A Modern Phone System for the Way We Work Today
The evolution of work and the rise of the Modern Company
The core technology and philosophies behind traditional phone systems were developed when most work was done by people sitting at desks in office buildings. Companies changed and grew slowly and customer expectations were relatively static. Not much about the way people used telephones to communicate with businesses changed from the 50’s through the end of the century.
Then something happened. Use of the Internet became more widespread and disrupted our thinking about what it means to run a business. Old assumptions about work were challenged and new tools for productivity and collaboration emerged. Internet enabled mobile devices added fuel to the fire and today’s mobile, flexible, social and always-on modern company was born.
What Makes a Modern Phone System?
If you want to be a modern company, you need to communicate like one. In order to match the way companies and workers operate today, modern companies should:
Stop managing your phone system
Smart business leaders know that they can most easily succeed by focusing on the functions and activities that are core to the business. Traditional PBX systems are supported, maintained and managed by your staff; modern ones are managed by vendors that can specialize in enabling a mobile workforce, driving revenue, delivering important business metrics and designing a service experience that doesn’t impact IT.
You know you are out of the business of running a phone system if:
- End users contact the vendor, not your IT team for support
- New licenses and services can be added on the fly, with no scale limitations
- Software upgrades happen automatically
- You can transfer calls from anywhere
- You get one predictable, monthly invoice from one vendor
Your phone system is a source of revenue. Treat it like one
The time when a business phone system simply was a necessary cost of doing business has passed. Like every other technology investment, a modern business phone system is strategic and helps contribute dollars to the bottom line. Integration, intelligence and enablement are the keys to making this happen.
Traditional phone systems are like islands of technology. They function completely outside of the key systems that run the business. Modern VoIP phone systems can be configured to integrate with core applications like the CRM, ERP or ATS. When the systems are fused together, each becomes more powerful, employees become more productive and better business intelligence starts to emerge. In short, modern phone systems do not simply stand alone. They become an integral part of your company’s business technology ecosystem.
In today’s data driven world, users of a modern phone system expect it to do more than just let them take and make phone calls. It must also provide valuable insight into the health of the business. The modern hosted PBX phone system plays a role in optimizing staffing levels, evaluating employee performance, analyzing marketing spend and understanding customer behavior. Just like with mobile devices, it is not what your phone system does that makes it “smart,” it’s what it knows.
Sales & Service Enablement
These days, there are countless ways for sales and service representatives to engage with prospects and customers. Email, social media and in-person meetings all have their place, but for most organizations, the most important revenue driving interactions still occur over the telephone. A modern business phone system must simplify the life of your representatives, making them more productive, while providing data and analytics that drive business decisions. The best virtual PBX solutions take this one step further by becoming a powerful tool for faster onboarding. Training, coaching and best practices implementation are the keys to bringing a new representative onboard successfully and your phone system, if it is truly modern, will provide the tools and data to ensure new representative success.
Many of us are living in a post-cubicle world. We work from home, airplanes, hotels and coffee shops. Mobile technologies have untied us from our desks, but traditional office phone systems remain tethered. Modern phone systems enable work from anywhere and keep company unity intact. This one comes with an acid test. If you can’t use a desk phone, softphone or mobile phone to transfer a call to a co-worker, even if you aren’t in the office, you aren’t using a modern phone system.
Never buy a phone system again
While there are many benefits to cloud based technology, perhaps the most important, is that cloud-based solutions are always new. Customers who subscribed two years ago have access to the same features and upgrades as customers who buy today. There is nothing modern about the painful, do-it-yourself hardware and software upgrades required to support a traditional PBX.
ShoreTel – The Makers of the Modern Phone System
As you can see, many elements go into the modern phone system. A great solution must have the right mix of technology, service and innovation. It is unlikely those are the words that pop into your head when you think about your last telecommunications provider. Businesses searching for a modern phone system to support the way they work today, should use technology, service and innovation to benchmark solution providers. Warning sirens should go off when any vendor refuses to share details about each of these elements.
ShoreTel Sky Cloud Technology
The core technology at the heart of the ShoreTel Sky solution was built from the ground up as a cloud-based application. Delivering voice as a service is not an afterthought with ShoreTel Sky. In fact we delivered one of the very first hosted business phone systems because we realized that this delivery model was the only way to create a solution that would be as agile as modern business and would remain evergreen.
As the creator of the modern phone system, ShoreTel understands that business demands enterprise-class data integrity, application reliability and physical safeguards. The goal of eliminating all single points of failure is the reason for our investment in several levels of redundancy to maximize uptime for your business. ShoreTel Sky is co-located in multiple carrier grade facilities with advanced power, security, network and fire suppression technologies built-in to ensure operation, even in the event of severe natural or manmade disasters.
It is a little known fact that many telephone system vendors license core VoIP system software (sometimes called the “softwsitch”) from a third party software developer. Very early on, our team asked if this best way to deliver the flexible and adaptable solution that customers really wanted. How can you react to new technology advancements, customer requests and market changes if you don’t own the technology at the very heart of the solution? You can’t. That’s why we developed the ShoreTel Sky Call Conductor. This core software makes it possible for the ShoreTel solution to stay modern as the new paradigm of work continues to take shape.
Service – The ShoreTel Sky Experience
We describe our mission as providing phone systems and applications with an experience that businesses love. Each new client is provided with resources dedicated to managing a smooth transition through the process from beginning to end. Experts work with internal IT resources or a trusted third party to deliver a complete, certified and integrated solution. The experience doesn’t stop there. At a time when most companies are making it more and more difficult to reach a live person for customer support, we offer direct user support at the touch of a button. If a customer has an urgent issue or a question to discuss with a member of the support team, they simply press a button on their ShoreTel Sky phone and select the option to call support. There’s no need to look up a phone number or request a call back, the ShoreTel Sky team is just a button away.
ShoreTel Sky Customer Satisfaction
We use two key metrics to measure customer satisfaction. The first is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a straightforward metric that holds companies and their staff accountable for how they handle customers.
Customers are asked one simple question, “How likely are you to refer our service to a friend or colleague?” The results are used to generate an objective score, which we share publicly. We proactively contact our entire client base twice a year to obtain their feedback and clients can change their score at any time. The second metric we use to measure customer satisfaction is the length of time we retain our clients. Our contracts are annual, so customers can leave after just 12 months, but they don’t. Our average length of retention is seven years. Any company claiming to compete under modern rules should be happy to share their average length of retention.
ShoreTel Sky Trust
We are alone in the hosted PBX industry in providing publicly available, real-time access to our network performance and customer satisfaction statistics. That’s right. Our clients, prospects and even competitors can check us out without any log in credentials. We do this for two reasons. First, we feel that this is important information that our clients and associates should know. We are proud of our record and eager to share. Second, making this information publicly available sends a message to our entire team that providing an experience that clients love is the heart of what we do. As any public servant or celebrity will tell you, in the modern environment, there is nowhere to hide.
ShoreTel Sky Innovation: What’s Next?
When looking for a modern phone system, one must pass beyond what it does today and understand how it will deliver on what you will need tomorrow, even if you don’t have any idea what that is. How is that possible? By understanding the vendor’s history of anticipating future market demands, by questioning their product development philosophy and methodologies and by having a look at the roadmap. Does the company develop new features only when they are demanded by the next big prospect, or do they have an approach that takes into account the changing business environment and new ways getting things done?
The ShoreTel Sky team is constantly working on new technologies and ideas. Our mobility solutions, cloud-to-cloud application integrations and unified communications approach are just a few of the innovations that helped us secure a Leaders position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. What’s more, we work with our customers and invite them to share their ideas for new products, solution improvements and better ways of doing business together.
So are you ready?
Selecting the best modern phone system for your company doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, we believe it should be an easy, enjoyable and informative process. Let’s get started.