Always Available: be a business hero, not a business fire-fighter

May 30, 2018 Claranet Limited

Out-of-date, incompatible systems are difficult to administer and not easy for customers to deal with. Old telephony can damage brand reputation, turn away customers, and have a negative impact on the bottom line. But there is another way...

IT managers are often expected to deliver miracles from old systems they inherited. That’s particularly true when it comes to telephony: businesses find themselves saddled with platforms that are simply not up to the job any more. 

You wouldn’t expect to get much done with a suite of really old PCs, and yet many organisations are using telephony that’s positively ancient in telephony terms: on-premise systems typically last for nine years, but it isn’t uncommon to see systems that are 10 or even 15 years old. That’s an eternity in technological terms. 

As Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise details in its white paper, “Aging communication systems make enterprises vulnerable to security threats and system failures, and often restrict an organisation’s ability to evolve business processes to meet operational requirements and business objectives. Unplanned operational and capital costs continue to increase as these systems remain in service beyond their support contracts and expected life cycle. And when these systems fail, they seriously restrict an organisation’s ability to deal with customers.”

Indeed, system failure - with old technology taking days and weeks to recover - is often the catalyst for businesses to look into new alternatives. However, businesses can avoid this crunch time event by adopting a more evolutionary mindset to track the emerging needs of the organisation continuously.

Older telephony systems don’t fit modern ways of working either. Increasingly, IT teams are expected to support mobile working and employees expect tools such as instant messaging. In addition, business continuity and down-time is less accepted than ever before.

You can muddle on, waiting for something to fail and then enter crisis mode, or you can plan and evolve so that the crisis doesn’t occur in the first place.

There are more direct business benefits as well when you consider the importance of voice services to your customers. We all know it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, and yet we know of one retailer that missed over 30,000 incoming calls in just a few months. 

In some sectors, abandoned call rates exceed 35%. 

Of course, missed calls mean missed opportunities: opportunities to retain customers instead of seeing them leave to do business with your competitors; opportunities to address their concerns so, they’re not furious by the time they speak to someone; opportunities to reinforce your brand values and meet customer expectations.

Not answering customers’ calls is akin to taking the money allocated to your marketing budget and throwing it onto a barbecue, and the bigger you are, the bigger the burn. For example, we know of one major retailer that estimated it was losing £2,000 per week, per site. With 130 sites, this was big money.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could improve your customer service, give your teams better tools to do their jobs, while giving your IT team a telephony system that’s easier to manage, from any location?

All without the need for enormous investment?

Take your telephony to the cloud
This is what hosted voice offers. Hosted voice removes the need for a physical PBX and uses IP-based communications via the cloud. That means it does to communications what cloud computing did to traditional servers and storage. It provides instant access to the resources you need from anywhere you need them, and it’s effortlessly scalable. You can set up an entirely new department in an afternoon, add new employees instantly and scale up or down as demand waxes or wanes. 

Moreover, like cloud computing, Hosted Voice works across a huge range of platforms, pulling together landlines and handsets, smartphones and tablets, PC softphones, and mobile messaging. 

Some examples
One business now operating off a single Hosted Voice platform is Penlon, a medical device manufacturer with a presence in more than 90 countries. As IT Manager Tony Serratore explains: “Our staff are more able than ever to work remotely with more effective communication channels available from any location. Employees have full visibility on the status of their co-workers (available, busy, offline etc.), and can quickly chat to them through individual dialling codes or instant messages.”

At another retail business, employees struggled to answer calls while simultaneously assisting customers in-store. They also had difficulty separating calls about products, opening hours, or from rivals collecting pricing information. In addition, their disparate PBX systems didn’t deliver any consistency to callers. 

Their solution was an auto-attendant to route calls to the appropriate staff or to pre-recorded information about operating hours. 

The overall result was improved reporting around the types of calls coming in, reduced caller wait times, group call handling to improve internal resourcing and team communication,  improved customer service, and reduced costs.

There are five additional benefits around Hosted Voice:

1. In sectors where regulatory compliance is essential, Hosted Voice makes it easier to monitor, record, and store calls. 

2. It delivers exceptional business intelligence, enabling you to see at a glance whether resources could be deployed more effectively and what level of customer service is being delivered. 

3. It means customers get the same professional experience no matter where in the world your employees are, and that your employees get access to the same tools and CRM insights wherever they are. 

4. Hosted Voice can reduce your long-term costs as well, with upgrades and additional features added regularly should you need them in the future.

5. It’s a highly flexible solution. Redeploying resources for new teams or projects is a matter of clicks, not cabling. It is available for office-based and mobile workers, flexible working and remote working. It works across PCs, mobiles, tablets, softphones, and handsets.

More than anything, Hosted Voice can empower the entire organisation. It gives your business the tools you need to deliver an exceptional customer experience and better insights to do more, and do it better.


Key takeaways:

  • In some sectors, abandoned call rates exceed 35%. That’s a lot of unhappy customers.
  • It isn’t uncommon to see telephony systems that are 10 or even 15 years old.
  • Hosted voice uses IP-based communications via the cloud, removing the need for a physical PBX.
  • Older telephony systems don’t fit modern teams and ways of working.
  • Technology has transformed telephony to deliver significant business benefits.

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