The holiday shopping season traditionally is the time of year when most people give or get a new phone or tablet. So if your company has a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, expect an influx of new devices in January. Or maybe your organization is looking at BlackBerry’s uncertainty or iOS 7’s debut as reasons to start the new year with a new platform.
Both changes are ideal opportunities to ensure that employee smartphones and tablets are stocked with apps that maximize productivity and responsiveness to customers. One place to start is by assessing apps that are linked to cloud-based services, which make it easy for employees to access and sync documents from a variety of devices: smartphones and tablets when they’re on the road, PCs in the office and laptops at home.
Cloud apps can benefit your bottom line by eliminating the productivity waste that occurs when employees need something but can’t get to it because, for example, it’s sitting on their office PC. If that something is customer-related, then cloud apps also can increase sales and customer satisfaction when they enable employees to respond faster than if they had to respond, “Let me get back to you.”
Another type of cloud app provides access to services, with similar productivity and responsiveness benefits. A prime example is enterprise-class VoIP services, where the app takes formerly office-bound PBX features such as presence, conferencing, extension dialing and call screening, and extends them to smartphones and tablets. Different mobile VoIP apps have different features, but here are a few common bottom-line benefits:
- Less phone tag. When customers and colleagues can call an employee’s office number and have it ring their smartphone’s VoIP app simultaneously, phone tag plummets. After all, employees typically carry their phone everywhere, even at home, especially in the case of BYOD.
Suppose that your average employee salary is $50,000 and that they each spend 15 minutes per day listening and responding to voice mail. If the VoIP app cuts that to zero minutes, it’s a weekly savings of $30 per employee. If an organization has, say, 50 employees who spend most of their day outside of the office, that’s $78,000 of additional productivity per year.
Is zero minutes unrealistic? Not necessarily, even for employees who spend so much of their day on the phone that it’s inevitable that some calls will go to voice mail. If the VoIP app includes voice mail transcription, it eliminates the time spent dialing into voice mail, listening and taking notes. Instead, employees can skim the transcript and immediately act on it, whether that’s responding via email, SMS or with a call, or by doing whatever the caller asked, such as ordering a part.
- Greater reachability. When your employees make their mobile number publicly available, such as on their business card, customers often call that number first if they believe that calling the office number will mean being put on hold or getting voice mail. That can mean big cellular bills and wasted productivity. VoIP provides a cost-effective alternative: Customers get a single office number to call, and it rings both the deskphone and the mobile phone. Just as important, when employees make calls from the VoIP app, it shows up as their office number on the other person’s caller ID, thus avoiding the problem of that person now having the employee’s mobile number.
Some VoIP services also provide the option of having several numbers associated with an app. For example, an architect could provide each major client with its own unique number. By making it easier for key customers to reach the right person right away, it also creates a sense of white-glove treatment.
- More sales opportunities. When existing and potential customers can reach your employees right away, there’s much less chance that you’ll miss out on a sale.
- Lower overhead costs. How many of your employees really need a deskphone? For those who don’t, a VoIP app eliminates the phone’s upfront expense, plus the monthly cost of service.
Just as important, those savings aren’t outweighed by big cellular bills because the app can use Wi-Fi in the office. If the app supports seamless, automatic call handoffs between Wi-Fi and cellular, then there’s additional savings when, for example, an employee who started a call while driving continues it after entering the office. A VoIP app can minimize cellular bills, too. For example, instead of using cellular to make calls from a hotel room or airport lounge, employees can use the VoIP app over Wi-Fi.
There’s another reason why the end of the year is the ideal time to rethink your mobile strategy: budgets. By taking advantage of cloud-based apps for VoIP and other tasks now, SMBs can free up room in their 2014 budgets to develop new revenue-generating products and services.