Industry talking to customers What's this? How the latest digital tools help small and mid-sized businesses compete with the giants Published: March 21st, 2017 By: IT World Canada In the digital era, size no longer matters. Smaller companies are competing on a level playing field with larger ones “thanks to technology”, says one industry watcher.“We’ve seen shifts in the industry mid-market, with lots of new companies popping up in the last five years,” says Miles Davis, mid-market leader with Avaya. “Everywhere you look, we’re seeing small, born in the cloud companies stepping up to compete with the big brands.” Companies like Uber and AirBnB are early examples of this trend.That’s good news for Canada where small and medium enterprises account for over 99 per cent of the Canadian market. Many smaller companies are quickly embracing digital transformation, adopting tools that give them the ability to communicate with customers regardless of their location or device.“If businesses can offer different modes of communication, they’re more likely to deliver a better customer experience versus a big company that struggles to deliver a personal touch,” says Davis.Customer experience is the new battlegroundCustomer expectations have changed profoundly as a result of the explosion of digital choice and the acceleration of innovation. Consumers want their products fast and across multiple channels. According to a Gartner survey, 90% of companies expect to compete almost entirely on the basis of customer experience within the next two years. Companies that relied solely on the quality of their product now have to reconsider their market approach and smaller businesses are ideally positioned to move quickly to seize the opportunity.Consumer demands are heightened by the rise of mobile technology, which has created a world focused on real-time, always-on communication. The employees who serve customers expect the same speed and versatility as they have when they make a restaurant reservation on a mobile device.Technology, like Avaya’s IP Office, can help small and mid-sized companies engage with end users through omni-channel communications. “IP Office has come of age because of the need to focus on customer experience,” says Davis. This all-in-one solution provides messaging, customer management, and conferencing, with full functionality on mobile devices. It allows a small business to communicate the way the customer wants, whether by phone call, text or video conference, for example. As well, the system is content-aware, so the agent knows about any previous interactions with the customer. “It adds up to superior customer service,” says Davis.Improving business outcomes Not only do these tools help businesses engage with their customers better, they make employees more productive. According to a Gallup report, when organizations successfully engage their customers and their employees, they experience a 240 per cent boost in performance-related business outcomes.With this technology, small businesses can better control costs as they grow. IP Office is available as a subscription service, in an on-premise, cloud or hybrid model. “Taking advantage of the cloud puts less pressure on internal support and can be easily scaled up or down,” says Davis. Avaya has deployed over 35,000 IP Office systems in Canada, resulting in a 25 per cent lower total cost of ownership for businesses.These are the benefits seen by Crossing Studios, a fast-growing production facility in Vancouver. The company expanded from one to eight production facilities almost overnight, resulting in separate phone systems at each location. It also had to deal with clients that needed scalable facilities in short time frames. IP Office provided seamless, scalable and always-on communications services across all eight studios. It helped save Crossing Studios at least $100,000 in staffing costs in the first year. “We needed something that would support our rapid growth, support our clients, and grow bottom line,” says Mark Herrmann, chief technical officer, Crossing Studios. “Thanks to IP Office and the Unity Solutions hosted cloud model, we’re able to keep pace with these dynamic, fast moving productions, staying as flexible as our clients need us to be.”Find out how you can grow your business with Avaya’s IP Office.