by Ronnie Nag, managing director, Quore

With PwC reporting that absenteeism costs UK businesses £32 billion this year, any technology that can potentially reduce this deficit has to be of consideration to decision makers within a business.

Some have suggested that Unified Communications (UC) may be a possible answers to reducing the loss to a business and while this is still under discussion it clear the UC has other benefits for business of all sizes.

I am sure that you have heard the term discussed over the years, it still causes confusion among business owners and decision-makers across the country. You have a landline phone system, you have a company smartphone. Why do you now need UC?

Although integral to both large and small organisations, communications can be, quite frankly, an expensive headache.

Just ask your colleague in the office who is charged with ensuring that your company website, emails, mobile and landline telephone works efficiently. UC helps to eradicate some of these stresses by taking your landline and mobile phone systems and combining them into one — you get one provider, one bill and, if you go for a managed solution, you have one point of contact for any problems. And then it is their problem, and that’s why UC is a great solution.

However, it brings other benefits too. Your presence to customers is always on (if that’s what you want!) and you’ll have predictable costs, something that should not be underestimated for both large and small businesses alike. In addition, the technology is never more than three months old. This is achieved by regular updates that develop a business’s communication methods alongside the very latest technology advancements.

UC also provides the option to take on a single phone number by which to be contacted. This could be a landline, mobile or 08 number, meaning that customers (and potential customers) don’t need to call various numbers trying to track you down before moving onto a colleague or a competitor. Indeed, you can always set up ‘hunt groups’ which farm calls out to multiple people within your organisation to ensure that every call is answered, whether there is anyone in the office or not. This is a crucial feature when considering a missed call could potentially mean a missed business opportunity.

The cherry on the cake that is particularly useful for SMEs is the ability to have various local landline numbers attributed to your company, meaning that you can look bigger than you are. For example, a recruitment consultancy could decide to expand into a nearby town. It wouldn’t want to undertake the set-up costs of an additional office at the outset, so they can adopt a local landline number instead.

It will look like they have a presence there, before they’ve outlaid any money. Tradesmen often use this system, as they are happy to travel greater distances for work, but consumers will always call the local numbers in the book first.

It’s important to remember that potential customers will judge your organisation on how you deal with their first call. The clichés are true, first impressions DO count and customers want things NOW. Of course, it’s also true that people will try to sell you what you don’t need. You may not be a comms expert, but you are fully aware of how people use their mobiles and deskphones within your business. Don’t take unnecessary features and make it more complicated than it needs to be. Demand a system that suits your company and also take into consideration your businesses plans to expand. If you have predictable costs for adding another person to the system, you’re making your own budgeting easier.

Overall, the prospect of trying to make sense of the available tools for improving business communication can be daunting. Investing in a technology that will help you compete, stay in touch with your stakeholders and not become a burden to you in ten years time, is not a decision to take lightly. Articles like this one will always extol the virtues of technology and how it can help make businesses be more efficient. However, that’s only if you consider what you have and what you need in the first place. Once you’ve done that, pass it off to someone who can deliver it, so you can get on with your work!