provides businesses with the necessary communication tools that include audio, video, text messaging and other media options. With UCaaS, there is no need for hosting on-premise systems. The unified phone system is connected to a central node in which the vendor provides all the necessary bandwidth to facilitate communication.

The advantages of using UCaaS for your business are:

  • Multiple communication formats like audio, video, text messaging, etc.
  • Doesn’t require businesses to maintain costly infrastructure
  • Provide customers with call center tools, chat options, email, etc.
  • Supports the BYOD (bring your own device) model of working
  • An admin can control almost every aspect of office communication through a single dashboard

Difference Between UCaas and VoIP

Many hold the misconception that UCaaS and VoIP are two separate technologies and that businesses can only choose between one or the other. This is not true.

VoIP is a form of technology included in UCaaS. VoIP is only concerned about transmitting voice data over the internet. Hence, it facilitates voice communication without dealing with any other form of data transfer.

The advantage of VoIP is that it can provide high-quality voice data. Plus, it can be used on softphones, handsets or office lines with an active internet connection.

UCaaS provides the customer with more than one type of communication mediums. For example, to facilitate high-quality audio calls, UCaaS resorts to VoIP. For sending video data, it uses other protocols like TCP, UDP or RTP.

You cannot pit VoIP against UCaaS because when you opt for UCaaS, VoIP is included in the package.

Advantages of Unified Communications Phone System

One clear advantage of a unified communications phone system is that you don’t need to depend on a single device for making or receiving calls. An employee can dial from a laptop or smart device the same way they would pick up a phone.

UCaaS solutions package voice service with a variety of other features. Employees can jump from a voice call to a video conference and then text notes to a teammate. All those communication streams happen within a single interface, from a single device.

This means more collaboration and brainstorming instead of trying to remember an extension number.

UCaaS for Reliable and Responsive Contact Centers

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Businesses use call centers for customer service. Customers can get replies to their queries or let the company know their grievances.

This just shows how important a customer care portal is. In a recent report, 80% of customers lament that companies focus more on selling their products or services rather than providing robust customer service.

Nothing frustrates customers as easily as not getting the support they need from a business when they need it the most. It’s one of the primary reasons why customers switch services.

Most contact centers use PBX (private branch exchange) systems to connect calls between the company and the customer. It is an on-premise setup to manage calls in and out of the contact center.

The company must set up the infrastructure in-house, which costs them time, money and space. No wonder many organizations are moving towards the future of contact centers: hosted PBX systems.

In hosted PBX systems, the hardware and software are hosted by the unified communication service provider. Meaning, there is no need to set up the PBX exchange or worry about maintenance and upkeep costs.

Transitioning From a Legacy System to a Unified Communications PBX

Moving from a traditional PBX to a unified communications phone system is not difficult. Mainly, it’s because there isn't additional hardware to install.

To start the transition, a company finds a cloud communications service provider that meets its communication needs. One of those needs is unified communications. Unified communications is a suite of communication applications consisting of:

  • Call routing
  • IVR
  • CRM
  • Billing integration
  • Messaging

The unified communications software has everything a call center should need and probably more.

Hosted contact centers use virtual PBX systems. They are faster and more technologically advanced compared to physical PBX systems. When setting up a contact center, scalability is a factor to keep in mind at all times.

As your business grows, your customer base will increase. With on-premise PBX systems, you will have to buy more hardware to keep up with the increasing call volume. Add to that the maintenance and labor costs, and you are looking at a sizable amount to spend every year.

Enter the Future of Business-Level Communication With 8x8

8x8 is a cloud communications service provider that enables businesses to leverage digital communication. We have developed a robust, scalable platform that allows your employees to better communicate, collaborate, share and access data. Our solution also integrates with your contact center and offers an array of tools to connect with your customers using the channels they prefer.

Your business needs every cog in your machine to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Team Messaging System, your business gets the unified messaging it needs without the need for multiple disparate systems. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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