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Unified Communications

Demystifying Unified Communications

At General Communications, we frequently receive questions about Unified Communications. Businesses hear the buzz, but they are ultimately left with more questions than answers.

What is Unified Communications?

UC integrates several modes of business communication into a single user-friendly interface. Simply put, everything an employee typically uses for communication (such as Call Handling, Voice Conferencing, Email, Fax, Texting, IM, Voicemail, etc.) are available to the user on his/her PC as well as from the telephone set.

What are the Benefits to the Business?

Customers, Employees and the Organization all gain from more efficient, flexible and more functional communications. Employees are given the flexibility to communicate with coworkers, customers and suppliers using methods that best suit their needs. This gives the business a leg up on its competition when it comes to customer service and recruiting new employees.

What Features are Included in a UC System?

Standard features:

  • VOIP: IP desk telephones that are connected to the businesss LAN & can use the same cable as the users PC
  • Call Control: Call handling, such as answering, transferring & conferencing voice telephone calls via the users PC
  • IM/Chat: Instant messaging co-workers via users PC
  • VC: Video conferencing via the users PC
  • VM: Voicemail retrieve and listen via the PC
  • Email: Voicemail to email integration
  • SMS: Texting via the users PC

Nonstandard (typically, optional) Features:

  • Remote Home/Office IP Telephones: Connected via the WAN/Internet
  • SIP TRUNKS: Central office lines over the business WAN/Internet
  • Mobility: Cloning cellular telephone & home/office telephones with the users desk telephone
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Ability to use your smart phone as your main extension, with all the features of your desk phone including extention to extension dialing, transferring, etc.
  • FAX: The ability to send & receive fax messages on the users PC
  • Call Record: The ability to record calls on demand or always(real-time)
Mobile Devices Aid Productivity

Mobility allows individuals who are away from their desks to answer calls on their mobile phones. This technology provides the employee with an alternative to endlessly retrieving voicemail. It allows seamless switching from mobile phone to desk phone and vice versa during a call depending upon the needs of the situation.

Wi-Fi Mobility Circumvents Roaming & Long Distance Charges:
Calls from mobile devices can use Wi-Fi networks to connect back to the telephone system eliminating cellular telephone roaming and LD charges.

UC Optimizes Voicemail Management

Retrieving and managing voicemails using the telephone keypad has never been very convenient. UC allows voicemail messages to be retrieved via PC with a visual interface much like an email client. Employees are able to scroll through voicemails to find the most important messages. You may forward or reply to voicemails in the same fashion as an email, by simply clicking a command. This allows them to give customers better service which improves the value/image of the organization.

Call Record, Call Documentation benefits the Customer:

Call Record allows businesses to document the interactions between its employees and its consumers. This allows the company to be compliant with federal regulations. It also protects customers as well as the business and its employees from liability including accusations of improper activities, errors/omissions, or malpractice.

UC Implementation and Training

Some businesses have an IT department and some do not. In either case, the network implementation requirements of UC are well-documented and straightforward. Preparation and training make for a smooth transition. More important is end-user training. This is the most effective way to ensure that the new technology will be used as planned.

VLAN: Best LAN Architecture For UC

The goal is to have everything play nice on your network. It is necessary to recognize that voice is real-time data and data from your business operations software & CRM is not. It is proven that hard-wired VLANS and wireless VLANS are part of the best practice for UC. It allows integrators the ability to separate the data forms so that each can be managed separately. This prevents any network traffic congestion that could disrupt activity.