Category Archives: Articles

Is Your Management Style Hurting Your Call Center?

After Doing All You Can on the Hiring Side, Turn Your Attention to Retention


By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

A college friend recently shared his experience working at his part-time job. Several of his coworkers had quit, and he planned to do so as well. His departure would move his employer from drastically short-staffed to critically understaffed. She begged him to stay and offered him a significant pay bump, moving him to nearly three times minimum wage for his unskilled, entry-level position.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of Connections Magazine

He accepted. But he quickly regretted his decision.

Three weeks later he quit for good. “She was just too hard to work for,” he said, “and no amount of money would get me to stay.”

He found another job right away. Though his new one doesn’t pay as well, he likes his boss and feels appreciated. He now enjoys going to work. As a bonus, the hours don’t interfere with his school schedule or studying.

In a different era, his first boss’s management style would have worked. Yes, she would have churned through employees, but hiring a replacement wouldn’t have been an issue.

Times have changed. It seems every business today is in a hiring mode. They’ve upped their pay, improved their compensation plan, and lowered their expectations. But they still have trouble filling open slots, as well as keeping the employees they do have. And I hear rumblings—and have personally witnessed it—that some of the employees they do have fall short of expectations and are less than the caliber they once hired.

The common solutions to filling open positions in a tight labor market are to pay more, improve benefits, and be more accommodating. These are good solutions, but a better approach may be to re-examine your management style.

Quite succinctly, is your management style hurting your call center?

In thinking back to past jobs, I’ve had managers who were patient, and others who were demanding; some were kind, and others were tyrants; some were complimentary, and others were condemning. I liked some and feared others. And when it came to compensation, some were fair, and others were cheap.

For the good jobs with great bosses, I stayed with those companies for a long time, working until my situation or their need for me changed. For the other jobs with less-than-ideal bosses, I moved on as quickly as I could.

Each one of these was a learning opportunity, teaching me what to do and not to do when it came to supervising staff and leading people.

When I moved into management, I strived to be a fair boss and treat employees well—to be the kind of employer I wanted to work for.

Though I didn’t always succeed at meeting my goal, I know that most of the time I did. Some employees noticed this and even thanked me for it. And a few told me I was the best boss they ever had.

I’m not sure how my focus on being a desirable boss and worthy employer affected our turnover, but I do know I felt good about myself and the effort I put forth to make the operation a better place to work.

If your call center is short-staffed and you can’t find enough qualified employees, despite paying more and offering more, the long-term solution may be to focus on the retention side of the equation.

Look at your management style. Seek changes that will allow you to have a more positive impact on your staff and lead them in a more effective way.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine and the author of Sticky Customer Service. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Hiring, Training, and Retaining Remote Contact Center Agents

Amtelco Cloud-Based Platform Solution

By April Forer

In an employee market it is difficult to hire and retain loyal employees. When there are labor shortages, you must up your game as an employer. Hiring and training contact center agents remotely creates new challenges but having the right processes and technology in place makes all the difference in creating a smooth experience.

Consider the following steps when hiring and training remote contact center agents:

Attract Relevant Candidates

It’s frustrating to receive incomplete applications or applicants that don’t meet the job requirements. You can attract new candidates by determining where best to post your job openings, providing detailed job and company information, asking for employee reviews, and using online applications.

There are various platforms available to recruit new candidates, so how do you decide which to advertise your open positions?

Decide what traits your ideal employee should have to help choose which platform (such as LinkedIn, Monster, or Indeed) is best. You’ll have a better chance of reaching your ideal employee by advertising your job posting where they’re likely to see it.

When completing your company profile page, post photos and images to give candidates a good perspective on your company culture. Being transparent will help recruit better qualified candidates and save you time and money.

Give potential employees reasons on why they might want to work there. Explain or show what the work is like.

Ask your current remote contact center agents to leave employee reviews online. Employee reviews are a helpful way for candidates to verify that your company is legit.

They also provide applicants a first-hand review of the pros and cons of working there. You’ll want to be prepared for any negative feedback. Many of these platforms allow the employer a chance to respond so you can address and react to any feedback you may receive.

If you’re still using paper applications, it’s time to evolve your technology. You can streamline the recruiting and hiring process by using an online application. Having an online application makes it easier for candidates to apply and speeds up the review process.

Filter Applicants

Reviewing job applications can take lots of time, but if you don’t filter them first, you’ll spend even more time interviewing unqualified candidates.

Automation is key to help make this step more efficient. Use simple yes and no questions in your online job application to see if candidates meet your requirements.

For example, you could use a basic script application with simple yes/no responses. If the applicant answered “no” to being available to work weekends, then they would automatically receive a decline email and filtered out of your pool of qualified applicants.

Using a multi-step application process will help filter your candidates even more, so you can find who your best candidates are. Starting with a short initial application, then advancing to a longer follow-up application for those who qualify, followed by a skills test will save time and qualify better candidates.

Another tip for filtering your candidates is to decide on dealbreakers. What are the must-have requirements for this role (availability, typing speed, bilingual, internet speed)? Any applicant not meeting these requirements should immediately be removed from consideration.

Also, ask another associate to be involved in the process. It’s good to have a second set of eyes to review things that you may not have noticed or that could be red flags.

When it comes to interviewing, using a video platform, instead of the telephone, will give you a better perspective on the applicant. Require the applicant to have their web cam on so you can see how they present themselves, view their work environment, and build a rapport.

Watch out for any lag in their connection that could present a problem in the future or any technical issues that could indicate a concern in working remotely and independently.

When you’ve filtered your applicants down, make a list of your top candidates and backups. Once you make your offers, you can move on to any backup candidates if any of your top candidates decline the offer.

Onboard New Hires

Do you have a documented onboarding process for new employees? The onboarding process is crucial to ensuring a pleasant new hire experience. Use paperless forms to speed up the process and avoid lost paperwork.

An employee handbook and policies help set employee expectations from the start.

Welcome your new hires and introduce them to the team to make them feel welcome and connected. Assigning a mentor is a smart way for new hires to build a rapport with a more senior employee and someone they may feel more comfortable directing questions to.

Schedule an orientation process to discuss day-to-day activities, communication tools, and other items. Make sure technology is properly setup and functional.

Train Staff

Simplify remote training with the right technology. Contact center software that is accessible through a web-browser makes working remotely easy, such as the Web Agent application which allows your contact center agents to work anywhere with an internet connection.

Record training videos for independent viewing. Use quizzes and exams to test the knowledge and effort of your new remote contact center agents.

Technology features like audit, barge, and coach are helpful during training. Supervisors or managers can listen to live calls and join the conversation when assistance is needed.

They can also speak to the agent to provide instructions or advice without the caller hearing them. Using a survey and scoring tool can help improve agent performance.

Engage and Retain Employees

Make your team a priority by scheduling regular meetings and follow-ups. Use this time to receive feedback on what is and isn’t working, re-train, and teach new skills to employees.

Offer incentives and awards to challenge and engage employees. Helping your employees grow and learn new skills also helps retain them.

A Better Experience

Hiring, training, and retaining new employees is a time-consuming process. Having procedures in place with technology to streamline the process creates a better experience for both the employer and employee.

You’ll not only save time and money, but you’ll have more success in finding employees that meet and exceed your requirements.

April Forer is the marketing specialist for Amtelco. Amtelco is a leading provider of innovative software solutions designed for call centers, contact centers, and enterprise businesses of all sizes. 

The Agent Attrition Problem Can be Fixed


By Donna Fluss

Most of us are tired of hearing companies complain about agent attrition. While it’s a serious issue that has been exacerbated by the Great Resignation, attrition can be corrected if a company wants to fix it. I can say this definitively because I have worked in hundreds of contact centers over my many years as a consultant and have seen “the good, the bad and the ugly” (to borrow the title of a Clint Eastwood film). When a contact center has a high agent attrition rate, the reasons are obvious.

During the last few years, contact center leaders changed the narrative by talking about agent engagement instead of agent attrition. It’s true that engaged employees are more likely to stay, but it did little to improve the agent experience and to fix the underlying issues that drive high rates of attrition.

Saying you care about employees and their future is very different from demonstrating your concern with appropriate actions. In the past, contact centers were able to replace agents when needed, but with the change in employee expectations, this is no longer the case.

Companies must migrate low-value work to artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled conversational self-service solutions, as this will be better for employees, the brand, the bottom line, and customers. However, this will not resolve the primary agent complaints, which are:

  • Insufficient opportunity for promotion in the department or company.
  • Minimal schedule flexibility, penalties for small infractions (such as immaterial tardiness), and lack of accommodation for unexpected life events.
  • Inadequate compensation.
  • Reduced company engagement, such as being excluded from company events due to the call center needing constant attention.

As the issues are clear, so is the path to address them. For this to happen, enterprises must change their approach to contact centers and their employees. The fundamental change that will incite a chain reaction of positive developments is to upgrade the agent role from one of the lowest in the company to a mid-level customer experience (CX) function. This will influence agents’ salaries and demonstrate the relative importance of this customer-facing role.

The reason why this has not happened is because companies have wanted to keep expenses as low as possible for a function with a large number of employees.. Agent salaries are benchmarked against other companies with a desire to keep their agent salaries low for comparable functions. However, most companies realize this approach encourages agents to seek alternative employment with higher salaries and more flexibility.

The cost of continually hiring and onboarding new agents has reached such a critical level that it’s finally worth fixing the problem. Further, if the agent role is upgraded to customer brand advocate (or something similar), it will position them to be better prepared for new opportunities.

This is another area where change must be enacted if companies want their agents to stay. Many contact centers require agents to stay in their jobs for 1 to 2 years before transferring to other positions. This policy tells agents that their only way of moving up is to leave the company, which is a waste, as these front-line workers have broad knowledge of the company and its policies from helping customers.

In short, it’s time for real change and recognition for agents.

Final Thoughts

Executives should be realistic about their contact centers. Being an agent is a challenging job. These employees should be recognized and rewarded, not knocked down and held back. Agents are much more likely to stay on a job, even one as challenging as helping consumers, if they see it as a steppingstone toward their future rather than an impediment to their ultimate success.

Reversing agent attrition won’t happen by talking about agent engagement, but it can be solved by altering the policies that created the problem.

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

Increase Personalization in Call Centers by Accessing Relevant Data

By Daniel Fallmann

Today, many call centers have their general scripts and rules they follow when a customer calls. However, consumers have increased their expectations regarding their personal customer experience. With increased competition in every industry, organizations cannot afford to lose valuable business because of poor customer experience efforts.

With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, companies can begin to access relevant data to personalize a customer’s call center experience and make the journey more relevant. Personalization to scripts and approaches from call centers allow customers to feel understood by the brand, building a solid level of trust and loyalty.

To offer unique and personalized experiences, support teams will primarily need access to relevant data surrounding their customer and their journey with the brand. Without doing so, you’ll just be another call center not optimizing the power of connected data.

Gain Entryway into Relevant Customer Data

Access to relevant and personalized data requires the connection of structured and unstructured data sources. Before calling, a customer may have interacted with your product or company hundreds of times. Artificial intelligence allows companies to connect data from all these interactions in a 360-degree holistic view.

From activity on your website (form downloads, support requests) to emails, call transcripts, and purchase information, data can be captured, analyzed, and utilized in the form of customer journey maps. Seeing the full story of a customer gives workers in the call center all the information they need to help a customer quickly and in a personalized manner.

In a recent Gartner survey, 83 percent of respondents reported that their organization struggles to use customer journey maps to identify and prioritize CX (customer experience) efforts. Being in the other 17 percent can play a pivotal role in transforming how people view and talk about your brand—ultimately, coming back to purchase more and increase business.

The connection of scattered data also allows customer support teams within call centers to access information about related problems and other customers with similar buying habits. Doing so helps call centers see what has worked well in the past and can assist them in shaping their approach for future like-minded consumers.

However, not all data is for everybody’s eyes and data privacy needs to be enforced by giving the proper access rights to each department. AI-solutions, like such, give management the ability to restrict sensitive data to support teams, ensuring compliance and privacy standards are always upheld.

How Does This Look in Real Life and Real-Time?

If a customer calls with a problem, innovative AI-based solutions can first identify who the number belongs from, using data that the company has previously collected. Prior to picking up the phone, the support agents’ screen will show them all the relevant information regarding the customer in an easily digestible format. Therefore, they can already begin personalizing their introduction to the call.

When a customer starts explaining why they’re calling in, the agent will already have a full view of different touchpoints that have occurred. Examples of different touchpoints include web activity, form downloads, conversations with chatbots, previous calls, email communications, and purchase orders.

In addition, the call agent will also be able to search for any piece of intelligence they may need to help the customer in the quickest, most efficient, and personalized manner. If this specific customer calls about a broken appliance, searching for that appliance will extract all the relevant data to steer the representative in the right direction.

Call centers can even take it a step further and search for a particular issue with that appliance and then be fed with information from corporate documents or similar customer interactions in a matter of seconds, eliminating long wait times or needing to put customers on hold.

Conclusion

In the digital times we are living in, innovative companies are well underway transforming their approaches to customer service and customer experience. As an example, chatbots are constantly learning from corporate data to better understand and assist with customer needs directly on the homepage of consumer-facing websites. In addition, management teams are using data in real-time to enhance their current CX strategies and business roadmaps.

There is no reason why people tasked with handling customers on the frontlines in call center roles shouldn’t be equipped with this type of technology. After all, the capacity to personalize and organize data makes life easier for your workforce and gives your customers a unique experience to highlight their individual importance.

Daniel Fallmann founded Mindbreeze in 2005 at the age of 23, after he finished his studies in computer science. He has many years of experience in the computer and information technology sector. As Mindbreeze’s CEO he is an example of high quality and innovation standards. From the company’s very beginning, Fallmann, together with his team, laid the foundation for the highly scalable and intelligent Mindbreeze InSpire appliance.

It’s Time for a More Agile Contact Center


By Einat Weiss

Contact centers have traditionally been known for their rigid schedules, with agents often assigned nine-hour shifts that specify, down to the minute, when they can take a break or clock out for lunch. Planned by workforce managers trying to get staffing levels exactly right, these schedules don’t leave much room for the surprises or scheduling conflicts that inevitably pop up.

This is all beginning to change. In an increasingly competitive employment market amid the great resignation, employees are demanding more of their employers, including a voice in the hours they’re scheduled to work. With employee engagement and retention, a high priority for contact centers, flexible scheduling has become more important than ever.

Why Flexible Scheduling Matters

High turnover is a constant challenge for contact centers. While other industries have recently seen skyrocketing attrition rates, turnover in the contact center has remained steady at 42 percent annually, but that means that in a 1,000-seat contact center, 420 agents quit every year. It takes an average of 13 weeks to onboard a new hire, with $12,500 spent on each new employee. A contact center will spend a half million dollars to replace 400 employees.

In this environment, schedule flexibility becomes an important differentiator. In fact, across industries, employees who are given sufficient flexibility are four times less likely to become a retention risk, according to a report by Quantum Workplace. And retention, of course, is linked to higher-performing agents and higher customer satisfaction rates. But while most contact center workforce managers are aware of the need to enable scheduling flexibility when employee schedules are created, today’s employee expects more.

The Three Times You Need Scheduling Flexibility

Workforce managers often think about scheduling flexibility when schedules are created, but there are three times when flexibility should be considered to keep employees happy and in control of their work-life balance: before, during, and after the schedule is created.

  • Before: Look for workforce management tools that let you enable flexibility before the schedule is created by offering agents the ability to set their availability and specify preferences, based on company needs. Modern workforce management solutions on the market today allow you to set schedule constraints to balance agents’ desire for flexibility with the demands of the business.
  • During: Consider a workforce management (WFM) solution that offers intelligent automation. These solutions provide agents a variety of personalized self-scheduling capabilities that fit this requirement with opportunities to trade and swap shifts with other agents, track schedules, and request extra hours or time off, as well as establish how and when they would like to be contacted regarding their schedule. This approach to self-scheduling gives the agent more control over their time, resulting in happier employees, increased staffing agility, and better customer experiences.
  • After: Modern WFM solutions can also match interested agents who are qualified to schedule change opportunities (extra shifts, for example) that match their specific skill set. This targeted, automated process continues until shifts are properly filled and staffing levels are at the appropriate level for the contact center. When an overworked agent becomes stressed, there’s a higher chance that they’ll leave the contact center. When customer service demands begin to surge, intelligent automation starts monitoring staffing levels and takes action to adjust agent schedules. This resolves the staffing issue and helps reduce the agents’ stress levels.

    You can also consider a workforce solution that allows contact center agents to view their schedules anywhere and alter them instantly 24/7. Features such as schedule trades, time off requests, pre-approved extra hours, and adaptive breaks and lunches put agents in control of their work-life balance.

Extend the Benefits of Scheduling Flexibility Across the Business

The benefits of flexible scheduling go beyond retention to also include operational and financial improvements as well as right-size staffing. Flexible scheduling helps create engaged agents who stay with the contact center longer, control their work schedules, and provide positive customer experiences in an agile contact center.

When paired with intelligent automation, flexible scheduling practices also enable the contact center to predict business demand and staff appropriately—down to the 15-minute interval—to ensure the customers’ needs are met, and salary budgets are not miscalculated.

Agents aren’t forced to rely on their manager to maintain schedules, performance expectations can be met within set costs, and forecasting is more balanced. The contact center avoids understaffing, leaving customers with longer hold times, as well as overstaffing, leading to spending more than needed on salaries.

Managing the contact center workers who are vital to delivering great customer service hinges on getting schedules exactly right: you need the right number of people in the right places at the right time, even as conditions change. But if your contact center is like most, your schedules simply aren’t flexible enough for today’s contact center agents.

By offering flexibility at the three stages of the scheduling process—before, during, and after schedules are created—and leveraging intelligent automation to ensure that your business needs are met, you can keep agents happy and engaged amid evolving customer expectations for speed and service.

Einat Weiss is the CMO of Nice.

Talent, Tech, and TAS

How Telephone Answering Services Use Automation to Thrive

SingleComm: cloud-native omnichannel TAS solutions


By SingleComm

In today’s workplace, hiring exceptional talent has become an impossible task for telephone answering service (TAS) companies. With the great resignation showing no signshttps://singlecomm.com/ of easing, companies realize the challenge of building an exceptional team.

Even after hiring, companies can lose agents to burnout caused by high call volume, not to mention high stress. So how do you build an efficient, reliable TAS business without onboarding additional, difficult-to-find talent? By turning your attention to automation tools that empower your team to deliver results.

The Costly Conundrum That Challenges TAS Companies

With unprecedented labor shortages, TAS companies realize hiring is taking longer than expected. This shortfall in human resources leads to:

  • Slower growth
  • Overworked agents
  • Unsatisfied customers

Of course, hiring talent is just the beginning. Companies are also tasked with retaining top employees. According to a study by Microsoft, more than 40 percent of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs. Employees want to feel valued without feeling overworked.

This presents a challenge when call agents feel worn down with reduced staffing, high call volumes, multiple handoffs, confusing scripts, and time-consuming tasks. It’s a costly conundrum.

But the solution doesn’t have to be hiring and the months-long wait to bring on team members, which may eventually lead to more turnover, more risk of burnout, and more lost revenue. The modern, recession-proof solution is in empowering talent through tech.

The Focus on Automation

As stated in the Harvard Business Review, better retention comes from improving employee satisfaction and reducing environmental pressures. Advanced automation accomplishes this by elevating your team’s performance, making them feel valuable and confident while also relieving environmental pressures.

Instead of looking for outside help, agents will feel they have the technology to exceed customer expectations. Your team will be able to do more for less without the need to invest in IT resources, licenses, and other technology.

With cloud-based automation tools, agents no longer have a need for softphones, VPNs, and remote desktop servers. Some of this cloud architecture also includes built-in resilience and PCI, SOC2, and HIPAA compliance.

Improved retention comes from finding ways to support and empower your agents with seamless tools. It’s an opportunity to do more with optimized efficiency.

Start Doing More with Less

Implementing advanced cloud-based tools for your business elevates your team’s performance and efficiency while other companies wait to hire. There are several key time-saving automation tools that reinvigorate call agents and improve workplace efficiency. These include:

  • Personalized Scripts:Empower agents with customized messages that help them easily and confidently navigate scripts while decreasing agent training and ramp-up time
  • Automatic Dispatching: Eliminate agent error with automatic dispatching that frees them up to do more of what they do best: support and represent your clients
  • Omnichannel Strategy:Use a TAS solution that offers a fully integrated suite of digital channels, including web chat, two-way SMS, two-way email, social, and messaging channels
  • Business Intelligence: Employ a business intelligence tool that offers custom reporting without the need for programmers

Leveraging these cloud-based automation tools is possible, which provides your team with the automation tools and confidence to deliver exceptional results. This offers your organization the opportunity to pursue actionable customer insight that allows your team to work smarter, more coherently, without waiting for another hire to arrive.

SingleComm: TAS Automation

With a combined sixty years of industry experience, SingleComm delivers a TAS platform with fully integrated voice, omnichannel, scripting, and dispatch. Enjoy peace of mind with built-in resilience and redundancy with their cloud-native platform. Access a fully integrated suite of channels, including messaging, web chat, two-way SMS, two-way email, and social.

Get customized messaging, automated tools, and PCI, SOC2, and HIPAA compliance, all without the need for IT resources or licenses. Run your business more efficiently and easily than ever before with this innovative TAS solution from SingleComm.

Embrace SaaS Flexibility

Tap Internet Provided Services to Maximize Outcomes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a subscription service that provides software solutions from a centrally located host. It also goes by other names, with some vendors making distinctions between various offerings. For our purposes, however, we’ll look at the concept generically.

SaaS offers several benefits not found in traditional premise-based call center solutions.

Affordable

SaaS is a subscription service, usually paid monthly, often in proportion to usage or configuration. As a monthly expense it shows up on your operation’s income statement. The SaaS provider handles all support and maintenance.

This contrasts to a premise-based system that’s installed at your call center. This system requires that you purchase it, install it, and maintain it. The purchase price appears on your balance sheet. The distinction between income statement and balance sheet is significant from a financial and tax perspective.

Scalable

When you buy a system, you make a guess at the size of the system you need. This includes the number of stations, ports, and options. The result is that you may pay per capacity you never use or find yourself under resourced and needing to buy more.

With SaaS you can make quick adjustments as needed to scale up to handle additional traffic or cut back to save money.

Portable

Moving an installed system from one location to another is a time-consuming, expensive task. It involves downtime, which inconveniences callers. With SaaS moving is easy. All you need is a quality internet connection and a device (usually a computer) to connect to it. This is ideal if you need to react quickly to changing situations such as a pandemic, manmade catastrophe, or natural disaster.

Current

When you buy and install a premise-based system, you quickly find using a platform that’s not running the latest version of software or you find yourself buying periodic updates. With SaaS this is never an issue. The provider keeps their hosted solution on the latest version, and all you need to do is login to access it.

Summary

Using a SaaS solution for your call center provides many advantages. It is affordable, scalable, and portable. It’s always up to date. Though you may have a business case or strategic purpose for purchasing, installing, and maintaining a premise-based system in your call center, don’t accept this as the default solution.

Give SaaS thoughtful consideration.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Vendor Profile on Amtelco

Amtelco Cloud-Based Platform Solution

Amtelco has been a well-known name in the telecommunications industry for over forty-five years providing call center communication systems, software applications, and telephone switching technologies. Amtelco and its other divisions (Telescan and 1Call), offer innovative technology solutions to meet the needs of call centers, contact centers, and healthcare organizations.

Prioritizing All Members of the Amtelco Family

Even as a family-owned business, both employees and customers are considered part of the Amtelco family. Amtelco is proud to have participated in and received a Top Workplaces award three years in a row. This award is based solely on employee feedback offered through an employee survey.

Under the leadership of Tom Curtin, CEO, Amtelco continues to grow and add new products and services to support their customers’ needs. “Customer support is a top priority. Our workforce has increased by 15 percent in the past year to keep up with the needs of our customers,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco CEO.

Their priority to providing five-star service to customers is evident in their customer testimonials: “Our partnership with Amtelco spans forty years. Every move we have made with Amtelco’s products have been positive as they have helped us grow our business. Amtelco’s product offerings are great, and they are always responsive to our clients’ requests. We can always count on Amtelco being a phone call away,” said Sharon Campbell, president of Answer Direct.

Encouraging Creativity and Innovation

Considering and fostering new ideas from all members of the Amtelco family is one of Amtelco’s guiding values. Amtelco works closely with their customers by providing an online forum for customers to submit their ideas for new products and make suggestions for improvements to existing products.

Customers can also search, view, and rank the ideas submitted by others. Amtelco’s software department reviews the ideas and suggestions and decides which ideas to implement.

Creating Reliable Products that Empower Others to Communicate Quickly and Securely

Amtelco’s call center technology is entirely software-based and virtualized, with cloud-based capability. Their Genesis system offers flexibility and growth, which is imperative in today’s ever-changing environment.

Skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text-to-speech, and voice services are available to improve call routing and management. Database-driven call scripts automatically guide agents through even the most complex calls. Prompts, searches, and navigation are used to improve accuracy and caller satisfaction.

Their latest advancement is a web browser-based telephone agent interface that can transform a personal computer into a professional telephone agent station.

Web agent is accessible through a web-browser so remote agents can work from anywhere with an internet connection. A VPN connection is established to ensure the connection is secure. Updates are completed via a web server, which eliminates the maintenance of loading and maintaining software on devices.

Reliable and Encrypted Messaging Solution

The use of secure messaging apps and integrated personal devices has become even more important in our increasingly remote, work-from-home world.

While it’s a requirement to utilize a secure messaging solution in the healthcare industry, it’s not just for healthcare alone. It applies to any industry that deals with sensitive information, such as law, government, banking, mortgage lenders, credit card processors, and financial services, where it’s just as important to ensure the security of sensitive information.

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages application offers reliable communications with end-to-end encryption for communications. Various integrations are available to help streamline and simplify an organization’s communications needs. A highlight of some of the new features now available in miSecureMessages include:

  • The high availability solution provides continuous uptime during some server upgrades and prevent downtime due to a single server failure.
  • Single sign-on authentication with integration for SAML (security assertion markup language) or AFDS (active directory federation services).
  • Genesis protected dialing settings which enable phone calls placed from the miSecureMessages app to be routed through Genesis, which displays the organization’s phone number instead of the device’s phone number.
  • Shared devices enables different users to log into a device and retrieve messages without having to share logins or an inbox.

The Future is Bright (and Green) for Amtelco

As Amtelco grows they remain committed to developing innovative technology solutions to streamline communications and increase efficiency for their clients. New web and mobile solutions and artificial intelligence (AI) features are just a few items currently in development.

They are also excited to announce they’ve recently gone green by having solar panels installed at their office, which are estimated to offset their energy consumption by 59 percent.

AI is Transforming Contact Centers


By Donna Fluss

Artificial intelligence (AI) is awe-inspiring. While these technologies are in their early days, they have already demonstrated their ability to function as a change agent in contact centers, customer service departments, customer experience (CX) functions and sales organizations.

Artificial intelligence, particularly when combined with automation and analytics, has the potential to fuel the generational leap necessary to transform today’s service and sales organizations. It can turn them into intelligent and engaging departments that anticipate customer needs and deliver a consistently outstanding experience customized to address each customer’s inquiry and personality.

AI Drives Contact Center Innovation

Artificial intelligence is underlying and driving most of the innovation in contact center systems and applications, which is necessary to help organizations provide a service experience that meets today’s exacting customer expectations. It is also vital to provide agents with the intelligent tools and automation to empower them to become customer advocates, enriching their jobs and helping to engage and retain them. It is playing a pivotal role in elevating the perception of the contact center to essential corporate contributor, as well.

AI Use Cases

While AI fuels one’s imagination with visions of computers taking over the world, when it comes to service, sales, and the CX, consumers are already happy to interact with intelligent self-service solutions that can handle most of their requests yet have the sensitivity to know when to transfer them to a live agent.

Contact center leaders appreciate AI’s ability to match customer personality and communication styles to the best-suited agent. Artificial intelligence is enabling companies to give agents the scheduling flexibility they demand, and, while enhancing employee engagement, it’s also improving companies’ ability to deliver the service experience their customers expect, one application at a time.

Final Thoughts

The addition of AI technology in contact center systems and applications gives companies an opportunity to re-invent their mission-critical service organizations. AI can alter the dynamics of contact centers by automating many of the low-value activities historically performed by agents. And even when AI cannot fully automate a task, it can provide guidance or perform a portion of the activity, which will improve agent satisfaction, decrease handling time, and enhance the CX.

Although AI technology is in its early days, it has already demonstrated its ability to improve productivity and reduce costs in contact centers while delivering benefits to customers and employees alike.

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

For a detailed analysis of the role of AI in contact centers, its maturity and specific uses by application, see DMG’s new report on the State of Artificial Intelligence in Contact Centers, released January 2022.  

Veterans: An Untapped Pool with Rich Skill Set

Countering the Great Resignation with Niche Recruiting

In January, nearly 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), and employers everywhere are questioning where they are going to find a workforce during this phenomenon called the “Great Resignation.” CEO and founder of Pearl Interactive Network, an innovative niche contact center business process organization (BPO), Merry Korn, says the answer is in niche recruiting.

“There are pockets of niche referral sources with a robust volume of strong candidates who are eager to work hard,” she offers. With the colossal shift of remote positions becoming a permanent staple for many companies, one area of niche recruiting that could soften the impact of this workforce shortage and keep call center operations on target is veterans.

“At Pearl, we find that veterans bring many strengths to the workplace,” states VP of business development, Jean Murphy. Veterans possess a strong work ethic and take pride in the challenges and satisfaction of a job well done; they carry a sense of duty and are organized and disciplined. Many veterans have learned what it means to put in a hard day’s work and can follow through on assignments, even under difficult or stressful circumstances.

Much of this attitude translates to their participation in the civilian workforce, making veterans an asset to employers. With large numbers of individuals transitioning and seeking employment each year, this is a prime, untapped pool of candidates with a rich skill set (Department of Veteran Affairs. (2012). “Why veterans Make Good Employees.” Washington, DC; Veterans Employment Toolkit Handout.).

Each year, approximately 250,000 veterans are transitioning from military to civilian life (US Department of Veterans). Sixty-six percent of veterans report that it is difficult to find work after separating from the military. Part of the challenge lies in successfully translating military jargon into private-sector employment keywords.

Seventy-nine percent of veterans report difficulty conveying their military skills into the civilian sector. Likewise, 72 percent of hiring managers say it is difficult to see the connection between military and civilian skills.

“Some occupations like doctor and lawyer are exactly the same in and out of the service,” says John Bohichik, transition services manager at the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, according to Military.com. However, “‘Platoon leader’ should probably be translated as something like ‘general manager,’” says Anne McKinney, author of Resumes and Cover Letters that Have Worked for Military Professionals.

In addition to translating job titles, a candidate’s resume should describe—in civilian terms—the candidate’s skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments.

Veterans seeking to transition to customer service roles could easily show their transferable skills in leadership, effective communication, adaptability, and attention to detail.

For example, with customer service interactions, agents use effective communication skills and attention to detail to build a personal connection with the caller, and to create satisfactory resolution. Veterans are mission focused; they excel at following established processes and strive to achieve the mission goal with a more than satisfactory outcome making them ideal employees.

Employers are looking for employees with the potential for leadership and have a desire to learn and grow. Veterans easily check those boxes. By the end of their first year in the service, most are cross trained in multiple skills and have gained core skills like working well under pressure, attention to detail, problem solving and teamwork.

Not all employers are keen on translating these skills or know how to attract these applicants in the first place. This creates an untapped pool of applicants primed to succeed in the private sector and a savvy strategy for companies.

Of the approximately twelve million veterans in the United States, nearly 30 percent report having a disability and 13 percent report a service-connected disability. Both physical disabilities such as amputation, scars, and disfigurement, along with the stigma of potential psychological disorders make it more difficult for veterans to find employment.

Coupled with the lack of access to transportation for individuals with disabilities, veterans with disabilities face yet another significant obstacle to employment. “Transportation may seem to be the least of their worries, but it is the lynchpin that connects disparate parts of daily living,” says Rutger’s researcher at the Bloustein School’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Andrea Lubin. “Access to transportation must therefore be considered in any reintegration efforts.”

With the colossal shift of remote positions becoming a permanent staple for many companies, work-from-home jobs are an ideal pairing for both veterans and other individuals with disabilities and transportation barriers.

The reward for a concerted effort to target niche veteran candidates is a dedicated, loyal workforce. “The key to niche hiring success is for employers to create a work environment that embraces diversity and creates a culture of inclusiveness,” adds Merry Korn.

Pearl is known for delivering high-touch, white-glove customer service experiences, concentrating on the delivery of calls that require a complex resolution while developing a personal emotional connection between the agent and caller.

Korn adds, “Pearl’s culture of caring is at the core of everything we do and transforming the lives of those we serve is our driving force.”

Founded in 2004, Pearl takes great pride in their hiring preferences for veterans, including those with disabilities for remote positions across the nation, with employees in twenty-seven states. It is good for our business and our social mission.