Tag - Cloud Communications

“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.

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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.

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Meet AI: Your New Virtual Contact Center Assistant

It turns out the Jetsons, Star Wars and WALL-E all had it right.

For decades, people have dreamed about robot helpers and predicted their imminent arrival. With today’s growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), it seems their time has finally come.

Statistics tell the story. Some 59 percent of organizations have already deployed some form of AI, according to a recent Gartner survey. Within the next year, the number of AI projects should double. For enterprise companies, the main driver of AI adoption is improving the customer experience, although their vision goes beyond chatbots answering basic customer questions. More than half (56 percent) of organizations use AI to help employees make better decisions and provide a superior level of customer service.

This is where AI within the contact center comes into play. It does more than simply provide faster customer service. Today’s AI technology has grown to the point where it fills numerous roles and wears several hats.

Let’s explore how businesses can benefit from AI’s advanced use in today’s high-performing contact centers.

AI As The Trainer

If you run a typical contact center, chances are you have a high volume of calls coming in each day, answered by a team comprised of both veteran and rookie agents. Businesses are always working to improve the quality of customer interactions, of course, and typically they’ve done this by recording and analyzing conversations, then providing feedback to specific employees or the entire team. While this approach gets the job done, it takes time. That means it can be a while before your agents get the feedback they need to improve.

AI introduces real-time training through virtual agents. These are similar to chatbots, except they’re powered by AI technology. Whether a customer begins their journey with a virtual agent or goes straight to a human, virtual agents monitor interactions via speech or text, “listening” to the words exchanged and their sentiment. In real time, virtual agents coach human reps, making sure they deliver a customer experience that’s not only efficient and effective, but also on-brand and on-message.

The implications of real-time coaching are significant. Supervisors are freed up to perform other work, and an agent who may only be a week into their job can handle calls just as well as a 10-year veteran. Customers enjoy a consistent, positive interaction regardless of the agent’s experience level. And, the benefits extend to the agents themselves, since they can now avoid the frustration that comes with a new job and demanding customers who want fast answers.

AI As The Data Collector

Without data, you can’t improve your level of customer service. You need to know what your customers want and why they’re contacting you so you can prepare your agents with appropriate information and resources. However, all that data is useless if you don’t have the means to analyze it and put it to use.

AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) interpret data and provide analysis around areas such as:

  • Why customers contact you
  • Ways you can improve your products and services
  • The availability of information to customers

This kind of data lets you move beyond efficiency and actually improve your overall customer experience and satisfaction levels. More importantly, real-time insights allow you to adapt to customers’ preferences quickly – and stay ahead of the competition.

AI As The Assistant

Contact centers need assistance in more ways than one, and AI helps with them all. In addition to real-time coaching, AI chatbots provide faster and more personalized customer service. AI virtual agents can interpret and access customer data, so they can handle more inquiries on their own, freeing up human agents to handle complex calls.

Machine learning enables AI bots to determine when a customer is getting frustrated and needs a human touch. When this happens, customers aren’t placed in a random queue. Rather, AI technology routes their call to the most qualified person and, at the same time, provides them with a full transcript of the conversation. That saves customers from the nuisance of having to repeat themselves.

Once a human is involved, AI technology assists in the background. Bots monitor the conversation and present the human agent with relevant information that helps them satisfy the customer. From product information to weather forecasts, the virtual agent can access both internal and external data to make sure the customer has a smooth and pleasant experience.

It’s now possible for your contact center to have a “Rosie” of its own, just like the Jetsons. AI technology provides real-time coaching, advanced analytics and real-time assistance to create a more personalized customer experience and a stronger, well-armed team of contact center agents. Start taking advantage of AI technology today by working with a provider that’s committed to innovation and provides the latest advantages that AI can bring to your contact center.

Interested in adding AI to your contact center? Learn more about the Mitel and Google Cloud partnership.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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RE:Invent(ing) Video Collaboration

REINVENT(ING) VIDEO COLLABORATION

Delegating is an essential part of success in today’s fast-paced, mobile marketplace. Unless it’s organized by the right people, at the right time, it can become more of a burden than a benefit. Delegating work to other people sounds great in theory, but we can sometimes struggle to release control. Who should be working on what? Was the previous task completed? What is the current status of that project?

It takes time to send out assignments, but you can’t do everything yourself. Having help gives you greater freedom in your day. With less work on your plate, you can better prioritize your own goals. Before you can reach that point, a system must be put in place to ensure all delegated work is completed in a timely manner.

For a business to succeed, it needs to be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly and effortlessly, as if all members of the team were in the same room, especially when they cannot be. Eighty-six percent of workers reported that a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication was responsible for workplace failures and almost 15 percent of total work time is wasted because of ineffective or inefficient communications.

Today, employees tend to use multiple disconnected applications to interact with each other, scattering essential information required for delegating responsibilities across multiple platforms. Using different systems makes delegating a slow and bumpy ride. With a single system to create and assign tasks, message as well as share work, you can ensure your team is on the ball.

Workspaces

Delegating is made easier with Mitel Teamwork, where you can create focused group workspaces based on projects or teams, either public or private. Accessible by PC as well as the mobile app, team members can be updated from anywhere, at any time. Send messages and track conversations, share content and files plus add new members to workspaces as required. Working as a team is made simple, keeping information flowing through your organization seamlessly, in one place, so that work can get done faster, smarter, without getting bogged down by email chains.

Messaging

Equipping employees with virtual workspaces, Teamwork is a place where employees can come together to work closely and communicate effectively from anywhere. Send group messages to announce updates to team members, as well as alert specific users with @mentions, even start a conference call, if necessary. The mobile app for iOS and Android enables teams to always stay connected, with conversations mirrored across all devices. Mitel Teamwork provides organizations with a place where employees can message and interact with each other, but it’s more than just a messaging app.

Tasks

Virtual workspaces allow teams to collaborate from anywhere, to create and assign tasks, set priorities, check progress, and ensure everyone is kept up to date, from anyplace, at any time. Personal dashboards for every user ensure they are always in the loop, alerting them to what activities require immediate attention. Data can be stored or archived by project, subject or person.

Helping to improve the speed and quality of decisions being made within your organization, Teamwork simplifies the way employees chat, meet and share information with others by bringing together messaging and collaboration tools into a single solution, empowering teams to be productive from anywhere.

The seamless flow of information throughout your team is what can help you delegate responsibilities and ensure that all projects are successful in today’s fast-paced, mobile marketplace.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Delegating Projects with Mitel Teamwork

Delegating is an essential part of success in today’s fast-paced, mobile marketplace. Unless it’s organized by the right people, at the right time, it can become more of a burden than a benefit. Delegating work to other people sounds great in theory, but we can sometimes struggle to release control. Who should be working on what? Was the previous task completed? What is the current status of that project?

It takes time to send out assignments, but you can’t do everything yourself. Having help gives you greater freedom in your day. With less work on your plate, you can better prioritize your own goals. Before you can reach that point, a system must be put in place to ensure all delegated work is completed in a timely manner.

For a business to succeed, it needs to be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly and effortlessly, as if all members of the team were in the same room, especially when they cannot be. Eighty-six percent of workers reported that a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication was responsible for workplace failures and almost 15 percent of total work time is wasted because of ineffective or inefficient communications.

Today, employees tend to use multiple disconnected applications to interact with each other, scattering essential information required for delegating responsibilities across multiple platforms. Using different systems makes delegating a slow and bumpy ride. With a single system to create and assign tasks, message as well as share work, you can ensure your team is on the ball.

Workspaces

Delegating is made easier with Mitel Teamwork, where you can create focused group workspaces based on projects or teams, either public or private. Accessible by PC as well as the mobile app, team members can be updated from anywhere, at any time. Send messages and track conversations, share content and files plus add new members to workspaces as required. Working as a team is made simple, keeping information flowing through your organization seamlessly, in one place, so that work can get done faster, smarter, without getting bogged down by email chains.

Messaging

Equipping employees with virtual workspaces, Teamwork is a place where employees can come together to work closely and communicate effectively from anywhere. Send group messages to announce updates to team members, as well as alert specific users with @mentions, even start a conference call, if necessary. The mobile app for iOS and Android enables teams to always stay connected, with conversations mirrored across all devices. Mitel Teamwork provides organizations with a place where employees can message and interact with each other, but it’s more than just a messaging app.

Tasks

Virtual workspaces allow teams to collaborate from anywhere, to create and assign tasks, set priorities, check progress, and ensure everyone is kept up to date, from anyplace, at any time. Personal dashboards for every user ensure they are always in the loop, alerting them to what activities require immediate attention. Data can be stored or archived by project, subject or person.

Helping to improve the speed and quality of decisions being made within your organization, Teamwork simplifies the way employees chat, meet and share information with others by bringing together messaging and collaboration tools into a single solution, empowering teams to be productive from anywhere.

The seamless flow of information throughout your team is what can help you delegate responsibilities and ensure that all projects are successful in today’s fast-paced, mobile marketplace.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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The Customer Experience Rules In Real Estate

In our increasingly digital age of constant connectivity, consumers have been conditioned to expect immediate access to information. Within the highly competitive real estate industry, it’s always a challenge to keep the balance between making profit while delivering excellent customer service.

Despite the economic downturn, the UK property market is still growing. Turnover was £69.5 billion in 2018, ranking real estate fourth place (with Countrywide plc registered the largest revenue in 2018, at £627 million). The number of real estate enterprises increased by 3.6% annually from 2010 to 2017, with 96,113 enterprises registered in 2017.

Why Is The Customer Experience So Crucial?

Prioritising the customer experience (CX) is a key differentiator to success in the property sector. Buying, selling or even renting a house can be a stressful time, and customers will have questions, concerns, suggestions and requests for updates that they want answers to immediately. A day’s delay in getting back to a client may not have been an issue a few years ago, but in a tough market like real estate, a seamless CX and ease of engagement with an estate agent is critical.

Advances in technology have made it possible for potential home buyers to look for homes online, on a variety of websites, compare prices and features and even take virtual tours. Because these initial automated steps are now so accessible, customers have higher standards and more demanding expectations for the entire buying or selling process. However, word of mouth referrals and a good reputation are still an integral part of the estate agent sales process, especially for local, independent businesses, so making sure that they are excelling in all areas of customer service is still paramount.

Initial Property Searches Start Online

Millennials now make up 66% of the market for first-time homebuyers, and 99% of those looking for homes initially use the Internet to research properties.

Estate agents need to be able to provide the information in the way that millennials want to consume. Social media such as Facebook and even WhatsApp have become popular ways of sharing property details and finding buyers. It’s critical that estate agents have the ability to integrate social media tools and apps into the buying and selling process if they want to successfully acquire new customers. If new marketing channels are viewed as opportunities rather than threats, market reach can be increased by leveraging digital marketing and using analytics to understand the buyers’ needs.

As well as reaching potential new customers via the Internet, estate agents can maximise their online presence throughout the entire sales process, for example, setting up viewings and making appointments, providing further information on properties and keeping clients updated on property availability. Online services can also enhance the customer experience in the rental market by registering any problems with landlords and providing updates on the status of maintenance and repair issues.

What About Online Entrants?

The market share of online agents at the end of 2018 stabilised at just 7.2% of all exchanges (Source: The TwentyCi National Property & Homemover Report Q4 2018 ). When it was launched, Purplebricks was a front runner of this business model, only operating online and charging a fixed-fee, paid upfront, whether a property sold or not. While there’s clearly a small market for online-only estate agencies, the business model has not yet taken off in a big way. The vast majority of buyers and sellers still end up turning to estate agents for a bespoke, personal service, where they can benefit from human interaction, expertise and advice. For today’s consumers, it’s all about having the choice of how they communicate, be it online or in person, rather than being forced to communicate in only one way.

The Importance Of A Centralised Contact Centre

Property organisations are now looking to centralise their contact centre technology so that the branch staff can concentrate their resources on improving service levels, with walk-in enquiries and viewings. The main advantage of a fully interactive contact centre platform is that it allows customers to oversee every aspect of their transaction as it happens. They can access this service at any time of the day or night, at the touch of a button, without being restricted to the traditional estate agent’s opening hours. The UK’s property consumers are looking for choice, convenience and flexibility in how they search the market.

Bringing It All Together: The Omnichannel Experience

The optimal CX strategy must be real-time, customisable, omnichannel and multi-platform. Understanding how consumers behave and react to information enables estate agents to predict over time which communications channels deliver the best customer experience.

48% of real estate firms surveyed cited keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges facing their firm in the next two years (Source: 2017 Profile of Real Estate Firms, National Association of Realtors).

A superior CX strategy is all about creating a powerful partnership of property experts who are focused on serving the immediate needs of the customer and improving the home buying, selling and rental process with omnichannel technology.

An omnichannel solution will enable customers to self-serve, across websites, mobile apps and chatbots. By understanding the customers’ requirements, estate agents can predict their questions, issues and challenges and therefore build systems that allow customers to obtain the information they require quickly and efficiently.

It is also vital for estate agents to have access to all of their customer interactions, whether via walk-in enquiries, online or on the phone. They need to be able to easily transition from a web enquiry to a personal call or face-to-face meeting, with full access to the customer’s history, via integrated CX technology such as the CRM system, Salesforce.

The Customer Experience Remains At The Core Of Real Estate

There is a dramatic shift towards improving the customer experience in the property sector. It is an industry built on nurturing customer relationships, so providing a great customer experience is imperative to delivering customer satisfaction, maintaining retention levels, managing your reputation and growing your real estate business.

Omnichannel communications and innovations in technology can undoubtedly create a positive experience for sellers and buyers alike, helping you stay ahead of the competition.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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The 9 Most Important Call Center Trends of 2019

We saw a lot of changes to the call center and customer experience landscape in 2018. Cloud communications and virtual agents were on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and social media was more important than ever. 2019 shaped up to be the year of strategic thinking: better analytics, more intentional social media conversations and innovative ways to involve artificial intelligence.

Earlier this year, Mitel identified nine technology trends that are helping companies deliver this kind of customer experience. Let’s take a look and see how far your business has come in building customer relationships that last – or which of these trends may need to be on the 2020 to-do list.

1. Artificial intelligence integrated into customer interactions

Businesses are getting deeper into predictive analytics, using artificial intelligence (AI) applications to help streamline call center experiences for customers and agents.

We are seeing that, as early adopters continue honing AI applications for call routing, AI will become more widely applied. We also expect to see more connections forged between various media channels and streamlined call center response. Given this, it’s worth investigating what contact center AI options might benefit your business.

2. Digital transformation

Businesses have always tried to differentiate themselves on price or product quality. Today, however, we’re seeing that customers are more frequently looking for something more: a rewarding experience that leads to a long-lasting relationship with a business. Customer interactions are no longer stand-alone activities, and customers are demanding a more comprehensive and consistent experience.

Digital transformation, the application of advanced technologies that have completely restructured the modern business environment, is a big part of this. With advancements like unified omnichannel communications and machine-to-machine communications via the Internet of Things (IoT), a forward-looking digital transformation strategy is going to be key for businesses who want to stay competitive.

What should that strategy include? Businesses need to consider the whole of the customer experience: a truly digital contact center redefines the customer experience from start to finish. And it’s not just about using the right channels to interact with customers where they are; the smartest businesses (of all sizes) are integrating technologies to provide full customer context with each interaction and leveraging system data to provide proactive service. Further, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools, like team collaboration applications, will be strategically important for contact centers, because they enable employees to leverage the collective intelligence of the whole business. Vendors that offer applications with open APIs provide new levels of customization and integration to help deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

3. Better contact center analytics

Gone are the days of relying on supervisor skill and know-how to get the most out of a contact center agent. Now, even smaller businesses are taking advantage of sophisticated analytics to turn data – like call and screen recordings, chats, SMS messages and more – into truly useful feedback for their agents.

It’s not enough to rely on manual observation and monitoring, as there’s just too much information.

More omnichannel call centers are starting to rely heavily on analytics programs to build dashboards with the statistics that affect their businesses. We saw more and more businesses display this kind of statistical dashboards on user interfaces, so call agents and managers are getting real-time updates on customer experiences.

In general, we expect more advancements in analytics as companies continue to implement more unified communications platforms and strategies.

4. Omnichannel communications for all

A huge hot button in previous years, omnichannel communications has continued to separate proactive businesses from their more reactive counterparts in 2019. A holistic view of the customer experience, factoring in an omnichannel approach, has so far helped businesses give customers a more personal feel to resolutions.

More businesses are recognizing that while a customer journey may begin on one channel, valuable insight and feedback from the customer is taking place on a completely different channel.

Unifying customer communications across channels gives businesses better context for their customers, helps resolve issues more quickly and helps sales agents identify better opportunities for future sales.

Want To Talk With A Mitel Customer Experience Expert?

OUR TEAM IS READY TO HELP YOU FIND THE SOLUTION THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU.

5. Widespread adoption of cloud communications in call centers

Many businesses have already adopted cloud communications as part of their communications strategies, but cloud communications has become particularly important for contact centers. The steady increase in remote call agents has made cloud communications a necessity for businesses who want to take advantage of seamless team communications and collaboration. With cloud communications, traditional office-based contact centers can take on new locations, grow and contract workforces as market needs demand it.

Moving to the cloud also doesn’t have to happen all at once. Vendors that offer hybrid cloud options can help you phase your organization into the cloud at your own speed or create a tailored architecture that leverages the best of multiple deployment models based on your business needs. For example, a contact center with an on-premises solution could implement a cloud-based webchat system, without needing to completely reinvest in infrastructure up front.

6. More robust customer satisfaction measurements

Customer satisfaction sends huge signals to companies about where and how their businesses could improve. Businesses approach customer satisfaction measurement in different ways, but the slick all-in-one approach seems to be holding steady.

In 2019, Amazon’s cornerstone Negative Response Rate (NRR) strategy has continued to be a major part in calculating contact center customer satisfaction in 2019. No matter which measurements businesses are using, however, special care needs to be taken when addressing the customer experience across digital channels.

Using effective reporting and analytics tools that are integrated with your communications systems makes this process automatic and valuable.

7. More remote call center agents

Lower overhead, time zone flexibility, and flexible working hours have made remote contact center workers a stable trend in 2019. With constantly improving unified cloud communications, remote workers have become a permanent (and beneficial) part of the contact center environment. By using collaboration tools, contact center agents can be mobile, with access to real-time analytics and customer context.

8. Continued emphasis on self-serve documentation

So far, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on self-service problem-solving information on business websites. Giving customers information quickly helps reduce call volumes, and easy-to-navigate FAQs help narrow down calls to those with sufficiently complex issues. Quick access to self-serve solutions also provides an emotional benefit to customers (that DIY-fix high!), and reduces overall call times.

9. Two-way social media conversations

An effective social media presence is a necessity. Customers want a place they can go to give quick feedback and learn about their favorite businesses. But the way businesses approach their social media conversations is changing.

It’s not enough to make witty posts or share images. Customers are looking for a two-way social media conversation, and when they interact with businesses online, they expect a personalized (and immediate) response.

Responsive businesses are using this trend to create a superb customer experience by unifying communications across channels into one stream. This helps their customers by connecting them with an agent who knows their purchase and service history and provides valuable context. Most importantly, the two-way conversation is public on a social media platform, so other customers can see how the business solved the problem.

Negative feedback can be killer online, and unanswered negative comments make potential customers wary. If you positively resolve issues quickly and in a way that makes it clear the customer is central to the conversation, it leaves your business looking intelligent, caring and motivated by the customer experience.

Call center and customer experience trends to activate

These nine trends have already made an impact on the contact center landscape in 2019. Did your contact center implement any of these? Better yet, are they working for you? If you need more help figuring out how to apply them to your business, get on a more strategic footing with our contact center solutions.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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6 Cloud Contact Center Trends to Watch in 2020

The cloud contact center market’s expected to grow from $8.9 billion in 2018 to more than $33 billion by 2024.

As cloud contact centers continue to proliferate, key trends are emerging that paint a promising picture for 2020. From omnichannel to “homeshoring,” what follows are the most important trends you need to know to ensure your cloud contact center stays on the cutting edge. The technologies supporting these trends will help you create the most engaging experience possible for your customers.

The Top 6 Cloud Contact Center Trends For 2020

1. A Real Omnichannel Experience Provides Even More Ways To Communicate.

The omnichannel experience is nothing new to the contact center, though in the past implementation has been siloed. A true omnichannel experience allows customers to move seamlessly from one channel of communications to another without skipping a beat. A fully integrated omnichannel offering is the future of cloud contact centers, and with it, organizations can meet evolving customer expectations.

That means cloud contact centers must expand to incorporate more channels, which means it’s essential to work with a provider offering true omnichannel support. MiCloud Connect Contact Center, for example, allows your customers to communicate effortlessly with your agents, regardless of channel. They can navigate between voice, web, text and other options without losing any of their information or having to repeat themselves.

2. Artificial Intelligence Delivers Training And Assistance.

Fifty-nine percent of organizations have already deployed AI, according to a recent Gartner survey, and many plan to double the number of AI projects within the next year. Gartner also predicts that by 2021, 15 percent of all customer interactions will be resolved through AI technology. The main driver behind enterprise AI adoption is the ability to deliver a stellar customer experience. Although AI already has begun to transform cloud contact centers, planned investments mean the technology will have an even bigger impact next year.

Even more exciting are the many ways AI is improving the overall performance of the cloud contact center. The technology brings real-time training and coaching through virtual agent assist. Virtual agents are AI-powered chatbots that monitor interactions between agents and customers – even if the conversation moves between channels – and provides guidance and training for the agent in real time.

MiCloud Connect CX is one of the solutions implementing this type of training. Speech analytics transcribes recorded conversations and uses AI to analyze key moments for coaching so your team can deliver better interactions. AI virtual agents also monitor conversations and present agents with relevant information that help them resolve customer questions more quickly and effectively.

The result? A more pleasant customer experience and a more effective interaction that’s on-brand and on-message. New agents handle calls like seasoned veterans in no time, and supervisors spend less time on training.

3. Analytics Play A More Powerful Role.

Another cloud contact center trend that involves AI technology is the use of data analytics. Contact centers have long been collecting data on customers, but the information’s useless if it isn’t properly analyzed and applied. This is where AI makes all the difference.

Technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) interpret data and provide analysis around why customers contact you, ways you can improve your products and services and how you make information available to customers. This data enables you to move beyond contact center efficiency and focus on improving the overall customer experience. Since these insights are created in real-time, you can respond and adapt to customers’ preferences quickly, increasing loyalty while staying ahead of the competition.

4. Self-Service Expands.

Customers often prefer to help themselves. They don’t want to get stuck in a queue or wait for a human agent – especially when they have a simple question about a product or service. Chatbots are the primary means of self-service, so it should be no surprise that the global chatbot market is expected to hit $5.63 billion by 2023, demonstrating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 34 percent over the 2018-2023 period.

Chatbots allow customers to get answers to basic questions and FAQs. They also free up human agents to focus on more complex queries and keep wait times down for those who really do need to speak to a live agent.

A key differentiator in 2020 will be the provision of chatbots that create a smooth transition when a customer needs live support. Smartbots route customers to an agent with the appropriate level of expertise and provide agents with a full history of the customer engagement. This saves customers from having to repeat themselves and enables agents to pick up exactly where the chatbot left off.

Expanded FAQs and video tutorials are other ways in which cloud contact centers will offer self-service in 2020, so businesses need to be sure they’re prepared to meet those demands, as well.

5. Contact Center Agents Move From Reactive To Proactive.

Integration with CRM systems provides cloud contact center agents with detailed customer data in real time. When customers call with an issue, agents have instant access to purchase histories and other relevant details. That allows them to take a more proactive role in addressing the customer’s issue.

MiCloud Connect CX is an example of a cloud contact center solution that integrates with your CRM so you can immediately assess customer information and create a more personalized interaction. Agents can even note the customer’s mood, which can trigger automated actions and help your business better prepare for future interactions. Personalization and customer sentiment help your business improve customer satisfaction levels and monitor them over time.

6. The Rise Of The Remote Contact Center Workforce.

The days of large rooms full of agents answering calls are disappearing. Cloud contact centers have ushered in the ability to maintain a remote contact center workforce, without the need to offshore calls to a third-party vendor. With a cloud contact center, agents can be dispersed throughout the country, putting them closer to your customers. The money saved on office space and other overhead can be applied toward hiring local talent that can provide localized service. “Homeshoring” improves customer satisfaction, and we expect this trend to continue in 2020.

There’s no doubt that 2020 will be an exciting time. Innovations in cloud contact center solutions will give your business the advantage it needs to remain competitive in a customer-driven world. And by putting these cloud trends at the center of your contact center plans, you’ll be sure to meet your customers’ expectations for a stellar experience.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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4 Creative Ideas For Your VoIP Phone Solution Rollout

4 Creative Ideas For Your VoIP Phone Solution Rollout

Any time an organization rolls out a new enterprise-wide technology or tool, it’s a big undertaking. So much goes into each initiative: mapping out specs, selecting a vendor, testing the system and, of course, making employees aware.

One of the most important KPIs of every new technology rollout is the adoption rate. But increasing adoption rates, particularly when your IT team has limited resources, isn’t always straightforward. An effective rollout communications plan has a huge impact on user adoption rates.

Most rollout communications plans start with the basics:

  • Get buy-in from the top
  • Make a formal announcement on the day of launch
  • Post FAQs and support numbers
  • Set up feedback mechanisms

But the most effective communications plans go above and beyond. Getting your users excited about your new VoIP phone solution requires the help of your internal communications team, careful planning and a recognition that promotion must continue for months beyond initial launch. Mix in a little creativity and watch adoption rates soar.

Research by PwC underscores why engaging your workforce in creative ways to foster adoption is crucial. According to the survey, employees are motivated to learn new digital skills when it helps them advance their careers or gain status (37 percent) and be more efficient (34 percent). Meanwhile, 29 percent prefer predictable routines. In a telling statistic about the importance of frequent communications, only 47 percent of the latter group say their employer does a good job communicating about the importance of digital skills and how they’re tied to the company’s success.

These findings have important implications for your rollout.

For example, understanding motivation can help you design a more effective rollout. “Because status drives their interest,” says PwC, employees “may pass up opportunities for skill building if they can’t see how they’ll be valued for it. Still, they say they’re willing to give 17 hours in an average month on digital skill development.” Thus, one way to foster employee interest in digital tools is to show them how new skills will benefit their career progression.

So how to win the hearts and minds of your users? Map out a comprehensive plan that covers pre- and post-rollout and be sure to take in the unique perspectives of these groups as you define tactics.

Most importantly, find creative ways to capture attention and achieve your goal of changing behavior. These four ideas will take you beyond the typical email and intranet FAQ page and allow you to ramp up the excitement of your new VoIP phone solution.

Tease The Benefits.

What do movie launches have in common with the rollout of your new phone system? The need to build anticipation. As it turns out, you can learn a lot about marketing strategy from film distributors. Notice how they start teasing new movies early? Pay close attention to the way they use video, interviews and tie-ins until excitement builds to a crescendo. You don’t have to go as far as sending a movie star on a junket, but you can apply many of the same principles. For example, use video to tease new collaboration tools. Or engage a focus group to test video conferencing pre-launch. Then, foster word of mouth to fuel anticipation.

CEO Video Chat.

One of the strongest indicators of rollout success is senior leadership support. The CEO email is a common – and very effective – launch tactic. Employees tend to pay attention when the CEO asks them to get behind a new tool or technology. But why not try something just a tad different? Take advantage of the video conferencing feature and ask the CEO to host team meetings around the company. When employees see that video is the CEO’s go-to meeting tool, they’ll quickly follow suit.

Game It Up.

Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? Employees are more likely to adopt new technology if they experience the benefits firsthand. But building new habits is challenging. Games can help you ramp up adoption rates quickly. For instance, reward points for each time employees use one of the new communications or collaboration tools, such as holding a video conference or downloading the mobile app.

Conduct An AMA Session.

After rollout, employees are bound to have some questions. While FAQs and a support site are essential, consider borrowing an idea from Reddit: the AMA. The format of “Ask Me Anything” is simple: It’s an interview with one person – perhaps the CTO or lead project manager – with everyone else in the organization acting as the interviewer. Schedule a time and set up a collaborative workspace or group chat. Let employees ask questions about the new solution and have your spokesperson respond. Be sure they’re prepared with tips and benefits to share about using the new system.

As PwC points out, many employees don’t feel their company offers enough ways to learn new digital skills. These creative ideas will help you move beyond conventional rollout tactics – such as email and training workshops – and offer more ways to engage employees and help them learn how a new VoIP phone solution can make them more productive.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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3 Hurdles To Rolling Out Collaboration Tools, and How To Overcome Them

3 HURDLES TO ROLLING OUT COLLABORATION TOOLS, AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM

As your business grows, life gets complicated. What could be achieved with a phone call before now involves a lot more people. To get their work done, your employees need to collaborate easily with each other, and with external partners and customers.

The workforce – and its expectations – are changing rapidly, too. A recent PwC study found that 41 percent of millennials prefer communicating via email or some other electronic means rather than in person or over the phone. To accommodate their preferences, businesses need a collaboration and communications solution that’s mobile-first and cloud-connected, like MiCloud Connect. Cloud communications provides them with greater flexibility and support for different styles of work.

BYOD And Shadow IT

Because our world is so connected – via email, social media, smartphones and more – employees walk in the door with all their own mobile devices, apps and expectations. On one hand, this bringing-your-own-device (BYOD) to work can save your small business money in hardware expenditures.

But here’s the rub. If your organization doesn’t provide good collaboration tools, employees will find their own. You can easily end up with a software Tower of Babel. In fact, one recent report found that the average employee uses more than 16 different cloud services, approximately three different content sharing services and up to three different collaboration services. Is your head spinning yet?

The result is lost productivity and inefficiency. Team members get frustrated because of the lack of consistency in the tools they use across different projects. The company can easily lose control of secure data. And it doesn’t look great to customers and partners, either. Using “freeware” and inconsistent or unreliable apps projects an unprofessional image.

Let’s Roll

Your organization needs a consistent, easy-to-use set of team collaboration and communications tools. But before you make any decisions, it’s helpful to review some of the typical obstacles businesses encounter when rolling these out — and how you can overcome them.

Obstacle #1: “It’s A Really Cool Tool But It’s Not Integrated Into The Rest Of Our Systems.”

If this is the case, then it’s not a really cool tool. It’s going to be another headache. You need a collaboration solution that connects all the dots — email, calendar, files, your company directory. For example, a cloud communications solution empowers employees to manage calls from a web browser and connect directly from emails or calendar events. They can set up audio and video conference calls with a click and even invite outside parties. A robust collaboration tool should also include desktop sharing, individual and group chat, built-in VPN and business text messaging. You want to give your employees the ability to communicate and share ideas over multiple channels, switching easily from one to another.

A hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system can deliver all this and more. By choosing a cloud-based solution, you free yourself from legacy phone systems, so there’s no more worrying about software upgrades or buying new hardware.

A VoIP solution also allows your staff to be mobile, maintaining quality even when they’re on the road or working remotely. Because they’re connecting via a web portal, communications remain as consistent and reliable as if everyone was at their desk in the office.

Obstacle #2: “Is This Going To Make My Life More Difficult?”

Another common obstacle to rolling out new software is employee resistance. But maybe they’ve got good reasons to resist. Because a new tool can have a big impact on people’s daily work life, management has to explain its purpose and business value. For instance, will the tool help sell more product, reduce costs or improve productivity? Will it make employees’ lives easier? Any change is difficult, so people need to know what’s in it for them. If there isn’t a strong business case, people just won’t go along.

Here’s an example: McKinsey reports that on average, workers spend almost 20 percent of their time looking for information inside the organization or trying to track down colleagues who can help them. What if this new collaboration tool could help staff quickly learn the availability of a colleague? With presence technology, employees can set their status and how to best reach them.

To strengthen acceptance of the new tool, first identify your users and their needs. Do you have employees working out in the field or remotely? Do you have staff that needs to collaborate on projects, share files and conference often? How about sales and service staffers (e.g., the contact center) who need to quickly reach internal experts or field personnel? Any collaboration tool you choose must meet the needs of all these users.

Obstacle #3: “How Long Is This Going To Take To Learn?”

We’ve all lived through painful software upgrades. If the learning curve is too steep, you’ll lose people and, in the end, they won’t use the new system. That’s why it’s crucial to find a collaboration and communications tool that’s intuitive and easy to use right out of the box. You also need a vendor who’ll be there after the sale, ready to answer questions, provide training and customize a solution that works for your business.

The beauty of a BYOD environment is that there’s little to no learning curve. People already know how to use their devices. And with a VoIP phone solution, your staff can access all functions and business information through a web portal. The interface is consistent whether you’re sitting at your desk or in your car.

Finding The Right Collaboration Tool

When it’s time to simplify your communications system, make sure you cover these points with any vendor.

Does it have these team collaboration features? Be sure that your VoIP phone system will have easy and secure file sharing, point-to-point video and persistent communication across multiple channels. It should also enable real-time private and group chat and real‐time video chat from desktop and mobile devices.

Does it have robust team communications functions? Any VoIP phone system worth its salt will provide presence and awareness information, single-number reachability and dynamic profiles that modify communications options and routing. It should also have a mobile-first design so that employees can communicate from any web-enabled device.

Does the phone system work with our current IT framework? You want to make your life easier, right? Then you’ll need a system that complements your existing IT infrastructure so that it’s easy to administer and it lowers your total cost of ownership.

MiCloud Connect, a VoIP phone solution, gives you all this and more. When it’s combined with Mitel Teamwork, your staff can communicate and collaborate efficiently, resulting in more productivity, less stress and better service to your customers and partners.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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