The potential value that Unified Communications can have for your business is largely dependent on how much effort you put into planning for it. I’m speaking here primarily to IT, who will be the prime influencer for the decision to invest in UC. You can certainly advocate for UC on its cost savings potential, but by now you know there’s more to the value proposition.
In earlier posts, I have written about what that “more” is, with the highest order payoff being CEBP – communications enabled business processes. Not every business may be willing or able to pursue that goal, at least for now. CEBP is complex and generally delivers the most for large enterprises, but as UC becomes more standardized as a solution, vendors will look for ways to make CEBP practical for smaller scale environments.
Regardless of how well your current – or prospective UC vendor can address CEBP, you should at least be aware of its potential. You need a high functioning UC solution first, and it just may be too soon to expect meaningful results from CEBP. In principal, however, you want to identify internal processes that could be more efficient and yield more value if they were integrated with communications applications. In my last post, I touched on this when discussing ways you can start looking for indications that existing communications tools are not serving the needs of the business.
One of these areas was inefficient workflows, and while this may be the most challenging nut to crack, it often speaks to root causes that have a ripple effect throughout your business. Since this is outside the typical domain of IT, you must first think about how much you want to get involved. This takes us back to the opening sentence above – if you really want to own UC and elevate IT to a more strategic, visionary role, CEBP needs to be central to your UC plans.
Stepping beyond your comfort zone isn’t easy, but neither is CEBP. If nobody else is talking about this in your company, UC can provide IT with a first-mover advantage. I don’t have a magic formula to follow, but here are three common scenarios to get started with where workflow inefficiencies are very likely.
Scenario #1 – adding new customers
Every business needs new customers, and making a good first impression with them is critical. Think about all the different departments and processes that kick in when adding new customers to your systems. Now think about how valued the customer feels when you can welcome them quickly to your fold – with accurate profile information, no duplication of messages, using the communications tools/modes of their choice, focused only on relevant offerings, etc. I’m sure you have a good sense of how this would unfold in your company, and by thinking about the desired result here with new customers, you can work backwards to identify where processes have been breaking down.
Scenario #2 – customer notifications
Once you acquire new customers, the next challenge is to keep them. Customer retention is a topic unto itself, and I’m just touching on a small piece here – routine notifications. Examples include subscription renewals, news about new offerings, special promotions, price changes, updated business policies, etc. As with the above scenario, there is a high likelihood of duplicated communication to the customer, which can drive business away if chronic. Furthermore, these tasks are often done manually, and CEBP is specifically designed to automate steps using UC applications. Again, the end result drives the solution. In this case, you want to manage notifications according to customer preferences, and with so much of this being about efficient communications, UC offers tangible value here.
Scenario #3 – product launches
Aside from adding customers, you need new products/services to grow the business. The needs vary by type of business, but the overall process for launching something new to market requires a great deal of coordination. In most cases, this involves input from marketing, sales, advertising, distribution, social media/PR, event planning, design/R&D, legal, contact center/customer care, etc. Launches rarely go to plan given all the moving parts, and undoubtedly there are places where better communications tools will make for better workflows. Some launches are bigger than others, but not matter how great the new product/service is, the impact can be ruined by leaky processes.
Even if you’re nodding your head to just one of these examples, the potential value of CEBP should be clear. It’s really up to you as to how far you want to take this, and hopefully I have you thinking more now along these lines. Can you think of other situations in your company where CEBP could make a difference? I’d love to hear about it, and would be happy expand on your example in a future post.