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While most businesses have adopted some type of cloud-based technology, not all of them have implemented a unified multi-media communications platform that integrates phones, chat, email, web conferencing, and file sharing into a single cloud-based platform. UCaaS offers many benefits such as mobility, improved voice quality and exceptional reliability that Broadsoft predicts more than half of all organizations will adopt by 2020.


There are several ways that you can optimize your customer’s business savings by deploying UCaaS, outlined below are three considerations.




Enable Global Collaboration. UCaaS allows businesses to take geography out of the equation when hiring talent. With unemployment rates low, it’s already difficult for organizations to fill vacant positions from limited talent pools. Out of necessity, some employers are using alternative methods to find talent by utilizing freelancers and contractors and actively recruiting non-traditional workers.


UCaaS enables employers to readily hire contract workers and employees alike that reside in different time zones—and even different countries—while retaining the ability to offer a collaborative, team environment. Some of the ways UCaaS can enable collaboration and communication include:


  • Intelligence-based productivity features. These features can include automated access to information and files team members need.
  • Mobile features like multimedia meetings that integrate features such as video conferencing, screen sharing and video chatting as well as click-to-call options.
  • Built-in project management capabilities that allows users to assign tasks, attach files or communications, or create projects.

As an illustration of this, a global manufacturing company with more than 300 locations around the world had separate voice and video infrastructures in place, which was hindering global collaboration between teams. They also had numerous third-party endpoints and gateways as well as complicated integration requirements.


The solution was to implement a single UC solution throughout the entire organization. Once the UC solution had been deployed, the company gained a unified global dial plan integrated with business video to support any-to-any collaboration. All of their existing third-party endpoints were integrated, and today full interoperability exists between Tier 1, Tier 2, internal, external, polycom, and desktop video endpoints and devices, thus enabling simple and robust means of immediate global communication and collaboration throughout the organization.




Incorporate social media. Social media can be integrated with cloud UC functionalities, so that organizations can better understand the mindsets/needs/wants of their customers.


According to Jimmy Rohampton, Forbes contributor, millennials have a strong preference for social technology-based modes of work, including social tools for employee recognition, workplace learning, and collaboration. Employee engagement as well as customer happiness can be improved with a UCaaS solutions by encouraging:


  • Real-time feedback. Increase agility by leveraging social media’s real-time features to promote internal collaboration and engage with employees and customers immediately.
  • Improve customer service. By leveraging your CRM together with social tools, you can aggregate customer feedback from various social media networks, enabling your organization to more fully understand your customers’ needs and potentially be empowered to proactively address problems.

A mid-sized company, which helps its customers create custom photo books and gifts, realized the number of inquiries they were getting via their social media channels (primarily Facebook) was outpacing their “temporary” workflow, which involved their Social Media Specialist copying the messages and comments received, pasting them into an email which they then forwarded to the Customer Support department. Those emails were then put in a queue via their CRM with all the inquiries from the website and inbound calling center. Once Customer Support had responded to the Social Media Specialist’s email, they then had to go back into Facebook and post the appropriate response and/or direct them to reach out to Customer Support directly—every single time. If a conversation ensued, this could get very cumbersome, and the immediacy of the platform was completely negated.


By integrating the social media platform with the UCaaS solution, the Customer Support people were able to engage directly with their customers via Facebook, and there was a noticeable uptick in leads converted from social media in the months that followed. 




Improve the security of mobile technology. As BYOD (bring your own device) becomes more commonplace among organizations of all sizes, there is a corresponding increase in the security challenges being faced by IT departments. A cloud UC system allows access via a single app rather than juggling a variety of apps that haven’t been approved by IT. Companies can reduce or potentially eliminate risks associated with unapproved file-sharing software or employees who may download data directly to their personal devices by implementing cloud-based access to sensitive information.


Although BYOD security concerns aren’t eliminated with UCaaS, providing employees a central point for accessing work-related communications does decrease the risks associated with the BYOD movement. Additionally, by providing a convenient, centralized way to securely access information, it does encourage employees to behave in more secure ways.


Take for example a small midwestern school district who didn’t have enough computers for every student and wanted to enable a BYOD program to their schools. To do this, the district would need to make a variety of improvements to their network, including replacing multiple PBX systems at the various buildings.


The district began by deploying a UC solution in the district office and connecting schools one at a time. By implementing a UC system, they managed both the wired and wireless networks simultaneously and continually save money on technician visits, since the network administrator can manage various systems from a single platform.


UCaaS allows business of all sizes an incredible amount of flexibility and money-saving options to expand their communication and collaboration tools. UC can be scaled up or down in real-time while also having the ability to adopt new technologies, immediately. There is also a huge benefit from mobile-first, user-friendly tools that are designed to evolve alongside the evolution of a company’s collaboration habits.


We’ve highlighted only three of the many solutions and features that can be added to a UCaaS customer over time, based on ever-changing business and technology needs. Ensuring you are well-versed in the multiple ways UCaaS can help solve various challenges—alone or in conjunction with an integration—you are setting yourself (and your customer) up for success. Delivering a single, globally-accessible communications platform is setting the stage for you to play a starring role in your customers’ digital transformation journey.



The New 8×8 X Series

The New 8×8 X Series transforms the customer experience by providing the enterprise with the ability to intelligently and quickly collaborate across any channel and easily access the company’s most critical data, analysis and experts.

With customer and employees interacting in one system of engagement, enterprises can now optimize valuable moments of engagement with one system of intelligence. X Series accelerates your company’s ability to innovate, respond and serve customers and results in an exceptional experience for both employees and customers.

8×8. The experience is everything. Learn more about 8×8 here.

The New 8×8 X Series also includes an all new Collaborative Contact Center, Transition from “I don’t know” and customers repeating information they’ve already provided to a collaborative contact center that drives speed to resolution through simple collaboration and complete context.


How to effectively communicate collaborate & control with your business phone system

Business phone systems traditionally haven’t been considered much beyond their ability to connect callers. For most businesses, telecom is a line item on an expense budget—no thought is given to how the technology actually can help improve your company’s bottom line. The truth is, your business phone system should be considered one of the most important assets in your company. It’s not just a tool for connecting calls; it’s a tool for creating and building relationships and for improving productivity. When choosing the ideal system for your company, look for the three Cs: communication, collaboration and control. Each are important elements and should be considered carefully in your purchasing decision.


It’s not just dial tone or voicemail. An effective system will have robust calling features that enhance the user experience, such as personalized call handling and presence, conferencing, voicemail to email, interactive voice response voicemail access and more. Integration with third-party business systems, such as integration with CRM systems, can further enhance the user experience and create a top-notch customer experience as well. Above all, the system must be simple to operate, so your employees can get the most out of their communications environment.


A good system also includes collaboration tools that are not only seamless to the communications experience but also easy to use. Instant messaging, web and audio conferencing, peer-to-peer video chat, desktop sharing and file transfer capabilities can increase your employees’ productivity by giving them the tools they need to communicate beyond voice, effectively and easily.


For some businesses that don’t want to manage their business phone system, a cloud system is a good option. ShoreTel has the same robust functionality in one platform whether for cloud or for onsite, or even a combination of both.  Both the CLOUD and ONSITE solutions are end-to-end, as ShoreTel provides the phones, system software and applications. ONSITE is perfect for companies that like to control their apps in-house and have the IT resources to do it, while CLOUD is geared to companies that no longer want to manage their phone system or are light on IT resources. Your employees need more than just dial tone to communicate effectively. Discover what an onsite unified communications and collaboration environment can do to enhance their productivity. ShoreTel Connect ONSITE is a feature-rich yet cost-effective option that also provides a future path to the cloud while leveraging your onsite investment. If your current business phone system is missing one of the three C’s, it’s time to see how a new system can help improve your company’s bottom line.

Collaboration tools have helped companies expand well beyond the four walls of their office, giving employees free rein to work anywhere and promoting the idea of a virtual workforce. But what companies gain in expanded reach and productivity increases they can sometimes lose in personal relationships with their employees. However, no matter what type of collaboration setup your company is using—onsite, cloud-based or a hybrid environment that combines both—companies and employees both can enjoy the benefits of a dispersed workforce. Here are three best practices to consider when using collaboration technology:
  1. Choose a communications platform that’s simple and effective:

    Technology is only useful if it’s being used. If your employees are struggling to get connected or find it difficult to operate, they’ll quickly abandon whatever communications platform you choose. To ensure success, choose a system that’s intuitive and easy to operate, and includes features that enhance the collaborative process.
A hybrid system such as ShoreTel Connect HYBRID gives companies the ability to manage an onsite system for their in-office employees and those working in branch offices, and the flexibility of providing collaboration tools to all their employees via the cloud. ShoreTel Connect HYBRID’s features include the most popular collaboration tools such as audioconferencing, screen share and instant messaging.
  1. Schedule—and reinforce—a weekly face-to-face group meeting:

    Regardless of whether your employees are in the office or on the road, a weekly meeting via collaboration technology should be a part of your routine. Not only can your employees update you on their work progress, but you can also reinforce a personal connection that sometimes can get lost when your workforce is separated by many miles.
An article in Harvard Business Review suggests companies establish a “virtual water cooler” during their meetings so employees can share information and reinforce social bonds. The article proposes each meeting begin with a check-in, “having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging,” as well as having occasional virtual team-building exercises to further strengthen the personal connection.
  1. One-on-one meetings matter:

    Employees need individual feedback no matter if they’re in the office or remote. Research has shown that managers who are more engaged with their employees have a more productive, satisfied staff, with deeper trust and a more objective view regarding how business is really operating.
Collaboration technologies are extremely powerful tools for breaking down the barriers to effective communication in a business. The key is to use the technology effectively to ensure both the business and your employees are getting the most from your collaboration investment.

Every business, regardless of size or focus, relies on its communications system. Without a reliable phone system, the critical interaction between employee and customer can’t happen, which means your business won’t grow and thrive. Just as important is how well your communications system works for your business. Do your employees have advanced call capabilities such as “follow-me” so they can receive calls even when they’re away from their desk? Are they able to collaborate with colleagues and customers at the touch of a button? Can they access customer information during calls to close more sales and enhance the customer service experience? Your communications system can say a lot about your business. You don’t want to give your customers the wrong impression by having an unreliable, basic phone system. In this day of instant gratification, when customers want answers immediately, simply having voice mail isn’t enough. Small businesses can have enterprise-grade communications and collaboration at an SMB price point. The ShoreTel Connect communications platform a fully integrated, streamlined way to access all the best communications tools … not separate apps and windows with separate log ins ShoreTel Connect includes:
  • Voice over IP
  • Video
  • Instant Messaging
  • Web Sharing
  • Audioconferencing
ShoreTel Connect is available as an onsite, cloud or hybrid deployment to meet your company’s needs:

Connect ONSITE:

A perfect solution for companies with in-house IT departments that can handle the management of the system and want to integrate other applications, such as customer relationship management or business intelligence applications, with the system. Because the system is in-house, your IT team has more control and can perform upgrades when it’s convenient to your company.

Connect CLOUD:

If your company has a small number of employees, or if the majority of your employees work offsite, and you don’t have an onsite IT department, Connect CLOUD may best suit your needs. Cloud offers the same functionality as Onsite, without the management. And because it is delivered as a hosted model, your maintenance costs are lower and you pay usage on a monthly subscription basis. Your employees enjoy the benefits of a full-function communications and collaboration system wherever they work, and your company enjoys the low cost and reduced maintenance of a hosted model.

Connect HYBRID:

Companies with virtual offices in addition to a headquarters location can benefit from a hybrid solution. HYBRID unites multiple locations in one single phone system—some ONSITE, some CLOUD—and enables all users to access apps from the cloud. You can select a system based on your company’s strategic needs for CapEx and OpEx, to distribute IT workload, and for leveraging investments in your onsite equipment. If clothes make the man or woman, then communications make the company. Make sure your communications system is conveying the right image to your customers while providing the features your employees need to provide the best customer experience.

Most employees today eschew the traditional 9-to-5 workday in favor of work-life balance and the ability to work when they want (and often where they want). The result often is an increase in productivity and a more satisfied workforce—a win-win for companies and their employees alike.

Is your PBX system supporting your employees or hindering them? Are employees able to have the full functionality of their desktop phone wherever they are? Are they able to access customer information through the PBX to streamline customer interaction? Are they able to collaborate with colleagues on the fly by simply pressing a button?

Chances are, your current system offers basic calling functionality and not much else. Plus, you’re probably using a separate collaboration platform, which means employees must maneuver two systems to do their job effectively. The result is a slow, kludgy system that does anything but enhance productivity.

To truly be productive in and out of the office, your employees need more. They need a complete communications and collaboration system on one platform to help them work smarter, faster. They need:

  • The ability to have all of their desktop phone calling features on any device—PC, tablet, smartphone.
  • Collaboration capabilities—including audio and video conferencing, instant messaging and online meetings—no matter where they are.
  • Integrated customer information at the touch of a finger, to enable richer customer contact experiences.

Most legacy PBX systems lack mobility, flexibility and collaborative capabilities, keeping employees tethered to their desk or forcing them to use their mobile phones to conduct business while away from the office. Either way, they don’t have the power of an integrated communications and collaborations platform. A cloud-based communications system may be the answer for your company, providing a robust, full-featured, integrated communications and collaboration platform that’s accessible anywhere at any time. Not only do your employees get all the tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently, your business benefits from a system that’s scalable and flexible, and at a price that’s much less than the cost of upgrading your current PBX (which most likely doesn’t include collaboration capabilities).

Other benefits of a cloud-based communications system include:

  • The ability to get back online quickly should the unexpected happen, such as a natural disaster, fire or weather-related event.
  • Low or no hassle for the IT department, since a cloud communications system is a hosted system managed offsite.

In today’s business environment, your workforce must be productive no matter where they are. Take a look at the benefits of a cloud-based communications system and what it can do for your company.