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Will Online Collaboration Uproot Business Communications as We Know it?

Woman on video conference call Woman on video conference call
Eugene Likhovid July 24, 2020

In the age of widespread telecommuting and productivity KPIs, video conferencing was well on its way to becoming an integral part of business operations. But with an unexpected global pandemic that put a stop to most in-person and in-office interactions, online collaboration tools have become truly ubiquitous and downright indispensable for countless organizations. Professionals from coast to coast are now relying on their laptops and PCs to communicate. As desk phones are gathering dust at the office, many experts predict that this shift will have a lasting impact on our work, as well as our communications technology. But can online collaboration software really uproot business communication as we know it?

There’s no doubt that video conferencing and remote collaboration tools have countless benefits. They enable teams like yours to stay connected and productive from anywhere, no matter the circumstances.  They provide a rich alternative medium when in-person meetings cannot take place. With online collaboration, your organization can also save time and money on business travel, work comfortably on shared files, and even hire team members from virtually any part of the world.

But video conferencing tools often fail to meet some of the fundamental communications needs of a modern business. Numerous organizations rely on external calling, as well as advanced call handling to operate optimally, using features features like Time of Day Routing, Ring Groups, Call Parking and many others. Web-based collaboration software doesn’t provide these functionalities, and external calling is limited at best. In addition, most businesses still have team members who not only resist technological change, but are actually more efficient in their work when using their phones.

When making large-scale communications decisions for organization, it is important to take into account the needs of all your different teams. Below are a few things to consider before you make any permanent changes.

Does your team regularly communicate with clients, partners or vendors?

If your team relies on communications mostly for internal collaboration, video conferencing software provides them with a medium-rich ecosystem to discuss projects efficiently. But if communicating with clients, partners and vendors is an important part of their work, collaboration software with limited external calling functionalities can hold them back significantly.

In most web-based collaboration tools, external calls are invitation based, scheduled in advance, and often require downloading the application by all parties involved. In addition, the majority don’t integrate with CRMs, such as Salesforce, Zoho, or Zendesk, making it more difficult for account management, billing, or sales teams to record information. When placing, receiving and recording external calls requires so much effort, working with clients, partners and vendors becomes a huge hassle. Particularly for organizations that offer customer support or work with various partner organizations on a regular basis, online collaboration software will simply not provide the efficient communications platform they need.

Teams that work with outside stakeholders require a phone system that allows them to place or receive a call in seconds, whether they use a desk phone, a softphone application, or a VoIP phone system integrated with their video conferencing software to do it. Features like Speed Dials, Hold, Call Park and Call Transfer offered by leading VoIP solutions help ensure that your team can manage external calls and communicate with outside parties just as efficiently as they do with coworkers.

Does your organization rely on elaborate call handling?

As highly technical – and mostly introverted – users themselves, many IT leaders favor the feature rich interfaces of collaboration software over phone conversations. As their work mostly requires internal communications or chatting with various technology vendors, many of them don’t see a need for the call handling capabilities of a VoIP phone system.

But ask business leaders within their organizations and you’ll get a very different perspective. The large majority of departments need at least basic call handling functionalities to manage incoming calls effectively, while others require more elaborate solutions. Functionalities can vary from basic IVR Greeting Messages and Time of Day Routing all the way to customized Ring Groups, Ring Sequences and Call Queues.

Billing Departments, for example, often use ring groups to maximize each client call’s chances of being answered. Sales Teams usually develop elaborate ring sequences to rotate incoming leads among reps, and route calls to an answering service if calls go unanswered after a set number of rings. Customer Service teams also rely on advanced call handling, using features such as Skills-Based Routing, as well as a wide range of Call Monitoring and Call Reporting functionalities to optimize their work.

Ensuring that your team has access to the call handling system they need empowers them to manage their work effectively and save significant time and energy for truly high-value projects. Leading VoIP vendors not only provide an advanced feature-sets, but advise you on the best customized setup for each of your departments, so you can maximize productivity with a truly custom solution.

What is your team’s level of technical literacy?

While video conferencing software provides a feature-rich medium for internal collaboration, your team’s work styles and levels of technical literacy vary greatly and can determine whether collaboration software is enough for organization. Young, technically literate professionals that spend most of their time on internal collaboration thrive in a web-based environment of chat, video and file sharing. But while some of your less technical employees have come to embrace the benefits of leading-edge features, many of them continue to see phone calls as an indispensable tool for efficiency and relationship building. Most of them will much rather give a colleague a call than to type lengthy explanations into a chat window.

Your team’s work and communication styles are diverse. A VoIP integration can help you ensure that the needs of each of your departments are met. Giving your employees the communication tools they need to thrive not only increases their job satisfaction, but their productivity as well.

Can all your team’s phone calls be replaced by video chat?

Video conferencing has provided remote workers with the opportunity to connect to their colleagues, clients and partners on a much more personal level. But it may not be the right choice for every situation. And while turning the video off during a meeting is always an option, many employees feel pressured to have their camera on to avoid the impression that they are hiding something.

While many employees thrive and do great work in a remote environment, maintaining a professional-looking backdrop to their calls doesn’t always come easily in a busy family home. In addition, some workers struggle to keep their personal lives private. The large majority of companies continue to keep personal questions out of business discussions to ensure that their team’s professional success is not hindered by personal judgement. Yet video conferencing often reveals exactly those aspects of their staff’s private lives that open them up for criticism.

Enabling your team to talk over the phone when needed makes it easier to foster a professional environment. Getting the pressure of using video out of the way helps them focus on collaboration and preserve more of their energy for their task list.

Providing employees with the communication channels they need to be efficient is critical for any organization. While some teams may thrive on elaborate collaboration solution only, others may need the VoIP functionalities that help them tackle tasks efficiently.

But maintaining solid channels for both internal and external collaboration doesn’t necessarily mean managing disparate systems. And it doesn’t necessarily require desk phones either. Many VoIP providers offer extensive integrations with videoconferencing software to give their clients the best of both worlds under one roof. A VoIP integration allows your team to place and receive external calls straight from their collaboration interface and manage all their contacts in one place. The advanced call handling processes that have become so fundamental in VoIP business communications can be easily implemented within an integration, enabling your team to answer purposefully routed calls from anywhere and any device. Customizing your communications to your team’s roles can go a long way in setting your team and your business up for success.

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