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‘But I Don’t Want a New Phone!’


Image: Flamingo Images -
When migrating from traditional telephony to UC, the need to swap out the old multiline, square business phone systems that some users have had for years, even decades, often becomes a sticking point. While these key systems seem antiquated to those of us accustomed to working with advanced technology, this configuration still exists in many organizations — and the people who use them, love them.
Phone system users reluctant to use a UC client are going to assert, “It’s working fine. Why replace it?”
Well, UC by design creates efficiency through improved communications processes. It follows, therefore, that when implementing a UC solution, you must ensure that users understand the process change benefits that come along with the new technology. Articulating specific examples of how a UC system will improve their work lives, along with high-touch training to ensure comfort with the technology prior to going live, can significantly reduce resistance and improve user adoption of new capabilities.
‘Hello, How May I Help You?’
Let’s consider the administrative staff at a small government office responsible for connecting a large number of phone callers from around the country to other individuals in the organization as needed. Incoming calls light up 10 physical buttons, allowing an administrator to answer the calls one at time by clicking on a button. A secondary button module, called a “sidecar,” allows staff to view line status and determine who within the organization is available to receive a call, which an administrator then transfers by clicking on the button for that open line. People who have used this type of arrangement for years often struggle to visualize how a different system could improve efficiency.
In today’s vernacular, being able to see if someone is available is known as “presence.” With UC, presence information is orders of magnitude better than a key system can offer. That’s because a UC presence indicator shows not only if somebody is on the phone but also if the person is in a scheduled meeting, via a calendar view, or in an ad hoc meeting on their UC soft client.
If the intended call recipient is busy according to presence status, the administrator has several options, providing another efficiency improvement. The administrator can send an SMS message through the softphone client, asking the intended party for information that might help answer the caller’s question or resolve an issue without transferring the call. Or, if the request is urgent, the administrator can ask the intended recipient if they would like to take the call regardless of being in a meeting. So rather than getting up and walking down the hall to talk to the person, previously required to ask such questions, the solution is at their fingertips.
‘Quick Question for You’
Transferring a call requires pressing the contact name in the directory, rather than dialing a number, in the same fashion as depressing a button in the old sidecar. The directory feature, now available to everyone in the organization, allows for one-touch calling, texting, or video chat with anyone, thus reducing the load on a single answering point or individual. Instant messaging similarly improves efficiency by replacing longer phone calls with quick chats. An instant message allows the parties to respond when they’re available, or after they’ve researched the intended response, and can reduce email traffic.
Finally, if the calling party chooses to go to voicemail instead of holding on, the UC system will transcribe the message and send it via email to the called party. This allows them to triage the information and possibly research an answer before returning a call, all without picking up the phone to wade through voicemail messages.
While change is difficult for most people, a UC project can be downright scary for people whose primary job is to answer the phone. Walking end users through the ways UC can improve their work life will facilitate adoption and ensure project success. Coaching them through new processes that will replace a former key system configuration is a critical piece of the transition plan.
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"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.