Growing Into 2014
The latest Markit/CIPS PMI services figure came in at 62.5, compared with 60.3 the previous month. Not only was this rise well ahead of expectations, it signalled the highest level of growth since May 1997.
The services sector now accounts for some three quarters of the UK economy and these latest PMI figures, backed up by falling unemployment and increasing new business reports, all point to a UK which is firmly back on the growth path. Although some economists believe the PMI to be slightly ahead of the game, the majority agree that GDP in quarter four could well exceed that seen in Q3 with 2014 looking even more promising.
To take advantage of this return to growth, businesses need to be gearing up now (if they haven’t already). But gearing up for increased turnover is not always easy following years of tough times. Banks can still be reluctant to lend and each new employee comes with associated costs including IT and office equipment. So businesses need to find ways to “work smarter” without incurring huge costs.
One option is to look at the telephone infrastructure of the business. Old style PBX manual switchboards came at a fairly high price so it was perhaps understandable when businesses opted for a minimum specification. This may have left organisations with a phone structure which no longer meets the needs of the business or which still results in considerable manual work. Switching to a virtual switchboard can save costs whilst at the same time enhancing the call handling capabilities of the business.
Virtual switchboards come at a fraction of the cost of a PBX switchboard. They are fully customisable on line which means that re-programming call pathways in the event of holidays or illness or in response to a marketing campaign is quick and easy. Features include:
- The ability to handle thousands of calls
- Fully customisable
- Call data and reports
- Links with services such as caller recognition, answerphone, messaging
Moving to a virtual switchboard enables businesses to streamline their call pathways, reduce wasted call answering and transfer time and provide an enhanced service for customers. Virtual phone services can grow and flex with the organisation so there are no upfront costs for services which may not be used for several years. Linked to a choice of local, regional and international telephone numbers, virtual switchboards can enhance marketing programmes and help international clients to stay in touch.
The PMI figures are promising, as is a recent OECD report which moved the UK into the top rank of best countries in which to live and work. Taking advantage of the promise of good things to come means gearing up now and those businesses which do will be best placed to grow into 2014 and beyond.