How Can Organizations Automate Access to Information Outside the Internet?
To keep things running smoothly and people happy, organizations’ employees and customers need to know what’s happening when, where, and how.
Giving customers 24/7 automated access to their records without requiring around-the-clock employee coverage not only eases frustration with regards to their schedules and saves staff time answering questions.
However, providing easy access to critical information isn’t just good customer service, it can dramatically speed up operations. Your employees need to get key details quickly, whether to then assist customers, or to carry on other aspects of their jobs. Employees also need to be able to check schedules, update information from the field, etc.
1. Beyond Websites & Applications
The answer to the problem seems obvious these days: if you need to give people access to information, all you have to do is put it online (either publicly or with controlled access). Certainly more and more organizations are pivoting to this method. However, there are still applications for Unified Communications-based telephone solutions like Automated Attendants, IVR, and automated Notification.
Accessibility and Universality
Not everyone is comfortable with computers. Because of how long they’ve been in use, basic telephone functions (dialing numbers, pressing buttons in response to prompts) are still a preferred option for some members of the population.
It’s also true that computers and smartphones remain less accessible for lower-income populations, a key consideration for organizations and government agencies serving them. This isn’t only true for incoming calls. While developing systems and protocols for performing informative outreach, it’s still safer to assume that the recipient has more regular access to a phone than an email address.
It’s important to remember that there are still situations where employees don’t have computer access. According to a study by Emergence Capitol, 2.7 billion people (roughly 80% of the global workforce) don’t have a desk job. While mobile devices and apps are being introduced to these jobs rapidly, there are plenty of situations where they don’t make sense (financially, operationally, etc.).
For these employees, as well as outsiders who don’t have access to company hardware/software, the telephone is still a more universal (and thus powerful) solution. Users don’t have to have a special app, and they aren’t required to have a phone or computer running a particular operating system or browser. Phone-based solutions can also require less training, especially for employees who may be less computer-savvy.
When it comes to receiving incoming information, a telephone-based solution can be much easier to secure. By segregating information to phone connections rather than data connections, your organization can help reduce some of the risk of unauthorized access. A phone interface system is only looking for inputs to specific prompts in specific formats, making it much harder to hijack. Because it uses an alternate form of input than a straight data connection, it’s also easier to segregate from the network.
This becomes an even more important consideration in the era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – employees performing work functions on personal computers, smartphones, etc. While not having to provide hardware can save an organization money, it can also reduce the control they have over individual devices’ security.
2. How Unified Communications (UC) Can Help
A full-featured Unified Communications solution can harness your existing infrastructure and the universality of the phone system to deliver a powerful automated information collection & distribution toolset.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
When it comes to giving & receiving information telephonically, IVR is extremely powerful. These systems are able to deliver information from a live database via text-to-speech technology, and also receive information from callers via DTMF input (pressing the dialing buttons on their phone). A powerful customizable IVR solution allows organizations to develop applications to suit their needs.
IVR can be used to carry out a host of functions serving both customers and employees, such as accessing account information, making payments on bills, submitting orders, setting up appointments, clocking or checking in for mobile workers, refilling prescriptions, and a great deal more.
Automated attendants can do a huge amount of heavy lifting for your staff by routing calls automatically within an organization and providing recorded answers to frequently asked questions at any time of day or night.
Modern speech-enabled Automated Attendants provide a more accessible, convenient interface. This trend has become so pronounced that customers are starting to perceive DTMF automated attendants as “old fashioned.” A strong UC solution should also allow multiple customized iterations within the same system, allowing different departments to field different attendants, alternative versions to be offered at different times, and even for parallel versions in different languages.
Automated outgoing notifications can be an incredibly powerful tool in an organization’s communications arsenal. Combined with database access, they can send customized messages (via voice or SMS text) to phone numbers without staff members having to do anything. This is not only useful for functions like appointment reminders, billing notices, and school closure announcements, but could also be used for all sorts of reporting – either to consumers or employees.
Deploy a Customized UC System to Suit Your Needs
The XMedius XM Connect solution brings powerful IVR, Notifications, and speech-enabled Automated Attendants to your existing IT infrastructure. This allows your organization to revolutionize the way you send and receive information over the phone without a rip & replace of past investments.
Because of XM Connect’s modular design, your organization can choose to purchase and install the functionality that you need. Learn more about what it can do for you.