There are so many different ways to communicate with partners, customers and co-workers – by phone, e-mail, instant messaging, fax, video conferencing and social media. Managing each system separately is not only inefficient, but can cause conflicts considering that they all use the same underlying technology – the Internet.
Instead, establishing a single system to manage all digital means of communication allows for a single management interface, as well as integrated archiving and backups.
Most importantly, with unified communications (UC), users get a single interface to access all messages and manage all communication. They can hear voicemails, answer e-mails, post Twitter or Facebook entries, send and receive faxes, and engage in point-to-point video conferencing from an single application, whether in the office or on the road.
“By choosing the right technology, companies are better able to grow their business by meeting the ever changing needs of their customers,” says Craig McLeod, communications manager at Clarotech Consulting.
But finding the right UC solution can be a daunting task.
“There are many factors to weigh in the decision,” says McLeod. “Operational costs are increasing and profitability is decreasing rapidly in the differentiating competitive conditions of today’s business life. According to research conducted by Gartner, approximately 85% of the income of a business is spent on operational costs, and only 4% of these expenses are used for IT investments.
“However, operational costs are decreased substantially as the IT expenses are increased. With UC, voice, image and data communications performed in different mediums are performed together in a single structure, using similar interfaces. User experience becomes simpler and more consistent thanks to the use of these interfaces.”
For this reason, Clarotech, a leading provider of Asterisk PBX support and solutions with installations at SMEs, corporates and dedicated call centres throughout Africa, partners with Miro to bring its clients the Switchvox solution.
Switchvox is a UC system that integrates all office communications, including phone, fax, chat and Web mash-ups. McLeod explains that Miro’s levels of customer service, together with its passionate support of VoIP technology, are the foundations on which the relationship between the two companies has been forged.
“Our longstanding partnership with Miro is based on the mutual value we have for excellent customer service and high quality solutions. Switchvox is a best-of-breed technology backed by Miro’s fantastic service.”
Switchvox is a VoIP PBX system for businesses of all sizes, administered through an easy to use Web-based user interface rather than the raw configuration files and custom scripts of Asterisk.
“It includes all of the standard features of a phone system plus UC capabilities like advanced voice messaging, instant messaging, desktop fax, drag/drop call control, and advanced IVR,” says Riandi van Niekerk, marketing manager at Miro. “Switchvox is a feature rich business phone system that is affordable and incredibly easy to use.”
McLeod explains that Switchvox provides an all-in-one solution. Clarotech recently implemented a Switchvox solution supporting a company with four geographical locations in South Africa with a collective amount of 200 users, with a capacity of roughly 120 concurrent calls collectively.
In addition, Clarotech is currently assisting the roll out of Switchvox for 10 locations around the world, benefiting from free inter-branch calls and intelligent call routing for all countries.
“For example, if a user in South Africa wants to dial the USA, or Kenya, or any of the other countries in this initiative, the Switchvox device will pass the call over their locally administered WAN to the Switchvox device in the USA and break out locally, therefore only incurring the local cost of the call,” says McLeod.
“The Switchvox solution has allowed our customer to not only improve the quality and speed with which the UC system deals with queries, but has enabled them to leverage their customer contact to provide a strategic advantage that differentiates them from competitors,” McLeod says.
“For example, when calls into sales and customer service queues are answered, the system interrogates the caller ID in the customer’s database, and all order records from that customer are automatically displayed on the system monitor, making the call productive for both parties. Individual employees benefit from intuitive, user friendly control panels.
“They can manage their voicemail easily; call numbers displayed in their Web browser, and set their own hunt groups and find-me follow-me rules – all without IT involvement. The Switchvox system has provided a reliable system that has reduced IT support levels, improved employee productivity, and provided better service to our client’s customers.”