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Using Microsoft Lync to conduct virtual client meetings

Using a professional visual and audio system such as Microsoft Lync to communicate with your clients outside of face-to-face meetings can be a boon for adviser firms, writes Rosie Jackson,
 head of Product Proposition for Outsourcery


There are many challenges facing service-based companies, including financial advice, that technology and cloud computing in particular are well placed to solve. Let’s take one element of this: communication. For many businesses, communication with clients is a key aspect of their success. Regular face-to-face contact is very important to build relationships and loyalty. However, this can sometimes be difficult to achieve easily and also quite time consuming; hours spent travelling to and from clients is an ineffective use of time and a potentially wasted opportunity to meet new clients.

Integration is also a key issue for businesses with regard to client contact. Whether you’re trying to use visual tools when speaking to a client on the phone or trying to present while using instant messenger, when two services aren’t designed to synchronise, it can waste valuable time when you’re trying to fix the issue and you can look disorganised and unprofessional to a client.

Saving costs is another example of a challenge that service-based and many other companies are facing. IT maintenance and upgrades are obvious cost considerations but other expenses like general office equipment and travel are often the overlooked costs that add up.

A unified solution
There are various solutions available that address each challenge individually but Microsoft Lync, a complete unified communications solution for businesses, is an example of an offering that can remedy all of the issues raised above. The communications facility allows users to connect via instant messaging, chat, voice, video, or by sharing an application or PowerPoint for webinars. In addition to this, users can use this service on their mobile devices.

Using Lync, businesses can have face-to-
face contact with clients easily and regularly.
The document sharing and video conferencing capabilities offer businesses new ways of communicating with existing clients and even presenting to potential new ones. Rather than wasting time driving to and from clients for hours, you can deal with queries in a matter of moments and still be able to offer a personal experience. Lync offers a range of services that are integrated and designed to work with each other smoothly, so organising a webinar, and sharing a presentation at the same time can be a seamless experience.

Lync as a cloud-based solution
In terms of controlling expenditure, Lync can be offered as a cloud-based pay- as-you-go service, removing upfront costs to the end-user. Offering Lync as a service also means that any issues that may arise can be resolved by an expert who can be available straight away. All you need to do is make a phone call to one number to resolve any issues to do with the range of services on offer. This is especially beneficial for groups like small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), who may struggle to account for the upfront cost of the solution. SMBs also don’t often have a dedicated IT department or the in-house expertise to deal with technical problems when they arise and so implementing a new on-premise solution requires a great deal of preparation.

Using Lync as a cloud based solution means that it can also offer the flexibility of mobile working. All the features of Lync can be accessed in the office, at home and on the go on mobile devices, which diminishes their need for office- based facilities and equipment and the annoyance of regular travel expenses. With the popularity
of mobile devices increasing among employees, and the useful potential being realised, many businesses are finding that they need to consider the possibility of employees conducting business from multiple spaces. There are great benefits to working flexibility and being mobile, and having the ability to conduct business from wherever you are undoubtedly increases productivity in spaces of time that would have otherwise been wasted.

There are many advantages to implementing Microsoft Lync for effective business operations and even more advantages to using cloud-based Lync. There are several providers that offer Lync as a cloud-based solution, and it is important
to consider as many options as possible before deciding what is right for your business. A good provider will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the process and offer a bespoke service to cater to the individual needs of your business. The most important thing is to make sure that you have all the information at hand from the outset so you can make an informed decision.

• Approaching a Lync cloud provider rather that deploying
on premise can cut costs while also giving you access to the specialist skill to implement and maintain your system.
• Businesses can gain quick and easy access to innovative
tools to communicate with your clients and you can be up and running in a matter of days.
• You only need one supplier for all your communication needs; this includes telephony, instant messaging, voice and video conferencing and webinars. This also means that you only need one number to call for support.
• The Lync cloud solution is supported by off-site experts, so you don’t need to have the in-house expertise if any issues arise.
• Businesses have no need for large upfront investments, it’s a Opex not Capex model and you pay a monthly subscription per user. You can also gain quick access to the functionality without impacting your capital.
• The service can help you to reduce costs for travel, telephony and conferencing whilst always allowing immediate contact
with your clients, solving the issue of regular face-to-face client contact.
• Lync cloud can introduce flexible working to your organisation so staff can work from anywhere and on any device. This also reduces costs for office equipment.
Questions to ask yourself when looking for a Lync cloud provider
• What previous expertise does the cloud provider have in deploying Lync? Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials and also any case studies to see how other companies have utilised the technology and their experience.
• How do they guarantee call quality and quality of service (QoS)? You want the ability to hold clear voice and video conversations and should ask how quality can be guaranteed.
• Does the provider offer a complete end-to-end solution so you can carry out voice, video and webinar conferences with internal colleagues and external clients? A lot of companies provide only one aspect of the Lync offering, such as the platform or the telephony so be sure to ask the provider if its offering includes the ability to make and receive internal and external calls and conferencing.
• What expertise do they have in-house to support your solution? Do they have Microsoft Certified Practitioners?
• What service availability SLA do they offer? You don’t want
to be without the ability to make and receive calls. What availability are you guaranteed, and what measures are taken if these aren’t met? Do they offer any kind of business continuity?
• What security processes and procedures do they follow to protect your data?
Do they have any accreditations for data security such as ISO?
• And finally, question the provider on what makes the platform resilient. How they can guarantee security and if your data will be stored in the UK?

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