Tag Archives: Miscellaneous Articles

Seven Reasons to Not Share Ownership with Key Employees



By Patrick Ungashick

Many business owners consider at some point sharing ownership of their company with one or more key employees. Sharing ownership can create powerful advantages. Retaining employees for the long-term and incentivizing them to increase business value are usually the top motives. Sharing ownership elevates valued employees into a true partnership with the owners in the ongoing effort to sustain company growth.

However, sharing ownership is not without downsides, some of which are immediately apparent. Obviously, sharing ownership dilutes the owner’s equity position. Consequently, sharing ownership can end up being the most expensive way to incentivize, reward, and retain top employees. Other potential problems create unwelcome surprises. Sharing ownership backfires more often than it succeeds. If it fails, it may jeopardize the business owner’s ability to successfully exit from the business one day.

Here are seven reasons to avoid sharing ownership with key employees, whether you are contemplating selling or gifting to them a piece of your company:

1. Key Employees Sometimes Leave

No matter how loyal and trusted they are, it happens. Making matters worse, when key employees leave, they rarely switch industries. If they leave your company, they may join or become competition. Now you may have somebody competing with you who owns a piece of your business. To prevent this, you will need to have employees sign an agreement obligating them to sell their stock (or units, if an LLC) back to you should they leave. This helps avoid a competitor owning some of your company. But you won’t like writing a check to a former employee to buy back your stock. That’s not fun.

2. Sharing Ownership Complicates Legal Governance 

Once an employee has ownership, it’s easy for the line to blur between ownership and employment. Click To Tweet

Sharing owners requires creating (or updating) legal documents such as a buy-sell agreement, which outlines decision-making and ownership-transfer rules among co-owners. One important issue to address is who has the authority to sell the entire company one day. You cannot allow minority owners to hold up a potential sale in the future. This buy-sell agreement therefore also needs to give the majority owner clear authority to sell the entire company, further complicating your exit planning.

3. Sharing Ownership Complicates Income Tax Planning

Certain laws regarding retirement plans—an important tax planning tool—require treating owner-employees differently for antidiscrimination testing. Also, if you have an S-corporation (a popular legal form) and you wish to make a profit distribution, it must be in proportion to ownership. Sharing profits proportionately with all owner-employees might not be what you had in mind. 

4. Sharing Ownership Changes the Employer-Employee Relationship

Ownership bestows rights. Employees who receive ownership typically gain the right to review the company’s financial information and records. You may not be crazy about employees seeing that level of financial detail. Once an employee has ownership, it’s easy for the line to blur between ownership and employment. It can become harder to manage an employee who is also an owner. Firing that person, if ever necessary, can become more difficult and expensive.

5. Sharing Ownership with One or More Employees Creates a Precedent

You intend your company to grow, and that growth will lead to additional valuable employees coming into the picture, either promoted from within or hired from outside the company. Those future key employees may want ownership, too, given that their peers already have it. You will have two options: either offer ownership to them, further diluting your ownership, or deny ownership to them, which risks alienating them, even to the point that they leave the organization.

6. Ownership May Complicate Matters with Your Employees

Owners typically enjoy some personal expenses paid by the company, such as vehicle, cell phone, meals, and so forth. Employees who receive ownership often expect to participate in such perks too. You must either include them, which increases costs, or temper their expectations, which risks alienating them. 

With ownership also come responsibilities, such as personally guaranteeing company debt. Top employees may be hesitant or unprepared to share in this debt and risk, further taking away some of the excitement and appeal of receiving ownership.

7. Sharing Ownership Increases the Company’s Exposure to Outside Risks

Occasionally, employees might do things that put themselves and their ownership in the company at risk, such as get divorced, get sued, or find themselves in financial difficulty. Sharing ownership increases the possibility of having your company dragged into one of these situations.

Conclusion

Because of these disadvantages, business owners should attempt to retain and reward key employees without sharing actual ownership. Alternative strategies exist, such as golden handcuff plans that include phantom stock, stock appreciation rights (SARs), and executive compensation plans. Many of these programs can simulate business ownership, achieving the original goals without creating the inevitable risks and downsides. 

There are a few situations where to share ownership with key employees may make sense. The most common would be sharing some actual ownership now as one step within a comprehensive plan to eventually sell or transfer the entire business to the employees. Otherwise, in most cases, it’s advisable to pursue a different course of action.

Patrick Ungashick is the CEO of NAVIX Consultants, a celebrated speaker on executive and business owner exit planning, and the author of A Tale of Two Owners: Achieving Exit Success Between Business Co-Owners. With his wealth of knowledge on exit planning, Patrick has provided exit advice and solutions to business owners and leaders for thirty years. 

Four Reasons Every Professional Should Have a Personal Development Strategic Plan



By Tra Williams

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. Here’s why:

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 part.

If you 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. Click To Tweet

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 company.

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

When contemplating 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.

3. Marketability

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 investors.

4. Succession

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.

If you 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.

Conclusion

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 Center Technology History



By Smitha Baliga

Phone answering services, telemessaging, contact centers, and teleservice agencies have certainly changed throughout the years—for the better. From their humble roots in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s ultra-functional, do-it-all, multipurpose powerhouses, call centers barely resemble their predecessors.

Thanks to tremendous technological advancements, present-day contact centers handle heavy call volumes, automated appointments, and crucial customer service communication. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Plenty of key milestones helped turn yesteryear’s communication headquarters into what we recognize as today’s call centers. During that time we’ve come a long way. Let’s take a trip back in time to see how we got from there to here.

  • Early twentieth century: Switchboards functioned as de facto call centers. Human error, unreliable technology, and other hurdles challenged these first call centers.
  • Mid 1950s: In the mid-twentieth century, a system called the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) collected, routed, and assigned incoming calls to available agents. It wasn’t the most effective method, but the present-day call center had its first prototype.
  • Late 1950s/early 1960s: The blueprint for the modern call center was created with Private Automated Business Exchanges (known as PABX). Of course, PABX enterprises relied heavily on ACD technology.
  • Late 1960s: To make call routing easier, AT&T established 1-800 numbers in 1967. This allowed heavier call volumes and created unexpected advertising opportunities and marketing avenues.
  • Early 1970s: British Gas used an ACD system to field up to 20,000 calls per week in a facility based in Wales. That was the most calls any center had processed in a seven days’ span.
  • Late 1970s: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology allowed incoming calls to be handled by fully automated systems.
  • Early 2000s: With so much attention paid to automated technology, offshore centers (primarily based in India) sparked a rise in offshoring (using agents overseas).
  • Mid 2000s: Premise-based call center technology ceded call center management to cloud-based systems.Premise-based call center technology ceded call center management to cloud-based systems. Click To Tweet

These are some of the most noteworthy call center developments in the past century. Aside from these landmark events, engineers, software developers, entrepreneurs, and visionaries were responsible for creating today’s call centers that deliver fast service.

While the past provides interesting insights into the call center’s history, it will be even more exciting to see what the future holds.

Smitha Baliga is the CEO of TeleDirect, which provides affordable business process outsourcing (BPO) services to clients from a diverse range of industries and business applications. For more information about TeleDirect, please visit www.teledirect.com.

Startel Releases Latest Version of Secure Messaging Solution

Startel Corporation released its secure messaging solution, Startel Secure Messaging Plus (SM+). Many new features and enhancements were part of this release, including the ability to respond to group messages and allowing the forwarding of messages.

SM+ is a two-way direct messaging solution that allows users to securely send and receive messages, including those containing sensitive information.

All message content and attachments sent and received on devices using SM+ are encrypted. New key features and enhancements included in this release are:

  • Group Response: When replying to a group message, users can choose to reply only to the sender or the entire group.
  • Message Forwarding: Prior to sending a message, users can indicate which messages can be forwarded. Administrators can also enable certain accounts to not allow forwarding of any messages.
  • Account Management: Enhancements have been made for both channel partners and end users.

“We are excited to offer our customers, and the marketplace, with the latest version of Startel Secure Messaging Plus,” said Margaret Lally, senior director of operations and technical services at Startel. “The new features and enhancements included in this release help to ensure that our customers remain competitive, and that sensitive data remains confidential and secure.”

Startel Secure Messaging Plus is available as a stand-alone web-based solution or integrated with the Startel Contact Management Center. The SM+ app is compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iTouch).

StartelFor more information, contact Startel Sales at sales@startel.com.

PACE Win Brings Sensibility to the TCPA

The Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE) won a decisive victory for sensible regulation of the teleservices industry. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the Federal Communications Commission’s arbitrary and capricious definition of an automated telephone dialing system and creation of a one-call safe harbor for calls to reassigned numbers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

In its 2015 Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order, the FCC held that any system with the present capacity or potential functionality to operate as an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS) meets the definition of an ATDS. PACE strongly objected to this definition as overly broad and not grounded in the law, as evidenced by the fact that even a generic smartphone could be an ATDS under the FCC’s definition. In vacating the FCC’s definition, the Court agreed, “Those sorts of anomalous outcomes are bottomed in an unreasonable, and impermissible, interpretation of the statute’s reach. The TCPA cannot reasonably be read to render every smartphone an ATDS …”

Likewise, the Court set aside the FCC’s one-call safe harbor for calls to reassigned numbers as arbitrary and capricious. In its 2015 Order, the FCC defined the “called party” for purposes TCPA liability as the new subscriber of a reassigned number but exempted from liability callers who erroneously made one call without consent to the new subscriber. Industry participants warned that that this one-call safe harbor was insufficient because in many instances a caller would not learn from that one call whether the number had been reassigned (e.g. the call is not answered, the voicemail is not descriptive, a text message is not returned). The Court not only vacated the safe harbor, it also recognized the potential for strict liability to attach under the FCC’s definition of “called party” as the new subscriber and set the definition aside too.

The Court did let stand the FCC’s decision to allow consumers to revoke their consent to be called using any reasonable means that clearly express a desire not to receive further messages. PACE and other petitioners argued that the reasonable means test could allow for a consumer to revoke consent by telling a store clerk that they revoke consent or another means that would not fall into a caller’s normal process for recording revocation of consent. Acknowledging this concern, the Court elucidated that “[C]allers will have every incentive to avoid TCPA liability by making available clearly-defined and easy-to-use opt-out methods. If recipients are afforded such options, any effort to sidestep the available methods in favor of idiosyncratic or imaginative revocation requests might well be seen as unreasonable.”

Reacting to this victory, Stuart Discount, PACE CEO, stated, “PACE appreciates that the Court rightly found that the FCC went too far in its definition of an ATDS and its treatment of reassigned numbers in its 2015 Order.

“PACE looks forward to working with the FCC over the coming months to develop reasonable regulations that align with the statutory language and protect both consumers and callers.”

PACE continues to analyze the Court’s decision and its impact on callers across the country.

Founded in 1988, PACE is dedicated to the advancement of companies that engage with customers via the contact center. The association promotes its members’ ability to provide outstanding customer service and sales solutions delivered via omnichannel communication including voice, email, chat, text, and social media.

PACE Adds Puerto Rico to the USA DNC Regulatory Guide

The Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE) added Puerto Rico to the PACE USA DNC Regulatory Guide. Touted as a valued industry resource, the PACERegulatoryGuide.com series has been available for over ten years.

It covers Federal (both FTC and FCC) and state specific telemarketing and TCPA regulations. The new Puerto Rico section includes a summary of applicable rules with links to the relative bills, laws, and statues. Summaries by categories include registration requirements, call restrictions, solicitation disclosures, and call monitoring rules. This is organized by topic and state/territory.

“We continue to expand the information contained in the regulatory guides to meet the needs of our subscribers and telemarketing compliance professionals,” said Dean Garfinkel, administrator of the guide.

The USA DNC Regulatory Guide is part of the PACERegulatoryGuide.com series. Other resources include the Canadian DNC Regulatory Guide and the Charitable Fundraising Regulatory Guide.

Subscribers receive email alerts announcing new legislation. The guides’ interpretations take the confusion out of DNC compliance, TCPA compliance, wireless calling laws, and telephone solicitation regulations. Find exactly what you need, with interpretive text linked directly to the pertinent statutory wording.

The legal team at MacMurray Shuster LLP reviews compliance regulations to keep the guide current and relevant. Information is made accessible and understandable, reducing the chance of inadvertent noncompliance. Email alerts are sent to subscribers whenever the guide is updated.

Contact Dean Garfinkel at 516-656-4191 or visit https://paceregulatoryguide.com.

ASTAA Workshop a Success

Maryellen Pruitt became the new Executive Director of ASTAA, just in time to support the Supervisor Workshop, You Can Move Mountains, held in Baltimore. “There is nothing like trial by fire, said Jim Reandeau, president of ASTAA, “Maryellen no sooner said ‘Yes’ to the position than she had to board a plane to go to work. She never missed a beat.”

“Maryellen was a delight to work with at the Supervisor Workshop,” said presenter Donna West. “She took care of a few issues before I even knew they existed. Her support was invaluable. I know this is going to be a great relationship.”

Maryellen has been a part of the industry since 1997 when she accepted a position with Gary Tedrick at Answer Midwest as an agent. “We tend to grow people from within our organizations, and that is how she is where she is today. When she left Answer Midwest, her title was director of operations.” Maryellen has also recently accepted a position as the new executive director of the Telecommunications Users Network (TUNe).

Four Ways Raised-Access Flooring Can Help Your Contact Center



By Ryan Hulland

You’ve heard of raising the roof, but the trend in commercial architecture is raising the floor. Solutions allow facilities such as contact centers to enjoy the benefits of raised-access flooring without sacrificing much space. Today’s raised-access flooring is elevated two inches from the subfloor; phone lines, electrical cords, and Internet cables are secure and hidden, yet still easily accessible by simply raising a panel on the floor. Low-profile raised-access flooring can be built into new contact center facilities or installed in existing ones.

Low-profile raised-access flooring is made from concrete and steel, and it can be covered with a custom finish to meet any design need. Concealed with carpet tiles or completed with a custom finish made to look like terrazzo, marble, granite, hardwood, or bamboo, raised-access flooring can seamlessly blend into any design scheme.

With raised-access flooring, there are four benefits you can expect:

Simplify Cable Management: Dealing with cables is a challenge for all IT managers, but especially those in contact centers. Wires and cords need to be tucked away in the interest of safety and aesthetics, but they also must be accessible to troubleshoot connectivity issues or move when cubicles are reconfigured. Many commercial furniture manufacturers make products that hide and organize cables, but facility managers must still route the wires safely to workstations from the IT closet or computer room. The most common means of doing this are using cable runners across the floor, running them up the walls to thread cables through the ceiling panels, or drilling into the floor to lay cables. Many contact center facilities take pride in their modern, streamlined look. Click To Tweet

With low-profile raised-access flooring, cables can safely run underfoot below the access floor. When they need to be accessed or reconfigured, all technicians need to do is simply open the appropriate cable raceway. Large data centers have been using this cable management method for more than fifty years because it works. It’s the simplest way to hide and access cables.

Decrease Fall Risks : According to the US Department of Labor, falls, slips, or trips accounted for 27 percent of occupational injuries in 2014, leading to 95 million workdays lost annually. They cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the workplace. OSHA cites electrical cords as one of the most common hazards.

It’s easy to see why it’s in the best interest of your contact center to ensure that all cords and wires are secure. Many businesses use cable runners to contain cords that run across the floor, but these cumbersome covers often become a tripping hazard themselves, not to mention an eyesore. By running all cords and wires under a low-profile raised-access floor, you eliminate a huge cause of potential workplace injuries, protecting both your business and your employees.

Future-Proof Your Infrastructure: Though wireless technology is becoming more popular, some contact centers are concerned with the increased security vulnerability it represents. Raised-access flooring lets these facilities wire agent stations without the security risk.

Technology is constantly evolving, and research is always suggesting new ways to make your contact center operate more productively. The last decade has seen so many changes in the workplace, from Wi-Fi and communal workspaces to remote employees moving back to the office. With raised-access flooring, your facility can easily embrace any change that comes its way. The contact center floor can be quickly reconfigured for new purposes and shifting needs just by popping up the affected cable raceway.

Complement Interior Design: Many contact center facilities take pride in their modern, streamlined look. Nothing ruins a sleek, modern aesthetic like a chaotic mess of jumbled cords and wires. Raised-access flooring allows facilities to easily hide cables from sight—perfect for a clean and contemporary design.

Don’t let cables keep your business twisted up in the past. Investing in low-profile raised-access flooring will give your facility the freedom it needs to grow and evolve with the future.

Ryan Hulland is the president of Netfloor USA. His company manufactures, designs, and installs raised-access flooring that simplifies cable management for facility managers.

Change the Way You Look at Things and Make a Difference

By Wayne Scaggs

I moved to California in 1971 with thirty-five dollars in my pocket, no transportation, and no education. I only knew one person with whom I could stay for a little while. I carried with me my grandmother’s wisdom: “Don’t take advantage of people because you can; it is much better to help them if you can.”

Almost twenty years later, in 1990 I was driving to work listening to Les Brown (a motivational speaker). He encouraged listeners to make a difference in their industry. I thought “Yeah, right. I’m just a customer service manager in a company on the decline, and I’m supposed to make a difference – ha!” But I never said, “I can’t.”

I looked for ways to make a difference. I stopped using the word but and replaced it with and. What a transformation that made! I strove to complete whatever I started and did the best I could. It was important that I do what I said I would do, even when it hurt or was costly at the time. I still feel that way.

As opportunities presented themselves, I took on all I could. As the opportunities got bigger, I got stronger; my confidence grew. I prided myself with the knowledge that I could fix anything another person had built. This made me certain we could make the Tascom system viable and keep our customer base. We did lose a few customers, but for the most part we were doing okay for a company whose parent corporation had decided to cease development on the Tascom product line.

Then came 1994, the year everything changed. I asked the parent corporation if I could buy Tascom. What I received was an outdated system the size of three refrigerators and a wonderful, outstanding customer base. I became a business owner, and the transition seemed to age me overnight.

I bought the company on November 1, 1994. Two weeks later I attended my first Tascom User Group (TUG) meeting as Tascom’s owner. Seared into my memory is the combination of jubilation and fear. I experienced the elation of a standing ovation for buying Tascom and terror because I had no money to cover payroll in two weeks. Since I’m writing this twenty-two years later, you know that we made it.

Though some customers left, we continued to work to improve Tascom. We kept our word, and introduced the first TAS system with a Microsoft SQL database to house the Tascom information.

The next transformative year was 1999. I must have made a difference because I was inducted into the ATSI Hall of Fame. Also that year my local Chamber of Commerce awarded me Business Person of the Year, and the Toastmaster club of which I was president won first place in the world for the achievements our club accomplished that year. Yes, one person can make a difference.

In 2000 I hit a brick wall, and for the next eighteen months, I went through my own personal midlife crisis. I had to remember that this too would pass, and the sun would shine again. (When you get knocked down, get up.)

Well, the sun did shine again. In 2006 Alston Tascom introduced the hosted system, the first in the industry to provide a complete telemessaging platform in the cloud with all the functionality of a premise-based system and a guaranteed service level in excess of 99 percent uptime. It was a fraction of the price point and unmatched by any premises system in the industry.

Alston Tascom is poised to continue to make a difference in our industry. We no longer have customers; we only have clients who we put first. We deliver our ADAM soft switch with a shared, matured SQL database, and we share our cloud and hosted systems. We have your reservation for our personal and priority care of your business. I’ll end with a quote from Wayne Dyer: “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.”

Wayne Scaggs is the president of Alston Tascom, provider of call center database information and network telephony systems.

Looking Ahead

Kevin Beale

AmtelcoAmtelco is celebrating its fortieth year of call center innovations this year. As we look at the last four decades, we see how the focus of technology has shifted from hardware in the early days to advanced software today. Software technology is much more dynamic and flexible than hardware technology. The pace of change and advancements with software technology is increasing at an exponential rate.

As we look at call center technology, we have shifted from racks full of individual computers and servers, each with their own specialized purpose, to a much smaller virtual server environment that has hundreds of times more horsepower and capability than its predecessors. We can now spin up new virtual servers as we need them, with dozens of servers running on a single physical machine. This applies to application servers, web servers, communications servers, and switching servers. Virtual servers can provide an added layer of redundancy and high availability by allowing servers to be easily replicated and moved to another physical machine, either manually while performing a system upgrade or automatically in response to an outage.

The introduction of soft switching provides the ability to migrate call center switching to a virtual environment. Soft switching shifts the control and processing of telephony functions away from hardware to the virtual server CPU, with software controlling the CPU. This provides much more dynamic and flexible switch configuration and management.

Soft switching and virtualization open the door to cloud deployment. Cloud solutions such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are perfectly suited to provide cloud-based call center infrastructure. The entire Amtelco Intelligent Series and Genesis platform can be operated in the cloud at either of these providers’ facilities, or at another similar provider’s facilities.

Amtelco’s Genesis platform provides a soft switch controlled by an ACD and voice-processing module within Amtelco’s Intelligent Series platform. Controlling the soft switch functions from within the Intelligent Series provides a single point of administration, simplifying the process of adding and changing trunks, agents, and call behaviors. Genesis combines the flexibility of soft switching with the ease of administration and the power of the Intelligent Series.

System Integrations and Automation: Another major area of call center advancement is system integration and automation. In today’s world of technology, there is a much greater demand for these types of services. Call center clients expect their call centers to automatically integrate to their IT platforms, databases, websites, web services, and mobile devices.

Amtelco’s MergeComm module of the Intelligent Series is built to provide these services. MergeComm is like adding a dispatcher that lives inside your system twenty-four hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, 365 days-a-year. MergeComm dispatch scenarios can run automatically based on inbound triggers such as email and SMS text messages; scheduled to run automatically, initiated by a call center agent or a web user; or initiated by a third-party application via the Intelligent Series REST web API. MergeComm can deliver content to call center clients via any of the available Intelligent Series contact methods.

With today’s mobile work force, servicing clients’ needs means supporting them in their workflows in ways that were not feasible until recently. In the past, messages were delivered to clients as a one-way transmission with minimal ability to provide feedback. This often consisted of several discrete steps in order to close out the message. But now, thanks to the pervasiveness of wireless and smartphone technology combined with the power and automation of Amtelco’s Intelligent Series, MergeComm, miSecureMessages, and miTeamWeb, these steps are seamlessly combined and serve to enhance the workflow rather than impede it.

How to Move Ahead with Technology: As you analyze your client relationships, strive to identify the critical components of their workflows that can be improved by your services. Look for ways new technology and software can be applied, perhaps in uses not previously anticipated. This is the key to innovation and seizing an opportunity.

At Amtelco we are excited about what the next forty years will bring and look forward to working with each of you.

Kevin Beale is vice president for software, research and development, at Amtelco, a developer and supplier of call center and communications solutions located in McFarland, Wisconsin. Contact him at kbeale@amtelco.com.

[From Connection MagazineJuly/August 2016]

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