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Cloud-based unified communications a must for future workforce productivity

Johannesburg, 06 Sep 2021
Read time 3min 20sec
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Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic many businesses are still battling to adapt to what is euphemistically referred to as the “new normal” – an almost all or partially remote hybrid workforce.

Tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom have gone a long way to support the new work-from-anywhere requirements insofar as meetings are concerned. However, one of the greatest challenges businesses face is ensuring that employees are contactable easily, regardless of whether they are at their desk in the office, on the road, or working from home.

This situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. There is a growing body of research that indicates working remotely for at least part of the week is rapidly becoming the preferred workplace model for many previously office-bound employees.

According to Tanya Oosthuizen, CEO at telecommunications service provider VL Telecom, small and medium-sized enterprises in particular – those without dedicated call centres – have found it particularly difficult to remain accessible to customers at all times throughout the pandemic.

“Fortunately, next-generation unified communications platforms and cloud PBX solutions such as VL Telecom's Business Talk offer an affordable, easy-to-use solution,” she says.

Once a Business Talk solution has been implemented, anyone needing to contact the company simply calls a single virtual landline number, which can be located in any of 65 countries worldwide. Employees can take the call in the office using their desk phone, or on their mobile phone anywhere in the world, provided they have a good network signal.

“The importance of a landline number can’t be emphasised enough,” Oosthuizen says, pointing out that 77% of customers are more likely to contact a business that has a landline advertised as it creates a perception that the business is stable and reliable.

In addition, VL Telecom's cloud-based Business Talk solution, which allows businesses to retain their existing landline number, has been shown to save between half to three-quarters on their monthly phone bills after they switch to a virtual landline.

However, VL Telecom’s Business Talk with its web, mobile and desktop integration, delivers far more than a convenient, affordable voice calling solution. It is a true unified communications solution delivering high-quality audio and video calling as well as messaging; group chats; file, media and location sharing; screen sharing; conference calling; and shared company contacts.

It also offers a host of additional productivity-enhancing features including:

  • Voicemails sent to specified e-mail addresses, enabling fast responses to callers;
  • Unlimited call recording with recorded calls being able to be listened to immediately or downloaded for later listening;
  • A customisable, interactive voice menu, which directs calls to different numbers based on their selection;
  • Professional greetings that can be created by online voice recording or by using a text-to-speech facility;
  • The ability to route calls differently based on the day and time of the call;
  • Video call and conference call capability; and
  • Connection of all branches worldwide to the phone system with every staff member contactable using their personal extension number regardless of their location.

“What’s really important for cash-strapped businesses that want a professional phone system is that because our solution is cloud-based, there’s no need to invest in expensive hardware,” Oosthuizen says.

The system can also be enhanced with a range of professional add-ons and integrated services. These include professional voice-over artists to enable a company to leave the best first impression to callers; Zapier integration to use and automate workflows across processes; API integration; Microsoft 365 integration; and Truecaller verification that helps to boost call pick-up rates. 

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