Author: Laura Jane Crocker – Campaign & Content Specialist, Sangoma
As a modern-day government employee, you’re hyperconnected. Whether you’re out in the field, engaging with constituents, responding to emails, or answering countless calls, you rely heavily on secure and quality communications solutions.
However, the legacy phone systems found in many government offices don’t offer the advanced Unified Communications (UC) features that you desperately need to stay on top of your responsibilities. While budgetary constraints often hinder upgrades, the 2018 United Nations e-Government Survey reports that communicating via telephone is the second most cost-effective channel in government offices. Additionally, phone calls remain the preferred method of contacting government agencies for constituents, with 80 percent of users calling contact centers rather than utilizing other available methods.
With so many call center features available, it might seem a bit daunting to identify what will fulfill the needs of you and your staff. Here are five UC features that will revolutionize your government office:
Remote work and telecommuting are now major players in almost all industries, including government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 percent of employees did all or most of their work from home in 2016. This presents new challenges to public employees who need to stay in contact with the office and their constituents. On a typical day, you more than likely won’t be glued to your desk, and that means sacrificing connectivity. However, UC solutions offer you access to softphone mobile apps that:
Allow you to manage your calls without giving out your private cell phone number
Adjust your status or presence on the go
Make calls from your office extension on your cell phone
In implementing UC solutions, you’re virtually eliminating the need to sift through missed calls or keep your desk phone in sight. Mobility features allow you to stay on the go and keep you connected with staff and the community.
Voicemail to Email
Once you’re out of the office, calls will continue to come through — which can leave you wrangling a full voicemail box in the morning. And with this, you’re bound to miss important messages and find yourself scrolling through endless call logs. But with a UC feature like visual voicemail, your voicemails will appear in your email inbox where they can be sorted, prioritized, deleted, archived and more. Gone are the days where your mornings are devoted to making your way past old voicemails only to reach the one you need to access.
The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) reports that an estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 annually— and that’s only one government agency. With the call center features offered with UC solutions, you can implement and manage call queues of varying complexity. And you’re not limited to external communications. Modern UC solutions allow you to set up call queues to your main line, IT, and other departments within your organization. So, if you’re an IT admin who’s swamped with calls, a UC solution can help you divvy the workload with your staff. Or if you’re an office manager needing to address a high call volume, call queues allow you to manage which extensions receive the next call, set caller priority, and more.
Interactive voice response (IVR) is one of the most functional tools for streamlining your government office. When a constituent calls your phone, an IVR can:
Direct them to the correct department or extension using pre-recorded menu options
Play messages that inform constituents of new websites, phone numbers, or other updates
Facilitate automatic payment systems and other functions
If someone calls the DMV, for example, an IVR can help filter calls or play back messages that notify the caller of their ability to complete a task online – helping you manage in-office visitors and potentially answering a caller’s question before it gets to your extension.
While these are only a few of the UC features available, it’s easy to see just how beneficial a new phone system could be in your office. The simple addition of any of these features could cut out the dated, inefficient communications processes you’ve been working with for years, and it won’t break the bank.