Tag Archives: Telephony Articles

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.

Szeto TechnologiesFor 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.

How to Stay Positive in the Telemarketing Services Industry



By Angela Garfinkel

No. Not interested. Thanks for your call, but no. No.

You get the point. Working in outbound telemarketing sales can be a difficult job. Working in telemarketing management is also hard, but at least we aren’t the ones who are told no every five to seven minutes throughout an eight-hour day. Most telemarketing programs average one sale every four to five hours. Some really great programs get one sale every two to three hours. The very best programs get one sale for every hour of calling. In an eight-hour day, that’s about one hundred noes and, at best, a handful of yeses.

Remaining upbeat and positive is a challenge, but the key is knowing that what you’re selling is worth the effort. We call it “worthwhile work.” It’s important to carefully evaluate each client program to ensure that it meets the minimum standard of being worthwhile work. If I go to Thanksgiving dinner and tell my grandma what project I’m working on, will I be proud of it? If the answer is “not really,” then we’ll choose to not work on it. Click To Tweet

Here Are Some Criteria I Consider:

  • Would our team enjoy working with this client? Would our management team get along with them and find there is a true partnership? Obviously, it takes a while to build a relationship, but within an initial conversation, I can normally tell if there is a seed of potential for our team to enjoy working with a client.
  • Is the potential client a reputable company? I check the Better Business Bureau. I look at their website. I read press releases and other news about the company. If I can’t find anything that validates them as a reputable company, that isn’t necessarily a negative, but then I do my own assessment by asking some detailed questions about the company and how they approach their market.
  • Is the product or service something the target market needs? This can be difficult to assess, but you can normally ask some questions that will give you insight to the need in the market. One key question is asking them how many products they’ve sold so far. If it’s zero, that could be a real challenge.
  • Is the product or service something that can be sold over the phone? Has the client already tested telemarketing? Was it successful? If not, look at the potential for success with scrutiny.
  • Is it a program our team will be successful with? That’s hard to quantify, but with thirty years of experience, I’m pretty good at identifying if our team will do well with a client program or not.
  • Is it something a consumer or business may ultimately view as a rip-off or scam? Obviously if the answer is yes, then we carefully walk away from the potential opportunity.

Based on these answers, I’ve found that it is critical to carefully consider whether the program will be viewed by our team as worthwhile work. In the simplest of terms, I explain it this way: If I go to Thanksgiving dinner and tell my grandma what project I’m working on, will I be proud of it? If the answer is “not really,” then we’ll choose to not work on it.

Here Are Some Programs My Team Considers Worthwhile Work:

  • Calling physician offices and hospitals to sell them billing and coding resources.
  • Calling existing utility customers to offer a warranty and appliance repair program from the utility.
  • Calling small business owners to ask if they’re interested in learning more about 401(k) benefits for their employees.
  • Calling existing customers of auto dealerships to schedule service appointments and conduct after-service surveys.
  • Calling small and medium businesses to sell them regulatory and compliance resources to help them navigate complex regulatory requirements in their industry.
  • Calling small businesses to ask them to listen to the radio for a chance to win a prize.

And while I won’t mention the brand names represented in these worthwhile calls, they are household names our employees love to work for.

So here’s my theory: when you’re conducting worthwhile work for well-known, respected brand names, you can take pride in what you do and know that it matters. This makes it easier to stay positive and let those noes roll off your back. There’s an old chant we used years ago that I still think is relevant and a great way to put the noes into perspective: “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Who’s next?”

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. Angela has the pleasure of leading a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours each day. Angela 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). Angela can be reached at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.

Looking Ahead


Amtelco


By Bob Vornberg

Telephone answering services (TASs) have played a unique and important role in our economy, from the early days of cord boards to the current era of smartphones and soft switches. A TAS combines people and technology in support of the business processes of their clients, helping small companies to grow and larger companies to continue to prosper.

As a creator of products for the industry, we at Amtelco and Telescan have this same relationship with you, the users of our products. We strive to create tools that are general in function and still powerful enough for you to service a wide range of clients’ needs and assist you in assimilating these tools into your operation in a timely and cost-effective way.

With today’s mobile workforce, servicing your clients’ needs means supporting them in their workflow in ways that were until recently not feasible. In the past, reception of a message meant an interruption to the workflow and consisted of several discrete steps of notification, message delivery, and follow-up. But now, thanks to the pervasiveness of wireless and smartphone technology, these steps are seamlessly combined and serve to enhance the workflow rather than interrupt it. This also implies a TAS now can participate more fully in the workflow itself.

Timely, reliable, and secure communications always have been a characteristic requirement of the medical community, and they have been the first to benefit from the ability to use these new communication tools. But the technology used to support it also can be applied effectively in other business settings. When working with your clients, analyze their business processes and be attentive to how new technology can be applied.

For example, when dispatching to on-call personnel, a secure message delivered using the Spectrum Secure Delivery app can keep the TAS informed automatically throughout the lifecycle of the message, from “viewed” to “in process” to “completed.” The on-call personnel can exchange notes with each other through the app or can optionally notify the TAS through the app to enlist backup support. Supervisory personnel can log in to the desktop or tablet version of the app as an admin to obtain access to the status of all outstanding and completed calls. As an admin, supervisors can create messages and notes, thus joining and supporting the workflow as appropriate.

Or consider Amtelco’s MergeComm, the Intelligent Series feature that automates a myriad of dispatch scenarios. It is being augmented to provide a dashboard for the status of its programmed workflows, providing real-time monitoring. This enables response delays to be identified and corrective action to be taken when needed. For the TAS itself, the Spectrum Charts application provides powerful analytical tools for evaluating agent performance and staffing requirements.The goal is to provide a service to a company that you do better than they do. Click To Tweet

These are just a few examples of how you can apply new tools to make your service and your clients more productive.

Todd Kamp of Business Centers in St. Louis, and a TUNe (Telescan Users Network) users group member, recently shared with me a maxim of how to acquire and keep clients. Citing research from an early market study done by the National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) users group, Todd said, “The goal is to provide a service to a company that you do better than they do and do it more cost-effectively.” He went on to say, “If you only do one of those two, they will keep [the service] in-house.”

As you analyze your client relationships, strive to identify the critical components of their workflows that can be improved by your involvement and at the same time lead to a reduction of their overall costs. Look for ways that new technology can be applied, perhaps in ways that were not anticipated. This is the key to innovation. This is the key to seizing opportunity.

Through our partnership with our customers, Amtelco and Telescan developers stay keenly aware of our responsibility to provide the tools needed to meet these challenges. This is the spirit that guides our development process.

AmtelcoBob Vornberg is general manager and director of product development for the Telescan division of Amtelco, a manufacturer and supplier of call center solutions located in St. Louis, Missouri. Contact Bob at bvornberg@amtelco.com

Telephony and Connectivity to the Cloud: Considering an All-in-One Contact Center Solution

By Mariann McDonagh and Mike Perry

As a contact center executive, telephony is critical to your business. If you’re moving – or thinking about moving – your contact center to the cloud, the last thing you need is a cobbled-together connectivity solution with telecom services from one vendor and cloud contact center software from another.

If you want to streamline your cloud connectivity solution, eliminate hassles, and spend more time on your core mission, consider an all-in-one cloud connectivity solution. A true all-in-one solution is pre-integrated, end-to-end, and provided and managed by a single vendor. It combines telephony, cloud infrastructure, and contact center software into one harmonic solution.

Avoid Communication and Implementation Headaches: Most cloud contact center software providers cannot provide and integrate a broad range of telephony solutions. Therefore, contact center executives must bring in multiple vendors to meet their telephony needs.

In this scenario, contact center executives serve as the go-between for software and telephony vendors. Not only must they manage multiple contracts and reporting systems, they must also act as a conduit between vendors from different worlds: Each vendor has an incomplete understanding of the other’s technologies, which were not designed up-front to be compatible. Communication issues are almost guaranteed.

Furthermore, the contact center executive must align vendors prior to building, connecting, and deploying a solution. He or she must coordinate and manage each phase of implementation, define roles and responsibilities, and keep each party accountable.

In short, the contact center executive and his or her team must duplicate work with multiple vendors. This can make for hassles, uncertainty, and time-consuming discussions. Even simple call routing can become difficult. And that’s just setting up the solution—it will only get more complex when problems arise and changes are needed.

There is a better way to address telephony and connectivity to the cloud. The following are key benefits of a true all-in-one solution.

Benefits of an All-In-One Cloud Connectivity Solution: A true all-in-one cloud connectivity solution helps optimize call center operations and eliminate deployment and management hassles.

  • Streamlined: One partner working for you means a single and open channel of communication. There’s no management between multiple vendors. You have one reporting system, one contract, and – perhaps most compelling – one partner to hold accountable.
  • Transparent: When you work with one partner that understands the nuances of your unique telecom solution as integrated with your cloud contact center, you and that partner have a clear view of your total solution, its architecture, and its performance.
  • Convenient: When you have one dedicated partner responsible for your solution, you have someone who listens and is responsive to requests.
  • Rapid deployment: A cloud connectivity partner with a pre-integrated carrier network means you’ll get up and running faster. Additionally, changes like adding or eliminating phone lines and locations will be easier and quicker.
  • Flexible: It’s important to find a partner able to combine a broad range of telephony options and accommodate any type of connectivity model working with any PBX system.
  • Objective: One relationship means one partner fully invested in your success, interested in finding what works best for you rather than selling a particular type of connectivity.

What to Look for in a Cloud Connectivity Partner: If you’re interested in pursuing a true all-in-one cloud connectivity solution, here are attributes to look for, beginning with an overview of what a complete solution should include.

A true all-in-one contact center solution includes telephony, cloud infrastructure, and cloud contact center software.

  • The global telecom infrastructure needs to be from an enterprise-class global carrier, with a full range of telephony options, provide switching and routing, and offer global, geographical, and toll-free numbers.
  • The cloud infrastructure must be secure and reliable, with a redundant network and platform, include international data centers, have network operator centers staffed 24×7, and provide a trust office with open access for all customers.
  • The cloud contact center software platform features should include interactive voice response (IVR), workforce optimization (WFO), cloud applications, CRM integrations, disaster recovery, multi-channel ACD, blended predictive dialer, reporting and analytics, workforce management (WFM), customer feedback tools, and quality monitoring.

Attributes of a Cloud Connectivity Solution

  • End-to-end connectivity: Security and quality are integrated at every point in the contact center’s telephony and IP connectivity.
  • Carrier-grade connectivity: Extensive telephony options are offered, including global inbound numbers, ISDN, PSTN, VoIP, MPLS, and SIP trunking in any
  • Broad international coverage: Agents may be located all over the world, with follow-the-sun routing available. The network has multiple, geographically-disperse POPs to reduce call latency and increase voice quality.
  • Pre-integrated technology: The carrier network and cloud software solution were built with one another in mind and optimized to work together from the start. Technologies are compatible, use the same protocols, and are ready to implement.
  • Redundancy and business continuity: The solution includes redundant fiber links, edge and core routers, firewalls, and VoIP hardware, as well as multiple ISP and diverse toll-free carrier routes. Multiple mirrored server centers function as both primary and backup locations so that call flows continue uninterrupted if there’s a problem. The vendor provides a documented disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity.
  • Transparency and unified reporting: The vendor has a CSO (Chief Security Officer) and Trust Office and provides transparent online reporting. Unified reporting includes performance measures for telephony and cloud contact center software.
  • Expertise in telecom and cloud technologies: The vendor has in-depth expertise in both telecom and cloud technologies. He knows how to seamlessly integrate the technologies and has experience implementing telecom solutions while also serving telecom customers. The network infrastructure and architecture is robust and managed by the vendor’s own employees. Finally, the vendor is continually improving and upgrading to the latest technology.

Summary: As a contact center executive, your time is valuable and your priorities, many. If you’re contemplating moving your contact center to the cloud, consider a true all-in-one solution. Avoid the hassle of managing multiple vendors. Don’t become the go-between and struggle with implementation and management when you can focus on what you do best – delivering a superior customer experience, maximizing contact center performance, and growing your business.

It’s possible to simplify operations while staying on the leading edge. When you consider a true all-in-one cloud connectivity solution, you can build tomorrow’s contact center today.

Mariann McDonagh is the CMO at inContact.

[From Connection Magazine November 2013]

Five Reasons Why Voice Remains a Vital Channel

By Joe McFadden

With all the fuss, excitement, and chatter about new media marketing channels – digital and mobile – it’s a wonder we can hear and think about anything else. But the voice channel remains a vital conduit for customer engagement, sales, and service. In fact, the digital marketing explosion, featuring tools such as push-to-call and mobile advertising, is actually driving more consumers to the phone. Companies therefore, have to keep the consumer phone-call process vibrant, dynamic, and effective.

Here are five reasons why voice remains a vital channel:

1) Live calls convert to sales at a much higher rate than other advertising channels alone, such as web advertising. An October 2011 Business Week article reported that twenty percent of Nutrisystem transactions that occur on the telephone result in a sale, while only 2 to 3 percent of consumers who click on an online ad continue on to sign up for the program. That’s a big difference – and one that companies should take note of.

2) People respond to human contact for sales. Greg Sterling, an analyst at Opus Research, told Business Week: “The naïve assumption that people made in the early days was that e-commerce was going to decimate other kinds of customer contact. When there’s a human connection, there’s a lot more that can be sold, and those customers are a lot more valuable inherently.”

3) Lead-to-sale conversions are supercharged when cross-sell and up-sells are based on product relevancy. This is especially true when consumers are in the midst of a trigger event in their lives. For example, if you are buying a house and you call the cable company to sign up for new service, you may also be interested in a new home security system, homeowners’ insurance, or even a home-cleaning service.

4) Live one-to-one interaction allows for greater insight into what the customer is looking for. There’s a give-and-take, a personal element, during phone conversations you simply can’t get with an online purchase.

5) Pay-per-call campaigns are typically performance-based, allowing advertisers to pay only for calls they receive or those that result in a sale. According to a September 2011 Forrester report, there is significant demand for call-focused digital advertising from small, medium, and large businesses, as well as medium and large advertising agencies. Forrester predicts US marketing spent in this new space will be at least six billion dollars by 2014.

With the onset of mobile and digital marketing, companies are continuing to invest heavily in their contact centers and finding ways to evolve them to meet the needs of today’s marketplace.

Joe McFadden is vice president of marketing for SalesPortal, a partnership-marketing network for enterprises using contact centers as a strategic customer engagement channel. He has more than twenty-five years of experience, primarily in marketing customer service software solutions to global enterprises.

[From Connection Magazine May 2013]