When it comes to business, regrets are something every owner and manager can do without. Nobody wants to be in a business situation thinking “I should’ve been ready for that.” Effective managers try to avoid those situations by looking ahead, planning for the future, anticipating issues that may impact the business and leaving room to maneuver so that the business is agile enough to respond to market situations as they arise. This forward-looking management approach should extend to all facets of a business.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the communications system that is the foundation of their customer service and sales process, many managers don’t look beyond the dial tone they hear when they pick up a handset. But there’s more value to be had from a technologically current and feature-rich communication system than simple dial tone. By looking at your communication system as a strategic asset, you can position your business to deal with any eventuality.
Communication Is Your Business
Regardless of which industry you are in, the reality is that you can’t be competitive without a fully optimized communications system. If your employees can’t communicate effectively and efficiently with each other, customers and partners, chances are you are missing out on important customer service requirements and potential revenue opportunities. So, in a way, communication is the key to your success.
That’s why it’s important to regularly take a hard look at what you have and what you should have. Many communications system features that may have seemed unnecessary a few years ago are now table stakes. Likewise, features you thought would improve operations may no longer be delivering the benefits they should be providing.
Therefore, as technology and your business evolve, your communications strategy should, too. It should not be a static concept that you worked on back when having dial tone was the most strategic move you could make. It should be an ongoing process enabled by the key questions that will inform it on the road to the next strategic decision:
-How do my employees collaborate?
-How does my organization handle customer interactions?
-Do our systems integrate well and do they improve efficiency?
-Are we taking advantage of all the new features available or are we behind on updates?
-Do we need to move to the cloud to improve efficiency or can we do more with what we have?
-How are we prepared to harness cloud technologies when it is time to make the move?
Communications Systems Should Improve Operations
Since there’s no denying that effective communication and collaboration are critical in today’s business environment, a communications strategy can help you improve operations.
Research shows that 85 percent of small businesses agree that efficient communication between different teams is fundamental to staying ahead of the competition. But a poor technology strategy can have serious repercussions on a business and even affect a company’s ability to compete. For example, inefficient communications can cost upwards of $6,000 per employee per year to a small business, even more for an enterprise.
Inefficiencies are created when employees are working with outdated systems that don’t provide the features and capabilities that will optimize their daily work processes. Systems that aren’t integrated with core applications, like CRM, that don’t provide a single unified view of all communications options and that don’t enable team collaboration, video conferencing and anytime, anywhere access to email, text and chat are not adequate any longer. Likewise, systems that offer all those things but are two or three software updates behind are not operating at peak efficiency and may, in fact, be reducing productivity.
Meanwhile, communications technologies continue to evolve and that’s never going to change. So, organizations that don’t view their communications system as a strategic asset, reassess their investments regularly and optimize their systems at every opportunity can find themselves in situations where their communication technology mix does not meet the demands that the business and the market put on them.
Strategic Systems Are Ready For Anything
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on daily operations for businesses of all sizes showed just how strategically important up-to-date communication technology really is. Businesses that had kept pace with ever-changing communications technologies before the pandemic found it easier to enable employees to work remotely. Those that had a less strategic approach to their communication system found that they were ill-equipped to handle the new business reality.
Now, businesses that are sensitive to the winds of change will have a technology investment strategy that ensures they aren’t caught flat footed again. They’ll keep their system as flexible as possible, ready to add functionality as needed and capture opportunities when they arise.
Thinking about your communications system strategically means making a conscious effort to keep pace with technological change so you can do more with what you have now and are ready to upgrade to whatever you need when you need it. It means maximizing the potential of your current system with incremental updates that deliver the integrated email, text, chat, screen-sharing, unified communication, collaboration and video capabilities your employees need to stay connected with colleagues, customers and partners. And it means thinking about your eventual move to the cloud, planning for it and being ready for it when your business needs it.
Strategy Puts You In Control
With a strategic approach to your communications system, you can plan to do more with what you have to meet the changing needs of your employees, your customers and your business. You can reap all the business benefits offered by your investment. And you can control how technology evolution affects your operation.
Most importantly, regardless of where you are in your strategy, you’re in control. So, avoid any future regrets about your communication system by thinking about it as strategic asset that you can leverage to position your business to deal with any eventuality.