A second wave of the Coronavirus is here and is continuing to escalate with over 218,000 new daily cases in the United States on December 9th alone. In the last two weeks, over 2.6 million new cases have been reported in the United States.
Having a clear, well-defined communications plan to prepare for ‘unknowns’, including inclement weather and a second business lockdown is not just recommended- it’s essential. These five steps will ensure your business has the communications it needs to not only survive, but to thrive in the coming months.
The question of how to prepare for unknowns, including a second—and potentially longer—lockdown, points to one key item:
Communication during a business lockdown means more than scrambling to patch up holes as you find them. It means building a comprehensive solution that addresses the unique challenges of a lockdown, both for your clients and for your team. People need to be in touch. They need to talk to each other, share thoughts, and see each other. It’s important to see facial expressions, read body language, and build personal connections, even when you’re connecting online.
You can’t afford to get it wrong; but getting it right means your business will thrive during a second wave of the coronavirus, and well into the future.
Here are 5 steps your business needs to follow to prepare for the second lockdown.
1. Invest in Communications
The ability to communicate with employees, vendors, and clients anywhere at any time has become the new standard of business communications. But what is the big picture? Simply providing different ways to get in touch is not enough.
- Integration: Various channels of communication should be part of a single business phone system. Team members should be able to switch from a standard voice phone call to video and screen sharing with just a few clicks. The communications experience should be seamless.
- Quality & Security: Using piece-meal solution of random apps and older digital phone system technology can put your business at an elevated risk for Call Hacking, Ransomware, and the like. Using an integrated communications solution, like ACC Telecom’s 3CX or Hosted PBX solutions, offers real-time security monitoring, anti-hacking prevention, and global IP block lists.
- Scalability: Whether you need to increase or decrease PBX users, your phone system should be scalable– whenever you need to be. ACC Telecom’s 3CX business phone system solution offers unlimited extensions for no extra cost, and ACC’s Hosted Cloud phone system can scale up and down, on demand, as your business grows or declines during and after corona.
Your communications solution must offer unified features to maintain a professional image, boost quality & reliability, and ensure state-of-the-art security measures. It must provide all of the tools your team needs—without having to spend time searching for free online tools just to get through a second lockdown, or extended periods of inclement weather.
More importantly, it conveys professionalism, while maintaining productivity, without a huge financial impact to your business.
2. Establish Multi-Channel Communication for Clients
A one-size-fits-all approach does not and should not be used for client communications. What type of communication methods do your clients prefer? Do they prefer to reach you by phone or text message? Or maybe they prefer utilizing online chat options or messaging you via Facebook. Do their preferences change during a lockdown while remote working? Our VoIP phone systems integrate all of these options under one solution rather than piecing together third-party applications.
- Live, Integrated Chat: 3CX’s live chat provides customers an easy way to contact you from your website. With 3CX, chat messages can be elevated to a phone call or video chat.
- Business SMS Text Messaging: Text messaging to and from business phone numbers is finally here. Create a sticky customer experience by allowing clients to conveniently text you their questions.
- Facebook Messenger: Respond to Facebook messages in real-time directly from the 3CX mobile app or web client. You can even setup queue-based groups to handle messages and archive messages centrally.
3. Provide Easy Communications & Collaboration for Your Team
Best practices for team & client communications include deploying remote working tools and mobile applications. Below are suggested channels of communication to have ready incase you need to implement them quickly– as in the case of another lockdown.
- Web/Softphones: Make and receive calls directly from your computer. Transfer calls to colleague’s extensions, check voicemail, and more from your computer, anywhere at any time so long as you have internet access.
- Web-based Clients: Take your softphone a step further with a personal web client for each user. View colleague’s presence status, update your away messages, read your voicemails with voicemail transcription, and even change your own phone’s button mapping.
- Mobile Apps: Your VoIP phone system should include a mobile app so you can make and receive calls, transfer calls to extensions, check voicemail, and more anywhere, at any time.
- Video Calls & Conferencing: Host virtual meetings, trainings, classes, and more using integrated video collaboration tools.
With the possibility of another lockdown looming over businesses, remote working tools will keep your workforce on-time, on track, and productive. A good communications system should offer all of these tools so they are built into the platform and work seamlessly as one, robust unified communications system.
4. Manage Communications Effectively
VoIP business phone systems offer more than just the ability to make and receive calls. Accessing call reports and utilizing the data that is at your fingertips will ensure you are achieving your goals.
- Reports: Do you have access to data showing the effectiveness of your communications? Your communications system should provide a good overview on concurrent call path usage, extension activity, call lengths and SLA compliance, just to name a few.
- Training: Training new call center agents during a lockdown or even moving agents to remote environments can be challenging! With 3CX’s native call center features, managers can whisper, barge, and take over agent conversations and website chat messages.
- Supervision: Managers can communicate effectively using video conferencing, but also with internal chat. Start a group chat, share files, archive messages, and use emojis for efficient communications.
5. Keep Costs Down– Without Cutting Corners
Deploying a super-charged communications and collaboration suite for your employees is an amazing idea, but it could be costly if you are not deploying the right solution. Businesses can actually save money while being better prepared for the second wave of COVID by following these tips.
- Annual rates vs Monthly rates: Monthly rates look attractive on paper but as you add users that cost can skyrocket. Annual flat rates can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
- Simultaneous Call Pricing vs Per-User Pricing: Paying by concurrent calls, versus a per-user call pricing model will offer significant savings. For example, if you need 50 extensions for 50 users, but only use 8 lines at once, then this pricing structure is far more appealing then paying upwards of $25 per user- that’s $1250 per month vs an estimated $652 per year. Huge difference!
- Straight Forward Choices: Pricing structures shouldn’t be complex. A simplified pricing model that offers an all-encompassing user and feature model with monthly or annual pricing is ideal for maximum cost savings. To view an example of an all-encompassing pricing model, visit www.acctelecom.com to view 3CX’s unique annual pricing structure.
- Choice of SIP Trunk: Offering two (2) SIP Trunk carriers and (4) Hosted-VoIP-Cloud phone systems solutions, ACC Telecom has powerful, yet affordable, VoIP solutions for any type and size of business.
By having multiple VoIP system options and allowing a professional telecommunications company to guide you to the right solution for your business, your team will be better equipped to handle uncertainty surrounding potential future ‘unknowns.’
Our systems are highly secure and offer real-time monitoring of SIP Trunks, hacking attempts, CPU Usage and the overall health of your business communications system.
The pandemic crisis of 2020 is certainly a difficult time, but there can be wins in it for your business. By committing to offer remote working solutions to your team, you are delivering the biggest win of all to clients and employees so everyone can stay safe, while still delivering stellar customer service.
Remote working has measurable results and experts have identified these key benefits:
• Cost savings
• Higher productivity from workers
• Better for the environment
• Employees are sick less often
• Employee engagement is at an all-time high.
The length of a second lockdown period is not something you can control, but you can control the impact it has on your company.
Are You Prepared for the Second Wave?
The above considerations are growing in importance, so preparing for a secondary lockdown may become a reality if the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed again. This may mean moving employees back to a work-from-home environment, or could even result in transitioning teams to a different country. In either case, it’s important to be prepared to turn a lockdown into an opportunity, rather then an obstacle.
ACC Telecom is a veteran in the communications industry, with over 40 years in business. Serving the B2B community- locally and nationwide, ACC can sell, support, customize, service, programing and train on all aspects of your telecommunications or surveillance system including VoIP, Cloud, Hosted, and on-premise PBX systems. Contact ACC Telecom for more information or visit their website at www.acctelecom.com to learn about their products or services.