Networked telephony has been on the market for years, but it is only now that we are seeing mass take-up.
So why have organisations waited until now to make the switch from legacy private branch (PBX) systems?
It was only to be expected that people would take time to update their systems.
Recently, however, many organisations have realised they can make their telephony work harder to make their life easier if they switch to networked telephony.
In so doing, they have set a first-class standard in customer service. Now, other organisations don't want to be left behind with an archaic, inefficient and antiquated telephony system.
Networked telephony transports customer service into a new league.
Its unified messaging functionality allows employees to prioritise queries and respond faster, because any contact their customers make can be captured and stored as a simple audio or data file, whether it is a voice message, email or fax.
'Screen popping' means that as soon as the telephone rings, the system will recognise the caller if their number is in the company's database, and his or her details will pop onto the screen.
An employee can answer the telephone using the customer's name and, without any prompting from the customer, know his or her purchasing history or personal preferences.
In comparison with legacy PBXs, networked telephony has very low management and maintenance costs.
When companies expand, adding new users to the system is a simple process.
The only additional cost of a new user is the price of an extra handset, while the easy-to-use browser administration tools allow anyone who is able to navigate their way around the internet to manage the telephony system easily.
Some of your customers will be reluctant to rip out a legacy PBX system, but it is possible to use networked telephony alongside an existing PBX.
This way, customers can become familiar with the new technology and let their networked system grow at its own pace.
Selling networked telephony is becoming easier as customers realise it is an investment, not a cost.
When it improves customer service and retention, it will soon show return on investment.
Buddie Ceronie is regional director at 3Com.
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