As small businesses strive to be more connected to each other and customers, they are embracing Unified Communications. UC integrates desk phones, PCs and mobile devices along with a host of collaboration capabilities, such as voice, email, instant messaging (IM), and conferencing – audio, video and web – into one platform that makes it easy to connect with the right person from anywhere using any device.

Let’s say you run a marketing firm and are talking to your web developer, who works remotely, about the web design for a client. While you are on the phone, you decide it would help to launch a web conference to provide visual input on what the client wants to achieve. With your UC system, you can launch the conference right from your PC and continue to talk with your team member over the phone.

While UC enhances collaboration, it also helps boost your small business bottom line in a number of ways:

Enhance productivity

Time is money. UC enhances the productivity of your small business team members in a number of ways. For starters, with UC all of your messages are accessible through the convenience of one interface, eliminating the time it takes to check the inboxes of multiple devices. Also consider how much more efficient you can be handling a phone inquiry from a customer when you can conduct a chat session with another colleague at the same time to get answers to questions.

Trying to find people to schedule a meeting is also a big time waster. Through the use of presence – a status display that enables you to know another employee is available — you know when someone can take a call or get on a video conference for a quick meeting.

UC also aids productivity while you are on the go by enabling Find me/Follow me, which allows an extension to ring multiple extensions or outside telephone numbers. With Find Me/Follow Me, you choose one number to give out – it can even be a virtual number. When someone dials that number, the IP telephony system routes the calls to all the numbers you have selected – office phone, mobile number, home phone or other — at the same time or sequentially.  If, after routing the call to all the numbers, you still don’t answer; the system will leave the call in your voice mail. UC systems will send the message to your email so that you can play it right from your inbox or read it as a text. Through UC, if you want someone else to handle the call, you can forward the email and message with your own instructions. You also can integrate Find Me/Follow Me with instant messaging to get an alert when a message arrives.

Reduce travel

If your customers are across the country or across the sea, UC can help reduce travel expenses. While a first meeting with a customer out of state might require an in-person meeting, after that you can fulfill the need for face-to-face communication through the video conferencing capabilities of your UC system.  And as pointed out in the example above,  you can share presentations, documents, spreadsheets and more through the convenience of web conferencing and conduct a simultaneous audio conference or a chat session.

Cut interviewing and training costs

UC makes the training and interviewing process easier and less costly. You can conduct face-to-face meetings with applicants who are remote without the cost of flying them out to your small business headquarters. You even can save time with local candidates by conducting a first meeting via video conference.

When it comes to training, regardless of where your employees are located, you can conduct regular training sessions over web or video conference and have everyone attend. Since you can record the session, you can send the link to employees who might not be able to attend or need a refresher from time to time.

Reduce office space costs

With more remote workers working out of home offices or even at coworking spaces, you may be able to cut down on the costs of real estate for your small business. Also with UC’s extension dialing feature, which uses a three- or four-digit number, your small business looks like everyone is in one location since callers don’t know where the extension is when they dial it.

Headsets help answer the call to UC

With so many connected communication devices and tools integrated into the UC experience, you and your small business team need a singular – one touch – control to facilitate communication and collaboration. Headsets meet that need by simplifying connectivity to your range of devices and applications, knowing when you’re wearing a headset and routing calls accordingly, and providing sophisticated notifications that a call is coming in.

Find about more Plantronics UC headsets that work seamlessly across a range of communications devices, such as the just announced Voyager Focus UC. The new headset provides active noise cancellation (ANC) and dynamic Hi-Fi stereo and works seamlessly across Bluetooth-enabled desk phones, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and even smart watches.