VoIP – As a Collaboration Tool

A VoIP phone system can be far more than a simple telephone answering system. As a business owner, have you ever wished that your customers’ could call up and ask questions of Customer Care or seek help from Technical Support, without perhaps calling you first? Well that option was usually well beyond the means of the SMB, even the larger companies would struggle to afford such an extravagance.  However, it is not necessarily so with VoIP, because a customer’s call can be intercepted and diverted to the correct individual – the one with the answers. This is because just like with the hosted call answering services we can answer a customer’s call, and present an IVR menu and then intelligently forward the call to the most appropriate individual.

Then again, how about collaboration, now your sales team or technicians can integrate and chat live over the VoIP network to check facts or exchange information. Furthermore, the Call Center you always wanted can be on one call dealing with a Customers issue whilst at the same time interrogating a FAQ online database or on chat with a Technical Support agent.

Having Call Centre and technical Support collaboration is easy due to the many available VoIP applications, such as Skype being easily integrated with hosted and premises VoIP solutions as they share the same protocols.

Additionally, staff members of the Customer Care or Technical Support teams may well be telecommuters, yet the supervisor or manager can still monitor and manage their performance live. They can see live the interaction of the agent with the customer and manage their agent’s performance in real time.

However, in terms of collaboration the ability now to integrate IP and data over the same network allows for real sharing of work. After all now chat, email, video and instant messaging can be sent from a plethora of devices and shared between co-workers.

What is more, it is not just inter-device messaging or text swapping, that is the goal, as there are shared desktop and white boards, which lends itself to interactive meetings and presentations.

So, what are the main features of a collaboration available in most VoIP solutions?

  1. Video conferencing and collaboration are becoming the norm
  2. An individual can participate from any device, a smartphone, tablet or laptop with high quality video and audio
  3. Share presentations, pictures and files with other delegates
  4. Share a desktop from any device allows for remote mentoring and training
  5. Share a whiteboard that provides a basis for colleagues interaction and brainstorming sessions

As we have seen VoIP solutions have many built in or available features that can facilitate collaboration. This could be simply between remote located co-workers, or by providing call and video conferencing facilities for clients and employees, or even by providing full Call Centre features.

The specific features we look for when considering a collaboration centric solution are:

1)      Employee presence – this will display an icon to show the employee’s status, similar to Skype or Messenger.
2)      Inbuilt Chat – This enables concurrent calls and messaging, which will be transparent to the customer.
3)      Drag and Drop – The facility to answer a call, transfer a call, join a conference, place a call on hold, park, or send to voicemail all through a mouse click.
4)      Voicemail to eMail – The ability to read voicemail sent to email.
5)      Screen Share – A facility to share a screen with co-workers or customers.
6)      Mobility support – support for mobile devices

Most if not all of these features are typically available, but as options. When planning your VoIP solution it would be wise to consider and price these optional features as they can bring real value and convenience to the business as well as portray the company in a professional light. Collaboration may well not be for everyone, but for some companies with remote workers and long distance clients, then it can be a real boon.

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