How Unified Communications and Collaboration Drive Results

How Unified Communications and Collaboration Drive Results

Emails pile into your inbox by the dozens—or hundreds. Notifications pop up on your desktop computer and phone. So do text messages. And both your desk and mobile devices constantly ring.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.

Sometimes we feel like we work for our communications devices, not the other way around. They pull us in all directions when we just want to get some work done. In today’s work environment, we’re challenged to be productive and effective, sometimes in spite of the technology we use.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Unified communications (UC) combined with smart, intuitive collaboration tools (UC&C) makes work easier, connecting us more efficiently with colleagues, customers and partners, all from one platform that can be accessed from any device.

Improving The Customer Experience

With UC&C, employees can connect with customers through any channel, no matter where they’re located. Envision this scenario: A customer’s flight is delayed two hours, so she misses her connection. After speaking with the gate agent, she resignedly wanders off to get a bite to eat, five gates away. Why shouldn’t she? She knows it will be a while before she’s rebooked.

In the meantime, the gate agent finds an alternative flight. He brings up the customer’s information from her reservation, finds her mobile number and, with a click, the system dials her smartphone. She answers, thrilled when the agent shares details about her new flight. After agreeing to the rebooking, she sets off to the new gate.

Improving Team Productivity

Your creative team is hard at work developing a new client’s marketing campaign. But before they can proceed, you discover they need a critical piece of information from an internal subject matter expert. Despite leaving a voicemail and sending an email, you’ve received no response. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your colleague is even on this continent, let alone available to conference with the team?

Presence technology lets you see if the SME is available and by which means: voice, text, video or not at all. The system automatically routes calls from one number to another. On top of that, your colleague can see all communications with UC&C’s unified messaging. Whether he’s in his office, in the car or working remotely, by signing on via a shared cloud platform he sees all messages, including texts, voicemails and emails. If he’s not available, the team sees this immediately and reaches out to another colleague for the information it needs.

Improving Community Communications

It’s not only businesses that benefit from UC&C. Staff and teachers in the Lovejoy Independent School District needed a way to communicate both internally and with parents. After UC&C was implemented, they gained a phone and voice mailbox in each classroom with conferencing capabilities. One feature, the Time of Day Call Restriction, allows teachers to put the classroom phone into “meeting mode” at scheduled intervals. That way, they’re not interrupted by calls during class time.

When class is out of session, teachers easily make calls from any device, either with a single click from their contact list or by entering a name. They can also easily join conference calls. That’s particularly handy when someone can’t make a parent-teacher conference in person.

Improving Partner Collaboration

In product development today, speed to market is essential. To achieve it, employees must work efficiently with partners, involving them as early as a product’s design phase.

Imagine you’re an engineer developing a new battery for a prototype automobile. You need to collaborate with the vendors supplying the necessary parts. UC&C provides tools that not only let you manage the project – setting tasks, scheduling meetings, sharing documents and virtual whiteboards – but enable you to invite external parties to participate via a secure, web-accessible interface.

It doesn’t matter which communications tool the vendor uses. UC&C can send messages across multiple providers. It even allows you to build a digital twin online so you can conduct a deep dive into the product’s requirements, working side-by-side.

UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are

UC&C is bringing organizational communications into a new era. Now, colleagues, customers and communities can easily communicate across devices, geographies and across applications.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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How Technology Transforms the UK Patient Experience

HOW TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMS THE UK PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Poor patient-to-provider communications is an issue frequently cited by both patients and healthcare providers in the UK, leading to wasted time and resources and worse patient outcomes.

For example, the NHS relies heavily on postal letters to provide appointment details. Yet, a significant number of patients said they’ve missed an appointment due to postal letter issues. And last year, The Times newspaper reported that around £100m a year is wasted due to this inefficient communication.

And, when patients try to call their GP, hospital or healthcare provider directly, they’re often left on hold for ages and eventually give up. Even when their call does go through, they struggle to connect with the right person and get their question or issue attended to.

Fortunately, modern technology can streamline communication to reduce staff workload, improve patient engagement and even lower costs.

Where’s The Pain?

When people are sick, they don’t want to wait on the phone or at their doctor’s office; they want to communicate with their healthcare professional as quickly as possible. Being left on hold for twenty minutes or rushing to be on time for an appointment – only to discover the clinic is running way behind – is incredibly frustrating and increases patient anxiety.

And, in a world where there seems to be an app for everything, patients expect technology to handle almost any issue in their everyday lives. They want reliable electronic access to records and information, self-service in scheduling appointments and the ability to communicate via multiple channels—email, phone, SMS and web chat.

At the same time, both the NHS and private healthcare providers struggle with communications technology, limited budget, shortage of qualified professionals and more, all of which make meeting and exceeding these patient expectations difficult.

How Can Technology Help?

BMI Healthcare, the United Kingdom’s largest private hospital group, discovered that many patients had difficulty getting through to its hospitals because staffers were often busy attending to patients. Its solution was to route calls to a dedicated contact centre where trained agents could serve the callers’ needs.

As a result, abandoned calls fell from over 40 percent to under 1 percent. The average time to answer is now 20 seconds for more than 80 percent of calls. And, reported BMI IT Director Dan Morgan, their conversion rate has gone from sub 30 percent to 75 percent plus.

“That’s translated directly into an improved bottom line response for our business, with the hospitals that are participating in the project seeing growth in excess of the rest of the group,” Dan says. “That’s equally benefited patients by giving them much better service and them getting through to the information they need when they need it.”

Some UK private healthcare providers are also using contact centres to continue care to discharged patients by coordinating follow up appointments, providing prescription refill reminders and other post-discharge support. Ideally, the NHS and more private providers will learn from this success and do the same.

At one time, all medical communications were synchronous, person-to-person, in the same room. Hopefully that kind of care will never disappear. But in the UK’s increasingly hectic and understaffed healthcare system, new technologies can lead to better experiences for both patients and staff.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Raising the Bar on Unified Communications: Where Best to Implement IoT

RAISING THE BAR ON UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS: WHERE BEST TO IMPLEMENT IOT

Is it time to give machines a voice in your business? Maybe you already have, with unified communications (UC) established and well in place. But what’s the best way to implement the Internet of Things (IoT) so that it fits into your organization?

Experts say the first step to getting the most out of such new technologies is to get your house in order. Here are three crucial steps to help you succeed.

Create An IoT Strategy

Before you get knee-deep in sensors and data, determine your strategic goals for using IoT. It’s tempting to go for the quick result—especially when you’re investing significant time and money in the implementation. But as with any business effort, having a strategy is essential. Ask these questions:

– How will IoT support our overall business goals?
– What are our long-term goals for the use of automation and IoT?
– What challenges will our organization face when implementing IoT?
– What will be the costs of expanding IoT’s use in the future?
– What will we do with the data to support the business?

Define The Business Case

Your IoT implementation won’t get off the ground without buy-in from your organization and customers. So, it’s critical to identify how IoT will make your business more competitive, improve processes, provide customers with new experiences, reduce costs and generate new revenue streams.

Recently, McKinsey surveyed IoT executives at 300 companies to determine what factors influenced successful and profitable use of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. The organizations that reaped significant economic benefits were nearly three times more likely to implement IoT with existing products and services. Conversely, less successful companies – those in the bottom quintile of economic returns – focused on developing new IoT products or services.

That raises the question: When you begin your IoT implementation, should you merely dip your toes in the water or go big? McKinsey’s research discovered that going big is better. In fact, successful businesses started M2M technology with up to 30 different use cases and implemented 80 percent more IoT than less successful companies.

Why does this correlate to higher economic returns? McKinsey found that “more widespread usage … forces a cultural shift. It stokes organizational energy behind changes and creates new mindfulness about the benefits of IoT.”

In addition, the momentum of larger implementation “often exposes weakness in technology along with gaps in talent – both in terms of in-house IoT skill levels and the numbers of experts needed to implement IoT at scale.” The bottom line: Making a bigger IoT commitment forces the organization to embrace the new technology.

Building a solid business case requires buy-in from both inside the company and from customers. Marcel Azary, senior vice president at the manufacturing firm Shinano Kenshi, underlined that point. He emphasized that finding champions is essential. “You have to be almost like a consultant to get your point across, but the ones who see it and grasp it are the ones who will push it forward,” he told TechTarget.

IT Readiness

Finally, explore whether your IT department and infrastructure are able to handle implementing M2M technology. Before moving ahead, assess your in-house talent, systems and any interoperability issues. For example, a patchwork of legacy systems can definitely slow down IoT implementation. To prepare your IT organization for IoT:

Look for vendors who offer IoT components that will work with your existing network and even help you evolve your systems into a unified framework.

Create a parallel network to experiment with IoT devices and test potential problems.

Take stock of your in-house technology skill set. Do you have the personnel to handle an IoT implementation and manage the stress on your stack? If not, start looking for new team members or outside expert help.

Determine what security measures need to be in place to protect data throughout the IoT chain. “Understand how devices collect information, how they connect [to your systems], how they’re authenticated, how they can be managed, how they can be stopped or wiped in case of an incident, and how this information flowing from the device to the end destination can be secured,” said Chris Dimitriadis, group director of information security at Intralot, a Greece-based lottery vendor and operator.

By 2020, Gartner says, more than 65 percent of enterprise companies will implement IoT and M2M technology. For your organization to be one of those adopters, be sure to conduct due diligence to realize the most economic benefit.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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7 Key Differences Between Your Old Phone and Your New VoIP Device

7 KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR OLD PHONE AND YOUR NEW VOIP DEVICE

VoIP is already the number one phone service choice, and given its steady growth, its presence is sure to expand. Why are so many companies moving to a VoIP device? The main reasons are flexibility, mobility, collaboration and reliability.

If you’re thinking about making the switch, you probably want to know the details about how VoIP outpaces your old land-line system. Consider this your guide to what you can get with your shiny new VoIP device.

1. More Flexibility

IP desk phones deliver a modern call experience, while mobile apps enable work from anywhere, and softphones give employees instant access to calls with just a headset. All of these options mean a VoIP device frees you from the tethers of your old phone. Employees can easily work from anywhere, using any device, with full access to all the communications tools they need to stay on top of their work. Seamless transition from desktop to smartphone lets them move about as needed, without missing a beat.

Flexibility is particularly important for smaller businesses that need to get maximum performance out of smaller teams.

2. More Mobility

If you want to attract and retain talented employees, you’ve got to provide them with a quality mobile communications solution. A VoIP device is designed to support mobility, which is critical to today’s on-the-go employees. Even those who spend most of their time in the office demand the freedom from their desk, but they still need to be reachable at all times. VoIP gives your team the mobile support it needs and wants.

Mobile apps for iOS and Android, as well as the ability to text co-workers from their business line with SMS, are just some of the ways a VoIP device supports mobile workers. Other possible features include Siri and Bluetooth integration, which keeps your employees safe with a hands-free experience while they’re on the road.

The ability to work easily from any location also increases employee satisfaction, increasing retention rates. And let’s not forget that happy employees perform better, which trickles down to more satisfied customers.

3. Better Collaboration

Logging extra hours at the office for a big project? Working from home so you can make it to your daughter’s band concert? No matter where you are, a VoIP device makes collaboration a snap. Join a conference call with a single click (yes, that means no annoying passcodes to remember!). Get a quick chat answer or text from a member of your team. In either case, individual and group messaging has you covered.

You can take collaboration to a whole new level with the right VoIP device–some VoIP phones actually include an application like Mitel Teamwork. Employees can communicate from any device, even starting a conversation on one and continuing it on another–seamlessly. Improve collaboration on projects using shared workspaces that track and assign tasks, and also share files. When each team member has a VoIP device in hand, deadlines meet their match.

4. More Productivity

What business doesn’t list increasing productivity among its top goals? A VoIP device helps you hit that target in more ways than one.

The days of basic call functionality on your old phone are in the past. The right VoIP system comes with game-changing features, such as audio and video conferencing, desktop sharing, individual and group chat, built-in VPN and business SMS. With so many options, communication is always on. Giving employees the option to communicate and share ideas over multiple channels gets the job done more quickly. Can your old phone do that?

5. Integrations

Modern businesses use a range of communications tools and systems to support their operations and serve their customers. Jumping from one platform another wastes time and makes it more difficult for employees to do their jobs. The right VoIP system, with the right VoIP device, provides all of the integrations a business needs to excel.

Simple email and calendar integrations let team members schedule events quickly and stay on top of the latest company and product information. CRM integration gives employees instant access to detailed customer and client data, making interactions more personalized. Web dialer and telephony integrations allow workers to manage calls from a web browser and connect directly from emails or calendar events. They can even view a contact’s presence to see if they’re free to talk.

You can integrate your business’s contact center with your VoIP device, too. A service such as MiCloud Connect CX offers intelligent routing, real-time and historical reporting, workforce management and other features that enable the contact center team to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

6. Great Reliability

Stop worrying about dropped customer calls and bad connections. A VoIP phone system that’s built on a reliable and secure network removes the headaches associated with outdated phones that break unexpectedly and are expensive to repair. MiCloud Connect, for example, is built on Google Cloud, providing the ultimate in reliability and security. Instead of worrying about whether or not a call will go through or how quickly a repair will get done, you can focus on strategic plans and growing the business.

MiCloud Connect also supports HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance and is deployed out of highly secure Tier 4 data centers, the highest rated data centers, with several layers of redundancy. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

7. Easier Scalability

Phones connected to land lines and wires don’t scale easily. There’s just too much hardware involved. It’s exactly the opposite with a VoIP device. Adding lines is simple and fast.

A VoIP device also allows you to mix and match the functionality necessary to best support your business. As your needs change, a VoIP system grows and changes with them. Upgrade permissions in real time. Subscribe only to the features your employees require. If you’re not ready for CRM integration, then don’t pay for it. If your team is small, opt for conferencing and sharing options for a small group so you don’t pay for seats you can’t fill. As you expand, you can increase your coverage easily–no hassle and no headache.

When your old phone goes to head-to-head with a VoIP device, the results are clear: VoIP wins by a landslide. Employees have access to a wider and more robust suite of communications tools and can access them from multiple devices, even switching between devices seamlessly. On top of all that, VoIP is easy to install and use. That means you can give a farewell call to your land-line phone. Make the switch today, and your team will be up and running on with minimal training and loving the power of VoIP. It’s a no-brainer.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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3 Ways Call Recording and Quality Management can Save Your Business Money

3 Ways Call Recording and Quality Management can Save Your Business Money

we’d like to give you some insight into the ways omni-channel recording and quality management in the contact center can save your organization money. Using the right approach will enable your organization to deliver better service, protect callers and agents and ensure customer contacts result in positive outcomes. The result to the bottom line? Cost savings though more efficient interactions, increased revenue through reduced customer churn, and significantly less need for the expensive hiring and training of new agents.

Organizations today are dealing with new realities – digital natives that expect lightning fast responses, across multiple communications channels; and increasingly onerous regulatory compliance obligations that are now driving business processes.

As a result, on a global basis 88% (versus 77% in 2015) of business executives* have identified that improving the customer experience is their most important focus for 2019 onwards, specifically noting that integrating and pro-actively managing omni-channel capabilities are key to achieving that objective.

As noted in Blog post #1, with over 60+% of the average contact center’s full operating budget** driven by agent salaries and expenses, the retention and proper use of these highly skilled resources is key to minimizing costs, and maximizing operational flexibility and profitability.

Call Recording for Cost Savings – How?

Extracting value: From every interaction across any channel of communication. With tens of millions of transactions processed every day… Enghouse understands the value of squeezing out operational efficiencies – small and large – as the cumulative benefit to the organization is significant. This is especially important within omni-channel contact centers where multiple channels are utilized and communications are fully interwoven with business data to provide an optimal customer journey. When aggregated, the completeness of the conversation becomes highly evident – as is the value of the information contained: both about the customer and your services, especially how they are delivered and perceived.

Process Flow: One of the most important operating principles in contact centers is the adherence to communication scripting and workflow. Interaction recording (for calls and text-based media) can help ensure that the organization focuses on, and adheres to, proper scripting and processes, which results in higher rates of ‘First Contact Resolution’. As noted, with such a high percentage of operating costs due to agent salaries and benefits, any reduction in the average time spent by agents to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution for customers results in considerable cost savings.

Training and Retention: Happy agents tend to stay with a business, and overall levels of agent satisfaction can be dramatically improved through ongoing engagement, individual coaching and proper rewards. Using excerpts of exceptional call recordings (as well as transcripts of well-worded chats and emails) as reference examples (from better, more experienced agents) simplifies the training process for other agents as they can hear and understand for themselves how best to follow the company call flow scripting, professionally address customer issues and decrease off-topic conversations. When complemented with self-monitoring capabilities, where agents can evaluate themselves, this has been shown to produce significant overall operational improvements and cost savings. When agents can quickly and easily see how they are tracking against their personal targets for call-time, customer satisfaction ratings, time to resolution, they can adjust in real-time and improve the areas lacking, thereby positively impacting their overall ratings. Coupling these improved ratings with a basic system of rewards (even small giveaways) can be a very powerful motivator.

Cost Savings – Per a January 2018 McKinsey Contact Center study: with new Agent training and ramp-up time, direct cost to the contact center runs in the range of $10,000 to $20,000. Lost productivity due to unengaged agents doubles these loss estimates.

Quality Management for cost savings – how?

Quality Management tools help increase operational effectiveness and overall efficiency: leveraging quality management enables the organization to optimize processes already in place, automate many if not all of them and generally identify which approaches don’t work and which ones do.

Operational areas that would benefit from automation: scheduling of Agents, secondary agent coverage for back-up, improved self-service ongoing coaching and support, interaction recording and agent evaluation (scoring), and customer satisfaction surveys. And once key metrics are gathered, make them visible-through key reports and dashboards to visually expose, at-a-glance, just how well everyone is doing relative to their targets.

Improve employee engagement: Involve the Agents themselves in quality management and the pursuit of process improvement – they are so intimately involved in the process, they may see opportunities for improvement more readily than others. Typically such an approach solidifies/deepens their engagement with the organization, reduces churn/turnover and increases job satisfaction – a win for the customer, the agent and the company.

The use of standardized workflow templates – predefined or custom developed – can simplify the overall training and coaching of new agents and help more seasoned agents improve their abilities, all without the need for custom development. They can also help your organization become more professional in your end-customer engagements, decreasing the timelines to achieving operational improvements, thereby saving time and manpower of undertaking these tasks on your own.

The elimination of any manual process produces an immediate cost savings – both in time to process each transaction along with increasing the number of possible transactions that can be analyzed and processed in the same amount of time. One key way to do that is to handle the simpler interactions – requests for account balance from a bank, or changing an appointment time for a health care clinic, or hundreds of other use cases – via self-service. For calls, this is a well-structured IVR; for chats, this is a user-friendly BOT. The more the repetitive, simpler interactions are reduced for agents, the happier they will be. Then they can focus their time on the more interesting, complex issues that directly translate into customer satisfaction.

Cost Savings – Ongoing management enables the organization to continually fine-tune processes, call flow scripting, special offer handling and other mission critical responses. McKinsey notes that a consistent approach produces better total cost savings than intermittent “all-on” efforts.

Compliance for cost savings – How?

Compliance: The ability to intuitively, quickly and easily query the call streams to see if non-compliant conversations are taking place is imperative. With real-time indexing and tracking of call scripting deviations, unacceptable words or statements or process exceptions, violations can be quickly identified and isolated. For agent support, the silent triggering of barge-in to provide supervisory oversight can provide behind the scenes coaching and support, even facilitating an escalation to authorities in the event of an emergency situation.

Within omni-channel contact centers, all conversation streams may be aggregated and indexed for future reference. Contextual information can also be retained so that there is a clear understanding of the complete situation and exactly how the conversation unfolded – the impartial recording/assessment of the situation will enable the organization to quickly address the issue(s) as objectively as possible. With all these capabilities in place, adherence to regulatory guidelines becomes much easier and helps avoid legal repercussions.

Cost Savings – Being focused on compliance, ensuring accurate audit trails exist will minimize legal exposure, issues and the need for litigation. Depending on industry, savings could be highly variable, but will be significant both in hard dollar savings along with associated soft cost savings.

Additional ways to achieve cost savings with Call Recording and Quality Management:

Future proofing: By choosing a quality management and interaction recording solution that uses open standard protocols, and a cloud infrastructure that offers full platform interoperability, you benefit from future cost savings and a reduction of overall operational risk. Call recording storage options are now only limited by your organization’s preferences as multiple providers can be used for additional redundancy.

Built in Business Continuity – Provided as part of the solution, savings and peace-of-mind are immediately apparent as the capture of recordings continues through various failure conditions: site, server or network.

Unsolicited Customer suggestions, complaints and other feedback: Each customer conversation can be a wealth of insight which can help improve the business overall, help it better meet changing customer expectations, and provide ideas for product enhancements or new line extensions. These benefits will only be evident if the organization makes the conscious effort to listen to this information and then act upon it. There is no better marketing focus group than your existing customers who choose to make their opinions known. They are already invested in your current success and they want both of you to succeed in the future – together.

If you want to discover more about how we help organsations globally optimise their customer journey, then we welcome the opportunity to speak to you! Just get in touch with one of our Communications Specialists at 020 3668 0444, or fill out the contact form and we will contact you!

This article was first published by Enghouse Interactive.

*Zion Market Research 2016
**Dimension Data 2019 report
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Moving to a Collaborative Unified Communications World – A Migration Strategy for Customer-Facing Businesses

Moving to a Collaborative Unified Communications World – A Migration Strategy for Customer-Facing Businesses

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are looking to migrate from traditional PBX telecoms platforms to unified communications (UC) environments, integrating their contact centre for greater collaboration. The market is growing robustly. A recent report by Global Market Insights estimated the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) market size at over US$32 billion in 2018, with a CAGR of 8% from 2019 to 2025.

The rationale for businesses to move to UC environments is certainly clear.  Businesses increasingly understand the limitations of the traditional PBX model around scalability, complexity and having a single point of failure. They increasingly appreciate the benefits of moving to UC around faster return on investment, greater collaboration, lower total cost of ownership; streamlined operational processes and enhanced productivity. And they see all this as key to their digital transformation.

They know too that in the context of the contact centre, the enhanced collaborative functionality that migration can deliver will allow them to provide a consistently outstanding customer experience around the clock, make life easier for hard-working agents and employees and sweat their investments and save money on management.

Yet while many customer-facing businesses have undertaken the journey to unified communications and collaboration, many still hold back. Some have installed solutions like Microsoft Skype for Business or even Microsoft Teams but are running them in the background and are still using traditional PBXs as their primary telecoms switch.

So what is deterring these organisations?  Some pause on their journey waiting for new solutions or upgrades to be introduced by the leading platform vendors. Many others are concerned about the risk involved in migrating systems and moving from old infrastructure to new. And that is making it difficult to set out on the migration path at all. They have ruled out a big bang approach due to sweating down existing assets and they want flexibility and choice across the whole journey.

That’s why they need the peace of mind and reassurance that comes from working with solutions providers and implementation and support partners that are vendor and platform-agnostic; can integrate with all leading UC platforms –  from Microsoft to Avaya to Cisco –  and have migration at the heart of their strategy. Working alongside its partners, Enghouse Interactive is well-suited to achieve all this.

Driven by the need to achieve digital transformation and the desire to use it to deliver enhanced customer engagement, more and more businesses are looking to work closely with customer communications experts to help them assess their possible migration paths, choose the best option, then transition them smoothly and with minimal disruption to their existing operations. The approach needs to be open and flexible.  Whether organisations are looking to move from premise to premise, or premise to cloud, or thinking about migrating from one vendor to another, or one UC product to another within a single vendor environment, solutions providers and their channel partners need to be able to take customers on their digital transformation-driven  journey and ensure they reach their desired end destination.

That removes some serious headaches for customer-facing organisations, of course. Instead of fretting and worrying about their communications journey, they can let their solutions and implementation provider partners concern themselves with building a UC environment and connecting the contact centre. That in turn leaves the business itself free to concentrate on its overall network environment strategy, content in the knowledge that its migration journey to digital is being managed and de-risked.

Enghouse recommends and implements a phased migration for its customers. In any migration to a new telecoms infrastructure it is important to have the old and the new platforms running simultaneously (and both connected) so that if a technical problem occurs with the new system, or if there is a mis-configuration, for example,  agents can be quickly, although temporarily, moved back to the old infrastructure desktop.

Rather than moving the whole operation over to the new system straightaway, the organisation concerned could move a single department over initially: the IT helpdesk, for example, and then if all goes well, move another shortly thereafter. If something goes wrong they can simply move that individual department back, effectively de-risking and removing the friction from the whole process.

It is important to remember, though, that the migration journey is not just about infrastructure, essential though that is. Scalability is key in supporting the overall approach and ensuring that the business always has the right level of capability to support its needs at any given time. A fully scalable migration strategy can support a modular by design approach. As the organisation grows, new channels, apps and bots, for example, can be added as and when required. It is also crucial, however, that the journey can go forward and back – and with this kind of methodology, businesses can scale back their capability when strategic drivers or external circumstances dictate.

Partnering for Success

Any organisation looking to migrate its contact centre and communications infrastructure to a new platform is in a sense stepping into the unknown.  It is likely to be a completely new experience for them. They know that by making the migration they want to tap into the benefits around enhanced flexibility and productivity, increased efficiency and customer satisfaction and explore new market sectors but they are apprehensive about the journey that needs to be undertaken to help them to achieve these goals.

That’s where Enghouse and its partners can really help in reducing the risk and friction for them and guiding them on that journey to unified communications that will in turn enable them to build a more collaborative interactive and efficient contact centre and communications environment to the benefit both of their customers and themselves.

If you want to discover more about how we help organisations globally optimise their customer journey, then we welcome the opportunity to speak to you! Just get in touch with one of our Communications Specialists at 020 3668 0444, or fill out the contact form and we will contact you!

 

This article was first published by Enghouse Interactive.

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Quality Management + Call Recording = Operational Excellence and Risk Reduction

“Bringing People Together” – How Microsoft Teams and Other Collaboration Tools are Transforming Customer Service

Using the right approach for omnichannel recording along with quality management in the contact center will enable your organization to deliver better service, protect callers and agents and maximize the customer contacts that result in a positive outcome.

Call recording has become a common contact center practice, with compound annual growth across the industry of 22%* into 2022. It has become foundational for most professional organizations but does come with some key considerations and requirements. Compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements is imperative. Not doing so may result in negative consequences, possibly even resulting in legal action.

Call Recording – the what and why

As a normal order of business, most contact center calls, whether inbound or outbound, are recorded.

Who hasn’t heard “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes”…..? This notice is legally required so that all parties are aware that the call is being recorded.

With the latest technology, recordings are processed in real-time and are time-stamped, codified and indexed in order to simplify future analysis or retrieval. Today’s tools can translate speech to text in order to find a specific word or phrase in an audio or video stream, enabling “problem interactions” to be quickly located and evaluated. Leading applications can even search using specific indicators to identify customer sentiment or intonation. This is critical when supervisors do not have the time to listen to a large number of calls. Good search tools allow the manager to zero in on the specific interactions requiring attention, evaluation and further agent coaching.

Calls are linked with the caller’s information and may be stored within the application itself, onsite or elsewhere, including in the Cloud. Call storage durations and even long-term archiving requirements vary and can run from daily retention to an indefinite amount of time. This will be the most important factor when estimating what annual storage (MB, GB or TB’s) needs will be.

Best Practice – for agents, explain the reasons why the company is using these tools and ensure that all understand that it actually makes the contact center a better place to work, as communications are no longer subject to misinterpretation, coaching and help are available, and customer situations can be dealt with as a matter of fact.

Call Monitoring

When your contact center agents engage with customers, you’ll want to make sure they represent the company with the professionalism and customer focus that you expect. Why is this important? In spite of the strong growth in text-based and web-based inquiries as millennials have entered the workforce, as an industry average voice is still 79% of contact center call volume** and productive resolution to calls is key to higher customer satisfaction. Call Monitoring enables supervisors to ‘listen in’ on a call and rate their agents, and even provide coaching in real-time to improve technique and reduce the time to resolve issues. This can quickly have a dramatic impact on overall customer satisfaction.

Just as importantly, when a contentious situation arises, call recording and monitoring can become an impartial witness to protect both parties from unforeseen consequences. In an omni-channel contact center environment, monitoring and recording can be extended to include Email, texting, web chat and social media communications. Critical for success is that consolidated data is indexed for review if required.

Best Practice – proactive monitoring and the identification of key “good” and “bad” communications should be a normal practice for ongoing operational improvements. The use of excellent customer interactions as “Quick Coaching Moments” can be a positive reinforcement for all, especially newer agents.

Respecting Applicable Regulations

When a company operates in a specific region or industry, the applicable regulations can be easy to understand and to respect. But things can get exceedingly complex when the company operates in a highly regulated industry, across multiple regions, and/or internationally. The onus is on the company to understand these regulations and to make sure they are consistently respected.

Key Market Regulatory Requirements

Many industries have specific regulations that require call recording. Organizations should consult with legal counsel to ensure they are respecting any relevant regulations. For high-level guidelines, visit Digital Media Law for some info: http://www.dmlp.org

For all public companies in the United States

Sarbanes-Oxley covers financial reporting and disclosure. Section 404 covers Management Assessment of Internal Controls. The willful destruction of audit records, including correspondence and communications, may result in a fine or imprisonment of up to ten years.

For all companies that accept credit and debit card transactions

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) is an information security standard for organizations that handle credit and debit card transactions. CVV information must never be recorded.

Some examples of industries with specific requirements:

Health care

Enghouse QMS facilitates HIPAA and MIPPA compliance:

  • HIPAA (Health Information Portability & Accountability Act) establishes privacy and security standards that protect electronic and verbal private health information.
  • MIPPA (Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act) requires health care marketers to record their conversations to prove that they are not participating in deceptive or high-pressure tactics. All appointments made via telephone must be recorded in order to document these interactions.

Financial

Enghouse QMS helps facilitate compliance with multiple privacy regulations:

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB Act) requires the security and confidentiality of customers’ nonpublic personal information. Enforced by FTC.
  • USA PATRIOT Act Section 326 requires firms to maintain records of how they verified customer identities, track transactions and make suspicious activity reports (SARs).

Best Practice – Ongoing review of recording and message storage regulations across all company operating areas should clearly stipulate where attention should be focused in order to ensure no regulations are transgressed.

Preparing for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is rapidly being applied in all areas of the contact center. AI enables the analysis of disparate and diverse data streams across all communication channels and provides extrapolated insights from intelligent analysis of customer interactions. These Insights can then be applied to customer engagements to provide better solutions, more quickly, helping resolve customer issues or de-escalate contentious situations. At the leading edge of available tools, Enghouse AI Insights’ predictive modeling capabilities help to identify and correlate information across channels and other sources of data (such as CRM) enabling organizations to better understand primary customer topics and sentiment. This valuable data can then be used to proactively offer more relevant solutions to customers.

Best Practice – Keeping your contact center, call recording and quality management solution up to date by migrating to the cloud will make it a simple ‘checkbox’ task to immediately activate AI when you want it….without issues….without delays.

 Best Practice

For Financial Institutions and other Industries that deal with sensitive data, it is recommended that the data archive be encrypted so that unauthorized access or release into the public domain is harmless, as the data will not be in a usable format. As industry regulations become more restrictive, proactive engagement regarding data security and overall privacy protection will become of primary importance.

If you want to discover more about how we help organsations globally optimise their customer journey, then we welcome the opportunity to speak to you! Just get in touch with one of our Communications Specialists at 020 3668 0444, or fill out the contact form and we will contact you!

 

This article was first published by Enghouse Interactive.
*Zion Market Research 2016
** CFI Group – 2018 Contact Center Satisfaction Index

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“Bringing People Together” – How Microsoft Teams and Other Collaboration Tools are Transforming Customer Service

“Bringing People Together” – How Microsoft Teams and Other Collaboration Tools are Transforming Customer Service

More and more businesses today are focused on optimising the customer journey. They are mapping out the way customers interact with them and their typical process of ‘flowing through the organisation’, and then looking at how they can best streamline that process in order to improve the customer experience.

With the customer journey continuing to become ever more important to organisations over time, more businesses are handling more of the routine or predictable interactions they have with customers through self-service or automated channels. Remaining queries and interactions tend to be complex or awkward, often requiring the involvement of multiple parties to resolve. That is why we are seeing growing numbers of organisations making more active use of remote access or mobile technologies and putting in place collaboration environments like ‘sandpits’ or ‘boxes’, where several people can join forces to work on the same issue. According to a recent BT report on “Productivity, the digital workplace & the collaboration conundrum.” 9 in 10 business executives say mobile and collaboration technologies have improved the productivity of their workplace.1

Reaching out across the Enterprise

We are now seeing this focus on collaboration positively impact many different areas of customer service. Take car insurance as an example. If the renewal or new policy request ticks a number of standard boxes, the process is straightforward and can be handled entirely in the front office by the customer service agent. If it is more complex, however, and the car needs to be insured immediately, it may need the involvement of actuaries in the middle office. More complex still, and it is likely to be referred to the back office where underwriters will need to work on it.

Using a traditional communications approach, this is likely to be a long-winded and protracted process, potentially involving multiple interactions with the customer, and inevitable delay and frustration. Moving forwards, the key to resolving these issues lies in businesses integrating the contact centre environment at the heart of their communications approach with the latest collaboration tools, most notably including Microsoft Teams.

Applications like Teams effectively allow organisations to extend the contact centre from the frontline agent into the middle and back offices enabling them in turn to streamline the business process and improve the customer experience into the bargain. The tool combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration to deliver a powerful collaboration environment. In the car insurance example above, an agent could potentially use it to get almost instant access to relevant people in the middle and back offices and complete the customer’s policy renewal while they are still on the phone.

Benefits for all

In contrast to the alternatives like email and traditional voice telephony, these kinds of collaboration hubs offer a highly-fluid means of communications, ideally suited to customer-facing businesses who want to build a highly responsive; interactive and productive customer service environment.

The core concept of Microsoft Teams, for example, is around bringing everything – from people to conversations, content and tools – together. Users can share assets like calendars, files and emails in real-time. Moreover, because tools like this are typically cloud-based, it is easy for anyone to access them wherever they are in the world and whatever device they are using.

With the latest collaboration tools, delivering support for mobile devices is becoming increasingly seamless. Going back to the earlier car insurance example, an assessor could share photographic evidence of a damaged car, taken on their iPhone, with the head office team, together with explanatory notes, in near real-time to help inform a policy claim or renewal.

All this capability helps make the customer service team much happier of course. It reduces friction in the process and agents have the peace of mind of knowing that they can draw on the expertise of the wider team and through the latest collaborative technology get relevant information back to the customer faster. And the old saying – “the happier the agent, the happier the customer” continues to hold true.

In today’s complex customer interaction environment, collaboration is key to delivering the best possible customer experience. Thanks to the emergence of the latest communications hub based technologies that kind of collaboration is increasingly within the reach of most businesses today.

If you want to discover more about how we help organsations globally optimise their customer journey, then we welcome the opportunity to speak to you! Just get in touch with one of our Communications Specialists at 020 3668 0444, or fill out the contact form and we will contact you!

 

This article was first published by Enghouse Interactive.

1  Source: BT Global Services/ Davies Hickman Partners, 2018

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