Tim Meredith, Director of Communications and Collaboration at Daisy Group, explains the problem-solving abilities that hosted telephony has to offer the manufacturing sector.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), is becoming increasingly popular with businesses of all sizes and sectors. However, it appears that in the manufacturing industry, its applications and benefits are only just starting to catch on.
In simple terms, VoIP technology converts voice calls into data and transmits them over the internet, rather than via a standard phone line.
So what exactly does VoIP technology have to offer manufacturing firms?
1) Free communication between departments and sites
Effective team collaboration is vital when managing and delivering projects, however, maintaining this high level of communication can be difficult and expensive, especially when fellow colleagues are based in another department, a different site, or in the field. With VoIP, however, internal call costs are reduced or eliminated entirely because the call is carried over the internet, rather than a traditional phone line. Providing all employees are registered as VoIP users with the same network, most VoIP service providers offer calls between different departments and sites which are free of charge, meaning you can make as many internal calls as necessary, without having to worry about any resulting charges.
2) Business scalability
The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving, and, generally speaking, the more agile and resilient to change a business is, the more successful it is likely to be. VoIP is delivered on a per-seat basis, which makes it simple and hassle-free to add and remove users as staff numbers change. Due to the system being cloud-hosted, handsets can easily be moved to another internet connection too.
3) High definition voice quality
In a manufacturing setting, background noise can make it difficult for staff to hear and be heard, which can affect whether or not instructions are delivered effectively. This leads to mistakes which have knock-on effects for productivity and health and safety. Audio quality is far superior on a VoIP system, compared to its analogue predecessor. This is due to VoIP’s ability to switch between narrowband (standard definition) and wideband (high definition), which means it is capable of offering more sound quality.
4) No geographic restrictions
Despite decline in recent years, the UK is the eleventh largest global manufacturer and the industry equates to approximately 80% of the country’s exports. With fierce competition, firms need to maximise their chances of success by making themselves accessible to potential customers throughout the country, and even the world. One of VoIP’s features lies in the fact that it is hosted remotely. As a result, non-geographic numbers can be assigned, unlike on traditional telephone systems which are restricted by area codes. For small manufacturing businesses wanting to establish themselves, this can be highly beneficial, as it means they are not automatically linked to a defined geographic area, hence limiting their potential customer base.
5) Meet industry compliance
Whilst it is great for building relationships with clients and suppliers, there are risks associated with taking or placing orders by phone. Most VoIP systems give you the option for call recording, enabling you to keep a record of all outgoing and incoming calls. This helps to minimise errors when taking orders and protects your firm from liability, should it ever come under scrutiny from customers or suppliers. Call recording can also be used to promote best practice with regards to customer satisfaction, as recordings can be used to train sales and customer service teams on how to deal with calls and manage customer enquiries.
6) One number, no ties
Mobility is very important for executives and managers in the manufacturing industry who constantly need to move to different departments and visit different sites. As a result, calls to traditional landlines are often missed and retrieval of voice messages can be delayed, which can be detrimental to the business. However, with VoIP it is possible for the phone number to be shared between multiple devices, whether the member of staff is in the office, at home or on the road. VoIP works by allocating virtual numbers, meaning that a call can be picked up on a range of devices, providing there is an internet connection. To the caller, it will appear as though the worker is still at their desk, when in reality, they could be anywhere.
7) Integrate all your applications
In the manufacturing industry, where firms are large, and information is fragmented across various departments, there is a growing need for a variety of applications to share data across the entire business. When using a traditional telephone, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to juggle the different systems and applications simultaneously. VoIP, however, can integrate with a range of applications, including customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). For example, if a customer rings up and asks for an update, it is possible for the receptionist to find their details automatically, including when they last phoned, who they dealt with and any important updates, with ease using the integrated CRM system. Similarly, the compatibility with ERP and ticketing systems, means that communication between teams and divisions can be easily attained. If the receptionist needs to speak to a member of the production department in order to gather urgent project information, they can use VoIP’s click-to-dial function to communicate instantly. This streamlined approach helps firms to provide better quality communication and collaboration.
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