Amtelco, a leading supplier of
communication technologies and software communications applications for more
than forty years, announced that its Genesis Intelligent Series solution is
compliant with key Avaya IX Workplace Calling solutions from Avaya, a global
leader in solutions that enhance and simplify communications and collaboration.
The Genesis software switching solution
provides the Intelligent Series applications with advanced software-based
telephony. Genesis provides an all-inclusive, enterprise-wide call center with
skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition,
text to speech, and voice services to improve call routing and management.
Users can keep metrics with customizable reporting, enhance accountability with
call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage
automated dispatch and on-call scheduling. Genesis can operate in a virtual
server environment or in the cloud, enabling businesses to grow without adding
additional hardware, helping save time and money.
Intelligent Series release 5.3.6774 application is now compliance-tested
by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya IX Workplace
components Avaya Aura® Communication Manager 8.0 and Avaya
Aura Session Manager 8.0 via a SIP trunk.
Telemedicine has been a medical buzzword for several years, and the variety and depth of services provided have grown dramatically during this time. There is little argume
nt that telemedicine is a great way to supplement traditional medical practices.
The advantages are
clear: more convenient care for patients, more doctor availability, less
driving time, and less waiting-room time. But like any new evolving field,
there is still a learning curve and a need for developing a process that makes
telemedicine viable and profitable and doesn’t require doctors to work 24/7 to
meet patients’ requests.
One of the biggest
hurdles for doctors is that their time with patients is limited. In a
traditional office setting, nurses start the patient visit. Nurses take vitals,
talk to patients, and evaluate their needs before a doctor walks in the room.
The same type of process needs to be designed for telephone medicine, with the
difference being that the nurse will do her job over telemedicine, just like
Some practices have the
nurses in their office taking patient calls and scheduling visits with a doctor.
When managing these calls, the nurse needs to perform two tasks. First, the
nurse must evaluate whether the patient actually needs the doctor or whether
the nurse can help the patient over the phone with home care advice. Second,
the nurse must document patient symptom information before making an
appointment for the patient to speak with a doctor.
This is where having a
good platform to document patient calls and ensure standard protocols comes in.
This can ensure patient safety and help make the process efficient. Medical
protocols—such as Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Thompson’s protocols—ensure a standard
care process every time a nurse takes a call. These protocols are also
available electronically, making them easier to use than textbooks. Electronic
protocols can also allow the care advice to be documented directly on the
patient chart for review by the physician during the telehealth visit.
However, not all doctors
offering telehealth services have nurses available to answer patient calls when
they first come in. An alternative for these doctors is hiring a telephone
nurse triage service. This can serve as an extension of the office by providing
patients with a trained nurse to evaluate patient symptoms and determine what
actions to take.
What sets a high-quality
telephone nurse triage service apart is the ability for the physician to have
custom orders and preferences built into the system so the nurses can act as a
true extension of the physician. A high-quality nurse triage service is also
able to schedule patient appointments when necessary.
Providing patients with
access to triage nurses can also be helpful for those doctors who don’t have
the ability to provide telehealth services 24/7. If given the appropriate
instructions, triage nurses are typically able to resolve over 50 percent of
callers’ issues without the need of a doctor.
From a survey of over
35,000 patient phone calls, in over 50 percent of the cases, the nurses were
able to resolve the caller’s medical symptoms by giving them home care advice.
These nurses were also able to determine which callers required a physical
visit to an urgent care or an ER in an event of an emergency (such as symptoms
of a potential heart attack).
nurse triage allows a practice’s telemedicine program to work seamlessly,
whether the office is open or closed. Setting up a nurse triage system where nurses use standardized
protocols to answer patient questions increases the productivity and profits
for a doctor’s practice.
When nurses use triage
protocols, physicians can have confidence that they are asking the right
questions and not missing anything. The basic patient information, the
protocols used, and the nurse notes can also be used as a quick reference for
the physician prior to the telehealth visit—similar to the notes doctors
receive when their nurses first see a patient during a physical office visit.
Charu Raheja, PhD, is the CEO of TriageLogic a leading provider of quality, affordable triage solutions, including comprehensive after-hours medical call center software, daytime triage protocol software, and nurse triage on call. Customers include both institutional and private practices. If your hospital or practice is looking for information on setting up a nurse triage service, contact TriageLogic to get a quote or set up a demo.
Despite the care most of
us take to protect our credit card information, credit card fraud is the most
common form of identity theft in the United States. According to a report from
Javelin Strategy & Research, 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity
theft or fraud in 2016, which cost US consumers more than 16 billion dollars.
However, cyber criminals
increasingly target electronic protected health information (ePHI) because
hackers can get a premium price for this personal information on the dark web.
Sold to the Highest
Raw credit card
numbers—those that are missing PIN and user information—are worth a dollar or
less each on the dark web. More complete credit card records that include
personal information command a higher price—up to thirty dollars each,
depending on the country of origin. However, the most valuable prize for
fraudsters is someone’s medical record. Estimates vary, but in general health
records consistently sell for seventy to ninety dollars each. Some hackers
claim to sell blocks of thousands of records and receive over one hundred
dollars per individual record.
data breaches were the result of internal staff actions (both accidental and
intentional), but the Ponemon Institute’s Fifth Annual Benchmark Study on
Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data in 2015 discovered that the
primary reason for healthcare data breaches was due to criminal attacks.
The report states,
“Employee negligence and lost or stolen devices still result in many data
breaches, according to the findings. However, one of the trends we are seeing
is a shift of data breaches—from accidental to intentional—as criminals are
increasingly targeting and exploiting healthcare data.”
It is estimated that the
global healthcare industry will be worth 8.7 trillion dollars by 2020. Cyber
criminals are cashing in by using stolen patient data primarily for insurance
fraud, medication fraud, and financial fraud.
The Identity Theft
Resource Center, a US nonprofit that provides victim assistance and consumer
education, reported there were 355 healthcare breaches in 2016 affecting 15
Information contained in
a medical record is particularly useful for lucrative fraud schemes because
it’s high-quality, deeply personal, and permanent. On the dark web, this type
of data is referred to as “fullz” (full packages of personally identifiable
information). Fullz can’t easily be replaced (the way credit card numbers can),
so it is more useful and provides more value to criminals.
Because the information
contained in a health record is complete and comprehensive, it’s extremely
versatile, and it takes much longer for fraud to be detected. The information
can be used in a variety of fraud scenarios.
identities are stolen to receive medical care. The Ponemon Institute provides
an example where a patient learned his identity was compromised after receiving
invoices for a heart procedure he hadn’t undergone. His information was also
used to buy a mobility scooter and medical equipment, amounting to tens of
thousands of dollars in fraud.
Why Is ePHI So
In response to
increasing threats to patient health data and poor security, the Health
Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was
enacted in 2009. The act provided a 27 billion-dollar incentive to encourage
health providers to switch from paper medical records to electronic files.
The results have been
disappointing. Many healthcare organizations were slow to adopt electronic
files because of struggles connecting different technologies. These disparate
technologies need to work together so electronic health records (EHRs) are
available to the appropriate staff.
When Barrack Obama was
interviewed by Vox’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff on January 6, 2017, he
explained that this lack of interoperability was something he and his
administration didn’t expect:
We put a big slug of
money to encouraging everyone to digitalize and catch up with the rest of the
world here. And it’s proven to be harder than we expected, partly because
everyone has different systems. They don’t all talk to each other, it requires
retraining people in how to use them effectively, and I’m optimistic that over
time it’s inevitable it’s going to get better because every other part of our
lives, it’s become paperless.
But it’s a lot slower than I would have
expected; some of it has to do with the fact that it’s decentralized, and
everyone has different systems. In some cases, you have economic incentives
against making the system better; you have service providers—people make money
on keeping people’s medical records—so making it easier for everyone to access
medical records means that there’s some folks who could lose business. And
that’s turned out to be more complicated than I expected.
As a result, hospitals
and clinics have been operating, at least in part, with outdated technology,
thus exposing them to the dangers of cyber-attacks.
Are Paper Medical
It may be tempting to
think that paper medical records are a safer option, but according to a recent
study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, paper and films
were the most frequent location of breached data.
Protected Health Information Data Breach Report also found that 27 percent
of data breach incidents were related to sensitive data on paper. The Verizon
report authors wrote:
Medical device hacking
may be in the news, but it seems the real criminal activity is found by following
the paper trail. Whether prescription information sent from clinics to
pharmacies, billing statements issued by mail, discharge papers physically
handed to patients, or filed copies of ID and insurance cards, printed
documents are more prevalent in the healthcare sector than any other. The very
nature of how PHI paperwork is handled and transferred by medical staff has led
to preventable weaknesses—sensitive data being misdelivered (20 percent),
thrown away without shredding (15 percent), and even lost (8 percent).
The Future of ePHI
the progress is slow, it appears that more hospitals are using ePHI and
beginning to catch up with the technological needs to protect it.
In 2017 the American
Medical Informatics Association released a report using information from an
American Hospital Association survey about hospital information technology.
They measured “basic” and “comprehensive” EHR adoption among US hospitals and
found that 80.5 percent of hospitals had at least a basic EHR system.
Data breaches in the US
healthcare field cost around six billion dollars annually. Even though the
latest IBM Security/Ponemon Institute study found that, in the United States,
healthcare data breach costs are higher than any other industry sector, the
average cost per record is decreasing. The average data breach cost per record
in the healthcare industry was 380 dollars in 2017, down from 402 dollars the
Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for Amtelco and their 1Call Healthcare Division. Amtelco is a leading provider of innovative communication applications. 1Call develops software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of healthcare organizations.
In Part 1 of “Telemarketing
Appointment Setting Best Practices,” we discussed how to maximize the
appointment kept rate when conducting telemarketing appointment setting. In
addition, we introduced the six primary components of a successful
telemarketing appointment setting program.
In Part 2, we discussed
how to write an effective script that delivers a powerful nutshell message with
a clear WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?).
telemarketing appointment setting professionals know that the third key
component of success is the list you’re calling. In Part 3 of this series on
telemarketing appointment setting, I’ll share my experience with curating the
best outbound call list. Because my primary list purchase experience is in B2B
appointment setting, I’ll focus there.
How do you identify what list to purchase? If you already have existing customers for your product or service, start by identifying what characteristics make up your best ones. Pinpointing your best customers and their similar characteristics become your criteria for purchasing prospect data from which to make outbound telemarketing appointment setting calls.
In the US there are
about fifteen million businesses. There are many different list companies that
will sell you business data, but knowing which segment(s) of the fifteen
million businesses you should target is critical.
Here are some common B2B
list selection variables:
• SIC (Standard
• NAICS (North American Industry Classification System)
• Number of employees
• Geography, typically by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
• Type of location (single, headquarters, branch)
• Credit rating
• Holding status (private, public)
NAICS is more specific than SIC codes, we prefer to purchase outbound
telemarketing call lists using NAICS. This allows us to narrow the list to ensure we aren’t purchasing
data that isn’t applicable for a client. For example, a travel solutions client
is looking for businesses that have employees who travel. One of our good
segments is construction. The NAICS code for construction starts with 23. We
know that purchasing all available data with a NAICS code that starts with 23
is a waste of money. By narrowing it down to the type of construction, we can
get better results. Single family home construction companies (NAICS 236115)
don’t tend to have employees who travel. Specialized large project construction
companies (such as NAICS 236210) tend to have employees who do travel. They go
where the work is because large projects often aren’t in the geographic region
where the construction company is located. This is just one example.
Create a Model,
Validate, and Test
Once you’ve identified
your best customers, purchased a list of more prospects that have the same
characteristics as your best customers (called a look-alike model), then start
placing calls. As you get call result data (disposition data) from the outbound
B2B telemarketing appointment setting campaign, feed the results back to your
data scientists to validate the model. Then tweak the model based on real
Expertise Is Invaluable
Depending on the size of
your company, it may even make sense to hire a list analyst to work full-time
on developing your prospecting list. The alternative is relying on account reps
from the list companies you purchase from. Their experience can be varied, and
their ambition of selling you a larger list doesn’t necessarily align with your
objective of buying just enough of the right list to achieve your goals.
If you could increase
your telemarketing appointment set percentage by even a small amount, what
would that be worth to you? List acquisition is a specialized field, and the
options are varied. As a rule of thumb, we like to purchase data from compiled
resources such as D&B, InfoUSA, and Accudata. Knowing who you want to
target with your calling effort, knowing the results of the calls, and tracking
performance by list segment will help drive smarter list acquisition efforts.
Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions (https://qualitycontactsolutions.com), a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization serving the healthcare, financial services, automotive, market research, professional associations, and other B2B focused verticals. Angela leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. She is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Contact Angela at email@example.com or 516-656-5118.
Make Sure You’re
Dedicating Your Resources to the Right Clients
By Jill J. Johnson, MBA
Few enterprises truly
understand the actual profits generated by the individual sales they make. Most
metrics for sales effectiveness are monitored by reviewing top-line revenue
results. Yet the most critical determinant of ongoing business viability is
understanding what revenue drops to the bottom line after all costs have been
considered. You must understand what profit is generated by sales to each of
your clients. Then consider the benefits and vulnerabilities the cumulative
impact these sales mean to your business. Knowing the breakdown of
profitability by individual sales to your clients can have a significant impact
on your ability to achieve your business goals.
1. Understand the Impact
of Profit per Sale
Many expenses go into
determining profitability for a company. The same is true for determining the
profitability of a sale. Each sale has multiple components impacting its final
profit. You should consider your total cost of goods sold, including
investments in promotion and delivery expenses. Factoring in the costs
associated with the staff time required to generate a sale is also necessary.
Unfortunately, few companies consider all these expenses when developing their
marketing and sales strategies. Whether you are working on growing your
business or struggling financially, the impact of the true profits generated by
each individual sale takes on greater importance.
Frankly, not all clients
are worth the effort to generate a sale. Sometimes the growth goals you’ve set
for your business mean that you are growing beyond clients you have
historically served. This transition period is a vulnerable point for any
enterprise. It is also stressful because you might be wrong and wind up losing
a client that could have provided even revenue value if you had not been afraid
to maximize your relationship.
Carefully study the
costs associated with serving each client. Perhaps you have long-term clients
you like personally, but if you have not taken the time to explore the costs of
the sale, their value to your business may have changed dramatically over the
years. Before abandoning these clients, try to identify options to trim your
expenses without jeopardizing your quality. But it may be time to move on if
they are not generating any real profit to your company.
3. Review Your Customer
Using a target-marketing
approach to group your customers into similar client segments provides you with
a more detailed understanding of what is working and what is not. The key to
effective target marketing is focusing your sales activities and expenditures
toward those type of customers your enterprise can best serve as well as those
who will stay with you over the long-term and generate solid profitability.
4. Evaluate Individual
There are two ways of
looking at your sales profitability data. One is by the individual client. The
other is by combining clients using some specific target-marketing components.
Grouping clients by similar characteristics makes it easier to identify trends
in the data that you can use to assess the profitability of each of these major
There are many options
for grouping your customers into segments. For a B2B client, you could group
them by industry sector, number of employees, location, and so forth. For a B2C
customer, you could group them by where they live, personal attitudes, age,
family size, or income level.
If Client Segment A
generates solid profits for you, but all your marketing efforts go to Client
Segment B which is barely break-even, the choice is obvious. You must retool
your marketing and sales activity to attract more prospects from Client Segment
5. Monitor Individual
A complete review of the
mix of your customers and sources of sales will reveal your potential
vulnerabilities if market conditions change. It is not enough in today’s
complex and competitive marketplace to look only at your total overall sales.
If you have one customer that generates more than one-third of your sales, you
are in an extremely vulnerable position if you lose that client to a merger or
change of staff—or if it goes out of business. Controlling and monitoring
client profitability and cost of sales allows you to take corrective action
before your business’ survival is at risk. This takes on even greater
importance if you are overly dependent on key clients for your profitability.
6. The Impact of Pricing
A close companion to
client profitability is understanding the impact of various pricing strategies
on the perceived value of your goods and services and how they intertwine when
attracting customers who will buy from you. Engaging in discounted pricing
strategies often attracts customers who buy from you based on price, not value.
If you are in a service-oriented business, this can be a slippery slope. You may get clients who keep you busy but do not
generate the profits you need to build a sustainable enterprise or increase
your net worth. It is a delicate balancing act, but one you must
realistically consider given your business objectives.
7. The Impact of
Strategy on Profits
You must also consider
the financial consequences of your business direction and your vulnerability to
setbacks. This assessment allows you to make better business decisions and set a
more realistic strategic vision for your organization. Picking your niche
through target marketing must also incorporate a true understanding of the
costs of reaching them, as well as their ability to add to your bottom line in
a meaningful way.
Reviewing the trend information for each of your major client segments is a highly impactful approach to evaluating the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts. It removes your emotions and the relationships with your clients to allow you to be more detached in considering your clients’ impact on meeting your business objectives. They are no longer just people you like—they become part of a bigger grouping of customer segments that impact your future costs and business growth. If you are not attracting the kinds of clients generating the profitability to move your enterprise forward, it is time to reconsider all your sales and marketing efforts.
Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than four billion dollars’ worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.
With the rise of the
internet and streamlined conversion paths provided by megabrands such as
Amazon, consumers expect more from every company they interact with. These
higher expectations start at the very first communication—whether that
interaction is via email, phone, or some other channel. According to Forbes
contributor Stan Phelps, “76 percent of customers expect organizations to
understand their individual needs,” while 81 percent demand “improved response
time,” and 68 percent “anticipate organizations will harmonize consumer
Those are high
expectations for every part of the customer journey, from marketing to customer
service. Such a demand poses an important question: How do companies meet such
lofty expectations on a consistent basis?
The best place to start
is with corporate integration. Here are four reasons you should take your
company to the next level by integrating your sales and marketing data.
Better Cater to
The most dominant
company in the world, Amazon, has set the customer service bar higher for every
company. As an accounting of Amazon’s success, founder Jeff Bezos says, “We’re
not competitor obsessed; we’re customer obsessed. We start with the customer,
and we work backwards.” That’s an easy thing for the world’s richest person to
say; what’s harder is backing it up. To follow through on Bezos’ big words,
Amazon works to learn what a consumer wants before even the consumer knows for
To get on Amazon’s
level, you, too, need to anticipate your consumers’ needs. The best way to do
that is to learn as much about them as possible. Integrating your sales and
marketing data is the first step in gathering the customer knowledge you need.
A marketing team’s goal
is to attract potential customers while retaining existing ones. Through a
variety of marketing tactics, marketing teams gain information and learn about
their customers. A sales team hopes to take those intrigued customers and begin
a dialogue that will convert them to paying consumers. During this process they
also gain insights and information about their customer base.
Each group, through their work, has an opportunity to learn about their customers’ buying habits from different perspectives. Compiling this valuable customer information from a sales perspective helps marketing teams—and vice versa. And the numbers back it up; according to MarketingProfs, “Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing had 36 percent higher customer retention rates and achieved 38 percent higher sales win rates than their competitors.”
information between sales and marketing teams is step one in improving your
overall sales. To take your sales and marketing data to the next level, pool it
and turn it into advanced analytics. Too many companies think the answer to
improved sales is upping their marketing budget. Smart companies take the
information they already have and put it to better use.
That’s no pipe dream
either. According to a McKinsey review of over four hundred organizations of
different types and locations, “An integrated analytics approach can free up
some 15 to 20 percent of marketing spending. Worldwide, that equates to as much
as 200 billion dollars that can be reinvested by companies or drop straight to
the bottom line.” The key to creating an effective advanced analytics model is having the right mix of marketing and sales data.
In most organizations,
the marketing department oversees generating leads before passing them on to
sales to seal the deal. Other approaches, such as account-based marketing,
focus on removing silos for better communication and an improved customer
Instead of two silos of
people working independently to make a sale to a single consumer, sales and
marketing teams get together, share their data, and create a marketing campaign
based on that collaboration. This helps both teams stay on message and most
importantly, on the same page. Increasingly B2B companies are taking this
approach but it is still vastly underutilized. If you want to pull ahead of
your competition, try this tactic.
Get Ahead of the Curve
effectiveness of the varied approaches we have laid out thus far, many
organizations have yet to take the data-sharing plunge. Data sharing and data
strategy are the future of marketing and sales. According to Radius and Harvard Business Review,
“Sixty-three percent of B2B marketers say data and analytics will be very
influential on marketing activities within the next two years.”
Despite the overwhelming
proof of the efficacy of this type of integration, only 37 percent of companies characterize their marketing approach as
“somewhat advanced.” The trend of advanced strategic marketing is only
becoming more prevalent as companies see the numerous benefits. If you start
integrating now, you can get ahead of the curve.
Consumers continue to
expect more from organizations, and businesses must make changes to meet those
expectations. Organizations must learn about their customers and anticipate
their needs. The companies that make the customer journey as enjoyable, intuitive,
and efficient as possible will be the most successful. Integrating the data
from your sales and marketing teams is the best way to reach that goal.
Adam Mergist is a chief operating officer and president of Home Services at Clearlink, an award-winning digital marketing, sales, and technology company and a trusted partner for Fortune 500 companies since 2003.
The past year was
excellent for the cloud-based contact center infrastructure (CBCCI) market. DMG
had projected that the market would grow by 22 percent in 2017, and the actual
growth rate was 25.4 percent. Most of the sales were to existing contact centers
whose management made the decision to migrate to the cloud. The introduction of
contact center platforms from companies such as Amazon and Twilio also
contributed to the growth of the market.
DMG remains bullish on
this IT market, particularly now that we see some of the larger contact centers
either moving to the cloud (albeit not all their seats at once) or considering
a move. DMG expects the market to grow at a minimum of 23 percent in 2019 and
2020, and 21 percent in 2021 and 2022.
The adoption rate of the
cloud-based contact center infrastructure market as of the end of 2017 was 14.1
percent. This includes hosted and software as a service (SaaS), up from 11.4
percent at the end of 2016. Assuming an average cost per seat of 125 dollars
per month, this is already a 4.1 billion dollars market. The amount of 125
dollars per seat per month takes into consideration implementation,
professional services, and add-ons such as WFO.
the Market Forward
CBCCI vendors have begun
to differentiate themselves with innovative routing capabilities that can
optimize the outcome of each interaction. Incoming transactions in any channel
can be evaluated and directed to the agent or advisor ideally suited to handle
the issue. The result is higher sales rates, larger collections, and greatly
improved customer service.
At the same time, this
enhances productivity, as inbound agents benefit from guidance and
recommendations on handling transactions as they occur, without having to spend
as much time researching the customer’s background and the context of the
inquiry. The solutions also help organizations comply with various governmental
regulations for required disclosures and prohibited activities during agents’ conversations
Enhances Contact Centers
(AI) is having a profound effect on the CBCCI market. Customers show a
preference for self-service, and AI-enabled intelligent virtual agents (IVAs)
are playing a vital role in addressing the self-service challenge. IVAs can
automatically verify callers and allow customers to ask questions in their own
words. IVAs also support seamless migration from one channel to another and
provide agents with information from diverse online sources to optimize and
personalize each interaction and make the most of each sales opportunity.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is another valuable tool, relieving contact center agents of repetitive, noncognitive tasks, including the time-consuming processes required for compliance with two-factor authentication. This gives agents more time to spend on resolving customers’ issues, enhancing their job satisfaction as well as customer experience.
Infrastructure Platforms Are Game Changers
infrastructure platform vendors are having a positive and disruptive impact on
the CBCCI market. The new paradigm of “platform as a service” allows for the
quick creation and deployment of customized solutions. Application programming
interfaces (APIs) facilitate the build-out of functional capabilities rapidly
The advantages of
hosted/SaaS applications in the cloud are no longer the sole value proposition
for buying a CBCCI solution. The CBCCI solutions are compelling because vendors
are delivering outstanding and differentiated capabilities, either natively, by
acquisition, or through integrations with best-of-breed providers.
During 2019, more contact center systems will incorporate AI, machine learning, and natural language understanding and processing (NLU/NLP). This will present companies with an opportunity to vastly improve their performance and gain insights into customer needs. The use of robotic process automation (RPA) and IVAs will enhance the customer and agent experience. The next few years will be exciting as market innovation enables companies to start delivering the personalized service their customers expect.
Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades, she has helped to emerge 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.
If you are serious about
growing your business, everyone on your team needs a strategic plan for their
own development that is separate from and exceeds the company’s current needs.
Every year millions of
business leaders spend days, if not weeks, collaborating with their peers to
develop a strategic plan for their company to execute. They set goals, outline
tactics, and cascade information to all levels of the organization. If done properly,
each department and each person will understand their role in the plan, and
throughout the twelve months that follow, everyone will strive to do their
However, in doing so,
they hitch their personal development wagon to the company star.
Without a separate
strategic plan for themselves as individuals, they unwittingly limit their
development to the skills required to achieve the goals of their employer. Most
don’t realize the limitation because their employer usually acknowledges and
rewards them for their efforts. Therefore, their development feels like an
accomplishment, not a limitation. But here are four reasons why the
company-prescribed linear path isn’t enough for either the individual or the
1. White Space
Great companies build
growth strategies around the opportunities their existing infrastructure
affords them. If every team member develops only in ways and at the pace their
employer’s goals require, this limits the organization’s growth to the plans
for that year. However, if team members develop with their own momentum,
unplanned opportunities can be immediately seized. There are no crystal balls,
so growth-focused organizations need untapped talent on their bench if they
want the corporate agility that unplanned opportunities require.
2. Stronger Partnerships
potential business partnerships or joint ventures, due diligence should (and
usually does) include an asset assessment—and people are every company’s most
valuable asset. The nature of new partnerships means growth and change. Both
sides of the equation want to know that the other side has the existing talent
the venture requires.
Individuals are more
marketable when their skill set advances with its own momentum. Fortunately,
these individuals also add marketability to the company itself. Most business
owners have an exit strategy that usually involves a merger, an acquisition, or
going public. All three require an investment from outside the company.
Investors always expect growth
in addition to a return on their investment. Potential shareholders may not
examine employee development prior to buying Apple or Amazon stock, but venture
capitalists look for companies that have growth opportunities and a talent pool
to turn those opportunities into profits. Untapped talent means additional
revenue opportunities, and that’s like ringing the dinner bell for hungry
Succession planning is
always a fickle challenge. As businesses mature, so does their leadership.
Often, members of the existing executive leadership team are close in age. When
they begin to hit the retirement horizon, a difficult choice arises: promote
from within or hire from without.
Hiring externally is
always a gamble, and studies show it is more cost-effective to
develop your own leaders. A study by the Wharton School of Business showed
that hiring externally costs 18 to 20 percent more than promoting from
within and performs worse—at least in the first two years. A Harvard study
showed that replacing a CEO with an external candidate results in an
average performance drop of 6 percent. New faces come with unknown
consequences, and culture is binary. Someone may look good on paper, but a
C-Level exec who is culturally inconsistent with the company can have
catastrophic consequences, especially in smaller organizations.
are serious about growing your business, it is important that each person on
your team develop their own plan. It should not include additional expectations
prescribed by the company.
However, the company
should set parameters for what is in each person’s plan. For instance, every
person’s plan should include both hard and soft skills. At least one of their
personal development goals should be a hard skill that is unrelated to their
current duties. The plan should also include short-term and long-term
development goals. With enough practice, it may only take a few months to
become a better public speaker, but it may take years to speak another
language. And finally, every person’s plan should include at least one goal
that builds upon his or her previous plan. While not too prescriptive,
parameters like these assure development breadth and depth.
We spend a lot of time
developing plans for our businesses. And to be fair, most of us work hard to
facilitate people development as well. There is a difference, however, between
working hard to facilitate something and having a strategic plan that includes
tangible tactics and measurable outcomes. The former shows that you care about
your people. The latter shows that you recognize personal development is the
lynchpin for success.
Tra Williams is a celebrated speaker, business consultant, and author of the forthcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in small business, franchising, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Tra works tirelessly with people, professionals, and organizations to help them define success on their own terms and build the framework required to sustain it. For more information, please visit www.TraWilliams.com.
Call Centers That Switch
between Multiple Channels Enhance Customer Experiences
By Steve Newell
Changing trends to the
contact center arena is a response to changes in consumer behavior and not
solely the result of changing business strategies. Today’s customers are
increasingly savvier about using various digital channels for their day-to-day
Consider the following
everyday scenarios where people use multiple channels to communicate:
Dad calls his son on his
cell. It rings and goes to voicemail. He sends a quick text and gets a reply
Mom WhatsApps her
daughter on vacation overseas. The daughter responds to Mom and then initiates
a FaceTime session, both successfully navigating around long-distance tariffs.
Dad texts Mom about
weekend plans, and they go back and forth discussing various options, sending
web pages, and reading reviews. Finally, Dad simply calls Mom to finalize
In each case, these
individuals are seamlessly surfing between communication channels, even
within the same engagement. So why is it that analysts have determined contact
center traffic is still 80 percent voice and email, while only 20 percent of
traffic flows through all the other channels (social media, video, chat,
Facebook Messenger, etc.) combined?
Surely customers are
able and eager to move beyond simply voice and email. Call centers and agents
that are able to surf multiple channels alongside their customers and offer
“one call, one agent” resolution will truly enhance their customers’ journeys.
Why Do I Need to Provide
and Staff Multiple Channels?
Let’s look at those
three common scenarios more closely to see how offering many different channels
can empower your customers and enhance their experience with your team.
When Dad calls his son,
the son doesn’t answer, but when Dad texts him, he texts right back. The son is
saying, “I don’t want to talk. I want to control this conversation.” As
exasperating as that might be for Dad, it’s important to realize that the son
is going to comprise the bulk of your customers in the future, and that is how
they want to engage.
Though voice calls aren’t at risk of going extinct anytime soon,
millennials—who make up an overwhelmingly vast percentage of the mobile phone
market—prefer not to have to speak on the phone. To be more exact, they would
rather text. According to OpenMarket (May 5,
2016), when given the choice between being able only to text versus call
on their mobile phone, a whopping 75 percent of millennials chose texting over
Our goal is to make it easier for our customers
to connect with us how and when they want, and chat offers a familiar and
Mom WhatsApps her
daughter, and they end up switching channels to have a video call. Why? It is
strategic: “I don’t want to pay for an overseas call, especially on a cell
phone,” but it’s also emotional. Mom misses her daughter and wants more than a
voice connection. She wants to see her. In your contact center, there will be
times when the people you serve will want the connection that a video call
provides. Video is great when you don’t want to travel, such as for telehealth,
or when a picture just won’t do, such as video of car damage after an accident.
chat provides customers with a richer sense of presence, personalized
experience helped by coordination of communication and the support of emotional
expression, and the real-time sharing of content,” stated Brian Manusama,
research director at Gartner.
telling when global business leaders recognize that adding the video component
to their services is necessary to provide a more meaningful and personal
In the third scenario,
Mom and Dad exchange text messages and website addresses, but in the end, they
need to talk to get final resolution. It is empowering for a client to fully
control their engagement by surfing a website (no agent engagement), asking
questions on the webchat portal (partial agent engagement), and finally picking
up the phone to speak with the same live agent to get questions answered and
complete the transaction (full agent engagement). There will always be a
significant role for voice in the contact center, and combining voice with
other channels increases its effectiveness and improves the customer
What Kind of Technology
Will I Need?
centers will need the ability to cover all the main communication channels (voice, video, webchat, text, SMS, WhatsApp,
Facebook Messenger, and so forth) because
conversations will increasingly move from one channel to another as the
engagement deepens. It is also important to be able to view all these
channels inside a single portal so the agent can surf from one channel to
another seamlessly, just as the customer does.
Can a Single Agent
Handle All These Channels?
With a single view of
all these channels, yes. Clients get frustrated when they are handed from agent
to agent, having to explain and re-explain their situation to different people,
all the while wondering if each channel transition loses significant details.
Offering a “one call, one agent” resolution provides an excellent experience
for your customers.
Clearly, the way we
communicate with each other is evolving rapidly, and all these new, additional
channels offer great opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Our
challenge is to combine thoughtful planning, intelligent technology, and
constant training to deliver exceptional service for our customers.
Steve Newell is a telecommunications veteran of over twenty years, including eleven years in the telephone answering service software field. He currently serves as regional sales director for Cirrus Response, a premier developer of contact center solutions specializing in omnichannel, AI, and translation software.