Monthly Archives - February 2021

Do This to Build Better Connections While Remote

Staying connected with colleagues and team members is harder in a remote working scenario. While you might be able to have casual chats, arrange informal social events and organize meetings on the fly when sharing the same office space, there are more obstacles to navigate when everyone is holed up at home, huddled over their laptops.

With all that in mind, it makes sense to be proactive about building connections with your employees and coworkers, to strengthen existing relationships and establish new ones effectively. To help you achieve this, here are a few ideas that should overhaul your approach to working and interacting remotely.

Embrace Virtual Team Building With Accessible Activities

You are probably already spending much of your working day taking advantage of conferencing and collaboration tools to steward ongoing projects and touch base with employees, but it is also important to harness these solutions specifically for the purpose of team building.

The challenge in this context is to pick team building activities which are suited to be conducted while participants are in different geographic locations. Obviously, you cannot do trust falls and outdoor excursions at the moment, so you need to encourage team bonding in an accessible way.

Whether you go about this by playing scavenger hunt with your employees, hosting quizzes that are tailored to the interests of attendees or even get involved with a virtual escape room event, there are lots of tailor-made team-building experiences that will keep colleagues closer during this difficult time.

Have One-On-One Catch-Ups

Hosting virtual get-togethers with employees as a large group is definitely sensible, but there are pressures and expectations that come with this that can leave some people feeling more isolated. Videoconferencing allows those with the biggest personalities to dominate proceedings, and because only one participant can realistically contribute at a given moment, it is necessary for managers and business owners to set aside time for one-on-one catch-ups on a regular basis.

Such meetings will let you get to grips with the progress that individual employees are making, as well as giving you an understanding of the challenges they are facing and any feedback or concerns they want to raise.

It is important to be open to hearing what others have to say about the state of play, and smaller-scale meetings can be the best way to do this while continuing to build on your relationships in a way that will boost morale as opposed to allowing it to stagnate or shrink.

Delegate Responsibilities To Keep Things Fresh

You might feel that it is your duty to be the one who bears the lion’s share of the burden for keeping geographically dispersed teams connected while working remotely. However, this can be problematic for two reasons; first, because it will be another stress for you to cope with, and second because others may feel left out from having their say on how virtual events and activities are organized and executed.

This is where delegating can be a useful approach to adopt, as offloading the process of picking what paths you take and who is involved in what aspects of setting up online events will allow employees to feel involved and invested.

Opening this up even further and allowing all participants to vote on what you do as a group in the future can bring a level of democracy to proceedings which everyone will appreciate. So resist the temptation to micromanage and you should allow entire teams to remain connected and engaged.

Be Flexible

Finally, it is worth remembering that different personality types will respond in their own unique ways to the challenges of remote working, so while some employees will crave a more intense and involved approach to communication and virtual socializing, others will bristle at the thought of having to hang out with their colleagues for online events outside of office hours week on, a week off.

It is all about being flexible and striking a balance that encompasses as many viewpoints as possible, rather than taking a more draconian angle. And most of all, if your strategies are clearly not working, then switching them up is better than staying the course.

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It’s Happening: EU Companies are Ready to Move to the Cloud

A growing number of European companies would migrate to the cloud to improve resiliency, mobility and remote collaboration using Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). While even before the pandemic almost half (44%) were ready to shift their telephony online, the pandemic proved the cloud’s power and eliminated many executives’ fears about the technology.

With the turbulence brought on by COVID-19, companies are striving to operate in a new economic environment. Both employees and customers rely on technology to connect no matter where they’re physically located or what device they use. Customer experience, remote collaboration and distance working, while important before, have all become critical.

Findings from the third edition of Mitel’s EU Cloud Survey illustrate how EU businesses were on the cusp of change even before the pandemic, exhibiting more maturity in their views and decisions about their approach to the cloud. In fact, due to the telecommunications, information technology and telephone infrastructure put in place in recent years, European companies were in a strong position to handle the demands brought on by COVID-19.

Here are some of survey’s key findings:

Trust In The Cloud Is Up

In just a year, reluctance to move to the cloud dropped dramatically. Sixteen percent of respondents said they fully trust cloud technology for their call centers compared to only 1% in 2018. Further underscoring this point, only 39% now express reservations, compared to over three-quarters in the previous survey.

Companies Are Ready

In total, 44% of companies said they’re ready to shift to the cloud with some conditions.

Essential To Growing The Business

Over a third (35%) ranked the ability to grow their business as the most important reason for cloud migration, compared to 16% in 2018.

Network Availability Ranks High

When evaluating criteria related to service continuity and guarantees, 33% said network availability was key versus only 4% in 2018. Another significant shift was the importance placed on platform availability (site recovery, fault-tolerant servers, high availability). In the latest survey, 27% of executives ranked this as important compared to two-thirds in the survey’s second edition.

Why these changes? As companies become more knowledgeable about cloud technology and telephony, concerns about nuts-and-bolts issues—like software applications and platform availability—decline while higher-level functionality comes to the forefront. EU companies have deepened their understanding of the cloud and its potential for their businesses.

What Do Businesses Want?

Flexibility, resilience and adapting technology to a business’s specific needs were the most important criteria for moving telephony to the cloud.

Flexibility

Almost half of respondents (46%) said they wanted the freedom to change suppliers “with no delay” if a service contract wasn’t fulfilled. One out of five respondents (22%) said reversibility was also an important issue. Over a third (35%) said that flexibility and adaptation of solutions to their business needs were important.

Resilience

Data and network availability are big priorities. Thirty-nine percent said they want their telephone data to be available 24/7, 365 days a year. Likewise, network availability, which also contributes to resilience, was cited by a third of respondents.

Technology As A Service

Some 35% of respondents mentioned Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) as one of the main drivers of their decision for cloud-based telephony. Over a third indicated the importance of full-mobility integration (36%), UC features such as presence, availability, secure SMS and video (35%) and advanced collaboration tools (33%).

ROI

More than a third (36%) said their prime criterion for ROI was the need to properly account for costs related to specific equipment and maintenance. Change management (34%) and migration from on-premise to cloud-based architecture (33%) were also cited as top criteria. Interestingly, in the 2018 survey, 84% said migration cost was the primary factor. This shows that as European businesses have become more experienced with cloud telephony, their ROI calculations have become more sophisticated.

Cloud Architecture

Almost half (47%) would prefer a private cloud (in their own data centers or a partner’s) and 22% are interested in a hybrid solution. One out of five respondents showed interest in a public cloud arrangement. This might be because smaller companies that want cloud-based telephony see this as an expedient solution.

One of COVID-19’s impacts is an economy based on distancing, whether it involves remote working and collaboration, customer responsiveness or supply chain management. Businesses need to deploy a wide range of technologies to support this new kind of workplace and marketplace.

About The Survey

The third edition of the Mitel EU Cloud survey was conducted by telephone and online between November 2019 and January 2020 with 1,108 corporate and IT executives of European companies.

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Barometer of Cloud Telephony Adoption in Europe

An economy based on distancing has emerged following the COVID-19 crisis that has affected European companies. Mitel’s 2020 Cloud Survey shows that European companies were already moving towards cloud technology well before the pandemic crisis, and that it will not affect the trend towards new technological models for corporate telephony.

As we analyse key figures in this survey, we realise that European companies have advanced through several stages and become more agile, even as they continue to insist on high-quality infrastructure. Even in terms of use, the decision criteria expressed by respondents show a degree of technological and marketing maturity regarding solutions for migration to cloud-based telephone systems.

 

The COVID-19 crisis, and the subsequent need for ways to organise distance working in the environments of customers and business partners, have undoubtedly pushed suppliers
to be more innovative and raised technical standards. This situation also calls for a new dialogue with customers.

European businesses continue to move to cloud telephony, and 44% of them are ready to make the shift. Are you?

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Workplace Evolution: Adapting to the Digital Office

Meet the next generation of working styles. Changing demographics and evolving expectations of technology are transforming the workplace into a modern, but complex environment. It has presented IT teams with the challenge of both maintaining current systems and allowing for more effective processes. To stay competitive and support the needs of the business, choosing to adapt in the right way, with the right collaboration tool, is compulsory.

The Changing Face Of The Workplace

The workplace of today is unrecognisable from the past, and it’s still evolving at pace. No longer faced with the static nine-to-five office of 50 years ago, IT teams have had to adapt tools and devices to the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce that’s expected to reach almost 2 billion workers by 2022. Currently over half of employees work away from the office for half the working week.

For IT, the trend of flexible working brings added challenges and can mean time that could be dedicated to innovative projects is now reassigned. With work being completed from home, off-site locations and on the go, cafés are the second most popular place to work. This introduces new outside devices and networks to corporate systems, which can leave organisations vulnerable. Add to that the huge number of networked devices used for work tasks, which is predicted to reach 38.6 billion by 2025, and it makes the task of keeping devices maintained, up-to-date and secure even more complex and time consuming.

A totally virtual working space is an approaching reality – and with it comes the need for powerful connectivity. To stay productive across different locations and working hours, businesses rely on their IT departments to deliver capabilities that support effective collaboration and communication. Without it, work simply takes longer and results suffer.

The Connected Generation

The workplace shift goes beyond bricks and mortar. Younger generations are entering the workforce in droves, and they’re leading the digital revolution.

In 2020, Millennials and Generation Z, those born from the early 1980s to early 2010s, represent a significant proportion of the workplace. These generations have grown up in a world where the internet, smart devices and instant connectivity are ubiquitous, and they expect the same simple, connected communication platforms at work as they’ve been used to in other areas of their lives.

The frequency and fondness of communication varies depending on generation. Millennials, for example, often avoid face-to-face interactions in the workplace, with 55% preferring online messaging software and 28% choosing email to communicate. And for the Gen Z, frequency is key. Over 65% say they need regular feedback from their line manager to stay in their job. For IT, it means finding a simple way to accommodate these diverse preferences to ensure maximum productivity and inclusion.

The Race To Stay Ahead

These changes have brought an influx of applications and communication channels, which can negatively impact productivity. Using disparate systems will slow down a business. When systems aren’t compatible with each other, transferring data and knowledge from one program to another, or one person to another, can be arduous. And for IT teams, staying on top of management and training to use the systems takes even longer.

Plus, employees are less than impressed with the daunting number of channels at play. Almost a quarter of IT professionals have found that the communication options available can be overwhelming to staff. It also makes it harder and more time consuming to keep track of information, forcing a long search across platforms to find the details needed. The solution is simple: implement one easy-to-use tool.

Today’s IT departments are under more pressure than ever. From the growing demands of the workforce to disparate systems, the current day-to-day workload is both complex and time consuming. So exploring a solution that unifies communication into one platform across the whole business makes it simpler for IT teams to manage systems. It means they can reassign their time to innovative, future-looking projects while boosting overall employee productivity. Plus, it helps IT to contribute to business growth and gain added flexibility over the implementation of new systems.

Choose To Embrace The Future

The modern working world holds plenty of exciting opportunities, and collaboration in ideas and knowledge is essential to react to them. The right communication systems can facilitate a workplace that delivers exceptional customer experience and supports business growth in today’s fast-paced, decentralised environment. For mobile workers, three hours a week can be lost without using unified communications and collaboration tools.

At Mitel, we understand the pressure you’re under. Our unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions support IT teams – giving you the power to choose which systems to make available, and how to roll them out. It lets you have the choice of on-premise, cloud or hybrid, the choice of when to upgrade and which systems to make available to which employees.

We work with you to uncover your unique business requirements before tailoring solutions to meet them. It means the solution is adapted to your needs, powering efficiency in the areas you need it most, while making it considerably easier to manage.

Our approach is flexible and agile, and we work within your existing network – seamlessly integrating to eliminate technical complexity and make adoption simple. We’re here to help you drive business forward.

This post was originally published on: https://www.mitel.com/blog/workplace-evolution-adapting-to-the-digital-office

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What Role does the Office Play in the Future of Work

Do businesses still need expansive campuses in a post-pandemic world? Google has opted to extend remote work, until at least the summer of 2021. Other companies have shifted to a permanently remote office policy, completely shuttering their corporate offices. With approved vaccines now being administered globally, now is the time to start evaluating what work will look like in a post-pandemic world. Will your business be fully remote, return to a 100% office environment, or will you choose a hybrid of the two?

Let’s take an in-depth look at these questions and how to begin answering them.

1. For What Purposes Is It Important For Employees To Be In The Office?

The trend of remote work had been on the rise for years, but the pandemic accelerated it dramatically across all sectors. Virtual classrooms popped up in every grade level, the finance industry left Wall Street to work from their home offices, and telehealth boomed as surely as remote work in tech.

Global social distancing quickly gave rise to the popularity of videoconferencing and remote team collaborations. But now, that trend may reverse course (at least somewhat). Will some offices return to a more traditional office environment? Or will they continue to experiment?

The answer may lie in the industry your business is in, the culture of the company itself, or how well the staff has fared these last several months.

As McCabe explains, “Things will continue to be unsettled… The pandemic sparked an en masse shift to work from home. As time has gone on, and policies and regulations have changed, companies are testing different wants to reconfigure the workplace for a combination that could comprise fully remote workers, fully in-office workers, and workers that alternate between working remotely and in the office in a fairly ad hoc way.”

As you look ahead into 2021, evaluate which roles truly need to be fully in-office, which can be fully remote, and which can be a hybrid. In remote roles, consider which can be worked from different states or even spread across the world. Should any (or all) employees work in the same time zone, no matter where they live? For instance, if your headquarters is in New York should you expect a San Francisco hire to maintain Eastern Standard Time with the rest of their colleagues? Remember that even your pre-Covid staff may have moved during this turbulent time. You’ll want to maintain the same guidelines for them that you do for any new recruits.

It’s a good idea to avoid recreating what you were doing before the onset of the pandemic. This is an opportunity to see what might work best for your employees and your business going forward.

2. How Can Office Space Be Designed To Accommodate A Hybrid Workforce?

Like all interiors, office design should support the intended activity. Of course, the set-up of any office must be conducive to productivity—but this idea takes on an entirely different shape when accommodating a hybrid workforce.

McCabe advises business leaders to consider which tools will help you “collaborate in a more integrated, less cumbersome way. Examine how you need to digitize your business processes so that employees can do their job anytime, anywhere.”

Laptops are a must if you want to give your staff the flexibility to work at home as well as the office, of course. The ability to answer work phones securely from personal devices is another essential component of a hybrid workforce.

For the office itself, consider flexible workstations to accommodate hybrid workers when they need to be on the premises.

3. What Do Employees And Managers Need To Work Collaboratively And Productively?

Investing in collaborative tech is the key for a remote or hybrid workforce. It helps to keep employees connected to each other and to customers. To maintain this level of engagement, access to certain tools is crucial:

Videoconferencing

Face-to-face time is always vital, whether it is achieved in person or remotely via video.

Chat

Not all communications have to be in person or synchronous. Text-based chat can help your employees avoid videoconferencing fatigue while still staying connected.

Collaboration Solutions

Mitel offers a suite of collaboration software to help enable the sharing of info via voice, video, and instant messaging. Choose from a variety of options including MiTeam Meetings, MiCollab, and more.

VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an encrypted connection to the Internet that keeps data secure and uncompromised. A VPN allows a remote workforce to send and receive data as securely as if they were on site.

4. How Can We Secure Employee Well-Being And Engagement?

Ensuring employee welfare goes beyond just offering the right technology, of course—and it’s important to acknowledge not every employee feels the same about remote work. “Early on, WFH worked very well—a lot of people were ready for a break from the office. But the novelty is wearing off for many,” says McCabe. “Companies will need to get creative and try to find out how they can take out some of the stress.”

Flexibility is the key for making sure employees’ needs are being met. Instead of forcing everyone into a single way of working, many businesses are looking at ways to promote a hybrid workforce, with workers able to choose the work environment that suits them best. This type of flexibility will be crucial for businesses to attract and retain top talent in the future.

As you equip your offices and your workforce with the technology to communicate and collaborate, make sure your choices are moving toward a more flexible workforce, rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Begin Preparing Now For Life Post-Pandemic

Just like we weren’t quite sure what life in a pandemic would look like, we can’t be entirely certain of how the world will look on the other side. But we can evaluate what has worked so far and what we’ve learned over the past year, and use that information to guide the next phase.

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Creating a Hybrid Workforce: What’s Next for Remote Work

Who knew that 2020 would the year that business changed forever? Across virtually every industry, there’s been a seismic shift in how we work, when we work, and how we actually communicate to get the work done.

Truth is, we may not have been communicating all that well when left to our usual devices in the office. Now is the time to consider what’s worked in both the past and the present—and then use these insights to better inform the future. Whatever challenges lie ahead, it’s clear that remote work, hybrid workforces and virtual contact centers will be taking center stage.

We recently published a guide to help business owners prepare for the Now of Work. Here are a few key takeaways to start you thinking about what comes next.

For Best Results, Invest In The Right Tech

As Barry Moltz, motivational speaker, consultant, and author of Getting Small Business Unstuck explains, “Be prepared to invest in business tools and processes that can build a profitable business and an engaged company culture online. This should include business cloud applications that are available everywhere and a focus on effective online communication tools.”

We’re fortunate to be living in an age where colleagues and customers alike are just a few clicks away, whether it’s on a face-to-face video call, via voice, or asynchronously in chat or SMS.

Taking full advantage of these technologies will help foster communication and collaboration for hybrid and remote workers. “Companies need to focus on chat rooms and videoconferencing applications for internal team members,” says Moltz. “Leaders also must be able to check in with staff members using these tools daily since they will not “see them” in an office environment naturally.”

Flexibility and adaptability are the watchwords for managing a remote or hybrid workforce. It’s important for workers to have many methods of communicating and working together so they feel connected with each other and clear in their purpose.

Develop A Culture Of Communication & Collaboration

As Bill Gates once pointed out, “Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a “nervous system,” to coordinate its actions.” Communication has always been essential and should be at the centerpiece of your company’s culture—whether a company works in a single office, offices across the globe, or an entire network of remote staff.

We have the technology to stay connected during these socially distant times—but how we use the technology matters. As CEO and Co-founder of CareerGig, Greg Kihlström, cautions, “Technology works best when we allow it to help us do things in new and efficient ways, not simply recreate the way things are done in real life.”

One major example of this point is the tendency to replace every in-person meeting with a video call. Videoconferencing is a powerful tool, but these check-ins are still best used sparingly. As important as it is to replicate face-to-face time, even over screens if not in person, we also need to reserve space in the day to get work done.

In fact, “a lot of the fatigue that people are feeling is because the most natural reaction to a loss of face-to-face meetings in the office was to try to recreate them over video chat,” says Kihlström. He adds that, “while videoconferencing can be effective in moderation, what companies should embrace is to utilize technology to make things even quicker and easier.”

When someone needs to check in with a colleague to ask a quick question or simply be brought up to speed about a project—they can turn to plenty of other available channels. Email, phone calls, and chat messaging all work well.

Technically, these may be asynchronous, or not done in precise real time, but the comms will still be near-immediate.

Use Chat To Keep Up With Colleagues & Clients

Working from home can mean less face-to-face time with colleagues, and it can complicate relationships with customers as well. As industry analyst and Founder of CXOTalk Michael Krigsman explains, the traditional meet and greet “is foundational to sales, customer service, and ongoing relationships. If your business relies on in-person meetings, then you must change and adapt at once.”

Businesses can best adapt by giving customers their choice of videoconferencing, phone calls, or chat communication options. Chat is a seamless way to interact with customers and colleagues alike. It is a perfect solution for a quick, real-time communication need—and even allows for the sharing of multimedia files like audio and video.

It’s crucial that your business offer a simple and efficient method to interact. Per Krigsman, “customer experience means relationship building. Communicate clearly, always be empathetic, and let customers know you care deeply about them. Those attributes are universally respected, and your customers will respond in kind.”

Asynchronous communication can also be automated for more efficiency, but it’s important to keep the customer experience in mind. Author Marsha Collier says, “When deciding on technologies like a chatbot, be sure you have integrated an AI that addresses common problems your customers face so they don’t get frustrated while responding. Then, use intelligent routing so that when the call is routed it is sent to the agent that best fits the query. Keep in mind that customers are more emotional these days and may become frustrated by small issues. Be where they are!”

The Future Of Work Is Now

Whether your staff is remote, in-office or a hybrid of the two, the coming year is sure to bring unique challenges. It’s important to invest in technologies that help your team work together smoothly and seamlessly, enabling them to provide an excellent customer experience as well. But don’t stop there: a culture of collaboration, support, and communication is essential to make the most of the technology.

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Why Happy Agents Make Happier Customers

Customer experience is a key metric for every business and the way agents interact with customers plays a critical role when it comes to providing a good one. Yet contact center agents today are experiencing more stress than ever before.

The pandemic has put added pressure, making agents the first port of call for many customers, especially if businesses have moved online. Add to that rising call volumes and supporting anxious customers with heightened concerns along with the new challenges of working from home.

The best way businesses can help agents is to provide them with the right tools so they can communicate effortlessly, using whatever channel suits the customer. Here are some of our best tips on providing a great agent experience:

Providing The Right Tools And Technology

A common cause of agent frustration is the tools they use. Investments in contact center technology will allow agents to access all the information to address customer needs and to do their job to the best of their ability, ensuring seamless multichannel communication.

Good agents know that customer interactions are more seamless when they are able to efficiently solve the problem. Companies can empower agents to work better by unifying conversations across multiple channels and enabling collaboration. Having a user-friendly desktop for agents so that they can efficiently have everything they need in one place will enhance their productivity, and ultimately better assist customers. They will feel empowered so the customer experience will improve and the agent frustration will be reduced.

Continuous Training And Support

Companies that implement agent workflows across multiple channels need to be dedicated to managing, training and coaching agents in the omnichannel environment. The better trained an agent is, the more successful they will be and the better chance of them staying in the business. Staff attrition rates are a real issue in the contact center industry; recruiting and training staff is a costly exercise.

By establishing a continuous training schedule, agents will receive the appropriate training at the right time, such as new customer service skills or best practice procedures.

In addition, it’s important to establish a feedback process for agents. By consistently implementing agent ideas, you will not only increase their efficiency, but also help to boost motivation and morale.

Mitel CX Report

Mitel commissioned a market research study conducted by Sapio Research in July 2020 using online surveys from more than 4,000 global consumers. It draws on findings from a market study about the customer experience during pandemic times and validates the need for contact center decision-makers to take a closer look at how digital technologies are driving CX.

CX has improved during the pandemic, according to 60% of consumers. Among the top drivers equated with good CX were the following: friendly, helpful, knowledgeable customer representatives (55%); responsiveness and fast service (45%); and communication that informs every step of the way (35%). Bad CX, on the other hand, is being transferred multiple times and repeating oneself (48%); being placed on hold (46%); and having too many steps to navigate (35%).

Reporting Tools Provide Valuable Insights

Reporting tools can capture agent and customer communications and analyze them to make sure protocols are being followed, to ensure the customer is receiving the best service possible. Analytics allow for constant improvement so that agents can be better-equipped for future calls.

Advanced reporting tools enable the contact center supervisors to see the true journey of the customer. Have they been transferred to the right department? Did the agent have the necessary skills to help the customer? What can be done differently next time to improve? When managers can track agent performance, it improves overall effectiveness, which in turn drives better customer service and that all-important “first call resolution”.

Happy And Fulfilled Agents Enhance CX

Reporting tools and technology can identify peak times within the contact center, even when agents are working from home, enabling managers to have the right number of staff on at the right times. This will ensure workloads are balanced, no sales are missed and agents do not burn out. Flexible start times and fixed shift lengths for agents can also reduce the pressure, leading to greater productivity.

Human capital is the most expensive resource in a contact center. Businesses want to provide great customer service but don’t want to overstaff for budgetary reasons. Yet, enhanced agent satisfaction translates to lower absenteeism, improved retention and more skilled agents.

Despite the advent of so much self-serve technology, the human element is still important to many. Technology certainly plays a key role, but ultimately the connection between agents and customers will drive the customer experience. The agent experience really does matter.

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Little-Known Secrets to Healthier Communications

Before COVID-19, patient care was almost entirely handled in person. But the pandemic forced healthcare organizations to pivot quickly, sending their staff home to work remotely and rethinking how they interact with patients. The shift has been a wake-up call for the industry, which now must find ways to evolve and improve both the patient and employee experiences.

“Healthcare is really waking up to the fact that they need to move toward a 360-degree view of the patient and that they need the capabilities to support the integration of data much more than before,” says Lou Gallagher, Healthcare Patient Experience Specialist at Mitel. “It was always needed, but Covid accelerated the urgency.”

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 4% of healthcare and social assistance workers were remote in 2016. That pandemic forced many healthcare agents to work from home. “Now, in the U.S.,” Gallagher says. “I’d estimate it’s well over 50% (of healthcare workers).”

Expectations For A Retail-Like Patient Experience

Since more people are at home (working, shopping and consuming a wide variety of services), they’re becoming more comfortable with the digital experience, even those who weren’t digitally enabled before Covid. As a result, their expectations for a seamless patient experience are rising.

“Retail has led the way in customer experience,” says Gallagher. “For example, Amazon has hundreds of databases, user interfaces and different systems behind the scenes, but its customers are oblivious to this. Instead, what they get is a consistent experience, no matter which device or mode of communication they use.”

“What retail has done, well ahead of healthcare, is to take all these disparate communications and bring them together. Now, because of Covid, patient expectations are higher for a more retail-like experience in their healthcare interactions.”

However, healthcare is more complex than any other vertical because of the sheer volume of interactions and the lack of workflow integration. For example, a patient may go to a clinic and see one physician for their annual physical and then make a separate visit to see another healthcare professional for a Covid test.

These two workflows each contain a unique set of information about the patient. Though they should work as one, that doesn’t often happen. For a consistent patient experience that’s on par with a retail experience, all of the disparate pieces of information need to be brought together. Of course, healthcare organizations operate hundreds of such workflows. With the right strategy and investments, they can achieve a consistent patient experience.

For example, with Mitel’s interaction software, the Electronic Heath Record (EHR) is able to contact a patient and instruct them to alert the office via text message when they arrive for their appointment. The patient’s message is delivered to a call center. When the clinic staff is ready, the system sends a text back to the patient saying the doctor is ready and to go to a specific room. It can even provide a map for the patient to follow.

Integration: The Key To Improving Patient Experience

To deliver a stellar patient experience such as this, it’s critical for healthcare systems to integrate their front and back offices. But how do healthcare organizations begin to pull all these disparate platforms together? And how in the COVID-19 era can they do so in a way that maps into the long-term strategy of the organization?

“Technology must support the strategy of the organization moving forward,” Steven Lawrence, Mitel’s Head of Healthcare, says. “It needs to improve both the patient experience and the workforce experience and transform them.”

For example, even before the pandemic began, plans to upgrade business communications were well underway at the Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics. Though the practice initially halted implementation, they decided to switch over to Mitel cloud-based communications anyway.

With MiCloud Connect, the practice was able to integrate their communications with their business process applications, which allowed staff to pivot to remote work without interruption. Seamless integration with patient information along with richer reports and analytics help the practice optimize schedules and improve wait times for callers.

In the UK and elsewhere, Lawrence points out, healthcare is attempting to make a massive leap to remote working from legacy, on-site, basic telephony platforms that have been historically under-invested.

However, rather than following an integrated strategy, they’re adopting a range of alternative, free technologies to bridge the gap. This approach is likely to create a nightmare scenario not too far down the road.

“In six months, all this free stuff isn’t going to be free anymore,” Lawrence says. “There will be licenses and hidden costs and more complexity, making communications even more difficult to manage.”

“At Mitel, we focus on supporting organizational goals with secure equipment that can be delivered however the customer wants it delivered,” Lawrence says. “There’s a great deal of complexity and risk associated with healthcare communications. That’s why we work with what you already have to strengthen your patient interactions, so you can help you transform your practice at a speed and risk profile which is acceptable to you as an organization.”

Patient Engagement In 2021 And Beyond

The vaccination of millions of patients against COVID-19 will put a strain on the healthcare system in 2021, underscoring the need for seamless integration. Practices will need to identify and track patients as part of the vaccination process, so they can manage timing of doses. Effective communication will be the linchpin of success. Healthcare organizations that focus now on improving patient engagement by integrating frontline communications with back office operations will find the process of vaccinating patients much easier and more efficient.

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Now This is What Great Communication Feels Like

With almost half the workforce now working from home full time, the need to create more meaningful connections has become critical. We’ve all had to learn how to communicate in different ways—and to function remotely. But how much of that is improving your work life?

The best technology improves your ability to communicate by giving you more capability with less steps. In other words, making remote communication, omnichannel communication, more natural and intuitive. These are the hallmark traits of Microsoft Teams and Mitel’s advanced integrations.

You can already make the most of Microsoft Teams with Mitel’s advanced telephony, video, contact center and third-party integrations. Now we are excited to announce our latest integration with Microsoft Teams across Mitel’s portfolio of products. With this integration Mitel customers can access advanced meetings features from Mitel directly within the Teams application.

Embedded Chatbot Helps You Do More

The Mitel Assistant, a newly available bot in the Microsoft Teams app store, allows MiTeam Meetings users to quickly start a meeting from within the Teams application with a simple set of commands. Quickly escalate from chat to video by launching MiTeam Meetings directly from a conversation in MS Teams. This gives Mitel customers who have chosen MiTeam Meetings as their video meeting of choice the ability to quickly escalate from chat to video by launching MiTeam Meetings directly from a conversation in Teams.

Switch From Chat To Voice Simply

With Mitel’s Teams integrations, Teams users can easily make softphone calls, click to dial a number or use a hotkey or web extension—all while staying within the Teams web or desktop app. Make calls directly within the Teams app via Mitel’s direct routing integration, so users don’t have to swap back and forth between applications. Mitel’s Chrome extension enables you to place a call within the Microsoft Teams web app with a single click. Or, with the app dialer, you can set up a hotkey so you can select numbers in the desktop app to dial.

Boost Your Communications Experience

By combining Mitel’s telephony, collaboration, videoconferencing and desk phones with Microsoft Teams you can experience what great communication feels like.

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