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Interaction Recording Using Microsoft Teams: Ten Factors for Success



By Michael Levy

According to Gartner, one in four contact center seats is now communicating using Microsoft Teams. Therefore, you likely have agents handling customer inquiries and complaints using this platform across one or more of your contact centers. That means expanding the value of your Microsoft Teams solution to turn recorded interactions into valuable business assets.

To ensure quality of service and protect your business, it’s time to start capturing those interactions to monitor agent performance, maintain compliance (GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, and so forth), and protect your organization in cases of he-said/she-said disputes. With limited built-in recording capabilities for Microsoft Teams, consider an add-on recorder. Here are ten key factors to consider when making your selection:

1. Record All Interaction Types

Your recorder must be able to handle your interactions (voice, video chat, and screens) regardless of their type. This includes:

  • internal
  • federated
  • remote
  • mobile
  • conference
  • PSTN
Look for dashboards you can tailor to each user, enabling authorized staff to view the specific metrics and information that helps them perform their tasks more successfully. Click To Tweet

2. Support Multiple Integration Points

Your recorder needs to support multiple integration points, including:

  • direct routing via SBC
  • compliance recording APIs

3. Offer Omni-Channel Recording Capabilities

What’s more, your recording solution must be able to capture voice, video, chat, and screen so you can have full interaction recordings to replay when necessary to prove compliance, resolve a dispute, and gain valuable insights. 

Integrated playback in a single window also enables your managers, supervisors, and team leaders to precisely assess agent performance based on live interactions as they occur. Most recorders do not offer omni-channel playback.

4. Provide Versatility

Your Teams recorder ought to be able to offer various regional storage, data sovereignty, and geo-zone storage options to support your unique requirements. 

5. Uphold Regulatory Compliance

Record on demand, pause or resume, and sensitive-information masking are critical features that allow your agents to comply with relevant industry and governmental regulations such as GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, TCPA, and MiFID II. Your recorder must be able to support these capabilities to enable agents with the tools they require to comply. It’s also important to deploy a recorder that can accommodate regional storage and recording to support local privacy and data transfer laws.

6. Present Accessible Storage Options

You need secure access to your recordings. Therefore, you also require versatility in where your interactions are stored. You need a Microsoft Teams recorder that enables you to keep your recordings safely stored in various cloud locations, such as AWS and Azure.

7. Control and Restrict Access

Recorded interactions can contain sensitive information, such as patient details, credit card information, passwords, and PINs. Therefore, you must be able to restrict access to your stored interactions. Unauthorized access can leave your company and your customers vulnerable to misuse, compliance violations, and potential lawsuits. You need the ability to control playback permission levels by restricting access to authorized agents, team leaders, and managers. Also look for the ability to restrict and allow access to third parties without the need for exporting unencrypted audio files.

8. Allow Customization of KPIs and Intelligence Data

The performance data from your customer interactions can provide value to the members of your contact center team: managers, team leaders, agents, quality assurance supervisors, and analysts. Therefore, you want each person to be able to customize the KPIs and intelligence they see. 

Look for dashboards you can tailor to each user, enabling authorized staff to view the specific metrics and information that helps them perform their tasks more successfully. You also want the ability to integrate with and access other reporting solutions, such as Microsoft PowerBI.

9. Function in Hybrid Environments

Some organizations, especially those that have undergone a merger or acquisition, have hybrid contact centers featuring multiple communications and PBX platforms. These complex environments can cause problems for many recording solutions. You need a recorder that can support hybrid environments with the same recorder. 

For instance, look for a solution that can capture and store interactions across both a Cisco VoIP PBX and Microsoft Teams using the same recorder. This eliminates integration and playback compatibility concerns. The recorder should also support multiple integrations and hybrid environments to reduce risks and enable smooth technology migrations.

10. Work with a Variety of Communication Devices

You likely have a mix of mobile and office-based devices. You need a recorder that can capture interactions from these devices simultaneously.

Conclusion

Some interaction recorders only capture certain types of communications, while others lack flexibility for the types of deployments and storage options required. When selecting an interaction recording solution to support your Microsoft Teams interactions, consider these ten factors so you can select a recorder that supports your business requirements.

Michael Levy is the president, CEO, and co-founder of Numonix, an innovator in the development of interaction recording and quality management solutions.

Vision 2020



By Donna Fluss

We’ve entered the new decade with great momentum in technological innovation. Startups and large enterprises are investing billions in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation-based initiatives that will change the way we live our lives and conduct business over the next ten to twenty years. Technologies we’ve talked about for generations, such as self-driving cars, will alter the way people get around, making the argument for or against new transportation business models from companies such as Uber and Lyft merely a stepping-stone to a vastly transformed future.

DMG’s crystal ball shows an amazing outlook for the world of service and contact centers. In 2020 we’re going to see new and continued investments that will finally allow companies to decrease the number of live agent resources needed in contact centers, which is the number-one goal for these people-intensive organizations. 

This will be a major boon for contact centers and back-office operating departments, where employees are still engaged in many repetitive, noncognitive tasks. Click To Tweet

Self-service solutions—the preferred way for consumers in the more advanced economies to obtain assistance—will experience a resurgence as AI-related technologies emerge that provide omni-channel concierge-level service. (Displaced contact center employees can move into new functions, such as administering robotics and AI initiatives.)

The workforce, populated increasingly by millennials, will continue to take the reins from boomers and Gen-Xers. This will intensify the need to satisfy the lifestyle requirements of the most technically advanced generation of workers. The digital transformation will continue to take place slowly in many companies. 

Investments to replace forty- to fifty-plus-year-old solutions that remain at the core of some of the largest corporations in the world, including major banks, will finally occur, as the resources and cost required to support systems built in the dark ages of technology will be too high. This doesn’t mean that it will be easy; it just means that it will happen, as the alternative is no longer viable. 

The changing workforce will drive much of the innovation in companies. More business (and personal) activities will occur through mobility. The need for enterprise-wide workforce management (WFM) solutions to help companies find, hire, train, and schedule the resources needed to operate their business cost-effectively (not just in their contact centers) will supersede negative preconceptions. A new generation of flexible, AI-based WFM solutions will emerge to support this. Designed for real-time, omni-channel, and multifunction forecasting and scheduling, they will share only a name with the solutions of the past. 

After decades of claiming to need highly knowledgeable workers, enterprises will implement new systems, training programs, and policies, driven by the vast amount of data required to support a hybrid human and automated workforce. It’s still debatable whether every employee will have their own automated bot to assist them, as it’s likely unnecessary, but there is no doubt that many types of automation (and workflow technology) will emerge to handle tasks that do not require or even benefit from the cognitive capabilities of live employees. 

This will be a major boon for contact centers and back-office operating departments, where employees are still engaged in many repetitive, noncognitive tasks that require them to cut and paste data into multiple nonintegrated systems, manually create and enter summaries of customer conversations, place orders received via faxes (yes, this still happens), manually perform fulfillment activities, and more.

New automation and AI-enabled technology will deliver innovations that make it easier for companies to support the work/life balance requirements of millennials and, looking to the future, Generation Z. As these capabilities enhance the customer and agent experience and improve productivity, adoption will be swift.

Smart technology will position companies to improve the customer experience, provided the initiatives coincide with changes to outdated policies and procedures. One of the biggest impediments to delivering an outstanding customer experience, regardless of technology, is the conflicting goals of sales, service, and marketing. For digital transformation initiatives to succeed, enterprises must invest in reinventing their relationship with customers and employees, as much as updating their technology.

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.

Use Telehealth to Extend Healthcare and Save Money



By Nicole Limpert 

The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”

One of the most common forms of telehealth is a nurse hotline. Most U.S. health insurance companies offer a toll-free nurse advice hotline to their customers. Other types of telehealth services include virtual appointments, medical staff consults, remote health monitoring, and nonclinical services.

Removing Barriers to Healthcare

Telehealth not only makes access to healthcare easier for the public, it also has proven to be a necessity for both large organizations and niche markets.

Members of the United States military and their families are stationed all over the world. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Military Health System (MHS) provides healthcare to more than 9.4 million people through a network of fifty-six hospitals, 365 clinics, and other facilities worldwide. Telehealth programs connect military patients to providers across the world to deliver direct access to quality healthcare, tele-radiology, and tele-pharmacy services.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is heavily involved with providing telehealth services to rural communities and administers telecommunications telehealth grants through two major programs: the DLT Program and the Community Connect Program. Similarly, the United States’ Indian Health Service uses telehealth to assist with accessing health services for American Indian and Alaska Native populations living in outlying communities.

Other isolated niche markets use technology to improve healthcare. Alaska’s maritime industry uses a telehealth platform to enhance access to care for those who work in the dangerous waters off Alaska. Internet connections are unreliable, so they primarily use a phone-based system to instantly connect with doctors. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) uses telehealth to expand their internal healthcare program by consulting with external healthcare providers via collaborative practice agreements. 

Telehealth and Medical Call Centers

Regardless of where people are located, telehealth is a critical tool that brings the best possible care to patients. Medical call centers play a significant role by providing the technology and medical expertise needed to bring remote healthcare to patients.

Technology enables medical call centers to effectively become an extension of a hospital or medical center’s operation. The communication software used by medical call centers can securely access a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR), update EMRs with notes, and record calls needed for insurance claims and workers’ compensation. Because everything is documented, detailed reports can be generated for reporting purposes.

Medical call center operators can coordinate care, make follow-up calls, schedule visits, contact on-call medical staff, and manage referrals. Some healthcare call centers staff licensed medical professionals who are qualified to make health assessments, give medical advice, and escalate critical concerns.

The services provided by medical call centers are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Medical operators can work different hours and be located anywhere in the world, in any time zone. For example, if a medical center on the East Coast of the United States is closed, operators on the West Coast are still available.

Telehealth services may become more of a healthcare necessity rather than a convenience. Click To Tweet

Telehealth Benefits Hospitals

In the 2017 American College of Healthcare Executives’ (ACHE) annual survey, hospital CEOs ranked their ten biggest challenges for the year. Telehealth services can address six of these ten concerns—specifically, financial challenges (first), personnel shortages (third), quality of care (fourth), patient satisfaction (fifth), access to care (seventh), and population health management (ninth).

Multiple small- and large-scale studies cite the use of telehealth as a cost-effective method to deliver quality care, improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and expand access to healthcare. The patient’s experience with their healthcare team plays a critical role in their satisfaction. Patients are asked to provide information about their care experience via the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Unacceptable survey results can result in hospitals losing some reimbursements. In 2017 alone, approximately 1.7 billion dollars in reimbursements were withheld from hospitals. 

The cost savings are also passed along to patients. Call center data from Health Navigator cites that the top five reasons for calling a nurse hotline are fever, vomiting, stomach pain, cough, and head pain. Less than 10 percent of the cases were high-risk. On average, telehealth appointments for nonemergency reasons cost approximately forty-five dollars, as opposed to one hundred dollars for an in-person visit at a doctor’s office or 160 dollars at an urgent care clinic.

The Future of Telehealth

The population growth for the United States from 2008 to 2030, is estimated at 20 percent, totaling 363 million people. This spike in population will exacerbate an already strained shortage of healthcare professionals. Telehealth services may become more of a healthcare necessity rather than a convenience.

As technology advances, telehealth can become more complex by not only connecting patients with expertise in real time, but also by enabling computer-assisted medical procedures in remote locations by specialists thousands of miles away, thus creating global care teams for patients.

Amtelco

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.

Balancing Patient Care with Data Security and Privacy



The stakes have never been higher for healthcare providers to deliver a positive patient experience. According to a recent study by Prophet, 81 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience, while only 40 percent believe providers are best meeting their needs. At the same time, data breaches in the healthcare sector are at an all-time high, occurring at a rate of more than one per day in the United States.

These security incidents not only jeopardize patients’ privacy but also put both patient trust and brand reputation at risk.

All the while, medical practitioners, hospitals, and insurers are pressed to keep up with the ever-evolving regulatory compliance landscape. This not only includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) but also the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and a long list of individual state regulations and data breach notification laws.

With HIPAA violations alone incurring fines as high as 50,000 dollars (for each violation or exposed record), healthcare organizations are finding themselves wedged between conflicting objectives: How do you protect patient data and maintain compliance without losing sight of providing the best possible patient experience? 

Contact Center Security

While you can’t please every patient, you can strike a balance between care and data security. The first place to address this is the contact center.

Patients have full control over inputting their information and can enjoy peace of mind that their data is protected. Click To Tweet

Although online interaction tools and patient portals are gaining in popularity, you can’t underestimate the value of the voice channel. Research by PatientPop shows that 58.5 percent of patients still prefer to schedule an appointment via phone.

As such, your contact center is often the go-to point of interaction for your patients and can set the tone for their entire experience. But this also means that your contact center intrinsically holds, processes, and stores copious amounts of personally identifiable information (PII), from medical records to payment card data. This makes the contact center an alluring target for fraudsters and hackers.

However, it’s not only devious cybercriminals who threaten your patients’ data. Company insiders, such as rogue call center service representatives or contact center agents, pose a massive threat, especially if they have access to patient data given over the phone or stored in desktop applications. In fact, 58 percent of all healthcare data breaches and security incidents are the result of insiders, according to Verizon’s Protected Health Information Data Breach Report.

Security Best Practices

With inside and outside threats, as well as vulnerable legacy systems serving as entry points for enterprise-wide breach incidents, contact centers are undoubtedly a weak link in your security chain. But protecting PII, maintaining compliance, and providing a positive patient experience first involve a hearty dose of security best practices:

  • Treat all data as potentially toxic. The more information that is available in the event of a breach, the easier it will be for a malicious insider or cybercriminal to steal a patient’s identity or access their private medical records.
  • Train all employees and always perform thorough background checks. Go beyond basic employee vetting and background checks, especially when hiring for your contact center environments. Educate staff and agents on data security best practices and on how to spot social engineering and phishing tactics.
  • Prepare your response management policy. Have an incident response management policy and process in place, preferably as part of an information security management system. Prepare for a worst-case scenario and assess your incident response plan at least annually.
  • Tokenize data. Replace PII with a meaningless equivalent, so even if a breach is successful, the hacked data will be of no value to the cybercriminal. This approach can also assist in the event of a social engineering attack, which can put even the most trustworthy employee at risk for exposing PII.
  • Enforce the principle of least privilege. Give employees the minimum level of access required to perform their job function at the appropriate time. Introduce exception procedures for when emergency access is needed.
  • Authenticate the user to authenticate the service agent. Prevent agents from accessing patient data until they have received the right data from the user. This means that until the caller has been successfully identified using the appropriate secure authentication approach, access to detailed PII will be denied.

Descoping Technologies

With these tactics creating a foundation for security in your contact center, you can introduce descoping technologies. Such technologies not only strengthen data security and compliance by removing sensitive data from your infrastructure, but they also garner a positive patient experience and journey.

For the voice channel dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF), masking solutions hold great promise, allowing patients to discretely enter numerical PHI—such as payment card, insurance, or account numbers—using their phone’s keypad. The keypad tones, however, are masked with flat tones, so they are not exposed to anyone but the patient. The data collected is encrypted and sent to a compliant third party, bypassing the contact center’s environment completely.

While this process may invoke notions of automated interactive voice response (IVR) systems, it is not the same. Here, agents can remain on the line in full voice communication with the patient, guiding them through the transaction, answering questions, and even handling wrap-up tasks. There are no challenges with misheard or mis-keyed data, which can lead to premature hang-ups and abandoned calls. In addition, patients have full control over inputting their information and can enjoy peace of mind that their data is protected. This makes for a better overall customer experience.

Conclusion

Data security and privacy are key to providing positive interactions with your customers and patients, and there is no longer any need to compromise in either area. A combination of security best practices, strategies, and emerging descoping technologies are ideal solutions to achieve both. No matter which route you take, the less PII you hold and handle, the better off you’ll be. Remember, no one can hack the data you don’t have.

This article is provided by Semafone, a leading provider of data security and compliance solutions for call and contact centers. Learn more at Semafone or contact Rebecca.Rowe@semafone.com.

Top Tips for Beginning Telemarketers


By Patrick Bailey

Telemarketing can be quite stressful and daunting, especially for beginners. There is often a fear that your prospects will hang up on you or be straight-out rude. Many beginners are afraid they will get tongue-tied and forget what to say at critical times in the conversation. In addition, you might also feel anxious when it comes to answering tough questions that arise during your conversation.

However, good telemarketers are a valuable, cherished asset to any company. The thing is that most of them didn’t start out being telemarketing winners. They started out making their first call just like all novices do when beginning a new career. Of course, they likely began with high energy and a positive attitude. However, you can bet they had the same fears as every cold-caller.

If you are a telemarketer novice, you don’t have to feel afraid or overwhelmed making your first cold call. These tips can help you breeze through your calls. Start using them and see how they help you and your business.

Take a deep breath and move on from bad calls because you never know what your next call will entail. It might be the best one of the day. Click To Tweet

Try to Stay Relaxed

To be a top telemarketer, you need to stay relaxed and sound as comfortable as possible using natural language. Prospects don’t respond well to scripted calls in which the telemarketer sounds stiff. The more you use generic introductions such as “How are you doing today?” or “Hello, how is everything going for you?” the easier it is for your prospects to tag you as the typical telemarketer right from the onset. Try to stay relaxed and soften your tone to sound more interesting, and then your entire conversation will go more smoothly.

Make Plenty of Calls

First, realize that prospects won’t be walking into your establishment to give you their business. They won’t be ringing your bell to ask you for your services. The reality is you won’t be getting any business without making a call. Therefore, make enough calls to ensure that you bring in new clientele. Stay focused and don’t become distracted with other activities going on around you. 

Many experts say the best telemarketers make one hundred calls during a seven-hour shift. However, if you are having engaging conversations, the numbers of calls you make will decrease. On the other hand, if you are only reaching voicemail or answering machines, the amount of calls you should be making increases to about 140 calls for a seven-hour shift. 

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Prospects

You should know how to answer the following important questions: 

  • Why should your prospects talk to you?
  • What do you have that can benefit your prospects?
  • Why do your prospects need to use you when they already have a supplier offering the same services or products you provide? 
  • What will your prospects get out of the services you offer? 

If you can answer these questions while speaking with your prospects, you will be able to obtain better results. Although it’s not ideal to use a script, you must be able to have a clear answer to why you are calling and what your prospects can gain by choosing you over anyone else. Do a little research beforehand and understand why you are making the call. This way you can face hard questions from any prospect you reach.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is essential to be a successful telemarketer. This is especially true in cases where data is involved. Giving bad data is a surefire sign your call will go awry. To address this, you might set up a pre-call planning agenda. This agenda will identify and refine your target market.

Build Resilience

Let’s face it, telemarketing can be tough. You must build resilience. This means you need to develop a thick skin. If you take to heart every hang-up or negative call, you will surely become overwhelmed and extremely stressed. You must remember to take a deep breath and move on from bad calls because you never know what your next call will entail. It might be the best one of the day.

Training Can Help

If you are just starting out in telemarketing, training could help you get some guidance on methods used within the industry. The fact is that not everything a person does comes instinctively. The person next to you might be a natural at sales. However, many people need a little extra training to learn the ins and outs of being a great salesperson. There is nothing wrong with getting help to improve your results.

Dealing with Rejections

Be realistic. You will face roadblocks. It’s part of telemarketing. It’s also part of life, such as recovering from abuse, being fired, having to move, or getting a new job. Many people face these at one point or another during their lifetime. The important thing about rejection is that you can learn to use it to better yourself. Don’t let rejections dampen your day. Look at them, and ask yourself how you can learn from each one. This will help you become a successful telemarketer.

Conclusion

These tips won’t make you an effective winner overnight. However, they can help improve your chances of someday becoming one of the best telemarketers in town. Taking the initiative can help you enhance your telemarketing skills. 

These tips have helped many other telemarketers and business owners. Whether you are new to the telemarketing business, new to making business calls, or you have been at it awhile and need a refresher, these tips will help you move forward. 

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Why Telephone Triage Nurses Are a Perfect Complement to Telemedicine



By Charu Raheja, PhD

Telehealth model

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 the doctor.

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.

Telephone nurse triage allows a practice’s telemedicine program to work seamlessly, whether the office is open or closed. Click To Tweet

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).

Telephone 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.

The Ultimate Call Center Service for Contractors



Leveraging Third-Party App Technology

By Darlene Campbell

Technological advances continue to amaze me as I have watched the definition of service evolve over the past decades. Whether you compare a world of pagers to a world of texting or customers now controlling their own on-call schedules with direct access to their call centers systems, it has been astonishing.

In recent years our call center, ICG, embarked on a partnership to support a specialized industry: concrete repair specialists. As part of this process, my call center was introduced to a unique SaaS App software service called Estimate Rocket offered by Logical Engine Inc. Estimate Rocket is an app that automates the estimating process for contractors. It’s highly robust and has a built in CRM as well as an e-marketing platform. Integrated with Google maps and Quick Books, it can be described as a dream for that industry.

The vision we presented was the ability to interface with the contractor’s Estimate Rocket program. Then we could:

  • Allow any call center agent to accept calls or emails in response to the contractor’s promotion or advertising
  • Load the data directly into the contractor’s CRM
  • Provide information about the service by automatically activating a drip campaign of email to the contractor’s prospect
  • Schedule the estimate for the contractor

The poster child for this service is Affordable Mudjacking in the greater Kansas City area. Owner and entrepreneur Zach Poland saw the vision and the opportunity, so he ran with it for maximum efficiency of his operation. We now handle most Affordable Mudjacking’s inbound prospect communication, provide their prospects with basic information about the service, in some cases vet the viability of the prospect and schedule their estimators. In effect we have migrated from a call center to become Mr. Poland’s front office operation, and we are indispensable to his business.

WIIFM

Every business marketing and sales course suggests you answer the question “what’s in it for me” for all parties in a business relationship. Let’s review the benefits for both the contractor and the call center.

Contractor Benefits

  • A consistent, professional, 24/7 prospect experience that exceeds expectations
  • A consistent estimating process that allows for ease of training and instant fulfillment, as estimates (including photos) are emailed to prospects while an estimator is on site—with a mere click to accept the work and lock in a contract
  • Elimination of all costs associated with prospect inbound management and estimator scheduling
  • Better quality consistently delivered with efficiency, which increases capacity, scalability, imaging, closing ratios, and profitability

Call Center Benefits

  • Increased functionality and capacity to handle more types of client calls
  • Longer call duration
  • Development of a partner versus vendor relationship
  • Relationship longevity
  • Improved profitability

The Potential

Estimate Rocket has modules for concrete repair specialists, spray foam specialists, painters, and more. Its generic version can be used by any business doing estimates, with free-form data entry capability. In the case of Affordable Mudjacking, we have been instrumental in allowing this firm to schedule estimates when prospects aren’t home. This fact has changed the business and reduced their cost per sale.

We’ve learned to look beyond our own systems and seek ways to embrace tech used by our clients to grow our business. Click To Tweet

Estimate Rocket is only one example of the power of app technology and the acceleration of technical influence on business delivery. These tools need not be in competition with a call center environment. Through this we’ve learned to look beyond our own systems and seek ways to embrace tech used by our clients to grow our business.

Darlene Campbell is the president of Information Communications Group, a 24/7 multilingual call center based in Leawood, Kansas.

A Successful Telephone Presentation



By Kathy Sisk

People often ask, “How can I improve my phone presentation?”

A successful presentation is measured by the impact it has on those who are listening. You need to focus on how well you present your delivery and ensure that your listener is engaged. However, remember:

  • Word selection is 7 percent of communication.
  • Tone of voice is 38 percent of communication.
  • Facial expression accounts for 55 percent in a face-to-face presentation.

Your presentation must make up for the loss of visual communication. Therefore, on the telephone, your focus is on how you come across.

To be an effective presenter, establish an emotional connection with your listeners. Also, present with a high level of energy to keep listeners engaged. Speaking with enthusiasm and passion is not only motivating but convincing.

Here are some tips to help you present better.

The key to a successful presentation is remembering that you are the presentation. Click To Tweet

Know Your Audience

Gear your presentation to the market. Prepare for who you’re presenting to and adjust accordingly. If you’re speaking to a high-level decision maker, such as a CEO, your presentation must be on a different level than for a mid or low-level employee, as their decision-making process and expectations are different.

Do Your Research and Know the Facts

Do your homework. Obtain facts from reliable sources to validate your claims. Your presentation must be relatable to your listener. When doing so, your listener will be impressed with what you know.

Customize Your Presentation

Design your presentation accordingly to convince and attract your listener. Talk with your audience instead of reading your presentation to them.

Prepare Yourself

This preparation increases your confidence level, and your listener will hear it. Role-play different scenarios and prepare for any issues you might encounter. This helps minimize your nervousness when presenting to those you have not fully established rapport with. Know your key points. Be prepared to address questions and objections.

Present Your Material

Remember, you are the expert on the subject. When presenting over the phone, use the same gestures as you would in person, including facial and hand expressions. Using body language emphasizes and paints mental images for your listener, even though they can’t see them.

The key to a successful presentation is remembering that you are the presentation.

Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. has forty years of experience providing call center setup, reengineering, assessments, training, script development, and project management services to centers globally.

Vendor Profile: Szeto Technologies

Szeto Technologies has been a leading vendor of answering equipment and communication systems since 1986. As the industry has evolved extensively over the last thirty-two years, Szeto has continued to remain on the leading edge of technology in providing solutions in voice-plus data processing and telephone switching. Technology has certainly changed over time, but Szeto’s greatest strength has not changed—they continue to provide their customers with turnkey, customized communication systems to meet their client’s needs.Szeto Technologies recently added the capability of automatically handling the check-in and check-out procedures using satellite SPOT (satellite positioning and tracking) devices. Click To Tweet

Call Linx & SSS-100

Powered by Linux, Szeto’s Call Linx TAS system is built to be reliable, flexible, and user-friendly. Through the years, Call Linx has expanded add-on features to complement its traditional telephone answering service applications. In 2013 Szeto Technologies modified the generic Asterisk software and tailored it to be their Call Linx telephony switch, the SSS-100. This approach replaced their proprietary hardware strategy in their telephone switch and allows them to provide redundancy and reliability using virtual servers. Another advantage of adopting Asterisk is the freedom of having multiple technology suppliers.

The company’s latest wireless features secure text messaging for HIPAA compliance and employee safety monitoring for remote or isolated workers. The popularity of webchat has grown in the past years, and Szeto Technologies makes it easy to provide businesses with this feature, which was once available only to large corporations.

The story of Call Linx, SSS-100, and Linux is still evolving. The TAS service industry is striding into the future in full force. So is Szeto Technologies.

Secured Text Messaging App

Szeto’s secured mobile app ensures that messages transported via wireless mobile devices are secured for HIPAA compliance. This protects medical patient privacy and personal health information.

In conjunction with the Szeto-designed mobile app, the company also has special APIs (application program interfaces) designed to interface with third-party vendors such as TigerText, OnPage, eVigil, Qlig, Doc Halo, Secured Bridge, and Med Tunnel.

Employee Safety Monitoring

Employee safety is a concern for most employers. All employers are expected to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and the well-being of their employees. Workers in remote areas, unsupervised, working with dangerous equipment, or in hostile environments need assurance of their safety and well-being. Business owners must offer the workers additional means of security, by routinely monitoring their safety in the field.

Szeto’s employee safety monitoring provides preventive monitoring of employees working in potentially dangerous environments. In the event of an employee found in danger or requiring emergency help, the system will trigger a rescue procedure to alert the appropriate personnel for human intervention. Those who can benefit from such monitoring are organizations with workers in remote locations or dangerous environments, handlers of dangerous and hazardous materials (such as oil and gas field workers), maintenance crews in remote areas (electricity, telephone, antenna sites), employees vulnerable to possible hostilities (visiting nurses, social workers), and security guards.

Features include:

  • Automatic identification of current or next work location by satellite or mobile apps
  • Automatic detection of a worker-down situation
  • Check-in devices (telephone, SMS text, and mobile APP)
  • Alert methods (telephone, SMS text, email, and pager)
  • Time-stamped logs of transactions and activities
  • Web access to work team status

Szeto Technologies recently added the capability of automatically handling the check-in and check-out procedures using satellite SPOT (satellite positioning and tracking) devices. This monitoring equipment is a stand-alone system but can also be tailored to integrate with existing data equipment.

Web Chat

Web chat enables your operators to offer online help via text chat for people visiting your clients’ websites. Szeto has recently enhanced its web chat to be friendlier, including the option of displaying the agent’s picture. While large companies can have their own agents for web chat support, this may be too expensive for small- and medium-sized businesses. Szeto’s web chat gives call centers the opportunity to supply this feature to clients who can benefit from this opportunity.

SIP Service

Szeto Technologies has partnered with Pulsar 360 to offer SIP services to its customers. The company also recently developed software to directly interface with SIP services without relying on any third-party middle piece of conversion equipment. This eliminates a potential source of hardware failure and the necessity of providing spare parts, not to mention saving having to rent the equipment. If a customer already has the setup with gateway arrangements, they can continue with that approach.

For additional information please contact Szeto at info@szeto.ca or 877-697-9386.

Why Telemarketing Programs Fail, Part 4



By Kathy Sisk

In the last issue we discussed properly assessing and preparing agents for training before the start of your campaign. Now we’ll look at what happens during the calling period.

A Challenging Task

When it comes to outbound campaigns, it isn’t realistic to think the prospect is waiting by their phone in anticipation of your call. On the contrary, the prospect may have already been inundated with calls like yours, in the middle of doing something more important, or they aren’t available.

Additionally, they may not have an interest in what you’re calling about. If you get any negative response early in your presentation, the method of handling it is critical. One of the most challenging parts of an outbound call is handling a premature “I’m not interested.”

The Easy Close

Using the “easy close” technique will help you through this challenge and allow you to continue with your presentation or keep the door open for future contact.

Here’s a typical easy close to the I’m-not-interested brush-off: “I respect that. If I could provide you with information that could save you on your insurance policy, how open are you to receive more information about this?”

The idea is to get the prospect to say “yes”; this turns a negative into a positive. This approach allows you to move on to the next portion of the easy close, which is to qualify their interest by saying, “To make sure that you can benefit, I need to verify some information, if you don’t mind.” This final portion of the easy close gets another positive response that helps you go to the next step of your presentation, the probing step.Preparation is a vital key to overcoming potential obstacles. Click To Tweet

When the campaign is carefully planned, and you incorporate what you learned in your training, you will gain greater confidence in handling calls and experience more positive outcomes. Preparation is a vital key to overcoming potential obstacles.

In the next issue we’ll tie everything together for a cohesive, well-thought-out outsourcing campaign.

Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. has forty years of experience providing call center setup, reengineering, assessments, training, script development, and project management services to centers globally.