Phone Systems for the Increasingly Mobile Enterprise
Businesses depend on reliable and effective communications to deliver products and services to customers and to provide pre- and post-sales support. As consumer demands have changed, businesses have had to refine their communications tools to adapt to those changing business requirements. The result is that companies large and small are finding that more and more of their internal and customer facing communications need to be mobile. The challenge becomes finding mobile communication services that reliably provide the full set of business capabilities they need to meet those key business requirements.
As business users wrestled with this challenge, mobile cellular service came to be recognized as the only option available that could provide the reliability, coverage and combination of voice, data and text services businesses would need to succeed in this new environment. The problem facing businesses was that the basic cellular services were geared towards the requirements of consumers. Businesses found that they needed those consumer capabilities to engage with their customers via text and social media, but they also needed features that would allow them to operate as a business.
There were business communications systems designed to provide those essential business services including attendants, internal station-to-station calling, and hunt groups, however, all of those were designed for wired telephone service only. Mobile workers needed the ability to communicate in all forms (voice/email/text, etc.), however, they were forced to use cellular services that were designed with selfies, Facebook posts and emojis (i.e. “consumer requirements”) in mind.
The cellular industry has now begun to respond to this need with mobile services that deliver the same types of reliable mobile voice/data/text services, but enhanced with the types of business-oriented capabilities that users once turned to wired PBX and key telephone systems (KTS) to provide. Fortunately, those mobile business services are cloud or “network” based and use the same favored mobile devices the users already have allowing businesses to implement these mobile solutions with little disruption and no significant out-front investment.
AT&T Wireless now offers a range of mobile-first business services that can deliver businesses the capabilities originally found only in legacy wired telephone systems. The ability to have true business services over a reliable mobile network will be a game changer. Indeed, many small businesses have already shifted the bulk of their communications to mobile and maintain a wired telephone line solely to receive voicemail messages (which they retrieve with their cell phones).
AT&T’s Enhanced Mobile is a service that allows businesses the ability to go all-mobile, and still provide the type of customer interface and user experience consumers have come to expect. Having these services in a mobile rather than a wired solution means that businesses can be more accessible, more response and ultimately more successful in serving their customers.
Think of the challenge of running a small plumbing business. Most of the employees are out on the road most of the time taking care of customers. The owner is out as well, either managing or assisting in jobs or meeting with potential customers, sizing up prospective jobs and providing quotes.
In the traditional environment, an office manager would “man the phones,” fielding customer inquiries and relaying them to the owner who would then have to schedule times when the customer was home and the owner was available to survey the job. Given people’s busy schedules, there could be several calls back and forth between the customer, the office manager and the owner just to set up a time for the visit.
Similarly, workers in the field need to gather information, order parts, and possibly seek advice on completing jobs. Funneling those requests through a traditional office (where the office manager could be out to lunch or otherwise engaged) clearly is going to throw a wrench in the works. It doesn’t take an industrial engineer to figure out that any breakdown in communications will result in lost productivity and increased cost that leads to confusion and frustration on the part of the customer.
With AT&T’s Enhanced Mobile, everyone is connected, all of the time, and the company can respond more quickly and operate more efficiently and effectively. Rather than an office manager or a voice mailbox, a network-based auto attendant can answer the call, prompt the caller about the nature of the call and then route it to the most appropriate party.
If the designated person is engaged, the hunt group function can step in and forward the call to the next-best person to help [Note: AT&T Enhanced Mobile can also be set up to ring all of those people simultaneously rather than in sequence]. Voicemail is still available as a last-choice measure, but the caller has several chances to reach a live person that can help before they reach the voicemail option.
Small businesses also depend heavily on internal calls to request assistance on a job, confirm instructions or to transfer parts from one worker to another. With AT&T Enhanced Mobile, each user can be assigned a 3-digit code (like an “extension number” on a wired telephone system) making it much easier for employees to contact one another. And when they call a customer from their mobile, the business’ name and telephone number is displayed.
Best of all, the employees use the same mobile device they’ve always used with its native features (directory, calendar, multi-function voice/text/email capability, etc.) the same way they always have, because the intelligence resides in the network.
Many small businesses have already transitioned to cellular as their primary method of communications, and AT&T Enhanced Mobile now gives them a mobile communications solution with the same key business features found in those last-century wired telephone systems. The lesson is that even if you’re a “small business,” with a cloud-based mobile business service like AT&T Enhanced Mobile, you can present an efficient, modern appearance to your customers while operating your business entirely on mobile services that keep you and your employees continuously engaged and accessible to your customers.
In our increasingly competitive business environment, small businesses need to be efficient, productive and responsive to customers while controlling costs. Good communications, particularly mobile communications, are key to meeting those objectives, and businesses now have to means to go mobile-first or mobile-only to stay ahead of the curve.