At The UC Buyer, we’ve heard scores of stories about what makes for a successful, or unsuccessful, UC or UCaaS deployment. Assuming tha the company does the necessary legwork to be sure their network is ready to handle voice and video communications (nothing is going to turn people off to UC quicker than consistent jitter), the one word that comes up over and over again is ‘adoption’. If the business embraces the new technology and makes it part of their work culture and their daily processes, it is usually considered a major success.
But what does it take to get companies to the point where leveraging UC consistently is just the way things are done? According to Zena Zuniga, the Manager of Customer Support at ANPI, it is important to realize that UC may not be for every business. “For very small, single location companies with limited remote workers, Unified Communications can be seen as overkill depending on the industry. Companies that can really benefit from UC often have a mobile workforce, perhaps multiple locations, salespeople on the road and employees that work remotely at least part of the time. For companies that have stakeholders in multiple locations, UC can really shine.”
Planning, Messaging and Training all Vital to Creating UC Culture
“A common mistake I’ve seen companies make is not spending the time upfront to understand what the employees need to accomplish their daily objectives as well as what solutions will help them be more productive,” says Zuniga. Getting the team involved in the project early on and focusing on benefits can ease the transition to a new solution. “Remember, this can be a big adjustment for employees...the phones are different, the software is a big change. By getting the team on-board with ways that UC can create greater flexibility for them and allow for better collaboration, employees will approach UC with a more open mind.”
Dig Deeper: Download - Hosted Unified Communications Key Features and Benefits
Another important aspect we’ve discussed here in the past is the role that executive champions can play in Unified Communications deployments. The corporate leader driving the project is in a unique position to clearly communicate why the company is implementing UC (again making the messaging benefit focused) and set clear expectations around adoption and usage. “Early and on-going positive messaging from executives, especially when combined with clear expectations, can set the table for a successful deployment and the embracing of a collaborative culture,” explained Zuniga.
A final area that needs to be checked off the to-do list is employee training. Be sure to pay plenty of attention to live and online training, focus on the basics for everyone and provide customized, more detailed training based on user type. Be sure to integrate use cases and real world examples into the training as often as possible. Related: To Maximize UC Adoption Don’t Skimp on Employee Training
Managers Are Key to Day-to-Day UC Usage and Adoption
No matter how well you plan, communicate and train, if the managers aren’t on-board and driving usage, your UC deployment may just end up looking like a new phone system to your employees. According to Zuniga, “Managers have to lead by example and push their team to use the tools with them. They need to use the tools themselves and encourage their workers - especially the older ones - to step out of their comfort zone. If done properly this creates real cultural change, and not only that it can make relationships better, more interactive and more fun.”
Have the UC Application Open Every Day
According to Zuniga, if you want to have a business that has a collaborative culture, it is not enough to just have new phones on your desk, the UC application has to be open on your computer or mobile device every day. Managers in companies with successful UC deployments start with Presence Management and Instant Messaging. By insisting that each of their team members have their soft client open and keep their availability accurate the team can start more effectively communicating and collaborating. “It only takes one or two examples of IM saving you from a major headache to make it part of the way you do business. By taking the lead on this, managers will find it much easier to reach their team, communicate with them and pull together group conversations as needed. IM out a link to a web conference and suddenly team members are using advanced UC features without even knowing it.”
Another benefit of having the application open every day is that employees will see incoming calls as a screen pop. “When team members are provided the option of answering the call on their computer it can be a real game changer. Add a headset into the mix for hands free conversations and your productivity starts to skyrocket.” Related: How headsets can positively impact UC adoption
Make Meetings Mandatory
Continuing to extend UC beyond IM and phone calls means managers need to get employees into the habit of using UC for meetings. “Townhall meetings and team meetings are a great way to do this,” says Zuniga. “Scheduling the weekly team meeting and having everybody join the web conference quickly becomes just the way things are done. Getting everyone to join with video is the next step.”
One on one meetings can be enhanced as well. Zena shared a story about one of her team members who was struggling with a problem one of their customers was having and was having trouble explaining the situation over IM. They quickly escalated to a phone call, which still didn’t provide enough clarity. “So I told her to share her screen with me. She said she didn’t know how to do that, or even that she could. I walked her through the two clicks that were necessary and we solved the problem in minutes. Needless to say, that is now part of our team’s best practices. It doesn’t take long once you realize how easy it is.”
What about your business? Have you been successful in creating a UC-centric, collaborative culture? What did it take? Share your stories and best practices in the comments section below.