Survey Says: Work from Home for the Win!

Wrike, a social project management platform provider, conducted an on-line survey; the respondents represented organizations of all sizes.  The goal was to gather information about the respondent’s current and expected future work practices and the role virtual collaboration plays in the work habits of remote teams.

There is no disputing the mobility of today’s workforce.  Helping business maintain the highest level of productivity while working remotely is a big part of what we do; it’s very prevalent in our day-to-day business lives.  What about your industry?

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What are your work habits?  Do you work from home?  If not, do you wish you could – and what would you be willing to trade for that flexibility?

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A special thanks to Mashable for putting together the infographic.

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Product Spotlight: VocalQ

Product Spotlight:  VocalQ

How many times has a customer service experience left you feeling like this:

Maybe your experience was so poor, you decided to take your business elsewhere.

Now imagine you are the business owner.

Customers are leaving and their chief complaint is customer service.  Right now your business measures quantitative call data:  how many calls are received, how many are abandoned, how many rings before a call is answered, length of call, etc.

You review that data and it doesn’t tell you much.  You can tell if customer calls are being answered right away, or if customers are hanging up before they get through to a live body.  It also tells you if you customer service reps are spending enough time on the call to reasonably answer questions and provide support.

What you can’t tell from that data is the quality of the conversation.  Are your reps rude to your customers?  Are they able to answer the caller’s question, or is more training needed?  Is it all your reps, or just one?

Enter VocalQ.

You are familiar with the measure of your IQ or your EQ (emotional quotient); VocalQ (VQ) is your vocal quotient.  It is the measure of your communications intelligence within your business.

VocalQ, tracks your quantitative and descriptive data, but it provides a deeper analysis of calls made to your business.  It records conversations and will alert you on the quality of the interactions between your employees and your customers.

Calls are sampled and benchmarked.  Things like the customer having to repeat themselves or reps providing the correct answer to questions can be measured.  You can also identify words or phrases that will trigger a message to you.

If you want to know every time a customer says: “I am not happy” or mentions a competitor, you will be alerted.  When a customer hangs up, unhappy, after a customer support call, you run the risk of losing that customer to a competitor.  You also lose potential customers as well.  An unhappy customer will not recommend your business to family and friends.

So, you’ve been notified that a customer called in and said “I am not happy with my service.”  Now what?

You can be the hero that saves both your days.

You can swoop in and give the customer a call and say: “I understand you called in for support – I just wanted to ensure that your problem was resolved.”  Knowing that it wasn’t, you will be given the opportunity to make it right.  You now have a happy customer.  And a happy customer doesn’t look for other options.

Click here to learn more and discover your VocalQ!

Making Sense of Telecom Jargon: Audio Mining

What is Audio Mining?

Have you ever used the app Shazam?  If not, it’s great.  A song comes on the radio, you think “wow!  I want to download this song…I wonder who sings it?”  You wait to hear the DJ announce it, and you are in the middle of an hour-long, commercial-free set.  You’ll never know.  But, if you have the Shazam app, you just open the app, hit ‘tap to Shazam,’ quietly stand-by while your smart phone listens and within seconds, you are provided with the name of the song and the artist.

That is musical audio mining.  Shazam identifies the melodic, harmonic or rhythmic characteristics of the musical piece it’s listening to, and then searches its database for the song that bears the same characteristics.

Or…

How many times have you called in for customer service and/or support, and have been told: “this call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance”?  Too many to count, right?

That is also audio mining.

Audio mining is the process of searching large volumes of recorded audio for occurrences of specific words and/or phrases.

There are 3 ways a program can analyze a conversation:  Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition (LVCSR), Phonetic Recognition, and Hybrids programs.

Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition (LVCSR)

LVCSR relies on a database, or dictionary if you will, of words.  It uses this database to understand what is being said during a call.  You can enhance your LVCSR database with industry-specific terminology or words or phrases that are unique to your organization.  You can also add new terms and phrases to your database as needed.

For example, imagine you are a company that specializes in specialty dog treats and you are considering adding an organic line, but you are not sure if your customer base is interested in this type of product.  You just add “organic” to your database, pick a time period to analyze (say, the last year) and then reprocess the recorded calls during that time period.  You will be given a report that lets you know how many times, during the given time frame, customers called in and the word “organic” came up in conversation.

Phonetic Recognition

A system that relies on phonetic recognition does not search for words or phrases, nor does it make any attempt to try and understand the meat of the conversation.  This system strictly searches for sounds that make up words and language.

It is quicker than LVCSR, but it has a higher degree of inaccuracy.  This system cannot differentiate the different meanings of the word stock.  It also cannot recognize the difference between buy, bye and by.  So imagine you want to do a search for calls in which your customers say: “buy.”   You will have to sort through conversations in which a customer says “bye” or “by” as well.  You could waste a lot of time listening to calls that won’t provide you with the insight you were hoping to gain.

Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid solutions rely on the best of both of these worlds.  They combine a large database of words with phonetic analysis.  The result is faster, more reliable search results with better comprehension of the conversation.  This system can analyze calls made to your business and organize them into the categories you chose:  customer complaint, billing, products…you name it!

Imagine, you receive a report and there has been a spike in calls containing the following words/phrases:  “I need to speak to a manager,” “unresolved,” “same problem.”  You can feel fairly certain that your customers are having issues that customer service is unable to resolve.  You can then take the steps to determine if someone in customer services is not doing their job, if your customer service reps need more training to assist customers, or maybe there is an issue with your product that needs to be addressed.  In any case, you will be able to contain this issue before it spirals out of control.

Prior to audio mining solutions, businesses may not have been made aware of problems, until they started losing customers.  By then, it’s too late.

To learn how audio mining can help your business, please click here.

SIP Trunks and Their Cost Saving Benefits

What are managed SIP trunks and how will they save me money?

Before we get into that, we need to quickly touch on the different ways data is exchanged once it leaves your business:

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

This is the world’s circuit-switched, analog network – telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission, cellular networks, communications satellites, undersea telephone carriers – are all interconnected through circuit-switching centers.  When you make a phone call using a traditional carrier or use dial-up to connect to the Internet – you are using PSTN.

ISDN – Integrated Service Digital Network

The start of the digital age of communications.   With ISDN, you have a digital transmission of voice, video and data over the traditional PSTN.

There are 2 basic types:

  • Basic Rate Interface (BRI) – low bandwidth – 2 B-channels that can be used for voice, data and other services and 1 D-channel is used for control and signaling.  BRI is for home and small business use.
  • Primary Rate Interface (PRI) – higher bandwidth – 23 B-channels and 1 D-channel.  PRI is used for larger enterprises.

Now to get back to SIP trunks

SIP stands for session initiation protocol.  Protocol is the set of rules that govern the format of messages that are exchanged between servers.  Session initiation protocol simply means that you are initiating a session to exchange messaging over the Internet.  A managed SIP trunk is a direct connection between your business and your IP (Internet Protocol) telephony service provider.  It allows you the ability to make VoIP calls over the PSTN without the need to purchase an IP-PBX gateway.   An SIP trunk is a single line that can be used to transfer all multimedia:  voice, video and data all at the same time.

Here’s the good part.  Saving money:

  1. Hardware and Service Costs – A managed SIP trunk eliminates the costs associated with the purchase, support and maintenance of hardware gateways.  Also, SIP trunks are less expensive than analog circuits, and SIP’s long distance charges are cheaper than traditional rates.
  2. Scalability – PRI is sold in increments of 23.  If your organization has 24 employees, you will need to pay for 46 channels.  Managed SIP trunks, on the other hand, are sold in increments of 1.  You only pay for the lines you need and you can add additional channels at any time.
  3. Management – Your SIP trunk provider handles the management of, any updates to, and support of your trunks.  Instead of being bogged down managing your communications system, your IT department can focus on initiatives that will grow your business.
  4. Disaster Recovery – If the lines of communication are down to your business, your business loses its ability to make money.  An Internet-based phone system has a higher likelihood of maintaining functionality during a disaster, than a fixed-line, circuit-switched system.  Click here to learn more about the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place for your business.

SIP trunks are becoming an increasingly popular solution for businesses of all sizes.  For more information please visit our website or contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Why Your Pipeline is Wrong

As team leader, you rely on your reps to provide you with accurate information about your company’s pipeline.  You use this information to try and create a realistic sales forecast for your organization.  But, do you really know what is in your pipeline?  Is it really filled with opportunity….

…or is it filled with sludge that just slows you down?

Do you know where you stand?  Are you consistently missing your sales numbers?  Is what you are being told by your sales representatives different than what really happens every month?

If you are depending on forecasts from your sales team to project your monthly numbers, it could be all wrong.

In fact, research has found sales forecasts to be less than 75% accurate!

You can increase your accuracy and your sales, just by knowing what your customers are saying.  We can show you how.

Please join our Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing on Thursday, September 13th at 10 am for a fascinating Webinar.  He will discuss how you can know, with confidence, what your clients and prospects are saying, and how this knowledge can be used to increase sales and customer satisfaction.

In this Webinar he will cover:

  • Why it is increasingly difficult to project your sales numbers
  • How to track communications of a mobile sales force
  • How you can gain insight into your sales team’s communications with customers
  • Review of a remarkable new tool that can alert you when key pipeline progress is made – at the time it is made

Click here to register.  Hope to see you there!

Do you have a Disaster Plan in place for your phone system?

With hurricane season in full swing and Hurricane Isacc approaching, we wanted to provide you with a few suggestions for protecting your business communications.

One of the many benefits of your hosted communications service from Telovations is the ability to receive calls, even if your primary business location is unavailable or employees have to work from home.  Telovations’ geographically diverse, synchronous platforms ensure that callers will continue to reach your business.

Below are a few key features which you may find helpful in these circumstances. Now is a good time to become reacquainted with these features, spend a few minutes setting up your Disaster Redirect numbers and remind your employees how to use Remote Office, Simultaneous Ring, Sequential Ring or Telovations Anywhere.

  • Disaster Redirect – Stay accessible to customers, even if your offices are closed due to a natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstance.
  • Remote Office – Work wherever you like! Receive and place calls as if you are in the office.
  • Hosted Voice Messaging – Always have your voice mail available and accessible from anywhere.
  • Telovations Anywhere – Use any device (home phone, cell phone, etc.) as your work phone with all of your hosted phone features.

Depending on your service plan, these features can be configured from our online portal. The portal can be accessed by clicking here.

You can contact our customer care team to answer any question you might have by dialing 611 from your Telovations’ phone, calling 877-934-6668 or sending an e-mail to: support@telovations.com.

If your business loses power or connectivity your telephone equipment may not operate. However, if you utilize Telovations equipment as part of your service plan, your auto attendant and voice mail will continue operating if your business loses power. Even if you utilize your own equipment with the Telovations’ solution, you can temporarily setup an emergency message utilizing Disaster Redirect. If you have an analog fax line, you may remove the fax machine connection and plug in an analog phone (such as an inexpensive one you can purchase and that does not require a power outlet) to the wall connection.  This line can be used for outgoing and incoming calls, even during the loss of power. You can then use phone as an Anywhere device.

If your business requires a more robust Disaster Recovery plan, our staff of consultants is available to work with you to design and build a solution to meet your needs.

Below are a few links to additional hurricane preparation information you may find useful:

Above all, remain safe and be assured that Telovations will be available to assist you.

Making Sense of Telecom Jargon – Part 2

This week, we are continuing our featured series on common telecom jargon and acronyms in our blog.  If you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

MSP – Managed Services Provider – An MSP (it’s me, again!) is an outsourced agency that assumes responsibility of a business’ day-to-day IT operations.  It delivers and manages network-based services, applications and equipment.

What kind of services?

MSPs save your business time and resources.  Instead of being bogged down with software updates, system support, and verifying that your business is utilizing the latest in security and encryption technology – your IT department can focus on strategic initiatives.  It allows your IT department to work on growing your business, not maintaining and supporting your technology.

VPN – Virtual Private Networks – These private networks use a public network (the internet) to connect remote sites or users together, in order to provide users with access to a company’s database.  Prior to the virtualization of private networks, businesses would set up private networks with T1s.  The costs, associated with the purchase and maintenance of this type of equipment, are high.  A VPN is a pay-per-user system, with no maintenance expenses; therefore, it is a cost-saving solution for businesses.

Access to VPNs is restricted to specific users and/or locations.  There are 3 types:

  1. Remote Access – This network allows users to access company data from any remote location, i.e. home office, hotel, coffee shop, etc.
  2. Intranet – This type of network allows access from specific locations only – from a satellite office or home office.
  3. Extranet – This network allows remote access to only certain locations within the company database.  Your accountant to your financial records or a supplier to your inventory records.

UM – Unified Messaging – There are 3 sources from which you receive messaging throughout your day:  phone, email, and fax.  UM delivers and stores all messaging in a single interface that can be accessed by computer, smart phone or tablet.  Voice messages are delivered to your inbox and can be replayed through computer speakers, through a headset or, of course, through a smart phone.  UM helps you stay organized by storing all messaging in one location, and it also saves you time.  When out of the office, how often do you check your voice mail?  Check your email?  Call in and ask if you have received any faxes?  UM gives you one source to go to, and everything you missed is right there in front of you.

What are the telecommunications phrases or acronyms that makes your scratch your head and think “hmmmmm…what are they talking about?”  If so, email it here and you could be featured on our blog!