2020 has been one of the most challenging times for modern businesses. Now, Europe is in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19. England, France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, and Ireland have all entered full lockdown mode. The time to act is now. In this blog, we have outlined some practical ways businesses equip their daily communications in these uncertain times to help you get prepared for the second lockdown.
The past few months have taught us that whether to have an agile communications solution is something that can fundamentally make or break your business. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many businesses, which used to be restricted to traditional landlines, have upgraded to VoIP phone systems to facilitate a teleworking environment. Some might just want to take temporary measures in the first place, but with remote working becoming the new normal, legacy phone systems are nowhere near enough to support the daily communication requirements of modern businesses.
In a BCG survey, 75% of executives agreed that they regard digital transformation as becoming more urgent in light of the COVID-19 crisis, and 65% said that they anticipate increasing their investments in digital transformation. VoIP is a must-have tool for working from home and also a major step towards digital transformation.
Businesses are rethinking how they stay connected
Remote working solutions are not one-size-fits-all. Every business has its own unique needs. Here are 4 typical ways to connect your remote-based employees and customers.
#1 Let Employees Take Desk Phones Home
Taking desk phones home is a straightforward way to retain inter-office communication functionality. Because the VoIP phone system transmits voice data over the internet, rather than traditional landlines, it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Under this circumstance, businesses will require a VPN connection within their corporate network and have desk phones re-configured so that employees can plug and play their desk phones at home directly. VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows your staff to securely connect to your office through an encrypted tunnel from their desk phones.
Alternatively, instead of establishing a VPN connection, you can also configure NAT settings and port forwarding to register a desk phone as a remote extension to the PBX. NAT (Network Access Translation) is a technology used in routers that transform the private IP address to the public IP address, and vice versa, helping to connect the private and public network together, while port forwarding (also known as port mapping) allows your endpoints to connect to a private network. However, this way may raise more security risks compared to VPN.
#2 Adopt a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Policy
According to PC Matic’s research on COVID-19 Work from Home Trend, 61% of remote employees were using personal devices as their primary method to access company networks. Without bringing desk phones home, you can also take your own mobile phones and desktops to make and receive business calls with your office number by installing a softphone app. Besides that, all the features that you have on desk phones to manage calls effectively, such as transfer, hold, mute, and record, are now accessible in the form of an app. Some softphones also work more like unified communications platforms and come with collaboration features to improve productivity, making it more powerful than desk phones.
Leading VoIP phone system providers often natively provide softphones to ensure the best compatibility, extensive functionality, and a seamless user experience, while there are also third-party softphones available on the market. As with desk phones, it is also a necessity to consider how to connect to the corporate network when equipping your staff with softphones.
Linkus UC Softphone & Linkus Cloud Service
Linkus is a unified communications app for Windows desktops, Mac desktops, iPhones, and Android phones. Designed for Yeastar PBX System, it transforms user devices into fully-featured office extensions, provides a convenient call experience, and offers powerful UC features like presence, instant messaging, CRM integration, etc.
Better yet, for Yeastar on-premises PBX users, Linkus Cloud Service, an application-level tunneling service, eliminates the troublesome of port forwarding & insecure network settings when using Linkus outside of the company network and makes Linkus configuration a breeze.
#3 Businesses are Opting for Cloud Phone Systems
The cloud-based phone system has become one of the vital lifelines of business continuity. Cloud adoption was highlighted in a new survey by Centrify which revealed that 48% of enterprises accelerated cloud migration plans to support remote working.
While an on-premises phone system requires VPN or NAT configurations to let remote desk phones and softphones access the corporate network, cloud-based service work regardless of what network you are on. Especially helpful for times of emergency like the past months, many businesses opt for cloud phone systems because they can be up and running quickly.
Other benefits of cloud phone systems include:
- Reduced upfront investments and maintenance costs
- Little technical expertise and administrative requirements
- Quick installation and flexibility to adapt to changing needs instantly, and more
Either cloud-based or on-premises, a VoIP phone system is capable of supporting the remote workforce, whereas each may be a better option for specific communications requirements. Check the blog below to see what you need to factor in when it comes to the choice.
#4 Collaborate Virtually and Stay Engaged
The adoption of collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, has surged in response to the pandemic. In late October, Microsoft just announced that Teams had reached 115 million daily active users.
However, these collaboration tools all have an Achilles’ heel when it comes to telephony. Though they may offer telephony capabilities, they are not suitable for all organizations and fall short in different aspects. For example, Microsoft’s Calling Plans are provided to limited countries, with limited basic call features, and existing phone lines cannot be supported. Fortunately, these gaps can benefit from further VoIP integration.
Yeastar for Microsoft Teams Integration
Using direct routing technology, Yeastar PBX System can fully integrate with Microsoft Teams to enable Teams users to make and receive internal and external calls directly on the Teams App and enjoy a variety of advanced calling features. You can also bring your existing phone number and any SIP endpoints to MS Teams to keep business running uninterruptedly.
9 ways to relieve home office communications pains
1) Set up IVR as your always-on 24/7 receptionist.
If there are any changes in your customer services during the pandemic, simply record and upload an announcement to inform your callers in time. IVR keeps business professionalism and customer satisfaction unaffected.
2) Initiate an ad hoc conference to bring everyone together.
Some softphones, such as Linkus, allow you to host ad hoc conference calls right on your mobile phone and invite others to join. Linkus will make calls to prompt them immediately, and they can simply pick up the call to participate.
3) Send voice messages to your mailbox
On the new P-Series PBX System, you can even customize voicemail greetings under different presence status, customize how to be notified when receiving a voicemail, and flexibly choose how to handle it upon the notification.
4) View the full corporate directory and colleagues’ availability.
Besides signaling your presence, on the new P-Series PBX System, you can take advantage of even richer presence status, use temporary settings to cope with more scenarios, and switch agent status automatically.
5) Use call recording to keep track of remote employee performance.
Call recording is critical for quality assurance when managing a dispersed workforce. Supervisors often set it up to evaluate employee performance, improve customer experience, dispute resolution, and identify training needs.
6) Start a chat or group with colleagues instantly.
Instant messaging helps improve team collaboration when working from home. When it is not convenient for you to make calls, it offers another option to supplement and ensure unbroken communications and you can even share files during the conversation.
7) Increase efficiency and productivity with out-of-box CRM integrations.
VoIP and CRM integration enables incoming calls to be automatically matched to your CRM records, proving contexts, and customer profiles for you to better allocate customer needs and offer personalized services.
Related: Yeastar and Zoho Integration
8) Monitor & Reports is especially important for managing remote call centers.
Call centers also need to support agents working from any location. Besides expanding capacity to handle increased demands, full supervision, and reporting capabilities are of the most significant as well. Yeastar provides an economical call center solution with SLA for quality assurance, wallboard for real-time monitoring, and detailed statistical reports for multi-dimension performance measurement.
9) Meet face-to-face with video conferencing.
The past months also witnesses a great video conferencing boom. Zoom had over 300 million meeting participants per day in 2020. (Source) Some VoIP phone systems also have built-in web conferencing solutions to deliver a more seamless and user-friendly communications experience. Yeastar P-Series PBX System will also introduce web conferencing in around 2 months. Stay tuned!
The shift to remote working is likely to become more permanent. COVID-19 has proved a catalyst to embrace a new approach to work and tomorrow is going to be very different. It is time to reimagine and future-proof your digital workplace now.
If you need further help or more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us or refer to our remote working toolkit to explore more resources on unifying the workforce and facilitating a digital workplace.