It’s not unusual for tech offerings to be defined in different ways, depending on who you talk to. “Unified Communications as a Service” or “UCaaS” is no exception. Some solutions may offer everything imaginable, but others may not even be considered “unified communications” by other people’s standards. As a result, your clients may come to you a little confused and disillusioned, unsure of what a unified communications solution is and whether it’s worth the investment.
Software Advice created a checklist of UC features that can help you and your clients determine whether an offering is truly UC:
- Audio, video and web conferencing
- Unified messaging
- Instant messaging
- Mobile capabilities and a single identity across devices
- Unified dial plan
- Administrative interface
- API library for third-party integrations
Is “UC Lite” the Answer?
Not all unified communications solutions, however, include – or need to have – all of the advanced conferencing and collaboration functions that UC solutions designed for enterprises offer. Software Advice explains that these “UC Lite” solutions may focus mainly on telephony, unified messaging and mobility. There may also be limits to scalability or provisioning web or video conferencing.
Megan Fernandez, a principal research analyst at Gartner, told SA that your SMB clients might “just want something that works and that’s reliable and easy to use. So no matter how many bells and whistles there are, they’re simply not going to need them for their line of business.”
UCaaS Features Everyone Needs
Although functionality can differ among UCaaS solutions designed for enterprises vs. SMBs, there are some solution features that none of your clients should ever compromise on:
- Support: Choose a UCaaS solution from vendors that invest in quality support for you and your clients. Leading global providers use the follow-the-sun model that allows issues to be passed to different offices in different time zones to provide true, around-the-clock support and minimize client downtime. If your client’s facilities are located within the same geographic area, they may want to work with a domestic support center. Also, ensure your clients can get help in the manner they prefer – voice, email or chat.
- Reliability: Communications are crucial to your clients’ business operations and revenues, so downtime is never acceptable. The solution you choose must be reliable. Additionally, you can use your expertise in disaster recovery and business continuity to add value to the UCaaS solution by ensuring your clients always have the means to communicate.
- Ease of Use: When your client decides to invest in UCaaS, they are looking for an ROI that includes greater productivity and efficiency, along with communication and collaboration options. If the solution requires too much effort from end users, it may have the opposite effect or hinder full adoption. The solution and its integration with business applications should make connecting, communicating, and recordkeeping as easy as possible.
- Customization: Some of your clients may want a platform that enables them to customize their UC solution or integrate with third-party applications. If that’s the case, make sure the UCaaS solution you choose is based on open standards and can provide access to an API to facilitate the integrations your client needs.
- Affordability: Carefully evaluate the vendor’s pricing structure, so you and your client understand how the service will be billed, whether per line, per device, or seat. Also, consider whether service and support are offered as a bundle or if there will be extra charges.
Be the Expert Your Clients Need
Building a solution around UCaaS that will provide your client with the functionality they need and help them reach their productivity goals takes extensive knowledge of the UCaaS and telephony solutions available, what each offers, and which are best for your client’s operation. Providing accurate information and guiding clients toward the best decisions can set the stage for a long, mutually beneficial business relationship.
To learn about UCaaS solutions available to your clients, see our UCaaS product comparison.