Every customer’s experience with a business starts with some type of interaction, whether it be with a sales representative or IT, going above and beyond their expectations is vital to success. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Although 80 percent of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service, only eight percent of people think that these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.
How Are Companies Ensuring Positive Customer Engagement?
They’re investing in new technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, leveraging them to collect data, analyze usage and gain deep insight into how their customers are using their products and services. Contact centers are key to this transformation.
Contact centers are an important strategic asset. With 70 percent of customer journeys starting on a digital channel, it’s shocking to find that only one percent of digital customer data is used for effective engagement.
AI takes the data collected and the interactions we have with our customers to improve their experience by anticipating their needs.
Brands need to compete on their customer experience to stand apart now more than ever, with 59 percent of people willing to try a new brand or company for a better service experience. AI and machine learning are transforming contact centers into streamlined, self-service and smart CX platforms, working to improve the customer experience.
The future of the contact center world will involve optimization, assistance, discovery and recommendations, all given by AI. Your business will achieve a strategic advantage, operational excellence, and customer loyalty by investing in a contact center that saves time and money while ensuring that your customers are receiving the best service.
With enterprise-class performance and consumer-like ease of use, innovative companies rely on advanced cloud contact center solutions like MiCloud Connect CX to power their customer interactions. The power of AI is infused into every element of our contact center solution, to drive higher efficiency, cost reduction and allowing you to deliver personalized customer experiences. Integrating with your CRM system, Connect CX ensures that when a call comes in, you can immediately assess customer information, so that you can even personalize the conversation.
Focused on delivering personalized customer experiences with a cloud-native solution that combines enterprise-class modern cloud architecture with a consumer-like experience, MiCloud Connect CX can help your business make customer experience its competitive advantage. Bring all of your communications tools into one cloud and one application for a seamless experience on any device, anywhere in the world. Easily manage voice, email, and IM from a single screen to reduce management complexity and boost productivity.
Your team will exceed evolving customer expectations with a nimble platform, accelerating your customer experience with a contact center tool that’s easy to use and set up, intuitive for your team and never lets you down.
To learn more about how you can leverage intelligent contact centers to deliver the best customer experience possible, watch our webinar, The Intelligent Contact Center.
In this webinar, Head of AI and Data Science at Talkdesk, Jafar Adibi and Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Nichole Paschal of Mitel, cover how intelligent contact centers are helping to gain valuable insight into customer behavior.
In This Webinar You Will Learn How An Intelligent Contact Center Can:
Utilize IVR and CRM data to intelligently route incoming calls, offer predictive recommendations and drive up first call resolution
Save time and money by automating responses to common queries, improving resolution time and CSAT scores
Identify trends, monitor performance and unlock deep insights into agents and customers
There was a time when quality products and reasonable prices were enough to earn a customer’s loyalty. Not anymore. In today’s overcrowded, tech-driven marketplace, customer experience matters most.
According to MyCustomer, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, so providing an extraordinary experience is key to not only building, but also saving revenue. Most business leaders have already gotten the memo: 89% of companies see customer experience as a main driving force of loyalty and retention, said MyCustomer. And according to Salesforce, 58% of customers say technology has changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them.
Therein lies the opportunity for Vonage channel partners. With the right UC customer experience integration, your clients can empower employees to interact with customers across more channels than ever, while using communications data to continually improve the experience with each interaction.
So, how can you help your customers improve their customer experience with the Vonage communications platform?
The Building Blocks of UC Customer Experience Integration
Not long ago, cloud communications simply meant Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — phone systems that connect over high-speed internet and automate certain tasks, such as directing callers to the correct representatives or letting them request callbacks when the wait time is long.
Then came unified communications (UC) and unified communications as a service (UCaaS), a cloud-based platform that combines voice, video, messaging, and conferencing. With UC, employees can interact with customers across channels and easily switch from one channel to another based on customer preference. Better yet, with CRM integration, employees can see all the relevant information about incoming callers, so they can greet customers by name, anticipate their questions, and provide thorough personalized answers.
UC alone can improve customer service and sales. With easy CRM access, automatic call logging, and the ability to connect from any internet-enabled device, salespeople can stay connected to their clients from anywhere and ensure that customer information is always up to date. Deploying UC is just the first step in modernizing communications, however. The next step is leveraging communications APIs, such as:
Chatbots. Provide 24/7 customer support, AI-based recommendations, and even self-checkout options via chatbots or voicebots.
SMS alerts. Alerts allow you to keep customers in the loop with personalized offers, shipping and delivery updates, and other timely communications.
Geofencing. Send personalized messages based on customer location using geofencing technology.
Phone number verification. Shorten the login experience for customers with automatic verification.
The Case for Integrations and Add-Ons
These features help brands provide seamless communication from the moment a customer initiates contact with the company. But what about the folks who haven’t reached out yet — for instance, a prospective customer who enjoyed a blog post or discovered a product on Instagram? Of course, a simple Google search could help them contact the company, but for impatient customers or impulse shoppers, that might be one click too many.
Enter communications platform as a service (CPaaS), a set of developer-friendly APIs that let companies embed real-time communication features (voice, video, messaging) into their mobile apps, websites, and social channels. So, if a customer finds the brand on social media, they don’t have to log off and look up contact info. Instead, they can start a conversation with the brand directly from the social page, using whichever communication channel works best for the situation.
Finally, businesses that field a steady stream of customer communications can benefit from contact center as a service (CCaaS). Like UCaaS, CCaaS is a multichannel communications platform, but whereas UCaaS is designed for office workers, CCaaS is designed for call center employees.
Businesses can typically integrate CCaaS and UCaaS to get the functionality of both solutions. However, with Vonage Business, your clients can get it all from one solution: CX Cloud Express. This solution layers the CRM-integrated contact center platform on top of a traditional UC platform. This way, employees can communicate with each other and with customers, using the same technology with the same customer data.
Simply put, with cloud-based platforms like CX Cloud Express, employees can easily collaborate to deliver the seamless, personalized customer experience that consumers want and that your clients are struggling to provide.
The Benefits of UCaaS Extension Customer Experience
If your clients still aren’t convinced they need to modernize communications to improve the customer experience, a little data might help. According to a 2017 study conducted by Vonage and IDC, communications “powerbrokers” — companies that leverage UC, CPaaS, automation, and integration — significantly improve the customer experience and enjoy better business outcomes because of it.
These powerbrokers decreased customer service resolution speed and hold times, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty by 42%. And these changes in customer experience led to an improvement in the bottom line, too: powerbrokers saw a 34% reduction in costs and a 47% improvement in go-to-market speed for products and services, which led to increased profitability.
For companies that truly prioritize the customer experience, nothing is more important than modernizing communications. And as a Vonage channel partner, you’re perfectly positioned to help them do it.
Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Before modern avionics, pilots set a fixed point on the horizon and flew their planes using a center stick and right and left rudder pedals. These controls allowed the pilot to keep the airplane on course by controlling altitude and direction. Likewise, call center KPIs and benchmarks act as controls to establish direction and to know whether the call center is on course.
You may be familiar with certain call center KPI’s but less familiar with benchmarks. Using our analogy, benchmarks are used to determine whether your call center is on course. When you measure call center performance, benchmarks inform you whether your results are acceptable and can help you know whether you are on target or not. So, how do you obtain KPI benchmarks?
A KPI Benchmark is a Comparative Metric.
Benchmarks can be based on business or call center goals. For example, your call center may want to set a goal to increase reduce first call resolution. That goal can be used as a benchmark. Benchmarks can also be established by looking at other call centers like yours to determine what a standard is within an industry. For example, call centers that provide customer support for software companies may have an average first call resolution rate of say 60%. If your call center also provides customer support for a software company, and if you want to be better than the industry standard, then you need to have a first call resolution rate that exceeds 60%. This kind of benchmark is also known as an external benchmark.
External benchmarks are useful because they help you align with standards considered typical for an industry. This can help properly set targets and avoid overdelivering (or underdelivering) along with the associated financial costs. But external benchmarks are also difficult to obtain.
Measuring call center KPIs and evaluating them against a benchmark is essential for continuous improvement. When benchmarks reveal performance gaps, call center managers can look for causes and take corrective actions to change outcomes. However, you won’t know whether a corrective action has the desired effect unless you remeasure and re-benchmark. Which brings us back to our airplane analogy. When you determine a performance gap and take a corrective action, you are in affect pulling or pushing the center stick or commanding the rudder all in order to keep you heading in the desired direction and altitude.
Learn More from the Premier Expert
Have you considered implementing KPI and benchmark reporting? If you would like to know more about how to implement the right KPIs and benchmarks for your call center, join KPI and Benchmarking expert, Bruce Belfiore , CEO and Senior Research Executive of Benchmark Portal for an in-depth discussion covering:
How to determine the right essential KPIs to measure
How to find and use hard-to-find, external KPI benchmarks
How to understand gaps and steps to take to correct gaps
Bruce is a KPI and Benchmarking expert. He hosts an online radio program called “CallTalk ” and has lectured and consulted worldwide including teaching Call Center Management at Purdue University. He is the author of the book Benchmarking At Its Best for Contact Centers. Make plans to join Bruce for this insightful discussion on how to implement call center KPI benchmarking Oct 15 at 1 pm ET.
Let’s be honest: The idea of opening a massive contact center probably isn’t all that appealing, especially if you are a startup or small to medium-sized business operating on a tight budget and trying to run an agile operation.
Building a traditional contact center, after all, is no small ordeal. It requires a lot of space, hiring dedicated staff members, securing premium communications infrastructure, and so on. All things considered, a contact center can be one of the most resource-intensive departments in company.
Despite these challenges, contact centers are extremely important—more so, in fact, than ever before. In the age of the customer experience (CX), where expectations are through the roof, ensuring a seamless and helpful interaction with your brand has become one of the golden rules of doing business. According to Salesforce, 47 percent of customers claim they will stop buying from a company if they have a subpar experience; 76 percent of customers say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
The Departmental Contact Center
Without the services of a contact center, it’s just about impossible to keep customers satisfied—putting business owners today in a tough predicament about how to proceed. As a workaround, many businesses are embracing the idea of informal, or departmental, contact centers.
A departmental contact center is one where non-traditional employees (like sales associates or IT personnel) are empowered to interact with customers over channels like voice, email, and live chat. It can reduce or eliminate the need to hire full-time customer service representatives.
Departmental contact centers typically leverage a cloud communications platform, which can be accessed securely from any location. All communication takes place over a centralized, cloud-based portal—in effect, enabling a borderless customer service department.
The Benefits Of Departmental Contact Centers
Some of the top benefits to using a departmental contact center include:
Reduced CAPEX & OPEX
By taking an informal, departmental approach, and leveraging cloud software, a business can provide strong customer service without having to spend enormous amounts of money on backend telephony infrastructure and agent-facing equipment. It will also eliminate all overhead that would otherwise have to be spent on a physical contact center (like floor space, seats, utilities, and so on).
In a traditional contact center environment, dedicated agents handle most customer-facing interactions. Information is entered into a customer relationship management (CRM) portal, where it can then be exported to other teams like sales, marketing, and Research and Development. One of the downsides to this environment is that it creates a barrier—and a disconnection—between customers and employees. All too often, critical customer data simply goes unused. By allowing high-ranking team members to communicate directly with customers, it can serve as a valuable educational component that can lead to better products and services, and happier customers in the long run.
Customers, of course, will appreciate connecting with experienced team members instead of part time call center agents. For example, imagine using a software as a service (SaaS) solution to run a business, running into a problem and contacting customer support—and instead of speaking with a regular agent, you connect with a lead developer who knows the ins and outs of the software better than anyone. This type of experience will foster feelings of strong brand loyalty—and it will reinforce the message that the company really cares about providing great support, to the point where workers will take time out of their busy day to help solve problems.
Posted on: October 14, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Your contact center needs to strike a tricky balance. On one side, you need to provide excellent customer service to drive more revenue and retain current customers. On the other, you must ensure your team is servicing as many customers as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Most businesses are adopting Intelligent Automation, IVR & Self-Service applications to maintain this tricky balance.
Did you know?
30% of a customers’ interactions with a company’s contact center is with an I.V.R. Yet only about 7% of the companies surveyed offer customer solutions through the IVR experience than an agent can provide. (Source J.D. Power)
The price of resolving a customer need on a call via the IVR versus an agent is a difference. (source: Al Cook)
Almost one-third of a customer’s time is spent in the IVR. (Source: Al Cook)
Many organizations want the flexibility to let their customers choose the level of self-service they want to address their inquiry or whether they purely want to speak with an agent. This becomes especially useful when the contact center is closed and customers can still get answers to their questions via automation. Not only will voice automation free up your agents to handle more complex cases, but customers can quickly solve basic issues like bill pay, account inquiries, and the many high-volume / low value transactions typically handled by an agent.
Evolve IP’s customers typically see a 20-30% completion rate in these low-value self-service transactions which frees up agents to handle higher level or more sophisticated functions.
For customers that do engage with self-service capabilities during business hours, many customers find that the customer still wants to speak with an agent but their question is more focused in nature reducing in shorter handle times. Typically, they’ve received some information from the automation and now have a follow-up question that requires the skillset of an agent to address.
Integrations Power Automation
Integration is the key to creating an IVR experience that leaves your customers feeling like the service was created just for them. When your IVR knows the entire customer journey, the products they’ve purchased, their financial status, etc. it can make a huge positive impact on the customer experience.
Common scenarios include:
Self Service applications that empower customers
Intelligent / data-driven routing provides personalized routing and relevant prompts
Agents can be presented with key customer information along with the interaction
An integrated contact history at the agent’s fingertips
Last agent routing allows organizations to build rapport
Challenges & Considerations
Consider the “openness” of key business applications / CRM for integration: Integrations can be very easy or very tough depending on how open the underlying platform is to building such an integration. Most modern day applications have robust APIs that enable this type of integration. You will definitely need to take a look “under the covers” to confirm that your application is ready to integrate.
Ensure the availability of technical resources to participate: Of course, you are going to need help from the technology folks getting access to these functions and everybody has a large pile of technology wishlist items that needs to be sorted through to determine which projects actually see the light of day.
Start with high-volume / low-value requests for self-service: It’s always great to start with these high-volume interactions like a status request that consumes up valuable agent resources answering simple questions that just need access to the data to answer.
Create a simplified personalized experience with minimal prompts that are relevant to the caller: We’ve had great success simplifying the customer experience by personalizing it. Why ask the caller questions to which you already know the answer? Why offer prompts that aren’t relevant to that customer? Move away from the one-size fits all routing that we all dread.
Early in the process, design your consolidated reporting across the entire CX: You really want to think about the reporting up-front and not leave that for an after thought. Many times the design of the automation needs to be adjusted to meet the reporting needs. You’d rather get the reporting right the first time than having to go back to the technology well again.
Recognize the on-going need to optimize automation based upon results: The IVR is a critical moment of customer engagement, and yet it’s frequently left untouched by companies for years. How often have you heard, “Please listen carefully because the menu options have recently changed” and known that the menu actually hasn’t changed in a very long time? That’s because many organizations don’t take the time and energy to experiment, iterate, and improve the IVR.
Deliver multiple, smaller victories over a phased rollout: My personal philosophy is to have many, small victories instead of the big-bang approach which is always high risk. Iterating through multiple phases of deployments usually results in a better product that builds and learns from the earlier phases.
Evolve IP’s Cloud IVR provides call centers with a higher level of customer interactivity and data driven decision making. This enables call centers to deploy a wide range of self-service and outbound dialing features ultimately freeing up your agents to focus on more complex requests and customers requiring a higher touch.
Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
If you run a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), chances are that you’re already aware that cybersecurity should be a concern. In fact, a recent survey from AppRiver found that more than half (58%) of SMBs in the U.S. are more worried about getting hacked than they are about a flood, a fire, a transit strike, or even a physical break-in of their offices.
The question is, what are you going to do about it? Staying secure on a budget can be a challenge for SMBs – a problem that’s often exacerbated by a lack of in-house security expertise. Turning to cost-effective managed services is a good solution – but there are also plenty of tactics that you can implement to minimize your risk.
Understand the Hacker Tricks of the Trade
Cyberattackers are savvy and adaptable, but there are a few common techniques that they use on a regular basis. Understanding what these are can help you protect your business.
Far and away, the most common way an attacker infiltrates networks and harvests sensitive data is through phishing.
Phishing works like this: A victim will receive an email claiming to be from someone they know, or from an organization they recognize or perhaps even deal with often. These emails sometimes clearly stand out as spam, but in other cases, the impersonation will be hard to spot: the adversary will take great pains to make it look and sound like a legitimate email, complete with authentic-looking logos.
Within that phishing email will be a malicious link, attached document, or an app. When a user clicks on a link, it will take them to what looks like a legitimate page with a log-in screen. That page is actually fake (or “spoofed”), and when the victim puts in his or her credentials, the hacker is able to grab them and gain unauthorized access to the victim’s account. In the case of an attachment or app, opening it usually results in malware being installed on the victim’s machine. That virus or a trojan gives hackers access to the data on the victim’s computer or phone (for instance, it could be a keylogger, which captures what the victim types to uncover user names and passwords), and also allows them to gain a foothold on the company network.
There are also watering-hole attacks to worry about. Here, an attacker might create a fake website that offers information that a specific target might be interested in – industry-specific articles or “how-to” blogs, for instance – while in the background it is executing malware on the visitor’s computer. In a variation of this, adversaries create fake mobile apps that appear to do something useful; but when installed, they turn out to be malware.
A third common attack method is via malicious Wi-Fi networks in public places. A hacker can use software to set up a wireless access point (with an innocuous or attractive name like “free public Wi-Fi”) – and once someone has connected to it, a hacker can intercept and eavesdrop on any traffic that flows through it.
There are other techniques out there as well, but these are common tricks to watch out for.
Employee Training: A Crucial Line of Defense
All three of these attack types require the user to take some kind of action – click on a link, download an attachment, visit a dodgy website, download a rogue app, or connect to an untrusted Wi-Fi network. And that means that the attacks can be prevented with good security hygiene.
Training your employees is a critical first line of defense against these opportunistic kinds of attacks. For starters, implement the doctrine of verification: Before clicking on a link or downloading an attachment in an email, send a separate email to the supposed sender to make sure the person did indeed send the message – especially for anything unsolicited. Better yet, pick up the phone and call the person.
Another training tactic is to learn to always hover over a link to make sure it’s the legitimate address. Malicious links won’t have the proper URL – however, they may have similar-sounding URLs. If the message claims to be from the Bank of Peter, the malicious link may read something like www.bankof.peter.com or www.bankofpeeter.com instead of www.bankofpeter.com.
In a similar vein, employees should be trained to never download an app from a third-party app store. Even if they do download something from Google Play or the Apple App Store, advise them to read the reviews to make sure all is on the up-and-up; sometimes bad apps do get through.
And finally, on-the-go employees should be wary of public Wi-Fi, and should always verify the legitimate SSID with the airport, café, or other operator of the space. It’s also a good idea to use a VPN – there are plenty of free offerings.
Require Best Practices
Along with basic security training, SMBs should always ensure that best practices are being carried out. For instance, all software should be kept up-to-date. Most of the time, a malicious attachment or watering-hole attack will only be successful if there are unpatched software vulnerabilities on the target machines.
For any cloud services, employees should be required to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), which will make it necessary to enter a one-time password that’s sent to a mobile phone before the user can log in. That way, even if hackers somehow gain a user’s credentials, they still won’t be able to log in because they don’t have access to that user’s mobile device.
Speaking of which, password hygiene is critical as well. Businesses should be thinking about complex passwords which include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. SMBs should require that their users change these often, are unique and not used anywhere else. In a similar vein, users should make sure that their website security questions are difficult – not information that could be gleaned from social media or elsewhere, such as your mother’s maiden name or the city where you were born – and consider making up the answers to thwart hackers even further.
Simple Administrative Fixes
Beyond user actions, there are simple actions that SMB network administrators can take to help their companies get out of the “low-hanging fruit” camp. Most hackers are looking for an easy score. Anything that raises the bar of effort for them – even a little bit – will cause them to move onto the next potential victim rather than expend any more time and effort on something that isn’t easy.
To start, enable firewalls and traffic encryption – you can easily enable the basic tools that come with your networking gear. Secondly, make sure that all default passwords on devices connected to the network are changed to unique combinations, and keep the software and firmware up-to-date. Next, replace any systems with outdated operating systems like Windows 7 – Microsoft no longer supports these, and there are known vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit to gain access.
And finally, think about permissions. Take steps to manage and limit access to data, drives, and systems for those employees that don’t need it. Also, don’t forget to deactivate access for those who don’t need it anymore – ex-employees are a leading cause of data theft.
The bottom line: as a small business, you are a primary target for hackers. Make time for these easy steps today to avoid difficult situations in the future. Need help securing your business or want to learn more? Visit www.tpx.com/managedIT or call 888-407-9594.
About the Author
Erik Nordquist is the Senior Product Manager for TPx Communications’ managed security services. He’s led a broad range of critical activities, including Field Operations and the Hostmaster team where he built TPx’s anycast DNS network to service its 55,000 customer locations. His work on the Network Integrity team made him the resident expert for mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. After interfacing with customers for years, Erik is bringing his customer-focused approach to his Product Manager role, helping to deliver first-in-class security services to TPx clients with unsurpassed customer support.
Posted on: October 4, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
While many businesses still tend to run their own IT, the challenges facing these internal teams is increasing.
IT departments continue to get asked to do more with less. While larger organizations can afford more deeply staffed departments, many smaller businesses run lean, with employees wearing many hats. As workloads increase, so do resolution times. The pace of technological change today can mean that while teams try their best, their skills are falling behind the times.
Resources are also increasingly scarce. According to recent research, more than three-quarters of corporate IT budgets are spent on maintenance of existing infrastructure. That means there is little to spend on innovating, optimizing or education — another way teams fall behind.
As support staff come under increased pressure, IT heroics become more commonplace — and that inevitably leads to serious failure or breach.
Is your IT team at risk?
You are at risk if current workloads prevent engineers from taking time off from work to renew or obtain relevant certifications. Are they being asked to take on this time-consuming work after hours, after spending their days putting out fires? How is their current workload impacting their quality of life? Given how aggressively companies are recruiting for IT these days — especially cloud and cybersecurity talent — what would the impact be to your business if a key engineer was lured away by a better salary, stock options and the promise of a fresh start?
Also consider what happens to the other “less urgent” tasks that get pushed aside during a fire drill. The more often this happens, the larger the support queue becomes, and the cycle feeds itself and worsens.
Yes, the occasional fire drill is going to happen, but if they become frequent, it’s time to seek outside help. Heroics just don’t scale.
And by outside help, I’m not talking about teams that spin up their own cloud resources with a corporate credit card and a web browser. While that was difficult once upon a time, it has now become so incredibly easy to acquire new IT resources that the concepts of rogue or shadow IT, application sprawl and overall loss of IT control is a top concern right along with a lack of IT talent.
Developing a talent strategy
Instead of chasing after unauthorized cloud accounts, leaders must consider their overall IT talent strategy. How relevant are current IT staff skills and certifications? Is it possible to attract the right talent? Pay for it? Honest answers to these questions may mean it’s time to consider finding a strategic partner.
Working with experienced partners is one way businesses are relieving internal IT support pressures. But how do you find the right one? First, focus on matching potential partners’ skills sets and track record with your specific needs. Quality IT partners will want to learn about your business holistically, not just from a hardware or software-slinging viewpoint. Beware of partners that propose solutions without taking the time to learn about your IT staff’s capabilities or leadership business objectives.
Of course, there are times when you just need to get some more software licenses or replace some aging hardware, but even then, a good partner will ask the “why” behind those purchasing decisions, so they can offer you the right recommendations.
Ask the right questions
Understanding vendor best practices can mean the difference between a successful implementation versus a massive security, performance or financial mistake. When implementing third party support, ask vendors where the lines are drawn. They should easily be able to answer questions like:
Which party owns various support tasks?
What does incident escalation look like?
Who owns escalation to outside vendors?
What are the SLA details?
Stepping back for a bigger picture view, ask questions during the sales process about the partner’s experience and depth of support bench:
How many engineers do they have on the team supporting this technology?
How long have they been supporting it?
What certifications do they have, and how many?
The deeper the vendor support bench, the faster and more accurately a problem can be solved. Consider the following analogy: When a car pulls into the pit during a race, a team of well-trained mechanics scurry over the wall and quickly replace tires, add fuel, clean windows, adjust fairings and update the driver on race tactics, and about eight seconds later the car speeds off.
How would that scenario play out with a pit crew of only two people? Even if they have great skills and experience, a two-person pit crew simply cannot match the eight-person team performance, so their pit stop may take 15-20 seconds instead of eight seconds. This is not a slight toward the pit crew at all, they did their best and were certainly capable. It just comes down to pure math; in this support scenario having deep benches makes a dramatic difference. The same applies to tech support staffing.
In summary, relying on your engineers to repeatedly perform acts of technical heroism on a regular basis is a sign that your team needs relief. Burning out quality employees can lead to recruiting losses.
Conversely, connecting with an experienced and well-staffed partner can relieve the stress your teams are enduring, freeing them up to focus on more enriching and beneficial technical pursuits.
Posted on: September 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
If you’re on the lookout for a business VoIP phone service to streamline communications, you might want to consider Nextiva. In this post, we go into some of our genuine Nextiva reviews, top features, and pricing.
Nextiva is a VoIP service provider that offers business VoIP and call center and contact center solutions. Founded in 2006 on the principle of Amazing Service, Nextiva’s VoIP system powers 100,000+ brands in the United States.
While our products work well alone, they work even better together. How? Introducing NextOS. It’s the technology that powers our all-in-one communications platform. There’s no better place to get a pulse of your customer experience.
Want to see what NextOS can do for you? See our bundle plans and pricing here.
Nextiva is perfect for those businesses that need a complete UCaaS solution. When you sign up, you’ll also get custom configurations and on-demand support. Beyond this, we also offer PBX SIP trunking as well as Nextiva Drive for cloud storage.
Technology moves fast, and as an IT professional you’re expected to navigate new technology and drive your company’s digital transformation. Your dear co-workers might ask questions like: “Why aren’t we using this app that came out four days ago? How quickly could we move all our data and applications to the cloud?” Working in IT means the expectations of your customers and co-workers are constantly rising. More so than ever, IT teams are under pressure to respond quickly to new technology and capabilities.
In addition to being the Magellan of technology at your company, you’re expected to manage inventory, implement cybersecurity, oversee data storage, build rocket ships, and so much more. Managing all these moving parts is daunting. Luckily, many of the challenges you and other departments in your company might face, can be simplified or automated with a CPaaS solution.
CPaaS allows you to customize your internal and external communications by integrating with your current business systems seamlessly. Easily deploy automation across your entire enterprise that improves communication and productivity for multiple departments.
Music to your ears, right? Here are a few ways that CPaaS can help you work more but do less:
Easily Deploy and Integrate
There’s no need to undo any work you’ve already done. Instead of overhauling all of your company’s communications processes you can leverage and enhance your existing systems, such as CRM, contact center, support ticket management systems, email platforms, and more. Your leadership team will appreciate that you can utilize existing investments, your co-workers will be amped that they don’t have to learn a new software, your customers will be delighted with your enhanced communications, and you will be able to take a deep breath with all the time you’ve saved. Maybe grab a coffee? An afternoon snack, perhaps? Up to you. We support it.
CPaaS is flexible, scalable, and you can use what you need when you need it. Use CPaaS for on-the-fly solutions like adding additional network capacity or as a back-up option if your contact center goes down.
Send Internal Alerts
You want to make sure your customers and coworkers are always in the know. Whether you’re setting up new employees with new equipment, managing customer service responses, or responding to external issues, CPaaS has your six. Save time and instantly notify your team of what’s new. From maintenance notifications, outages, password change reminders – you name it, CPaaS allows you to quickly send messages through voice, SMS, or other channels.
Streamline Trouble Tickets
Sometimes your help desk could use some help. Between computers crashing, software not working, someone not realizing their computer is unplugged, and a million other things out of your control, people are always submitting trouble tickets. You need an easy way to interact with your team members to let them know that their request is received as well as its status as it moves through the resolution process. CPaaS applications can automate many of these responses, allowing you to focus on solving the issue rather than communicating the troubleshooting process. Integrate with your favorite trouble ticket management system to make your help desk run a little smoother with automated status updates.
Proactively Monitor and Measure
While most CPaaS platforms do not offer analytics, IntelePeer is different. Not to toot our own horn…but…*toot toot*. Gain real-time and historical visibility across your network to pinpoint issues and make better decisions. View call volume and usage to better manage resources. Not only will our analytics help you react to changes and new trends, it will allow you to humble-brag the improvements you’ve made to your everyday business processes.
If you’ve made it this far, it means you’re probably picking up what we’re putting down. Learn more about how Atmosphere® CPaaS was built with IT teams in mind here. We’re constantly making improvements to our products based on the feedback of our customers so be sure to visit our blog and check in!
Posted on: September 23, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Imagine the day when every car on the road will be able to handle all aspects of driving without assistance. It won’t be long. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving autonomous technologies that are helping enterprises, industries, and the human race innovate our way out of much of the work we do today.
AI is about to make everything self-driving.
Soon, all networks will be agile, self-healing, and self-optimizing, serving up the right bandwidth at the right time for perfect cloud application performance. Security strategies are already leveraging AI to automate the response to cyber threats. The result: a sense of true freedom for IT teams to focus on the next big innovation.
With a clear vision of autonomous networking, Masergy is making significant strides in being among the first companies to start delivering the self-driving networks of the future. This week, we made a giant leap forward, announcing enhancements that are pushing the boundaries of automation. Released today, Masergy AIOps is the network service industry’s first AI-based network automation solution that will transform IT management and application performance as we know it.
But to understand how Masergy is delivering the future today, it helps to first examine the next steps necessary in arriving at autonomous networking.
AIOps: The Guidepost to Autonomy
The path to complete autonomy starts with a wide sweeping digital vision. First, the network must provide complete visibility into performance characteristics, application traffic, user traffic, and the design of various components. The next step in creating autonomy is to apply AI-based technologies, where behavior analytics and machine learning algorithms can more fully automate network management and application optimization. Gartner refers to this concept as “AIOps,” defining AI for IT operations as the application of machine learning and data science to IT operations problems.
AIOps solutions are new in the marketplace. But before we get into the details of Masergy’s offering, we should explore how AIOps platforms work.
Applying AI to Build a Self-Driving Network
AIOps platforms have the power to act as virtual assistants, and more specifically, digital network gurus. However, these gurus work 24/7, never sleep, and can ingest and analyze big data at nearly the speed of light. Aggregating real-time network activity, historical traffic, configuration settings, and usage, AIOps platforms generate contextual intelligence and help eliminate human errors that are still the root cause of most service degradations and outages today.
Through behavioral analysis and machine learning, AIOps can identify patterns, processes, and trends, making predictions about bandwidth needs and offering recommendations to solve age-old IT problems. With feedback and maturity, these solutions are used to design rule sets, policies, and playbooks that govern in unmanaged environments that are truly autonomous. Mature platforms can make all the difference. Advanced solutions with a library of specialization in AI practices and network optimization rulesets quickly move beyond the first steps of data aggregation and analysis with the ability to act on recommendations autonomously. This is where Masergy is headed.
It’s also important to note that not all IT infrastructures are designed for AI innovation. The underlying network must have a software-defined architectural model that supports real-time flexibility, big data collection, and secure analytics at speed and at scale. Networks that were architected for a previous era will likely never have AI-based enhancements. Meanwhile, Masergy’s software-defined network and cloud platform was built from the ground up for this type of innovation, and we’re aggressively forging the path toward autonomous networking.
Introducing Masergy AIOps
As I mentioned, Masergy AIOps is the network service industry’s first AI-based, digital assistant for network, application, and security optimization. Masergy AIOps is an intelligent assistant that actively serves customers as a network engineer, supporting administration and optimization. With our 20-year history in global software-defined networking, Masergy has incorporated decades of network management experience in designing the most sophisticated AI network application.
This initial launch marks the beginning of autonomous wide area networking for Masergy. We expect to deliver enterprise customers fully autonomous networking in the next few years, and Masergy AIOps is the first product release moving us firmly in the direction of this vision.
With autonomy in reach, we should be clear about what Masergy’s AIOps solution can and cannot do today. The solution applies machine learning and behavior analytics to the network, but it is not yet self-driving. Our next phases of development will focus on automated decision making and response. Right now, it’s a virtual analyst and advisor. Here’s what it can do today.
Capabilities and Benefits Today
With this initial release, Masergy customers receive intelligent alerts and recommendations for network changes that can increase performance and cloud application optimization–regardless of whether those apps are operating on private infrastructure or utilized across the public internet. Acting as a virtual assistant, Masergy AIOps analyzes how the network, application performance, and security are impacted by different events including various configurations and utilizations. The system then makes recommendations to enhance application performance, predict bandwidth needs and optimize network throughput based on anomaly detection and predictive analytics.
Key Features of Masergy AIOps
Intelligent analysis and recommendations to optimize multi-cloud environments
Sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms leveraging big data
Predictive anomaly detection with actionable insights
AI tools embedded in the customer portal–Masergy’s Intelligent Service Control
Expandable use cases for proactive network, application, and security optimization
Masergy AIOps Makes the Following Recommendations for Customers
Which path an application should take, based upon performance
When and where to add bandwidth, including cloud vendors
Network changes and configuration settings to optimize application performance, based on business needs and service priorities
Reduce noise from bandwidth usage alarms, based on static thresholds
Gain continuous 24/7 analysis across the network, application performance, and security
Get best-practice recommendations and actionable insights for performance optimization
Increase service quality and reduce business continuity risks with predictive algorithms
Quickly identify the probable cause of network service incidents
Decrease the number of support calls and lower IT costs
Exclusively Unique: AI Inside Your Network Management Portal
We did some competitive research and found that no other network service providers advertise AI-based network intelligence solutions as of today. Thus, Masergy is likely the first to deliver this capability to the network services market. While other AIOps solutions exist, our research found that they are largely point solutions with their own management portals. This means customers get AI analytics and recommendations in a separate portal that must be integrated into their network and IT environment.
We believe Masergy stands exclusively unique in this aspect: Today, no other network services provider offers a holistic approach that deeply embeds AI into a global software-defined network, making AI intelligence available directly within the existing management portal. In the digital age, this IT simplicity is fundamental. With Masergy AIOps, every Masergy customer now has a significant increase in the value of their network.
Autonomous networking is just around the corner, and as a 20-year pioneer in software-defined networking, Masergy can help you transform with certainty.