For many businesses, cost and included features are major factors to consider when choosing a cloud communications system. But while these elements are important, there is another equally vital factor that companies must consider when switching to a cloud-based phone solution: usability. It is important to factor in how user-friendly and usable a cloud communication system is so that your business can reap the benefits without struggling with a large learning curve. But usability is so much more than this.
In this article, Vincent Paquet, Vice President of Product at Dialpad, explains the importance of usability and shares the many ways Dialpad is ensuring maximum usability for end users.
First: What it Usability?
The ISO 9421-11 standard on usability defines the term as “the extent to which a system, product or service can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” Usability is, therefore, more than just about whether users can easily navigate through a cloud solution or app with ease. A cloud communications solution also has to be simple enough to enable users to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently.
This is what motivates Dialpad to rid the world of traditional desk phones and convert users to something more tech-forward and mobile. Paquet said, “Taking a look back to old deskphones and providers, the typical office PBX could support over 200 features; but in reality, users struggle with how to use even the most basic functions.” “Phones have a poor UI (User Interface) when compared to web-based calling software and cloud solutions. Software gives the ability to use web as phone, cell phone as phone, and really any endpoint that you want, thus creating a more user-friendly UI,“ he added.
What Makes a Cloud Solution Usable?
Whitney Quesenberry, the UX and Usability Expert and former President of the Usability Professional’s Association (UXPA), offers 5 characteristics that make a product usable:
- Effective - This refers to whether users complete their work accurately. The quality of the customer assistance provided with the solution can also impact its effectiveness.
- Efficient - Efficiency is all about the speed in which users can achieve their goals and complete their tasks with accuracy.
- Engaging - The interface of a product is considered engaging if it is pleasant to use. Visual design is obviously the most important element of this component.
- Error Tolerant - A highly usable solution does not necessarily mean that it is error-free. It means the program is designed to minimize errors and ensure that a user can easily recover from any errors if and when they occur.
- Easy to Learn - An interface which is easy to learn lets users navigate through it without deliberate effort.
Striking the right balance between these usability characteristics is important for businesses looking for a communications solution. More than often than not, though, these are often overlooked and are only noticed when a solution has already been deployed.
Dialpad: Making Cloud Communications Accessible
San Francisco-based cloud communications solutions provider Dialpad is aiming to be at the forefront of the transition from hardware to software. Their two standout solutions: UberConference and Dialpad.
UberConference is a cloud conference meeting space with a user-friendly web portal that takes conferencing to a new level. Centered on the idea of solving the most common issues with conferencing, UberConference gives you your own dedicated phone number, a web portal to see who is on the call, an action voice icon to show who is speaking, and even an option to share your screen with fellow conference attendees. Plus, UberConference follows up with a summary report after your call has been completed. No pins to enter, no switching between calendar invites and dialers, and no conferencing hassle, making the conference experience very simple.
Dialpad, on the other hand, incorporates voice and video to make for an innovative calling solution. Created with the mobile business worker in mind, it is a business phone system that makes collaboration easy. Launched as a replacement for the traditional business desk phone, Dialpad's solution aims to give the modern worker scalability and flexibility with easy deployment throughout. It features the most basic yet powerful call features, HD audio, peer-to-peer HD video, and more.
How Dialpad Brings Usability to End-Users
Dialpad understands the value of usability for end-users. In fact, according to Paquet, it is one of Dialpad’s biggest differentiator between other cloud voice and video solutions. “With Dialpad’s solutions, we have designed them based on usability and one of the biggest differences is that Dialpad’s voice solution started as a cloud solution,” Paquet said. This is one of the largest factors that sets Dialpad apart from other cloud communication solutions. Dialpad started off as a cloud solution right from its founding in 2011, whereas other communication providers are playing catch-up as the cloud becomes the new normal.
Through their voice solution, Dialpad aims to provide a lot more usability for the end user. The service is designed to grow with a business, allowing unlimited scaling and the ability to leverage a huge network of users around the globe where services can be deployed easily. Furthermore, Dialpad is very web-centric and has a UI and user experience designed to be user-friendly.
Below are some of the ways Dialpad ensures maximum usability for its users:
- Messaging - Dialpad believes that businesses and workers should be able to communicate from anywhere and from any channel. That’s why they have added messaging capabilities (SMS, instant messaging) into their communications systems. "The ability to text is critical and is something we can all relate to. Voice is a great real-time communication tool but we are all very busy and most of us don’t spend time waiting for calls to happen; so choosing voice as a channel of communication can be disrupting at times,” says Paquet. “Text, on the other hand, is the perfect medium between voice and email. Email is tactical but its downfall is that it does not have the same sense of urgency.” Dialpad makes sure users can enjoy the benefits of voice and messaging by giving them one number and one identity that isn’t anchored to one device.
- Integration - To ensure maximum usability, Dialpad offers integrations with various business applications and tools that companies use on a daily basis. “With Dialpad, there are integrations with all of Google suite (Google calendar, Gmail, Google docs, etc.) as well as Microsoft 365, which can be viewed all into one easy-to-read dashboard. The Dialpad dashboard shows last three emails, docs, or calendar invites directly in the sidebar, with the option to view all interactions, too,” says Paquet. Dialpad also recently announced an integration with Salesforce, which allows users to take calls via Salesforce and even enable 'Do Not Disturb' mode with a custom timer. The cloud communications provider is currently working on adding the ability to log text messages as well.
- Weekly releases of updates and upgrades - One of the limitations of hardware (which includes traditional PBXs and desk phones) is that updates are rare. In contrast, Dialpad has weekly releases of updates and upgrades to their software solutions to help improve the experience of users. They are adding 5 new features every week. Half new features are based on user needs, too. According to Paquet, “Realistically, there is no feature we cannot add within 30 days, which is dramatically different than the old world where communications came from. In the hardware world, if you decide on something new, it is a couple of years away; but software offers quicker update options and customization that would take much longer or is simply not available with hardware.”
To ensure a smooth transition to the cloud and maximize the benefits it provides, it is important for businesses to choose a solution that features greater usability. It is not enough for a cloud communications solution to be cheap, feature-rich, or modern--it also needs to be highly usable. Because if users cannot achieve their goals efficiently, effectively and in a satisfactory matter, then they are likely to seek another solution.
Dialpad offers pure-cloud communications solution for businesses of any size, helping them connect to everyone and work from anywhere. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Dialpad is on a mission to make the desk phone obsolte by offering solutions that bring efficiency. Their solutions combine HD voice, HD video, group messaging, SMS, MMS, conferencing, screen sharing, and document sharing along with integrations with various business tools, such as Google Suite, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce.