Unified Communications and Collaboration Tools: Preventing 'Human Latency'

Remember the days when getting in touch with a specific colleague or vendor could be the hardest part of completing a task? If so, you've probably been working long enough to remember the world before unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) tools. Now that you have such effective communication tools at your disposal, you must undoubtedly understand, in full detail, how "human latency" is much more than a buzzword.

A woman using a laptop computer, talking on a mobile phone.
Unified communications and collaboration tools let customers and employees connect and save time.

Of course, people are still the lifeblood of any organization, a fact that will hold true until the last job's been automated and handed over to the machines. Provided the solution is tailored to the organization's specific needs, UC&C tools can vastly improve the processes these people carry out by streamlining and automating tasks generally considered to be labor- and time-intensive. Do it right, and working with colleagues, partners, vendors, and customers get a lot easier, even as it becomes faster to carry out. To that end, the following are just a few ways UC&C tools can revolutionize business processes, broken down by relationship:

Internal Communications

As noted by B2B software company Tibco, the insurance industry provides an excellent case study for the benefits of an intelligently applied UC&C solution. It's a heady line of work that requires labor and expertise from numerous individual skill sets. In addition, even easy customer interactions can require expertise that comes from multiple people in multiple roles, given the complex suite of products and services insurance organizations provide.

If anything, this complexity makes UC&C's benefits to the industry easy to pinpoint. When an insurance organization unifies its communications — particularly with presence tools, which allow employees to quickly find specific colleagues and discern their availability — it cuts human latency from core processes. This makes underwriting, claims, customer service, and mostly every other aspect of the business more productive and efficient.

For example, say a contact center rep needs to get in touch with an underwriter and then speak to a specific claims specialist working on a customer's case. By building UC&C capabilities into the systems these professionals use, the insurance company turns basic communication into a unified process. Seeing that a rep is available from the underwriting system, the customer service rep can place a quick Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) call to a general line, then send an urgent-flagged message to the currently unavailable claims expert. The message automatically pings the claims rep's phone, tablet, laptop, and PC, he responds, and voila! The issue is on its way to resolution, with no need to chase down an employee who could be in the field, at home, or in the office.

Vendor and Business Partner Communications

In some ways, the need for UC&C tools with vendors and business partners rests between internal and customer-focused communications. Though the partnering organizations don't operate under the same proverbial roof, companies today work closely enough with their partners that near-constant communication can be downright imperative.

As an increasingly common backbone for UC&C tools, cloud technology can help bridge this gap. Indeed, the cloud's natural strengths (think portability and ease of access) are perfectly aligned with the average business' communication needs.

Here, collaboration naturally takes the spotlight. If a business is reaching out to a partner, after all, it's likely to carry out some shared task. Involving the cloud in the collaborative process allows for a consistent workspace across businesses and individual end-user platforms. Compared to the human latency that comes with, say, sharing a document back and forth across email — a process that also invites all sorts of human and technical error to befall the work — being able to invite a specific employee within a partnering organization to view and revise a document from any device or location is a truly attractive alternative.

Customer Communications

If constant collaboration's the name of the game with businesses and their partners, constant communication is the key to a healthy relationship with clientele. Customer expectations have turned the modern call center into the contact center, and businesses would be well-advised to study the difference between the two.

Turning back to the insurance example, CustomerThink's take on skill-based presence illustrates the ways UC&C can remove human latency from complex interactions. The contact center rep searching for that elusive claims expert can directly connect a concerned patron to the person he or she needs to talk to. They can just as easily make scheduling callbacks a concrete affair with UC tools, taking the experience from "we'll call you back soon" to "[insert rep's name] will call you back at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday." Used in conjunction with customer relationship management (CRM) tools, the rep can take things even further by instantly emailing (or texting) a confirmation of the meeting date to the email address on file.

Instead of the customer and organization wasting time, unified communications and collaboration tools create a continuum of contact between an organization's clientele, initial points of contact, and the employees they'll eventually need to talk to. The same idea applies anywhere human latency can break the intricate dependencies between communication and productivity, making communication a top priority for modernization in almost any business setting.

Let Vonage Business remove human latency from your critical processes with its suite of unified communications and collaboration tools.

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