Market musings

Usability, Mobility, Flexibility: 3 Keys to Smarter Business Phone Solutions

by Sasha Viasasha
March 8, 2018

The mobile device liberated business from the office, allowing greater immersion in the real world, and a better understanding of markets and prevailing conditions. Sometimes, though, business technology has been a bit slow to keep up with the needs of entrepreneurs and business people. In contrast, consumer technology has often raced ahead in building products that truly empower users to handle all their day-to-day tasks from anywhere, at any time.

B2C tech companies often went beyond their user expectations and found solutions that were unexpected but so useful and functional that they delighted and won over their audience. These companies understood well the needs of their users, and if the solution was unexpected, the need it answered was well defined and urgent—this has been a winning formula in the consumer app market.  

While this was the case in the consumer app market, the B2B ecosystem has often been slow to catch up. Many business-grade applications were designed in isolation from the markets that would use them, although this is starting to change. Sometimes old legacy technology was bundled into new products, even if it didn’t make sense. Old systems got a digital makeover, but replicated the models that preceded them.

Is it any wonder that many consumer products were quickly adopted by business people, who needed responsive, agile, adaptable solutions? This practice is often referred to as "shadow IT" because business people had to turn to systems that their IT managers and executives didn't approve. People naturally gravitate to any tech that will get the job done in way that is more efficient, easier to work with and more enjoyable to use.

Better answers to common business problems

In many verticals, business solutions that are smart and usable, while providing enterprise grade security and functionality, are only now emerging. By shedding unnecessary complexity and prioritizing usability, business solutions can help empower the mobility and agility that modern businesses require.

This hasn’t always been the case. In the race to relevance, a focus on features rather than the needs of users has resulted in market solutions that were overly complex, with similarly complicated pricing structures and a number of feature bundles. But while features can be attractive during the sales process, too much focus on utility detracts from usability. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the phenomenon that occurs as technology advances, and products become feature-heavy. Their findings were published in the Journal of Marketing Research as “Feature Fatigue: When Product Capabilities Become Too Much of a Good Thing.”

In their comprehensive survey, they found that users assign more weight to capabilities in evaluating their options, but assign more weight to usability in satisfaction surveys after the purchase.

Features make sales, but usability makes satisfied customers.

Usability

At Spoke Phone, we believe that usability is the most important quality for a mobile-first business phone solution. Without great usability, awesome features don’t really matter. Harvard Business Review reported that 56% of users said they couldn't use the tech that they just purchased due to its complexity.

Without better usability in phone systems, mobile workers will default back to using their own smartphone UI and personal phone numbers to handle business efficiently. Usability is first and foremost a well-designed UI, but it also means a basic product that functions, even for the lowest tier user.

Too many small business plans don’t include essential features in their basic plans, leaving users without a service that offers basic functionality and usability.  Usability applies to pricing as well as features, a contract that can’t be readily understood is often the foundation for user dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Mobility

Doing business in the field requires a solution that frees workers from manual processes and makes it easy for them to complete tasks without having to juggle too many applications or processes. Less is more when you have a job to do and while a multi-application solution is the reality for small businesses who can’t afford and don’t need a full-powered enterprise UC solution, small businesses should also be cautious about adding solutions that seem to solve an immediate problem, but aren’t robust enough to fully meet a need. They may need to be substantially modified or replaced as the business grows. 

Usability is a strong component to a mobile-first solution; a simple UI is a must-have for Generation Smartphone, but there are other things to consider. Leaving a voicemail might be easier for a mobile user, but listening to one is not, hence the need for a NLP engine that can reliably turn voicemail messages into readable texts. Likewise, the more important points from a great conversation can easily get lost if you’re not able to jot them down or record them. Being able to save, share and translate to text snippets of your call is an essential next generation feature for smart business phone systems.

Flexibility - Options vs. Features

Although marketers tend to use the terms "options" and "features" interchangeably, there's actually a world of difference. Closed business models require you to choose among sets of features, while more flexible solutions give you options. A flexible solution is one that can scale and grow along with you, evolving with shifting markets and changing according to consumer tastes, often offering a variety of different paths to solve the same problem. 

At Spoke Phone we’ve prioritized usability, mobility, and flexibility -- staying connected to what small business owners need and want most. We want to help you get more calls answered and made now, and make it easy for your team to expand in the near future. We do that with free member-to-member calling even internationally, local DDI numbers in 56+ countries and an full business communication solution that you can set up in 3 minutes or less. 

The New Subscription Model vs Traditional Contracts

The worst excesses of the legacy age are epitomized in the contract model, which retained customer by threatening them with expensive penalties for early termination of the agreement. 

In many ways, a contract is a vestige of the legacy world. As the old analog system continues to be disrupted by the cloud and VoIP technology, new models of delivering service can offer greater flexibility for agile companies, while still securing you a great price. Software as a service is designed to service agile companies, allowing you to pay as you go without the inflexibly and hard terms of the contract era. 

Greater flexibility, greater mobility

Spoke Phone doesn’t lock you into a hard contract. We condensed the essential features of an enterprise-class phone system into a solution for your existing mobile phone. You can use desk phones if you'd like, but you don't need them. The entire application can be managed from your smartphone, and allows you to easily capture and access essential call data, including:

  • Call logs, including missed calls and messages
  • Contact information, organized in a smart directory
  • Availability, live presence, and office hours

Spoke Phone offers features that drive better productivity and business outcomes, allowing teams to easily document and save vital information, and to communicate easily in the field. They can transfer calls, set up call groups, and easily access a shared call log. Missed calls stay visible in the system until someone follows up, allowing a busy team to easily track and manage call traffic. An AI attendant ensures that your callers are always greeted professionally. 

Best of all, there is nothing to setup, install or configure--and it offers a significant cost savings-- up to 88% cheaper than traditional phone service.

Our subscription pay model and features package is just as simple. Our terms are transparent and flexible, so you won't have to worry about getting locked into a contract that can't work for you. 

Spoke is the only business phone system that is dead simple to setup and use, yet has the enterprise phone system features your business needs. 

Want to check out a demo of Spoke and see how it works? We're always happy to show you around.

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