5 Questions to Ask Your Vendor About Secure Communications

Are your communications secure?

Secure communications can protect your business from the damage and destruction of a data breach. And it’s not just for healthcare providers – even daily office emails and phone calls can contain confidential information that matters to your customers.

A business that fails to secure its communications is in danger of losing consumer confidence, meaning customers, and future customers, won’t be likely to trust that business.

To ensure secure communications, look for a communications system that can protect the data shared within your business and beyond. Here are a few questions you can ask your vendor to ensure you’re getting the best security:

1. What Infrastructure Is Your System Hosted On?

A strong cloud communications provider will be leveraging a best-in class infrastructure to ensure the highest level of security. This saves you time and resources that can be focused on performance and innovation rather than management and maintenance. Look for a secure communications software system, like MiCloud Connect Built on Google Cloud, to integrate with the programs you already use.

2. Can Your Communications Software Handle Mobile Securely?

Working on the go is a growing norm, meaning mobility is even more important for a communications system. However, a mobile system doesn’t always mean it’s secure. Ensure you can take your system on the go to keep working while away from the office, without sacrificing your in-office functionality and security.

3. Is Your Communications Software Certified HIPAA-Compliant?

Certified HIPAA and SOC 2 compliant software guarantees that your data is encrypted in transit and at rest, with anti-virus protection and security protocols that adhere to the most stringent data compliance standards. In creating MiCloud Connect, we worked with third-party auditors to meet regulatory compliance requirements and passed strict safeguard and confidentiality tests to ensure the privacy and safety of your information.

4. How Do You Monitor Your System?

Your cloud communications provider should have a Network Operations Center, a location that continually monitors a telecommunications network, all day, everyday. Do they support it in-house or out-source? What tools and analytics are they leveraging to stay ahead? Top providers are predictive and proactive, not reactive.

5. How Do I Get Informed Of Any Issues?

No system is perfect, issues can pop up, but if they do occur with your communications system, you need to know about it quickly. Transparency is everything. Is your provider proactive in their own communications? How do they alert you when problems arise? Is there a public site where you can stay up to date about any issues and their solutions?

In all, you want to look for a communications system that’s built for security, like MiCloud Connect Built on Google Cloud. Because it’s built on Google Cloud, MiCloud Connect features the security, reliability and scalability of Google Cloud, with the intuitive user experience and flexible service of a top-notch Business VoIP system.

Take advantage of Google Cloud’s industry-leading system to deliver the uptime and compliance on which you can depend. Your communications system will be secure and easy to use with MiCloud Connect, a trusted remedy to meet the needs of any highly regulated industry with specific privacy or security requirements.

Whether you’re in health care, finance, education or just interested in an additional level of security, look for a communications system that keeps your customer and sensitive data secure. And make sure you can connect to sensitive client information from anywhere, while ensuring your client’s privacy needs are met.

This article was first published by Mitel.


What is Call Center Average Wait Time and 3 Ways to Reduce It

“Your Call Is Important To Us”

When your customers hear that, do they really believe it?  The longer you make them wait, the less important they feel. Knowing how long it takes to answer customer calls can help you answer that question, and Average Wait Time has become a contact center key performance indicator for just that reason. But just what is Average Wait Time, and what are some of the ways you can reduce it to help ensure that customer calls are being answered quickly and effectively?

What Is Call Center Average Wait Time?

Definition: Average Wait Time (AWT), also known as Average Speed of Answer (ASA), is the average time an inbound call spends waiting in queue or waiting for a callback if that feature is active in your IVR system. This differs from Average Handle Time, or AHT, which is the average time an agent takes to complete a call or customer interaction. AWT can be measured globally across the contact center, by queue, skillset, agent group, agent or phone number. The traditional call center industry standard service level is 80/20, or 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds, but there are a few reasons why this might not always be an optimal number.

“Acceptable Waiting Time And Customer Satisfaction”

In 2014, a study by American Express found that the maximum amount of time callers were willing to wait was a whopping 13 minutes. A similar study just three years later by Arise found that while around two-thirds of consumers would accept hold times of less than two minutes, 13% said that no hold times at all were acceptable. What’s more, about 34% or one-third of callers hang up and never call back if their call is not answered quickly. This is also known as Abandonment Rate, another important call center metric.

This data shows a rapidly increasing trend toward customer expectations of service that is very fast if not instantaneous. In the age of e-commerce and social media, where consumers are used to having real-time service at their fingertips, it’s important that the call center keeps up with that demand.

3 Ways to Reduce Average Wait Time

AWT is a key indicator of the health of your contact center, giving you a big-picture number that speaks to IVR optimization, agent performance and more. Addressing any of those factors can help reduce AWT and abandoned calls, but sometimes the answer isn’t as simple as just getting your numbers down. Here are a few general tips that can help any company reduce long hold times:

1. Optimize Your Contact Center Call Queue

People often report having a frustrating customer experience with ineffective IVR which might give them confusing option trees, route their call to the wrong places, or misread their inputs. Test your IVR to make sure your callers can get through quickly to the right department, minimizing the amount of time they spend waiting for call center agents who may end up having to transfer the call anyway.

2. Change Up Your Workforce Management Strategy

Agents who can handle their calls faster and more efficiently can better resolve their callers’ needs, leading to higher rates of first call resolution and customer satisfaction. Additionally, if call center representatives are empowered to monitor their own number of calls in queue, they can be incentivized to reduce call times when queues are above a certain threshold. Of course, if you feel that your contact center’s quality management is already as good as it can be, it might be time to hire more staff.

3. Relax Your Call Center Service Level

Sometimes the key to improving customer experience is not actually reducing average wait time, but providing a superior experience to fully answer questions and not hurry the call. If your contact center metrics show that you can relax service level from 80/20 to, say, 80/30, 80/60 or more with negligible impact on abandonment rate, then there might be other factors your customers are interested in than less waiting time. Studies show that 75% of consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides positive customer service, and callers expect their customer service representative to be friendly, knowledgeable and effective, as well as fast.

Improving AWT In Your Contact Center

Reducing average wait time for your callers is just as important to customer satisfaction as the amount of time it takes for agents to resolve their needs. Whether that means optimizing your IVR system and ACD, hiring more representatives or giving them additional training to work through queues faster, there are as many techniques available as there are metrics to assess their success.

This article was first published by Mitel.


The Ultimate Chat Toolkit to Maximise Your Contact Centre Efficiency

A simple chat box isn’t enough to compete in the contact centres of 2020. The fact is, like any good contact centre system, the effectiveness of a chat solution is often determined by how it works with your existing systems and the functionality it can offer agents to allow them to do their jobs to the highest standard.

Here are five features of the Talkative solution which are designed to maximise your contact centre efficiency, and support your team members to help them vastly improve the service they can provide to your customers.

1. Mitel Contact Centre Integration

The purpose of chat is to make customer service faster and more efficient- that’s why it was invented and its ability to achieve that is why it has become such a popular contact channel. But chat is only one channel out of a whole contact centre system, and for it to work effectively it has to be well integrated and have expertly design functionality which allows agents and supervisors to manage their workflows seamlessly. It’s no good having chat interactions coming through if they are separated from your Mitel Contact Centre for your phone calls and emails.

With Talkative’s integrated chat piece, agents have the ability to swap from calls to chats to emails through a single pane of glass. In addition to that, customer service teams are also making use of more advanced features and functionality to elevate their customer experience and improve their overall efficiency. Chat interactions can be escalated to a voice, video or cobrowse session at the click of a button, securely, and all escalations are logged and recorded in the same place.

2. Customer journey mapping

A great feature to work alongside your chat solution is customer journey mapping. This gives agents an overview of the customer’s website journey during their current session, and the agents can see which pages on your website they have visited and how long they have spent on them. This helps to contextualise your customer services, sales, and general enquiries, and allows your agents to offer more tailored and helpful advice.

Agents can see what web pages the customer has visited during historic sessions too. If the customer is a returning visitor, their previous journeys are stored on the system and can be retrieved quickly and easily.

Customer journey mapping is also great for digital marketing teams, too. Talkative’s solution can be integrated with Google Analytics, and chat interactions can be set up as events. By correlating the customer journey maps with chat events and type of enquiry (which can all be found within the system) you can determine which pages are generating the most chats, highlighting pages which may be confusing to customers. On the other hand, this could also highlight your most effective landing pages for conversions and lead generation.

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3. Real-Time Language translation

One of the key benefits of having live chat as a customer contact channel is its accessibility. Live chat enables instant response and support for customers regardless of their geographic location, completely free of charge. Often, companies can support a 24/7 live chat on their website, through outsourced fulfilment or with their own contact centre shifts.

Of course, many customers may not speak English confidently or as a first language, but their needs as a customer must be met regardless. In the past, customer service teams would hire specialised agents with the ability to speak multiple languages. This is where real-time language translation comes in.

Talkative’s live chat solution offers translation into 21 languages in real-time by leveraging Google Translate. This allows both the customer and the agent to type in their native languages and have a fluid, frictionless conversation without the need for additional 3rd party tools or specialised team members.

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4. Supervisor dashboards

A strong dashboard with key metrics and analytics is vital to understand the effectiveness of your contact centre. With Talkative Engage platform, supervisors are able to see and manage agent workflow from a centralised dashboard. This allows supervisors to view their agent’s activity and queues in real-time, to gain a better understanding of their team’s efficiencies. If Talkative has been integrated with Mitel Ignite, it can also give insight into the teams performance across different channels, such as chat, calls and email.

Account holders and supervisors can view current users, if they are online or not, how long they have been online or offline for, and how many interactions they are dealing with at that moment. They can see the interactions that are active, waiting or recently ended in real time, so they can monitor how agents are doing.

They have data which shows the amounts of interactions, which is split per user, so you can see how many interactions the user has handled in that date, and their feedback rate, it also shows an overall count of interactions, and if they were abandoned, waiting or handled, as well as the feedback rate. For example, which agents have the most positive or negative feedback, which is good to understand for agent training ongoing development.

5. Complete call and chat logs

Managing your interactions is all well and good, but having a complete log of all chats and calls within the system is essential if you want to be compliant. When looking for a chat solution, it’s important to consider how your interactions will be stored, and for how long. With Talkative, chats are stored within the system for 30 days, or longer if you need, and are exportable.

Another benefit of having interactions logs within the system is that agents have access to previous records, fast. When handling a complaint, for example, this means that the agent can easily see the history of the customers’ interactions, which makes it easier for agents to contextualise their complaint and offer a more helpful service.

To find out more about Talkative and how their solutions can benefit your Mitel Contact Centre, speak to your account manager today.


This article was first published by Talkative.


Emergency Planning for Severe Weather: How to Prepare for the Inevitable

Originally published on syn-apps.com

If the extreme weather conditions of recent years―historic droughts, devastating hurricanes and catastrophic wildfires, among others―have taught us anything, it’s that severe weather can strike at any moment, and every second counts. That’s why all organizations should have a strategic, well-tested emergency communication plan in place.

This article provides tips on how you can improve your emergency weather strategy by leveraging technology to optimize your communications processes to protect your people and assets.

Know the Terminology

To begin, make sure your team understands the different types of alerts issued by weather-related government agencies in your country. Typically, they include:

  • A watch: Sent when weather conditions are favorable for a specific type of event, such as a tornado or flooding. For example, a tornado watch would mean that a severe thunderstorm and tornadoes are possible. It does not mean a tornado will occur.
  • An advisory: Generally means a weather event is imminent, but not severe. For example, a winter weather advisory would be issued for several inches of snow in most areas. This is a notable occurrence, but not likely to cause long-term issues for most businesses and organizations.
  • A warning: Issued when a severe weather event is imminent. For example, a blizzard warning means a severe snowstorm is expected within the next 12 to 18 hours.

We recommend familiarizing your teams with the terminology, as well as relevant sirens or tones so they’re not alarmed should the forecast take a turn.

Determine Who Should Receive Severe Weather Notifications

If you haven’t already, determine who has decision-making authority within your organization, who needs to be informed of each weather condition and how they should proceed.

For example, you may decide that watches should go to executive team members and the facilities crew so they’re prepared to make contingency plans. You may choose to send advisories to all supervisors on premises because the weather event may require people to leave earlier than usual. You may choose to send warnings to all personnel because they may require people to seek shelter. Some situations, such as hurricanes and severe winter weather, often require management to determine if and when to close the facility or make arrangements for people to stay home.

Leverage Technology to Optimize Your Communications Plan

Next, determine how your organization will monitor and distribute information to the appropriate stakeholders. Most distributed recipient mass notification systems can send secondary notifications like e-mails or texts, but only advanced emergency mass notification systems are equipped to provide immediate and intrusive audio/visual alerts.

Advanced systems typically allow users to customize alerts so stakeholders receive a cohesive message from your organization. This helps establish trust and credibility with your recipients because they know the information they’re receiving is truly coming from your organization.

Providing ample notice can save lives, and automating weather alerts can provide the timely, effective information people need, without requiring one-off communications. Look for an emergency notification system that complies with all relevant regulations and integrates with trusted sources. As weather events develop, of course, you may want to add more personal and specific information based on your communications plan.

Test Your Systems & Conduct Drills

Conducting routine drills familiarizes personnel with existing procedures and acquaints them with new ones to ensure everyone understands what to do in a real weather emergency. They’re also helpful to identify process and system inefficiencies, arming leadership with valuable insight to fix issues right away.

Leverage a robust mass notification system with a scheduling solution like Mitel Revolution to plan drills in advance, so you can spend more time practicing and perfecting your emergency processes.

This article was first published by Mitel.


ISDN Shutdown: What To Do Now

ISDN has been widely used across UK homes and businesses for decades delivering digital broadcast-quality voice and data across the public telephone network. But its days are finally coming to an end.

ISDN is due to be switched off by 2025 in the UK. No more new orders will be placed as of 2020. Many businesses have already moved to new VoIP systems and they are noticing a number of key benefits. With the ISDN switch-off looming, we’ve put together a quick guide on what’s happening and how you can prepare.

What Exactly Is ISDN And Why Is It Being Switched Off?

Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN) is a phone system that allows voice and data to be transmitted via digital lines simultaneously. It launched back in 1986 with much celebration as businesses could now support their phone lines and video conference at the same time.

ISDN introduced faster speeds and a digital connection bringing about a plethora of benefits to businesses. This included increased productivity, clearer connections and a decreased number of interruptions and distortion.

But now, ISDN is a bit of an outdated system. Businesses can benefit more from a Voice over IP (VoIP) system that works via an active internet connection. Because there are no physical lines involved, it provides even faster connection speeds.

What Are The Real Benefits?

VoIP or SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) are phone systems that allow for making calls over the internet. It is essentially a virtual telephone line, which allows for the cost associated with phone lines and hardware to be dramatically reduced.

Paying for line rental may be in the past. In addition to the cost savings, there are far more benefits for businesses when it comes to flexibility, scalability and future proofing.

A digital line provides many benefits when it comes to video conferencing, managing call directions, increasing or decreasing the number of connections and transferring calls between locations.

What can you do to prepare?

Although the shutdown won’t officially happen until 2025, it’s still important to start thinking about how to prepare for the ISDN switch-off. (If you haven’t already.)

Luckily, switching from ISDN to a VoIP phone system isn’t as complicated as it seems. It’s a relatively straightforward process. But you do have to make sure your business has good enough internet connection to deliver VoIP. Luckily, in this day and age, most businesses will.

Is Your Business Compatible With A VoIP System?

Ideally, you would need internet speeds above 2Mbps for a small business, but it depends on the type of business you are in. Larger business with more demand may need faster speeds at around 5Mbps.

You’ll also need to check that your current phone system within the business will support VoIP. If it doesn’t, you may need to replace your phone system. If you don’t want the hassle of that you can invest in a new new PBX (the box that connects you to the external phone network) or try a hosted telephony system i.e. the Cloud.

  • Check your contract: If your current telephone contract is due for renewal or you’re out of your contract period it is the perfect time to migrate to VoIP or SIP technology. If you’re still in contract, you can plan your exit date based on your T’s and C’s.
  • Profile your company: When migrating your telephony system, you’ll want to check how many users and handsets you will need. Then find a system that suits and is compatible with your exact needs.
  • Set your budget: moving to a new system can help you save money. It’s worth checking what your current budget is to compare. There are different solutions available so you can easily adjust to fit your needs.

Easily switch for a better connection

We can help you easily migrate to a new hosted telephony system to experience better business communication and collaboration. We may even be able to help you switch and get your new system deployed easily and quickly with minimal disruption to your business.

Mitel’s cloud business systems are powerful, flexible and scalable to suit your business requirements. With faster communications, it can help give you a competitive advantage and future-proof your business growth.

If you’d like to know more about upgrading to a VoIP system, get in touch today. We can help you make the switch.

This article was first published by Mitel.


Why We Like Video Meetings Better

If you go to any telecommunications conference or tradeshow, one thing will be apparent: the era of video collaboration is here. Competition for a customer’s video meetings business has grown fierce as each vendor offers a “true collaboration experience”. Hardware vendors are providing all kinds of accessories from cameras to speakers to switches that make connecting in a video huddle room as easy as the press of a button. We as consumers are desperately trying to find some way to make meetings more productive. Why shouldn’t we? Mitel research discovered that more than a third of our workdays is spent in meetings. And, while we consider them ‘valuable’, meetings simply aren’t productive.

So, are video meetings a gamechanger for business? In many ways, yes.

Video As The Preferred Meeting Channel

Two years ago, Mitel’s leadership decided that the organization would embrace video for meetings. The move to video in the market was apparent. Gone were the days when there wasn’t enough bandwidth to support video on the network, and everyone had a webcam built into their devices. There was nothing preventing us from using video to meet. All conference rooms were outfitted with video units as well.

With executive support, the changes were immediate. Initially there were some growing pains with adjusting to the new software, but as the learning curve flattened and we gained more experience, people were eager to meet. Today we turn to video meetings first. We like not having to find a conference room and when we get a meeting notice from the old audio conference system, we demand to know why video can’t be used.

Video Promotes Employee Attentiveness

As companies grow, the need for employees to collaborate remotely increases. In the past, audio and web conferences provided the perfect environment to multitask. It was not uncommon to have at least one participant offer a long pause after being asked a question. Much time was wasted in lack of attention. But, with video, you can see when someone isn’t engaged in the meeting; there are visual cues that they aren’t paying attention. And now it only takes being caught unaware once before you find people are more compliant and stop multitasking. The end result: meetings tend to be more productive.

Video Helps Remote Employees Feel Connected

Ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet combined with capable unified communications and collaboration tools have empowered more employees to work anywhere at any time and on any device. However an HBR article suggests that more than half of surveyed remote employees often feel disconnected from the larger organization and frequently report allowing issues to persist for days or even weeks compared to their locally based colleagues. These feelings affect employee performance and satisfaction and, ultimately, the organization suffers as employees quit.

Video allows employees to participate and have the level of human interaction that they may not have working from home all day. While it may be important to bring remote employees into the office for important meetings, it’s impractical and expensive. Video has proven to be a much better alternative. Remote employees who use video report feeling more connected to their colleagues and increased trust as a result. We are social creatures who need to feel part of a whole. Video can facilitate that ― and it can even save a person’s job.

Once I had a remote employee who was at risk of losing their job as part of an impending organizational change. My objective was to keep the employee focused on their task and not to concern themselves with decisions that were out of their control. I decided to start holding weekly video meetings with that employee to provide updates and answer questions they may have during the deliberation process. That way they could see my face and I could not hide behind a phone nor could I hide my discomfort behind a carefully worded email. As a result, they felt like they were in the loop about what was going on and stayed upbeat and productive. The employee was so productive, in fact, they were able to retain their job and became an asset to the organization.

Video Can Be More Useful

In each of these cases, the communication channels we used were siloed in such a way that we needed to move from one application for chat to another device for voice, to another application for video. It doesn’t have to be that way. When we consider our mobile devices, we can chat via text message, promote from the same interface to a phone call, and on the phone call screen, we can transition to a video call.

Now that we, as a workforce, have adopted all three of these communication channels (text, voice and video), it’s time to bring these together under one unified system. We don’t need to cross launch other applications to continue a conversation. These create communication seams that slow our ability to connect and cost more to support multiple applications than a single application that does all three.

Mitel has been a leader in the unified communications space, earning analyst awards every year for the past five years for the best technology in the world for text and voice. Mitel recently announced that it had worked with AWS to develop a Software Development Kit (SDK) for their cloud video platform. As the first customer for this SDK, Mitel has the opportunity to integrate video across all of its products and services, truly unifying communication in a seamless way.

Video Is The New Meeting Space

It’s clear that video brings value like no other to meetings. Participants not only gain a sense of comradery, but also new levels of focus, connection and communication. It’s the meeting method of choice and paving the way to more seamless and available communications across the enterprise. A bonafide game-changer, it is gaining momentum across the globe. Where does video live in your business? Has it become your new meeting space?

This article was first published by Mitel.


“Coffee Shop” Etiquette in the Age of the Cloud Phone

Working remotely is so common nowadays that we’ve all but forgotten that once upon a time the main reason people visited a coffee shop was to (gasp) drink coffee. Today, remote workers have spilled out of this cozy comfort zone and truly work anywhere – from airport lounges and train stations to parks and public libraries.

The driving factor behind the “work anywhere” trend is technology. Today’s mobile workers have sleek cloud phones that enable them to perform all of their work functions and access all of their work documents. No more clunky laptop. No fluttering papers to carry. From co-working locations like WeWork to public transportation hot spots, cloud business phone systems such as MiCloud Connect make it easy for employees to keep working regardless of location.

This also means we’ve come a long way from a couple of working professionals sharing the coffee shop with people who are only there to sip a hot beverage. With 70 percent of employees working out of the office at least one day a week, and 53 percent working remotely at least half the week, your favorite remote spot is likely to get more crowded.

When you’re surrounded by others trying to get work done, the dynamics change. There’s more noise, less table space and a greater chance of overhearing private conversations. But a few guidelines of “coffee shop” etiquette can help us all share the same place amicably. As you jet between your favorite spots, keep the following in mind.

5 Ways To Practice ‘Coffee Shop’ Etiquette Using A Cloud Phone

Choose a prime location. Whether you’re traveling for work or just stepping away from your home office for a change of scenery, you’ll almost always have a couple of options for places to work. Pick the one that best matches your to-do list. If you plan to check emails and share files for a project, a library or museum can be a great choice. If you need to make some calls, a co-working location is better, since those around you will be more understanding of your need to make a little noise. The main thing to remember here is to plan ahead and think about what you need to get done, then choose the remote spot that’s appropriate.

Keep it down. Your cloud phone’s mobile-first design lets you do anything and everything you can do from the office, all while sipping your latte. But keep your surroundings in mind – and know what’s polite in each environment. If you’re in the library when a colleague asks for a quick video conference, suggest a group chat session instead. You can still converse with colleagues in real time, share a screen and collaborate, all without holding a lengthy – and potentially loud – conversation. If you do need to jump on a call, step outside and join quickly with single-click access. Be mindful of your speaking volume so those around you can continue with their work undisturbed. And don’t forget your colleagues on the other end of the virtual meeting. If you’re calling from a noisy location, like an airport or train station, mute your line.

Don’t be a space hog. If you’re working alone, don’t be greedy and grab the biggest table in the place. Only bring what you really need. For example, if you’re using Mitel Teamwork, you can use the mobile application to collaborate with colleagues right from your smartphone. Share files, virtually chat and review your personal dashboard to stay on top of upcoming tasks. Let’s put it this way: If you don’t need your laptop, charger or other clunky equipment, leave it at home and sit comfortably at a table designed for one.

Protect company information. When working in public spaces, it’s important to be cognizant of where you are and who’s around you. A shared workspace with people from other companies isn’t the place to hold a call discussing confidential business matters. Book a conference room or work from the privacy of your hotel if you’re traveling. If you’re using public WiFi, keep your business data secure by turning off sharing settings and making sure your firewall is enabled. Your cloud phone comes with built-in VPN – use it. Also, use a secure password to lock your cloud phone. That way, company data remains secure if the device gets lost.

Watch the clock. Anyone can wear out their welcome, even when they’re on a first name basis with the proprietor. Working from your favorite java stop should be a break from routine – not how you spend your entire workday. Check some emails, group chat with colleagues, even collaborate on the latest project and share files. But if you came in for breakfast and the 3 p.m. caffeine-rush crowd is pouring in, it’s probably time to pack up and leave. If you know you have several hours of work to do, choose a location where camping out is more acceptable, such as the local library. Speaking of the clock, be sure to time calls so they’re not starting when you’re about to board a train or hailing a cab to your next meeting. Allow yourself time to settle in, start the call on time and give proper attention to your colleagues.

The ability to work from multiple locations without skipping a beat is a beautiful thing. But it does require some basic etiquette if you want to get work done and let others around you do the same. These simple guidelines keep things friendly and productive for everyone.

This article was first published by Mitel.


Hosted Phone Comparison: Figuring Out Which Features You Really Need


You know it’s time. Your phone system is a mishmash of hardware and software. Your staff is making business calls on their personal phones. And the third-party service you use for conference calls is clunky and unreliable.

You also know if you’re going to grow your business, you’ve got to improve how your team communicates and collaborates. Buying new hardware isn’t in the budget and, besides, you’re worried it would have to be upgraded by the time it was installed.

Why Hosted VoIP Phone Service?

With the bandwidth and reliability of internet service today, more small- and medium-sized businesses are turning to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services like MiCloud Connect. This unified communications solution is hosted in the cloud, giving SMBs the power and functionality that in the past only large companies could afford.

But as with any major change – especially ones involving technology – things can get confusing. Because many communications providers offer an à la carte approach to features and pricing, not spending time researching up front can waste time and cost you more in the long run.

Hosted Phone Comparison — Where To Begin?

It’s a little like buying a new car. You know the features you like most, the “must haves” that you’ve come to love in your present car, things like heated seats or hands-free phone. But slide into the driver’s seat of a late model vehicle and you can be overwhelmed. Lots of new bells and whistles. How do you decide which are important, which are distracting and which just aren’t worth the money?

To start, think about where your company is now. Answer these questions and you’ll begin to zero in on the features most important to your business.

  • Which features of your current system are most useful?
    For instance, speed dial or call forwarding?
  • Who are your users?
    Do you have team members on the road, in the warehouse, in conference rooms, at their desks or in a contact center?
  • What are the communications needs of each of these user groups?
    Do they need better collaboration tools? Mobile solutions?
  • What are the pain points for these user groups?
    Or put another way, what’s the current system not providing? If employees are using their own mobile devices or third-party apps, find out why. What do they offer that your current communications system doesn’t?
  • What part of your current system do you want to keep?
    Most hosted phone service providers can customize solutions to sit on top of your present infrastructure. Why reinvent the wheel, or buy a new one, if you’ve got pieces that still work?

With this information in hand, you’re ready to consider all the features available with a hosted phone service. Which is good, because there are a lot of features. And like that new car, some you need and some you don’t.

Example #1: Law Firm

Barbara is the managing partner of a law firm with over 70 lawyers in three locations. Their telecommunications system has been creaky for some time. Consequently, they’re not as customer responsive as they need to be in a very competitive marketplace. Barbara chose these features when the firm moved to a hosted phone service.


Attorneys and staff are on the move all the time – at client’s offices, in court or at offsite meetings. With VoIP they can communicate seamlessly with any device that has an internet connection – smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. Users access the firm’s communications system via a secure, proprietary web portal. The interface is also consistent across all devices.

Conference calls.

Whether they’re on audio or video, staff can easily manage conference calls with the click of a button. All participants can share screens and files. And with a quick text, they can even pull another colleague into the call.

Call recording.

Another useful feature is the ability to record both individual calls and conference calls. Now staffers can easily go back over the details of any phone conversation.

Visual voicemail and email. When attorneys are running between meetings, catching up on voicemail is challenging. Now voicemails are transcribed and sent to the email box of the receiver. It’s easy to listen again to a long voicemail, forward it to another staff member or file it for future reference.

Presence management. 

Ever tried to hunt down a colleague when you needed a quick answer? Leaving voicemails just doesn’t do it. To really close the loop, you need to know where they are and if they’re even available. With presence technology, a receiver can notify others of their availability. Maybe they can’t answer the phone but can reply to a text or email. It all helps get an answer to the client that much faster.

Example #2: Software Start-Up

Nicolas started his software business five years ago with three friends from college. Now, with almost 200 employees across three continents, it’s time to choose a telecommunications system to meet the needs of the growing company. You don’t want bumpy conference calls when that venture capitalist calls.

Like Barbara’s law firm, mobility was near the top of Nicolas’s “need to have” list of features. For too long, the company had relied on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), but inconsistency and poor responsiveness became major issues. Here are the features Nicolas’s IT manager chose when they set up their hosted phone service.

Collaboration and teamwork. 

Central to the business’s success is the ability of employees to work together easily, no matter their location. As part of the new hosted phone configuration, collaboration and teamwork software helps engineers in Bangalore, San Jose and Riga work on projects across time zones. This feature provides a shared workspace where team members can communicate, share files, chat, set up conference calls, track progress and assign tasks.

Call center.

Before implementing hosted phone service, the company was losing almost 40 percent of customer calls. Now calls are routed to the right person the first time. Agents can communicate with customers via live chat, phone or email. The new system also enables supervisors to monitor calls in real time and coach agents on how to improve.

Remote workers.

Employees working outside the company’s main offices can now connect easily and reliably via a dedicated web portal. Using VoIP, they can respond to colleagues and customers anywhere in the world. That also means the company can recruit talent from all over the globe.

Integration with third-party software.

A key feature for Nicolas’s growing company is the ability to integrate third-party applications into its communications tools, like customer relationship management (CRM) software. Call center agents can respond to customers more effectively and sales can see real-time metrics. By integrating other applications like browsers and Microsoft Outlook, employees can make calls with one-click.

Choose the right vendor.

After you’ve decided which features are most important to your business, be sure to choose a vendor that can make things happen easily and within your budget. Look for these capabilities in a hosted phone provider.

Support from beginning to end.

Many vendors talk a good game when the sale is on the line. Many even do a good job during installation and training. But ask around. Is their customer support available 24/7? Via phone, live chat and email? They need to be there when your customers and employees need them most.

Industry leader.

Has the vendor led the way in innovation and product development? Or has it only recently jumped on the wagon? Look into how stable the company is and how long it’s been in the communications business.

Flexible and responsive.

Choosing a hosted phone service is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Quite the opposite. You want a vendor who will create a solution unique to your company.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Making sure your communications investment will lead to a stronger and more successful business. Mitel offers a suite of hosted phone service products that will make your business the best it can be.

This article was first published by Mitel.


Smart Workspaces Work Smarter Not Harder

The traditional notion of a 9-to-5 workspace has drastically changed. No longer are employees chained to their desk. Instead, they can work from anywhere, often at hours of their choosing. Today’s workspace moves with the employee, whether it’s to a mid-morning session at Starbucks, aboard an Amtrak train or even a midnight email check after a school band concert.

While many factors are behind the rise of these smart workspaces, there’s one main ingredient required to make them succeed: the right communications technology. Let’s explore the smart workspace in more detail and see how you can set up your business to meet this growing employee expectation.

What Is A Smart Workspace?

In today’s world, the term “workspace” no longer conjures an image of employees sitting at their desks, surrounded by cubicle walls, pecking away at their keyboards for eight hours straight. Workspaces have evolved, and today’s “smart” version allows employees to get their work done from any location, using any device. A smart workspace transcends the physical boundaries of the cubicle and office, creating an environment of collaboration and communication that fosters productivity and increases employee satisfaction.

Flexibility: More than half (51 percent) of employees want their companies to offer more flexible work options, according to a recent study. Flexible options include telecommuting and the freedom to work outside of traditional business hours.

Work-life balance: Your workers don’t want to miss out on their kid’s soccer game or burn the candle at both ends. More employees consider work-life balance to be increasingly important, and fewer people are willing to sacrifice it for their job.

Millennials: By 2020, which is right around the corner, Millennials will make up more than half of the workforce. That number is expected to hit 75 percent by 2025. This generation is tech-savvy, demands flexibility and thrives on collaboration.

Next Steps For A Digital Workspace Transformation

Businesses that want to attract and retain top talent have no choice but to embrace smart workspaces. Gartner predicts that by 2020, organizations that let workers choose their own style of work will increase retention rates by more than 10 percent. Already, a unified communications system with a robust suite of collaboration tools can provide a smart workspace for your employees. Such suites offer:

  • A single application for voice, video, messaging, audio conferencing and more so employees can easily switch between channels on the fly.
  • A consistent experience across devices.
  • Mobile-first design that supports both iOS and Android.
  • Audio conferencing and web sharing to promote collaboration.
  • Single number reach, making employees accessible on any device.
  • Individual and group chat to keep the lines of communication open.
  • File and screen sharing, which make it easy to keep team members up-to-date on projects.
  • Secure remote access so employees can work from anywhere without having to worry about confidential company information.
  • Multi-region and multi-language support, to provide employees around the world with access to the same unified experience.

Not only do such systems meet the demands of your employees, they benefit the business as well. Teams communicate more efficiently and effectively, easily sharing ideas and files. Managers make decisions more quickly and increase productivity. By keeping your employees connected on-the-go, you’ll keep up with today’s fast-paced business world. And, you’ll break down silos between departments and locations. In other words, smart workspaces are just as good for the bottom line as they are for employee satisfaction and retention.

If your business isn’t already part of the smart workspace culture, it’s time to start transforming. A powerful suite of collaboration tools that gives employees access to everything they need to do their work—no matter where they are or what device they’re on—is the main ingredient for success. The right unified communications solution provides a seamless experience for all employees, breaking down barriers, fostering collaboration and resulting in smarter business decisions made in less time. A smart workspace really is a “no brainer.”

Interested in details about smart workspaces and how they can help your team and business excel? Find out more about the collaboration solutions offered by Mitel.

This article was first published by Mitel.


Healthcare Health Check: How To Stabilise Your Business Vitals With UC

Healthcare Health Check: How To Stabilise Your Business Vitals With UC

To do more with less, the NHS and many private clinics delay upgrading their communications technology if their legacy system continues to function. And limited budgets and staffing shortages provide easy excuses for large hospitals and small clinics alike to continue putting off upgrades year after year.

But the emergence of innovative technology – robust cloud solutions, next-gen apps and more – provides incredible new opportunities. When leveraged strategically and cost-effectively, these technologies can help the NHS and private healthcare providers tackle challenges like the growing elderly population and the upcoming ISDN shutdown, among many others.

How Unified Communications Can Help

Investing in different solutions that don’t work together or with your existing infrastructure can be costly. For better patient care and overall performance, deploy a Unified Communications (UC) solution at your own pace that addresses multiple staff and patient needs and fully integrates with your existing system.

Ensure the solution delivers in all key areas including:

Increased staff responsiveness

Mobile collaboration apps integrated with your organisation’s telephony make staff easier to reach and collaborate with. By reducing wasted time and miscommunication, the apps enable staff to focus more on personalised patient care. In addition, you can mobilise staff and other experts in an instant if there’s an emergency with a patient.

Improved resiliency and security

A modern UC solution on a resilient network minimises system downtime and disruption, saving IT staff valuable time and effort while also keeping patient medical records more secure. This provides peace of mind and ensures your organisation complies with regulations.

Greater cost control

Maintaining obsolete equipment, finding replacement parts and staffing a large IT department to handle everything – including resolving frequent issues – is extremely expensive. The right UC solution for your unique needs, whether that’s on-site, in the cloud or a hybrid, requires much less maintenance and effort.

No matter if you’re a small private clinic or a public hospital with hundreds of scattered sites, a modern and robust UC solution enables you to provide better patient care, ensure resiliency and stay within budget. Look for a communications vendor with a long history of experience in healthcare that can help you digitally transform at pace that’s right for you.

Upgrade At Your Own Pace

Most importantly, find a provider like Mitel that lets you move at your own pace, upgrading and adding functionality gradually and cost-effectively. No need to rip and replace—and face an enormous price tag. Plus, this method is easier on your IT staff because it enables them to do their due diligence and get trained on each new technology without being overwhelmed and over-worked.

This article was first published by Mitel.