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Small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are always looking for ways in which to balance growth against the bottom line. When everything is at stake, making the most of the people, resources, and money that you have available is a key strategy for ensuring success. Usually, this boils down to finding ways to help your workforce work both smarter and faster, without overworking them or degrading their decision-making abilities.

Easier said than done, you might think. Yet, there are a few small things that can be done that can make a massive impact, and one of them is application integration. The app integration process essentially ties organisational communications into the core business processes, weaving call record data, customer account information, and activity trends into reports that release their true productivity and analytic potential.

The outcomes of app integration are valuable as they can help SMEs gain breathing room and focus fully on productivity. Here are three key benefits that app integration drives:

  1. A more productive workforce
If applications such as salesforce can be integrated, busy sales teams can make better use of the time they have available and will also be able to use sales and marketing intelligence more effectively. This would mean that a sales executive can dial a prospective client straight from a customer record and be sure that the different parts of the system are aligned to the customer’s needs. So if, for example, the customer calls back when the sales executive is busy, their voicemail is automatically transcribed and emailed to the executive. This means the sales executive can follow up on the opportunity even more smoothly, increasing the chances of a sale being made. Furthermore, when the deal is closed, the entire record and details of the conversation can be sent to administration in just one click. With all of this taken care of by the integrated system, the sales executive is left with more time to focus on securing deals.
  1. A more effective hiring process
Job candidates - especially those of a high quality - are becoming more discerning in the companies they choose to work for. Integrated apps are one way in which HR can offer an exceptional interview experience which will help entice the best candidates. For example, an applicant tracking system (ATS) can be integrated with your communications platform, offering the dual benefits of eliminating candidate frustrations and helping companies to not miss out on great hire opportunities. Without the integration, the situation may occur where recruiters are leaving dozens of messages for potential candidates, who would call back only to find themselves talking to a different recruiter from the one who sent the original message. As the necessary information is located in disparate applications, the candidates were often asked the same questions again to get the conversation back on track. With the apps integrated, however, the recruiter can see all the details of the caller immediately up on their screen, which means the connection happens far more quickly and the candidate is left impressed.
  1. Happier - and more satisfied - customers
Retaining customers is the holy grail for most businesses, especially for those which are growing fast and need their reputation to be strong. It is also a lot cheaper than having a high customer turnover. This is one of the reasons that customer service is a key business trend for 2016 - backed up by a recent Forbes report. Luckily, app integration means that the job is made easier for SMEs. When the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software is integrated into the general communications platform, call centre representatives can resolve problems more quickly as they have access to all the customer’s information. Fewer calls need to be transferred and questions are answered quickly, meaning that customers are not kept angrily waiting on the line. Focusing on customer service is a great strategy for that all-important retention and increased sales.

Finding ways to work more efficiently is a priority for all businesses, but for the SME, integrating applications is one simple but important way that the squeeze on resources can be reduced without negatively impacting on employees. It’s a long-term strategy that sets companies up for the future, ensuring happier clients, first-class employees and strong business growth.

By Adrian Hipkiss, ShoreTel