Author - 4Sight Communications

Make These 2 Choices to Fuel Business Growth in 2022

Is your business ready to seize the opportunities ahead in 2022? Will your communications system be an invaluable asset in achieving growth — or a burden that limits your performance? 

Many businesses are finding they are weighed down by technology choices they had to make quickly during the pandemic. In the face of shutdowns, communications software became the lynchpin to allow employees to keep collaborating, meet with customers, and work productively from home. And, with little time to assess communications platform pros and cons, they made quick purchase decisions that left them with: 

  • A mix of disjointed communications tools that are awkward for employees navigate
  • Unanticipated costs associated with higher maintenance expenses and complex IT support 
  • Uneven performance, with some tools more reliable than others, creating dissatisfied customers and frustrated staff 

Looking ahead, your business has the opportunity to evolve from worrying about ‘keeping things moving’ to focus on optimizing operations. As a dynamic, hybrid work environment becomes the new normal, it’s an ideal time to ensure you have a communications platform that’s designed — from the ground up — to deliver the reliability, agility, and efficiency you need to optimize productivity today and respond quickly to unanticipated changes tomorrow. To take advantage of that opportunity, you’ll want to make 3 smart choices: 

  1. Choose the best communications architecture
  2. Select the right communications solution 
  3. Identify the ideal migration path for your business

#1 Choose The Cloud To Streamline And Strengthen Your Technology

The cloud is the easiest way to simplify and supercharge your communications technology. By consolidating disjointed communications tools into an all-in-one, cloud-based solution that offers team and video collaboration, mobility, and voice capabilities, you can unleash greater productivity and performance, while eliminating the cost and resource burdens of managing your current systems. A cloud-based communications solution:

  • Is easier to manage and maintain: Flexible, scalable, and requiring little-to-no maintenance, cloud communications platforms allow your IT staff to focus their precious time on initiatives that will help you grow and stay ahead of the competition. 
  • Provides more for less: Your business gets more of the powerful features you need (and previously had to pay for separately) in a single solution that many businesses find to be more cost-effective.
  • Removes uncertainty and costs: Cloud-based solutions eliminate large, up-front technology investments and unexpected repair costs. All you pay is a predictable and affordable monthly subscription fee. 
  • Remains effortlessly up to date: A cloud-based communication platform will give you the comfort of knowing your business will always benefit from the latest software capabilities and security updates, without requiring any work on your part.

 #2 Choose The UCaaS Leader To Meet Your Needs Today And Tomorrow

Customer and employee expectations have permanently changed. Businesses have gained new confidence in their staffs’ ability to work from anywhere. Employees value the balance that hybrid working environments provide. And customers just want great service — and don’t care where the employee supporting them is working from.

For these reasons, business communications software will remain your foundation for employee productivity and customer service excellence. To grow and thrive in this environment, your business deserves a best-in-class, cloud-based business communications platform that’s intuitive to use, easy to scale, and designed to ensure employees can work productively from anywhere, any time, and on any device.

That’s why Mitel has embarked on a strategic partnership with RingCentral. The RingCentral MVP solution has been ranked a leader in the UCaaS Gartner Magic Quadrant for seven consecutive years. Together, Mitel and RingCentral are empowering businesses of all sizes with the UCaaS solution that’s specifically designed to increase employee engagement, improve the customer experience, and provide unprecedented business agility. 

  • Increasing employee engagement: Your state-of-the-art RingCentral MVP communications solution will allow employees and customers to interact quickly, easily, and efficiently. Productivity-enhancing features like voice, video, messaging, SMS, mobility and file sharing in one app keep employees productive whether working from home, the office, or a hybrid of both. And by integrating your RingCentral system with the CRM, ERP, and support ticketing systems that your employees use every day, you can help them get more done without ever leaving those applications.
  • Meeting higher customer expectations: When you enhance employee productivity with leading communications technology, it also improves your ability to serve your customers better and faster, wherever they are. If you want to augment your UCaaS solution with leading contact center capabilities, the Mitel and RingCentral partnership provides you with options. RingCentral’s NICE CCaaS solution is available to all UCaaS customers, and Mitel will continue to offer MiContact Center for Mitel on-premises, private cloud, and subscription customers. 
  • Achieving unprecedented agility: The pace of business has never been faster. So, it’s important to know you can count on the Mitel and RingCentral partnership to provide superior performance and reliability, so you won’t miss a beat today or tomorrow. In 2021, RingCentral earned Gartner’s #1 ranking among UCaaS vendors for ‘completeness of vision.’ So when you choose RingCentral MVP, you can be confident that they are already anticipating your future communications needs and preparing to add new, next-generation innovations to the platform. 

#3 Choose A Trusted Partner To Customize Your Migration Path

If you create the right migration plan to the right cloud-based communications solution, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Chances are, your business has already made investments in a communications platform. You’ll want a migration plan that takes that into consideration, so you’ll need the guidance of a trusted partner with extensive expertise in the full range of communications deployments — including on-premise, private cloud, and public cloud systems. That’s why you can trust Mitel and our experienced partner network to ensure a smooth transition that’s based on a custom migration plan and timeline for your business. 

  • You’re in charge: Mitel has a track record of being 100% customer focused. Let us do the heavy lifting. We start every customer migration by listening to your needs and understanding your existing investments, so we can provide you with a range of options to choose from.
  • Investment protection: After evaluating your options, if the best plan for your business means staying with an on-premises or private cloud platform for the time-being, Mitel remains a global market leader in these segments and has a clear, innovative roadmap for these platforms going forward. 
  • Leading technology to facilitate your migration: Mitel’s CloudLink architecture is a tested and proven technology that helps customers enhance the performance of their existing investments while they migrate to the cloud. That’s why Mitel’s CloudLink architecture will become tightly integrated with RingCentral’s MVP solution, paving the path for Mitel on-premises customers to move to the cloud at the pace that is best for them. 

Choose The Freedom To Focus On The Future

If the communications platform you put in place during the pandemic isn’t providing you with all the functionality you need to grow and meet new challenges ahead, now is an ideal time to press the reset button. Contact 4Sight today so we can help you make the right choices for your business.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year from the team at 4Sight Communications!

The team at 4Sight would like to wish all our customers, partners and colleagues a fantastic Christmas and Happy New Year. It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with you this year. Thank you for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to working with you in the years to come.

Please note our Christmas opening hours:

Friday, 24th December 9:00 am - 18:00 pm
Monday, 27th December office closed
Tuesday, 28th December office closed
Wednesday, 29th December 9:00 am -18:00 pm
Thursday, 30th December 9:00 am -18:00 pm
Friday, 31st December 9:00 am -18:00 pm
Monday, 3rd January office closed

**Customers with our 24/7 support contracts requiring assistance during this period, please note that it is business as usual for all SLA measured requests.**

Once again a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The Team at 4Sight Communications

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How to Make Virtual Meetings Fun for Remote Teams

Virtual meetings are essential to help remote teams collaborate, connect and stay informed but they can quickly turn into tedious and frustrating time-wasters if handled thoughtlessly.

In 2019, 37% percent of employees believed that their organization’s most significant cost was unnecessary meetings. As the world shifted to virtual meetings and remote work, the word “video fatigue” was suddenly a part of our everyday vocabulary.

According to research done by Microsoft, stress and burn-out occur faster over a video call than when doing other work in front of a computer screen. Their findings state that video fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a video call. This is because of the intense concentration needed to extract relevant information without all of the additional non-verbal cues and information you would receive in an in-person meeting.

The good news is, it’s possible to avoid this kind of prolonged concentration fatigue even in a virtual meeting. If you have ever known anyone who was really into video games, you know that prolonged attention to a video screen is definitely possible.

So how can you make your meetings more like a video game while still getting everyone on the same page to meet company goals? If you follow these guidelines, fun meetings can quickly become a part of your work culture. And with happier, more engaged, and unified workers, you will soon see improvements in every area of your business.

1. Plan Ahead

Just like in-person meetings, planning is essential to running a smooth virtual meeting. You could start with planning out the agenda, but this isn’t always the best strategy for a fun meeting. It’s usually best to start by asking some big-picture questions.

Purpose

You want to determine the purpose of the meeting because everything that happens at the meeting should serve this purpose. Does your team need direction? Information? Inspiration? Unity? When you figure out what the purpose of the meeting is, you might realize that a virtual meeting isn’t even necessary. For example, if you are calling a meeting to disseminate information, something like email might work better.

Attendees

Once you’ve uncovered the purpose and determined that a virtual meeting is the best way to serve that purpose, you can make a list of invitees. The bigger the list of attendees is, the more draining the meeting will be for everyone involved. In order for employees to be engaged in a virtual meeting, they must be able to give input, and this isn’t possible in large groups. Additionally, smaller meetings feel more intimate and will help team members feel closer to one another and more supportive of each other.

Agenda

Now that you know the purpose of the meeting and who is coming, you can plan out the agenda. Make sure that you hit everything you need to but remove as much as possible.

Start by writing everything you would like to cover, then go back and remove the items that are not essential and don’t serve the overall purpose. Then go back and remove some more. Make sure to include some fun activities in the agenda that support your purpose (more on this below). It’s also a good idea to include ground rules and roles in the agenda so that everyone is aware ahead of time and things don’t devolve into chaos. 

2. Share The Agenda In Advance

Once you know what you want to cover at the meeting, make sure you share the agenda and any materials that will be discussed ahead of time. Sharing new materials at the meeting will waste time and likely cause participants to divert their focus from the speaker to the new materials. Additionally, with the materials in advance, your team can come up with questions ahead of time which can either be addressed quickly at the meeting or even outside the meeting through a team chat channel or group email.

3. Make Introductions

Introductions are vital for an engaging meeting. When team members know who is in a meeting, they are much more likely to engage, particularly if they can see everyone involved. Remind participants in the ground rules to turn on their cameras and use a virtual background if necessary.

Introductions can serve another purpose as well. As each attendee is introduced along with their role and responsibilities in the meeting, they are instantly engaged. We can’t help but pay attention when we are the subject of conversation.

4. Give Everyone A Role

Most of us know how difficult it is to stay engaged during a dry lecture. For the person giving the lecture, however, the experience is completely different. They get a boost of adrenaline from being in the spotlight and feel completely engaged. Similarly, if everyone gets a chance to be in the spotlight, everyone gets a little boost of adrenaline to help them stay in the moment.

When assigning roles, consider the strengths and personalities of your employees and use your creativity. Some roles you might want to have are: a leader, a record keeper, a timekeeper, a devil’s advocate to challenge ideas that are tossed out, and an activity or game leader.  

5. Utilize Virtual Tools To Keep Things Interesting

If you have a large amount of information to convey, you will want to use different media and switch things up to keep team members from losing focus. Remember, it is more difficult to stay focused on a person speaking over video than it is in person. Use fun visuals, colorful PowerPoint slides, whiteboarding and screen sharing to keep video fatigue at bay.

6. Gamify The Meeting

To keep team members engaged, your meeting needs to be informative and fun. And what is more fun, engaging, and bonding than games? For memorable meetings, choose a game or two to play at the beginning of the meeting, during the meeting, and towards the end as well. 

Icebreakers

Icebreakers are a great way to get team members to loosen up and get to know each other right away. Some ideas for virtual icebreaker games are “would you rather” (participants have to choose between two things and then explain why), “two truths and a lie” (each participant tells two truths about themselves and one lie and everyone has to guess which is the lie) and “highs and lows” (participants share a high and low point of their week.

Ongoing Games

Ongoing games are games that run in the background for the entirety of the meeting to help keep participants on their toes. Some examples of ongoing games are “word of the day” (participants are given a word that they must try to sneak into a conversation at some point during the meeting), “tuned in”(whenever the speaker holds up a sign that says “tuned in” everyone on the call has to hold up their own sign and the last one to do so has to complete a challenge) and “freeze” (participants try to fool each other by pretending to be frozen).

Virtual Games for Cognition and Creativity

If you really want to get the creative juices flowing in your team, try scheduling a bigger game into the meeting agenda. This could be something like Scattergories, Charades or Werewolf.

With global teams on the rise, seamless unified communications and collaboration ecosystem is more important than ever. Virtual meetings have become a necessity for all remote teams, but those companies that make their virtual meetings fun and engaging will experience higher productivity, better employee retention, and greater employee satisfaction.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How Do Hybrid Workplaces Boost Employee Engagement?

The world came to a halt owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced most of us to try out a new working arrangement. That is when work-from-home and remote working policies came into consideration.

However, some jobs require fieldwork and cannot support the work from home setup. In such a scenario, a hybrid workplace can strike a balance between the two.

This working model has enormous advantages. It gives employees a sense of freedom and fulfilment at work. But, there are some challenges that employers and employees are facing for the first time. At the top of this priority list are employee engagement and employee wellbeing

But let’s first reflect on the definition and advantages of a hybrid workplace.

Meaning Of A Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace supports a distributed workforce.  It includes both in-office and remote workers. It is a scenario in which employees occasionally work at the office and complete the rest of their work from home at their convenience.

Advantages Of A Hybrid Workplace.

  1. The hybrid workforce is more productive, promotes holistic well-being, and thus more economical.
  2. It attracts employees of all ages and retains them by enhancing job satisfaction.
  3. Both your employees and your company will profit financially from a hybrid workplace. You save money on operating expenses. Your employees save money since they don’t have to commute to work or buy lunch.
  4. By reducing the number of people in the office during a pandemic, a hybrid workplace is a great safety protocol.

The Hidden Traps Of A Hybrid Workplace

It Is Difficult For Women, Digital Introverts And Junior Executives.

The pandemic particularly hit women’s lives massively. Because of the pressures of home-schooling their children, many mothers chose to be furloughed. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, continued to work full-time, although remotely.

In the hybrid work model, there is a significant risk that men’s and women’s attendance at physical workplaces will be imbalanced. It will have more women choosing to work remotely for a longer time. As a result, women are likely to fall behind in promotion possibilities and might lead to an increased gender pay gap.

Meanwhile, extroverts have a greater chance of fitting in at hybrid workplaces. They are more likely to wish to return to work. But introverts would most likely want to continue working from home. This division of different workplaces runs the risk of creating a digital divide.

The employees who work in the office can participate and contribute more effectively. But those who work from home fall behind and are side-lined.

Introducing and nurturing new talent is a daunting challenge in the hybrid workplace. There are several advantages to working in a physical location that would be lost or lessened in a hybrid setting.

For example-

  • They will face the inability to understand the organizational structure and culture.
  • They will have limited exposure to their colleagues and leaders.
  • It will affect trust due to a lack of communication and team-building activities.

Lack Of Proper Equipment Impacts Productivity.

Equipment can range from laptops, stationeries, mobile phones, office supplies to internet connections and ergonomic furniture.

Let’s not deny, we’ve all worked from our beds during the pandemic. Numerous studies suggest that working from a bed can be harmful to both the mind and the body. Poor working posture can cause headaches and back pain, affecting productivity.

When most companies provide this equipment and supplies to in-person employees, refusing to provide or reimburse remote and hybrid employees for these expenses is a clear sign of a hostile work environment.

There Is Ever-Increasing Isolation And Resentment Among Employees.

Social isolation is an evil that comes along with a hybrid workplace. This isolation is often caused by employees’ feelings of exclusion rather than a lack of engagement with their co-workers. According to a 2020 Igloo survey, nearly 60% of all teleworkers say they don’t have access to specific information because managers shared it in person. Furthermore, 55% say they’ve been left out of meetings because they aren’t physically present.

Long working hours (a supposed by-product of remote work) that result in overwork can also lead to genuine burnout for these employees

Eurofound study discovered that mobile employees have much greater stress levels. For example, 41% of them regard themselves as “very stressed,” compared to only 25% of those who do not work remotely. Furthermore, 42% of teleworkers (at home or on the go) say they wake up multiple times per night (compared to 29 percent of those who do not telework).

A Hybrid Workplace, If Not Appropriately Managed, Can Negatively Impact Employee Engagement.

It also has its own set of other complexities, particularly when it comes to fostering employee engagement. It erodes the proven organizational norms that trust, cohesion and shared experiences are necessary for culture and performance.

It calls for the creation of two distinct cultures: one in the office and one online. As a result, managers may find it difficult to supervise and engage their distributed teams.

The Top 4 Ways To Keep Employees Engaged In The Hybrid Workplace

1.Encourage Creativity
We must be creative in bringing people together to facilitate a high level of connectivity amongst distributed workforces. Managers should check on employees to learn about their interests, hobbies, or how they spent their weekends. Contests and activities like a fun zoom icebreaker session can help employees feel more connected and foster team bonding. Doing these is especially crucial for younger generations who look for meaning, purpose and connection in their work.

2.Provide The Right Equipment
Even if employees work from home, organizations must be conscious of their working environment. Simple things like their desk setup, availability of a high-end microphone or speaker, and adequate lighting can enhance the employee experience.  It must promote comfort and alleviate medical issues for remote workers. So, leaders must provide employees with the necessary equipment ahead of time.

3.Minimize Burnout
We need to help employees set limits, especially since the current work-life balance is practically non-existent. Advise them to turn off email and work notifications after working hours and encourage them to take breaks during the day. Encouraging them to participate in some wellness activities can help them feel and perform better.

We can minimize burnout by having well-defined meeting agendas with specific goals. Identify the people who need to attend a meeting, for example. It can make the most efficient use of everyone’s time while also making each employee feel valued and productive.

4.Prioritize Employee Recognition
Workplace incentives and perks must be well-structured to engage the employees. It would help if you recognized extraordinary effort, new ideas, team contributions and leadership by implementing a great employee recognition program.

As new technologies emerge, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. However, the ultimate goal that every hybrid workplace should strive for will revolve around the above employee engagement practices.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Report | Hybrid Working 2021

Customers accepted reduced service as companies shifted to working from home, but now expect a return to ‘normal service’ with improved response times and a stronger customer experience. Those that invest in good technology, rather than relying on declining customer goodwill, will generate a better experience and potentially stronger sales.

The challenge facing businesses is how to resume a professional service while simultaneously adapting to the new norm: hybrid working. The answer lies in empowering customer-facing staff with the right tools that not only let them work from home as seamlessly as they work from the office or call centre, but also allow customers to interact how they prefer, says Dave Harrison, head of sales and marketing at 4Sight Comms.

Businesses should start at the edge to understand staff needs, their precise roles and define what they need in terms of functionality and technology – this will be the blueprint for a business’ core platform. For example, a customer service agent at a startup may be perfectly suited to replying to customers via Whatsapp, either at home or in the office, while an established business with a higher customer count may need a more technological solution, such as an artificial intelligence-powered web chat.

Harrison says: “The right technology brings together the choice of the customer with the choice of the customer service agent, but at the same time maintains the security, control and analytical capability that you so desperately need as a business. That’s where 4Sight Communications comes in with our access to Mitel technology.”

Mitel powers more than 2 billion business connections with cloud, enterprise and next-generation collaboration applications. Its solutions are well adapted to hybrid working because agents can efficiently handle voice and digital media contacts anywhere from a ‘single pane of glass’ comprising phone, email, web chat, SMS and social media. This type of advanced technology delivers excellent customer service in a hybrid working environment because, according to Mitel’s own research, most customers would rather interact through digital channels including web chat, SMS, chatbots and social media.

Moreover, automated forms of self-service, such as chatbots and virtual agents, can help address many of today’s customer experience shortcomings. Research by Mitel indicates that these next-generation technologies translate into better forms of customer service. Therefore, businesses need to work out which channels their customers prefer and equip staff with the options to access them either from home or in the office.

The added benefit is that businesses can get their hands on analytics that provide valuable insights into employee performance and identify weak spots. Supervisors monitor and manage agent and queue performance and are alerted when service levels are below target. Live analytics include insights such as average response time per media channel. Historical analytics include call recording and quality monitoring, which provide supervisors with the ability to listen to and score agent interactions.

Harrison says: “A business can track the availability of agents irrespective of a hybrid working location. This gives businesses the ability to cope with customer demand both proactively, with an understanding of volumes and trends, and reactively should additional resources need to be added to cope with unexpected surges.”

The good news is that it’s never been easier or cheaper to tap into top tech. Businesses can sign up to an affordable, monthly subscription service to Mitel via 4Sight Communications, instead of allocating significant capital expenditure to a proprietary platform. All you need to do is work out what hybrid working means to you as a business and how customers want to interact.

Harrison says: “Businesses need to embrace change, find new lanes of opportunity and fill them with the right technology that empowers people to fulfil their working aspirations with the aspirations of the organisation that they’re working for.”

This article was first published by Raconteur.

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Why Hybrid Working is So Much More than Just Remote-First

As of early June 2021, less than one-third of U.S. office workers (about 28%) are back in their physical buildings―and many who are home want to keep it that way.

A survey found 39% of U.S. adults would consider quitting if they’re not given flexibility about remote work. There’s a long list of reasons behind this desire, including lingering concerns over safety and health, looming childcare issues, and the sheer fact that many feel they have proven they can do their jobs just as well remotely.

This isn’t to say employees don’t miss face-to-face time with colleagues. In fact, another study found 67% of workers want more in-person time with coworkers. It’s no surprise then that one in five employers had already moved to the hybrid model in the spring and almost half had plans to do so by the summer.

When we think about hybrid, we often picture employees either sitting at home or commuting to the office. But there’s a wide range of hybrid options in between, including coffee shops, shared workspaces and even checking email from your hotel room while on a family vacation. And while the focus for the past year and a half has been primarily on remote workers, we think it’s time for companies to give a little love to the office space again.

How can you make it easier for office-first people to work in a hybrid environment? The right unified communications solution makes all your hybrid workers happy, especially those who have made the physical office their home. Not sure where to start? Check out these four tips from our expert team.

1. Give Them Space

Just because an employee is back in the physical office doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about their health and safety. In fact, many people who’ve been in the office the majority of the time since the pandemic hit have probably become quite accustomed to an empty and quiet office space. The return of hybrid workers will be just as much of an adjustment for them as it will be for those who’ve been at home.

Social distancing should remain in effect as much as possible to ease the transition of hybrid workers back into the physical work environment. Everyone can still get the full benefit of face-to-face meetings, team collaboration and casual conversation without making office-first workers feel like their space has been invaded.

2. Give Them A Permanent Home

While it may make sense for people splitting their time between remote and in-office work to hot desk, office-first employees should have a dedicated workspace when possible. They’ll benefit from being able to come in every day knowing everything they need to do their job is right where they left it, and they won’t have to worry about whether or not the area they’re working in has been properly sanitized.

This may seem like a small gesture, but it can go a long way in saying “thank you” to office-first workers. Hybrid workers will also know exactly where to find their office-first coworkers on the days they come in, making it easier for them to work together on projects and collaborate.

3. Make It Feel Like Everyone Is Back In The Office

It may be a while before everyone is back in the office all the time (in fact, who knows if the day will ever come). But managers can make it feel like everyone is in the same room with the right unified communications technology. An all-in-one solution that lets colleagues communicate and collaborate across regions and time zones knocks down virtual walls.

MiCollab from Mitel, for instance, gives employees a single application for voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing and collaboration. Collaborative workspaces keep everyone connected. Team members can share notes, files and status updates on projects just as easily as if everyone were together. Outlook and calendar integration lets people know who is available and where they are at any given time. Both planned and impromptu meetings are more productive with such features as desktop sharing and document collaboration.

4. Transform The In-Office Huddle Room

Videoconferencing is a great way to keep face-to-face interactions going for the hybrid workforce, but now businesses can take it to the next level and transform the in-office huddle space with a single, unified communications solution. With MiTeam Meetings, you can connect your laptop to the video hardware already in the office conference room and get all the benefits of MiTeam.

Coworkers can use the multi-pane view for up to 16 attendees or the active speaker view to focus attention where it needs to be at any given moment. Colleagues can meet both in-person and virtually, share notes and store files. The best part? The team can return to the same workspace in the next meeting for quick access to persistent chat logs, important documents and more. It’s a powerful yet simple way to keep office-first workers connected and engaged with hybrid colleagues, meeting after meeting.

While remote work will continue, it’s been center stage for well over a year now. It’s time to put the spotlight back on in-office workers and make sure they have the tools required to be productive and happy as they workforce shifts to a hybrid model. Unified communications technology keeps everyone connected and engaged―from home, the office and everywhere in between.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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3 Essential Steps for Planning Your Path to the Cloud

With summer here and restrictions being lifted, you might be thinking a trip of some sort is in order. Once you figure out where you want to go, you’ll probably start taking a closer look at the best way to get there. Planes, trains and automobiles are good options to get further, faster. But maybe you’re not looking for speed, and are more interested in a hiking, cycling or sailing journey that gives you more opportunities to enjoy the view along the way.

The concept of planning a journey is familiar to almost everyone. The task can be a little daunting for extended or complex, multi-stop trips, but in general, we understand how to get from here to there. 

The same is not typically true for businesses that are planning their path to a cloud-based communications system. It’s generally accepted that all roads eventually lead to the cloud, but choosing the optimal path to get there is an unfamiliar task for most businesses. This is not a journey they’ve taken before, so the options to get from here to there aren’t inherently obvious. 

The paths to the cloud are as diverse as the crisscrossed highways, railroads and airways you can take across the nation. Since each business is unique with its own personality and communications system requirements, the path to the cloud will be different for each business. And it will be structured to meet the unique communications needs of the business along the way. Some organizations are unencumbered and can go directly to the cloud, while others may require a more scenic route.

While each business must follow their own path to the cloud, there are three key steps every business should take.

1. Assess Your Communications Needs For Today And Tomorrow

To help determine the right path to the cloud for your business, ask yourself the six questions below. The answers to these questions will help you develop a strategy for modernizing your communications systems that fits the way your business works today, and the way you would like it to work tomorrow.

  1. How do my employees collaborate?
  2. How does my organization handle customer interactions?
  3. Do our systems integrate well and do they improve efficiency?
  4. Are we taking advantage of our system by staying current with all the new features available, or are we behind on updates?
  5. Do we need to move to the cloud to improve efficiency, or can we do more with what we have?
  6. How are we prepared to harness cloud technologies when it’s time to make the move?

Don’t forget to update your modernization strategy as your requirements change. This will ensure your communications system continues to be a strategic asset that sharpens your competitive edge as your business grows.

2. Understand The Cloud Options Available

It’s important to remember that shifting your communications capabilities to the cloud is not an all or nothing decision. And there isn’t just one type of cloud. Understanding the basics of each approach to cloud communications will help you choose the right communications solutions at each stage of your journey:

  • public cloud is an online service that’s fully hosted and managed by a public cloud provider. It functions a bit like an apartment complex. Each business that rents cloud space has its own, secure space within the larger infrastructure. 

    With a public cloud, you can easily add new communications features and functions whenever needed, and you don’t need to spend time or money installing, managing, maintaining or upgrading servers or other hardware on your own premises. These benefits make public cloud a great option for small businesses and startups that don’t want to invest in full-scale network management and IT staff. 

    • A private cloud provides communications services within the confines of an internal, private network that’s protected from outside intrusion by a firewall, most likely your own company’s firewall. 

    A private cloud is the best option for companies where security is a major concern because you have full control over who and what can access the information within your private cloud environment. However, you do need to take on responsibility for detecting, protecting against and mitigating the risks associated with potential data breaches on the network.

    • A hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud features to provide the best of both worlds: Security with scalability, and less complexity with more control. 

    A hybrid cloud is a good choice for businesses that want the benefits and control of a private cloud as well as the flexibility to deploy and manage unified communications applications and contact center features in the way that makes the most sense for their business. 

3. Choose A Technology Partner To Help Navigate The Way

While solo travel is definitely a trend, most journeys are smoother when you travel with a co-pilot who can help you navigate all of the twists and turns along the way. You’re even less likely to run into unexpected hurdles and delays when your travel partner has been to the destination before. Your journey to the cloud is no exception.

Working with a technology partner such as 4Sight Communications, gives you access to trained experts who can help you smoothly navigate all the different paths to the cloud. We have a deep understanding of the pros and cons of the different cloud options and can recommend migration strategies and solutions based on where your business communications system is today, and where you need it to be tomorrow. 4Sight is fully prepared to answer your questions, and to partner closely with you throughout your journey to the cloud and beyond.

Here’s a very brief overview of some of the strategies and solutions we will discuss with you to simplify your journey to the cloud:

  • software assurance program that provides easy access to the latest communications capabilities, ensures software versions are always current and compatible and keeps security fixes up to date. Your communications system is proactively monitored for performance and remains standards compliant. And your teams have access to online training to help them work more efficiently.
  • Applications and integrations that let you seamlessly add collaboration and contact center features and functions to your existing system.
  • Subscription payment models that make it easier to get current and do more with existing systems, and to migrate to the cloud, with predictable costs.

Get More Information

For more information about how you can start planning your journey to the cloud, read the eBook You Can Get There From Here: Profiles of a Cloud Migration Candidate.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How Great Communications Lead to Great Customer Experiences

Like me, you’ve no doubt enjoyed some truly awesome experiences as a customer as well as some you’d rather not remember at all. If you think back to those experiences—good and bad—you’ll very likely find that your communications with the organization in question was central to your experience.

The words people use when they communicate with us as customers, their tone, written or verbal and the channels they use all influence our perception of the experience. And that experience determines how much we’re willing to spend at a business, our recommendations (or lack thereof) to friends, family and colleagues and whether we’ll do business with that organization again.

According to the 2020 Microsoft Global State of Customer Service report, 90 percent of customers consider the quality of customer service when deciding whether to remain loyal to a brand. And 58 percent of customers won’t hesitate to end the relationship if their expectations for high-quality customer service aren’t met. 

A positive customer experience has an even greater impact on business. A recent Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report says that 92 percent of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer experience.

You Have The Apps Needed To Meet Customer Expectations

If you haven’t updated your business communications system with integrated, cloud-based apps for voice, data and video communications and collaboration, now is the time to do that. Without these apps, it will be extremely difficult to deliver experiences that will meet customer expectations and keep them coming back to your business. 

While third-party apps are often used as a quick-fix solution for messaging and video communications, they aren’t a long-term solution. There’s simply too much risk these disjointed point solutions will lead to a disjointed customer experience. 

When your communications and collaboration apps are seamlessly integrated with your existing communications system, you have many more opportunities to impress customers with your flexibility, responsiveness and commitment to meeting their needs.

Integrated, Omnichannel Communications Let You Get Personal With Customers

In today’s era of digital communications, your customers expect to be able to connect with your business using their preferred channel—whether that’s voice, email, messaging, web chat, social media or video. 

While we tend to focus on messaging, chat and social media communications these days, voice and email aren’t going away any time soon. In a recent study of 2,500 business professionals across five countries, 97 percent of respondents said these traditional forms of communications are among the communications methods they use most frequently on a daily basis. And speaking with your customers helps you deliver a more human experience that strengthens the connection and shows you want to engage with them. 

The key is to deliver omnichannel communications in a way that allows your teams to smoothly switch between channels as conversations with customers evolve. Maybe a conversation starts with messaging or web chat, but a voice conversation is needed to streamline and accelerate the back and forth. Or maybe you need to spontaneously switch from a voice conversation to a video conversation so customers can show you what they’re talking about. 

The only way to seamlessly shift between channels during conversations is to use fully integrated communications and collaboration apps. If you have to stop using one app, then launch a different app to switch to a more appropriate channel for the conversation, there’s a risk the conversation will be dropped. There’s also a risk customers will become frustrated with the experience and abandon the conversation—and your business. 

Connected Teams Meet Customer Needs Faster

Delivering a great customer experience is a team sport. Whether your staff are on the front line, communicating directly with customers or working behind-the-scenes to support customer-facing colleagues, they all need the ability to instantly communicate, collaborate and share knowledge. With these capabilities, dispersed team members can quickly and easily join forces to meet customer requirements and expectations no matter where they are, or what device they’re using.

While your teams probably aren’t on the road as often as they used to be, they are very likely working from a much wider variety of locations than they were in the past. This fact needs to be completely invisible to customers. No customer wants to hear the phrase, “I’ll have to get back to you on that,” then find themselves having to engage in a subsequent conversation at a later time to get an answer.

When staff can seamlessly connect and collaborate with their co-workers during a conversation with customers, no matter what channel they’re using, your business comes across as more responsive and helpful. This level of integrated team work is only possible if you’re using a single app that provides voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and collaboration capabilities. 

Happy Employees Help Make Happy Customers

It’s easy to see how customers can become frustrated when their customer service experience is sub-par. But, it’s equally important to recognize that your staff can also become frustrated if they don’t have the tools and technologies needed to effectively serve and support your customers. They want your business to be successful, and they want to play a role in building that success.

Once again, think back to your own experiences. I’ve certainly spoken to customer service representatives who have expressed their frustration or disappointment at the limited options available to help me get the information or services I needed. You probably have too. In the end, you’re both frustrated and disappointed. 

Conversely, I’ve also had experiences with customer service representatives where I’ve thought, “wow, you can do that—awesome.” The person was happy, cheerful and able to make connections across internal departments, and sometimes global geographies, to ensure I received the information I needed and had a great experience. 

There’s no question about which experience you want your teams to deliver.

Modern Communications Systems Meet Modern Needs

If you’re using a Mitel MiVoice communications platform, it’s easy to upgrade to a modern communications system that meets modern needs. All of the integrated, cloud-based apps you need to deliver more efficient and helpful customer service experiences are ready and waiting for you. 

It’s simply a matter of updating your system to include apps such as Mitel MiTeam Meetings. This integrated solution seamlessly connects to your existing infrastructure and is an ideal replacement for the disjointed third-party apps you may be relying on today.

To learn more about which apps make the most sense for your business and customer service goals, contact 4Sight today. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Is Hybrid the Future or Just a Temporary Solution?

When all non-essential workers shifted to remote work last year, many employees thoroughly enjoyed the extra time at home. With our commutes gone, we had more time to spend with our families and for self-care. There was finally time to work out or read that book sitting on our nightstand. We saved money too, as our need for gas, dry cleaning and eating out all but disappeared.

But then the honeymoon ended. All of a sudden, we found ourselves wishing for just a few minutes away from our kids or spouse. The workday seemed to drag on forever as the lines between work and home blurred. Depression and mental anxiety set in as we longed for the social interaction we all need and crave as human beings.

As fully remote work begins to phase out for many, the new norm is hybrid―the flexibility to mix up our workdays between home, the office and anywhere in between. The question now is: Does hybrid have the legs to become the true future of work or will it (like its remote sibling) become a temporary, fleeting solution?

We think hybrid is here to stay, and we have plenty of data that shows it’s a long-lasting trend. Here are three reasons why and three tips on how to make sure your business is ready for the long haul.

3 Reasons Hybrid Is The New Norm

1. Employees prefer the hybrid approach: When polled, the majority of employees said they prefer the flexibility that comes with the hybrid model. But just how badly do they want it? One survey found a resounding 75% of workers would be willing to give up at least one benefit or perk in exchange for the freedom to choose where they work. Additionally, more than 25% of employees would be willing to part with significant benefits such as cash bonuses and healthcare benefits in order to have this flexibility.

2. The C-suite is committed: Executives are also on board with hybrid, with 79% of the C-suite reporting they plan on letting employees split their time between remote locations and corporate offices if it fits their job role. More than three-fourths (76%) of execs are also likely to issue a stipend to employees who work from home or a co-working space.

3. It’s better for business: Since the majority of employees want the hybrid work model to stay, it follows that companies offering this flexibility will benefit from higher employee engagement. More engaged employees have a positive impact on business performance. A recent Gallup analysis compared companies in the top quartile for engagement with those in the bottom quartile. Businesses ranked in the top for employee engagement saw gains in profitability (23%), customer loyalty (10%), sales productivity (18%), overall employee well-being (66%), quality (41%) and lower absenteeism (81%) when compared to those with the lowest employee engagement.

3 Ways To Keep Hybrid Workers Happy

With all signs pointing to hybrid becoming a long-term solution well past the honeymoon phase, businesses need to start adapting now to make sure they can keep hybrid workers happily humming along for years to come. It all comes down to the three Cs: culture, communications and collaboration.

1. Create a hybrid-friendly culture: It may be hard to predict exactly the right culture required to fully support a thriving hybrid environment, but smart businesses will begin to make changes now and then adjust as needed. First and foremost, the culture must be focused around choice: the ability to choose where (and, in some cases, when) employees work. The mindset of working nine to five sitting in a cubicle should be cast aside. If a team member is more productive working from six in the morning to two in the afternoon on remote days, why not allow it? When employees have support from the top ranks to take ownership of how they work, you’ll find in most cases work gets done faster (and to a higher level of quality).

2. Provide the necessary tools for communications: Executives are already planning to invest in hybrid work. Wisely, the top area in which they plan to invest is tools for virtual collaboration, with 72% of executives stating as much in PWC’s US Remote Work Survey. Team workspaces, real-time instant messaging and desktop sharing keep employees connected whether they’re at home, in the office or a local coffee shop. Be sure to look for communications technology that offers a single experience across multiple devices, so it’s easy for employees to switch between work environments without any hassle. Mitel Teamwork, for instance, provides a consistent experience from desktop to mobile. Users can even start a conversation on one device and seamlessly continue it on another.

3. Collaborate to stay one step ahead: Hybrid is unchartered territory for many employees and managers. The best way to ensure your business can quickly adapt to the changing needs of all staff is to encourage collaboration at all times . Fortunately, your communications technology can help you accomplish this with voice, video and chat capabilities to keep everyone connected. A flexible and scalable solution gives companies the agility needed to implement changes on-the-fly, so you can rest assured you can make hybrid work today and well into the future.

Companies may not have a crystal ball to predict what the workplace will look like in five years, but the data strongly suggests all signs point to hybrid. Make the right investments now in the culture and communications technology needed to become a leader and reap the benefits of a happy and healthy hybrid home for your employees.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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3 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Let Your Communications System Fall Behind

We’ve all watched high-performance athletes lose a race by mere fractions of a second. Whether the athlete is running on a track, racing down a ski hill or skimming across a swimming pool, it’s compelling to watch. It’s also heartbreaking, because that margin, no matter how small, meant the difference between winning the race and being left behind.

The business world isn’t much different. Competition is extremely tight in almost every industry. It’s all-too-easy to be left behind by competitors who are faster to market, work more efficiently and do more to keep their customers happy. 

Your business systems are key to increasing your competitive edge and winning the race, no matter what industries or markets you serve. Every system you rely on must reliably operate at peak performance levels at all times. Especially your business communications system.

Your business communications system is at the heart of every strategy and tactic you employ to stay ahead of the competition. It is the lifeblood of your organization. And if you don’t keep this vital business system in peak condition, you’re far more likely to fall behind.

There are many reasons you can’t afford to let your communications system fall behind, but here are three important ones.

Seamless Communications Accelerates Time To Market

It takes unconstrained teamwork across every area of your organization to get new offerings to market faster. Every member of every team needs the ability to quickly and easily connect, collaborate and share information, from anywhere, at any time.

If your communications system isn’t up-to-date, your teams can’t leverage the latest features and functions available in the web, mobile and desktop applications they rely on to stay connected. Like high-performance athletes, your teams need every advantage they can get. No matter how seemingly small that advantage is, it makes a difference — especially if you multiply the effects across your entire organization.

Keeping your communications system up to date means your teams always have the most recent voice, messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing and file sharing capabilities at their fingertips.

Depending on how long your communications system has languished without updates, getting current could bring you entirely new capabilities that will jumpstart collaboration initiatives across your teams.

Lost Productivity Is More Expensive Than You Think

In a 2019 survey of 2,500 business professionals across five countries, respondents said they spend half of the average workday communicating and collaborating. They also said about 13 percent of their day is wasted due to communications inefficiencies. When you add up the lost time, those inefficiencies cost more than $10,000 per employee, per year.

But productivity losses aren’t only measured in dollars. Almost half of the survey respondents also said that inefficient communications and collaboration had created friction with co-workers and with other departments. While these types of losses are more difficult to quantify, no business can afford them.

Communications technologies and the systems that deliver them are constantly evolving to deliver more features and functionality that are key to making communications and collaboration more efficient. The capabilities that were cutting-edge just a short while ago are no longer at the forefront of what’s available. Your staff knows this, and they’re looking for you to provide more efficient solutions.

Of the 2,500 survey respondents, only 15 percent of respondents felt their current communications technology had poor features. But 80 percent felt productivity would increase with better communications tools.

If you look at these statistics in another way, it seems employees are saying “we like what we have, but it needs to be enhanced.” The easiest way to deliver on this requirement is to keep your communications system fully up to date with the latest enhancements all the time.

A Great Customer Experience Depends On Great Communications

We’ve already shared a few statistics in this article, but we could fill pages with the statistics that confirm a better customer experience leads to increased business revenues.

The communications that customers have with your organization are central to their experience, and those revenue increases. The key is to ensure your customers have a great experience at every touchpoint across your organization. To do this, you need to look beyond your contact center technology and the service delivered by your contact center agents, and take a holistic approach to the customer journey.

According to customer experience consultants, Temkin Group, “every single person in a company plays a direct or indirect role in determining whether it provides consistently good or consistently bad human or digital interactions.”

Your business communications system plays a major role in those human and digital interactions. When evaluating the current state of your communications system, think about how:

  • Customers interact with your sales team and employees located at remote sites
  • Your internal teams connect and collaborate to deliver on customer requirements, especially when customized solutions are required, delivery dates change or supply chain issues slow down processes

If your communications system doesn’t provide the capabilities needed to ensure customers have the best possible experience, they can become disillusioned with your organization. They might assume the outdated communications system they encountered when they called your sales team reflects the overall state of your organization. And they might assume the challenges they’re experiencing with their order or inquiry is due to lack of effort or care, rather than internal disconnects caused by out-of-date communications technology.

Don’t Let Your Communications System Slow You Down

With these few examples, it’s easy to see that if your communications system falls behind, your business can also fall behind.

If you’re using Mitel MiVoice Business for communications and collaboration, there’s an easy way to reduce the risk of falling behind. Simply renew or reactivate your Mitel Software Assurance subscription.

Mitel Software Assurance ensures your MiVoice Business system always has the best, most up-to-date software and features for voice, data, and video communications and collaboration. Your software is also protected with the latest security fixes to reduce security vulnerabilities.

In addition, you can choose to receive proactive fault reporting and performance analytics so any system issues can be dealt with before they impact your business. And, if you run into issues that can’t be resolved by your Mitel certified partner, they can contact our technical experts for added support.

If high-performance athletes could easily access new capabilities that would help them edge-out the competition, they surely would. High-performance companies need to do the same.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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