Communication has come a long way from the time of smoke signals. What was new yesterday is considered required today. Technology advances are fast and furious and to keep ahead in the business world you must advance along with it, or risk missing out on the new moon.
The speed and effectiveness of your communication infrastructure is vital in today's marketplace, where clients expect instant results. In addition, your ability to virtualize your office is key in a decentralized and mobile environment. Assisting your customers and making them feel serviced is vital in a world where price comparisons can be retrieved in an instant. Service will set you apart. This is where advanced communication technology can help.
The following is an example of how Life Communications LLC assisted a business improve their communications effectiveness, work product and bottom line. Saran Importers Inc. (name has been changed) is an importer of many products, including clothing, undergarments and electronics. They have small offices in California, Michigan and Texas with their headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. The Michigan and Texas offices have two salesmen per location, while the California office has three operations people and one salesman. The Brooklyn headquarters has 10 operations people and three salesmen. For the sake of simplicity, the definition of "operations people" is people who don't travel extensively, while salesmen do.
They had a Lucent Partner system in Brooklyn and small SOHO (Small Office Home Office) Panasonic multi-phones in the remote locations. They communicated with the remote locations by calling them over a regular phone line and with the salesman by office number or cell phones, which they also gave to the clients. Some problems arose from this arrangement. The following are a sample:
- High cost of inter-office communications.
- Multiple places for voice-mail. Hard to manage.
- If the cell phone was dead or otherwise not available the calls went to voicemail or were lost.
- If a salesman was unavailable for extended periods (more than one day) it affected communications with clients.
Life Communications replaced their Lucent system with a customized PC-based advanced phone system. In the remote locations they put Voice Over IP (VOIP) phones that communicated directly with the VoIP phone system over secure private network DSL lines. This enabled the remote offices to have all the advanced features of the main office.
They also setup a feature that enabled the salesman to manage where they can be reached. In doing so, they would be able to give out a single phone number that routed through the phone system. They would direct where the phone would ring or even the order of where they can be reached and the amount of times it would ring by each location. If the call would go to voicemail the voicemail would actually reside on the phone system and a voice file would be emailed to the salesman. Some salesmen chose to have a copy, of the voice file, also emailed to the operations person who handled their accounts.
This solved their problems by doing the following:
- Cut down, drastically, on the cost of inter-office communications. The costs of the DSL lines are marginalized due to their dual-use as data lines. All calls between offices are now as if they are in the same office, they communicate by calling the extension, not an outside number.
- One place for voice-mail, all located on the phone system. Cell phone calls are now called by the phone system and if the salesman is unavailable it puts it in the internal voice-mail. This allows for easier voice-mail management.
- Due to the advanced routing feature, calls can ring by multiple places to reach a person who can help the client.
- When salesmen are now unavailable the calls can be automatically rerouted to another salesman who can help.
- All calls, in all offices, can now be managed and kept track of. Client communications can be more effectively handled.
This is just a small sample of the improvements made to the business process. Another advantage to the VoIP system is; as new features, and advancements, come out they can be integrated into Saran's current platform. Expandability is also part and parcel of this VoIP experience; the system can grow as Saran grows.
Cy Yablonsky is a realtor associate at Othello Realty,www.OthelloRealty.com. Cy has an extensive background in technology and communications and applies that to the real estate market. Feel free to reprint this article as long as all links stay live and no changes are made.