When it comes to UC platforms, generally the features and functionality that get the most attention are the flashier ones. Vonage, for example, offers an application called IceBreaker, where sales teams can send automated messages to prospective clients and sync it with their cloud-based calendar app and contact info. These capabilities give organizations an automated and streamlined way to send a quick intro message to customers to ‘break the ice.’ Whether you’re a contact center, an SMB, or an enterprise, these are the features that generally get business users excited. These ‘cool factor’ UC features are made possible by integrations that tie unified communication systems to business-grade applications like CRM, collaboration, and business productivity applications. By integrating UC platforms with critical everyday business processes, teams can automate and streamline workflows to work smarter and improve customer experiences at all levels. Let’s take a closer look at how integrations built between UC platforms and business applications can be a game changer.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems – When a sales professional can immediately know who’s calling and why they can make better decisions and have more meaningful conversations with customers right off the bat. By integrating a cloud-based phone system with a CRM application like Salesforce or Zoho, sales or customer service reps can see who’s calling, automatically log incoming and outgoing calls into the CRM application, create contacts and cases, capture call notes, and tag them directly to the caller or lead. This integration also allows for a handy click-to-call feature, keeping sales rep in their CRM software even when making calls. These features can also be used in conjunction with interactive voice response (IVR) systems, where callers ‘touch or say 1 for payments,’ for example. These systems transfer calls if needed directly to an agent, providing better service and giving the representative the information they need to support the caller. By streamlining how customer service or sales team interact with their CRM and communication tools, they’ll spend less time clicking through different applications and updating disparate systems, leaving more time to deliver excellent service.
- Business productivity and collaboration tools – Business productivity tools like Office 365 or Google’s G Suite are fundamental to most business operations today. They drive efficient communication and coordination with email, chat, document and spreadsheet sharing, and calendar functions. Integrations between UC platforms and productivity tools like these can help organizations create a very user-friendly and productive always-on ‘workstations’ for employees. For instance, a sales rep traveling could use Google Apps for Work on their smartphone and a CRM application like Zoho to easily capture client interactions on the road. Using an integrated cloud-hosted UC platform they can also make and log all calls directly from a smartphone, either running on a cellular voice connection or data plan.
- New UC APIs extend the functionality of business applications too – Several UC and UcaaS providers are also enabling partners to incorporate useful UC communication features into their products through Application Programming Interface (API) platforms. Innovative APIs like Vonage’s Nexmo API Platform allows businesses to connect to different business apps for marketing, sales, customer service, customer engagement or back-office automation. These APIs are valuable because they allow businesses to establish customized business automation workflows, without having to build and manage code from scratch. This functionality might enable a customer to tie SMS capabilities into their eCommerce platform like Magento. Using an API a business can set up a workflow where a customer receives an automatic SMS order notification once an order is placed, for example. Other examples might include notifying a sales representative when a new opportunity is created within the Microsoft Dynamics platform. These APIs are innovative because they allow even non-technical business, like a flower shop, winery, or local pizza joint, to adopt high-tech communication and marketing strategies. In doing so, these businesses can engage with customers in more innovative and customized ways to drive sales and develop deeper relationships.
While unified communications platforms are valuable on their own, those that integrate tightly with business-class applications have the biggest potential to drive productivity and ROI. Pre-built integrations take much of the development burden off customers and internal teams, allowing companies to zero-in on business goals and enhance communications and marketing efforts.