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Posted on: September 12, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Mobility technologies have made great advances over the last few years, but the sum of those advances often looks like an impenetrable jungle of TLAs. That’s “three-letter acronyms,” and it illustrates the problem a lot of people have when looking at the field of mobility technologies. How do you tell MMS from MDM from EMM and from any other TLA that steps into your POV (point of view)? Sometimes it would be helpful just to have a simple field guide to the various acronyms out there, and, with that, a better understanding of just what does what.

Understanding Mobility Technologies by the Acronym

Getting a handle on mobility technologies starts by making the acronyms meaningful and cutting through the jargon to see the value each offers.

MMS

MMS, or managed mobility services, is the collective term for a slate of mobility services offered by a central service provider.

Start-to-Finish Support. MMS offers a range of options that’s intended to cover just about every phase of the mobile device’s life cycle. It starts with the basic setup but then proceeds to provide regular monitoring to generate actionable insights about how well the devices are working. This also includes some capacity to determine what changes, if any, should be made in mobile service operations.

Help Desk Support is Vital. One of the key draws in MMS operations is help desk support. This function not only takes the weight of mobile support off the likely already-overloaded IT department but also helps keep the devices up, running, and using mobility services.

Patches Kept Up. MMS functions also ensure that patches are routinely applied. It’s one of the biggest potential failure points as far as any device goes, mobile or otherwise, and MMS helps to address it. Keeping up with security patches helps ensure that widely known security vulnerabilities can’t be exploited, which secures one potential path to trouble.

End-of-Life Support. MMS functions even go so far, in some cases, as to address end-of-life issues. Complete factory resets to purge devices of usable data and even recycling programs are on-hand as part of MMS in some fields.

MDM

Mobile device management (MDM) is similar to MMS, but is a bit more narrowly focused.

Focuses Mainly on Devices. MDM is generally a breed of software that’s focused on the device. While the servers that supply MDM are controlled by administrators, the software not only stays on, but it addresses key functions of the device itself.

Offers Some Unique Functions. MDM will actually offer some features and benefits that MMS doesn’t. For instance, MDM can offer identity and access management tools — points that MMS commonly doesn’t. It can allow for establishing partitions on devices — great for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments that need a way to switch from business to personal rapidly — and other functions like secure file sharing.

Extremely Specific Control. Since MDM focuses on the individual device, it allows network administrators granular control over those devices and, by extension, their users. It allows for easy stratification of access, allowing certain users access to certain systems and certain information from there. It’s an excellent way to control access to key data and provides a note of added security as well by reducing the pool of sources from which an insider attack can even take place.

EMM

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) tends to get even more focused than MDM.

Focused on Security. EMM is commonly device-focused as well, but it focuses even further, generally limiting itself to securing devices and the data contained therein. This focus can take on several forms, including specific processes that target data security, processes that need to integrate with wider IT options, and services that seek to protect specifically intellectual property.

Starting to Expand. While security is vital in any business application, EMM is starting to learn it can’t live by protection alone. Now, EMM is adding a broader definition of mobile to its operations, covering not just mobile devices but also some operating systems including MacOS and even Windows 10.

Offerings are Often Limited. EMM can cover a broad range of operations, but EMM providers will tend to focus on a comparative handful of applications. That’s the word from a Gartner study, which noted that EMM is starting to move to cover “unified endpoint management,” but that move is only in its early stages.

MAM

Mobile application management (MAM) is perhaps the most specialized field of all in the mobility technologies subsector.

Exclusively for Apps. The name makes it clear: MAM handles applications and mostly just applications. While there are several points within applications that are worth addressing, don’t expect MAM to address functions of the device itself.

Useful for Security. Since MAM has an application focus, look for it to work well with other technologies to control potential attack vectors from hackers. With MAM, it’s a lot easier to defend against malware in apps as MAM specifically controls application functions.

Useful for App-related Housekeeping. For those who have a lot of apps with licenses, and with payments accordingly, MAM can be a great way to protect against potential pitfalls. For those who dread true-up times, for example, MAM can be a help here as it can work with app licensing, helping to keep the right number of licenses in play at all times. It’s also useful in BYOD settings, since it can be used to selectively isolate and remove apps where needed, along with any data that might be connected to that app.

What to Do When You Need More Help With Mobility Technologies

Understanding all of the various mobility technologies is difficult even for specialists. Turning to a managed mobility services provider can be a great way to get a better handle on what’s available and what will work best for your business. Start by getting in touch with us at Acuity. We not only have a slate of managed mobility services, but we can also offer telecom managed services as well as voice and data services to keep your devices working to their fullest whether mobile or otherwise. Just reach out to us when you need a guide through the mobility technologies jungle.

Posted on: September 11, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

A recent survey showed that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time last year, and 21% left more than five vacation days on the table1. This doesn’t have be you.

As you plan your vacations this summer, here are some tips and tools that will let you book your trips knowing you won’t lose touch or traction with your work (unless of course, you want to). In today’s always-on world, being out of reach for several days can make your return overwhelming, not to mention, you may miss key decisions that could shape your role or company.

Luckily, technology has also evolved to help you stay connected no matter where you are. Your options are no longer limited to working in a stuffy hotel room while friends and family are enjoying the beach, going on a hike, or relaxing by the pool.

Modern collaboration meets convenience

Years ago, sophisticated software and video equipment was needed to achieve immersive connectivity. Today, advanced communication tools are available to keep you connected on your terms with options that range from email, chat, text, voice calls to full blown video and web collaboration. Best of all, they can maintain your business identity, keeping your personal life separate. They can also work seamlessly on the device of your choice, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops or desktops.

The ease of use and flexibility today is truly remarkable; many online video conferencing tools require nothing more than your mobile phone to make you a full participant in a face-to-face meeting or client interaction when you’re lounging by the pool. What’s more, you can even ensure the background behind you remains professional by using a custom virtual background to show off your brand or mask the real scene behind you.

Enabling the mobile workforce

So how do you get all these great tools before you pack your bags? Many companies have already adopted cloud-based communications or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) but are not fully leveraging all the capabilities to maximize their investment. Simply asking your IT department what is available and how to set it up is a great first step. If, on the other hand, it’s not in place today and you have stake in making your employees and the company more productive, then a unified communications solution is definitely worth considering.

Technology has also made vast improvements to enable virtual workers. Unified communications services have evolved into cloud-based solutions that can be accessed from anywhere, on any connected device. High-definition audio, video and content sharing services are no longer reserved for the larger enterprise companies with hardened conference room systems. Advanced collaboration solutions can now be leveraged from any desktop, mobile and tablet device over any broadband connection capable of supporting the minimum bandwidth and latency requirements.

Additionally, remote access and security have also advanced with easier to use virtual private networking (VPN) and remote desktop services, coupled with two-factor authentication and single sign-on capabilities. Phone systems are no longer tethered to a black box with blinking lights in the back room of the office or data center. In fact, office phones themselves are no longer a necessity with the advent of the softphone and mobile twinning of devices. The day is finally here where this author can claim that remote workers no longer have a technology handicap compared to their office bound, hard-wired colleagues. In fact, some might say they actually have an advantage.

The upper hand of connectivity

Companies who have not yet made the cultural and technology changes necessary to enable digital nomads and remote work lifestyles are going to quickly find themselves out-paced by their leaner, more agile competitors. My advice is to partner with communication providers who can not only enable remote workers but empower them in a way that allows immersive engagement and connectivity across all their communication channels. If you already have tools in place that aren’t making the grade because of the lack of key features, quality issues or seamless integration with your other platforms and applications, know that there are better options from companies who offer superior software solutions and the adjacent data connectivity solutions required to make it all work together.

Regardless of who your services are with, be sure to take advantage of the advanced technology available to make the most of your time, whether you are on vacation or not.

1 https://www.kimbleapps.com/2018/05/no-vacation-nation-infographic/

Posted on: By: Lauren Epperly

Companies are actively seeking out technological advances to meet the needs of their employees.  Trends in the workforce come and go; but the growing remote workforce is no fad.  Over the last decade, telecommuting has grown 115% according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Study.

Being able to support and supervise remote workers as well as manage remotely has become a hot topic for most management teams; including ours.  We have found having a strong and customizable communications platform that allows for everyone to connect easily and quickly in the method they are most comfortable in to be a game changer; enter Broadvoice b-hive.

And our partners have found being able to talk knowledgably to their customers about specific needs and challenges is a sales advantage.  Knowing how to support a remote workforce speaks directly to the future of many companies.

Understanding the remote workforce needs.

Although there is a portion of the population that works from home 100% of the time, most of the remote workforce is part time.  Meaning, they fluctuate between a home office and an office at the workplace.  For communications, specifically phones, this can be especially challenging to the IT department.

According to the same Telecommuting Study, most people who fluctuate between a home and workplace office are better educated, make more money and are senior staff.  Understanding the dynamics of an IT department that is trying to make a seamless communications experience for a senior manager can make the difference.

For example, a common question we hear is:  How do you make a phone ring at two places, but not at once?  Our answer:  Have you heard of hot desking?  Our channel managers and solutions architects, many of whom are remote workers themselves, are intimately aware of the challenge a remote workforce places on an IT department; partnering with them is the advantage you have been looking for.

In the same scenario, that senior manager is also looking to promote cultural continuity.  They spend time thinking about how to make their remote workers part of the everyday team.  Partners can address this concern by talking about how an internal IM, like Communicator, could take the place of the traditional break room banter.  Not only can this platform be used to discuss vital work information, but also the scores of yesterday’s game – in one on one or group conversations.  Chat brings a sense of belonging and can continue relationship building for teams that are states and even countries apart.

Understanding the who, how and why of the remote workforce can make the difference during an introduction call.  Knowing how a cloud PBX meets those needs can move a discovery call into a solution call.

The benefits of a remote workforce.

Moving communications to the cloud is not always a quick process.  We have all had the discussions about how moving to the cloud can future proof your business, has a lower upfront cost to purchase and allows a company to right size their communications platform.

Do you know how the cloud addresses and supports the remote workforce as well?  Here are 3 quick examples that will help you out in any meeting:

  1. Cost savings. That’s the easy one, we already talk about how cloud saves money for the company at the time of purchase.  And according to that same study, having someone work from home part time, saves a company $11,000 per year.  But it doesn’t just save the company money.  People who work partially from home get on average 11 days back in their year from not having to commute.
  2. Customizable to the company’s (and individual employee) needs. How each person communicates is unique.  Having a system that helps support our individualized business communication needs is vital; especially for a remote worker.  Cloud PBX offers soft phones and internal IM for people who prefer to communicate via computer as well as the ability to hot desk for people who have hardware sitting on two desks in two locations that they can log into.  And, faxing to the cloud is virtual, being able to be sent to and from an email account.  Each account can be set to meet the needs of the person behind the keyboard putting the power on how they communicate in their own hands.
  3. The tech changes are seamless. Since cloud PBX systems update regularly, there is never a need to uninstall, reinstall or update.  The system updates with the latest feature or fix behind the scenes; alleviating work for the IT department and frustration on the remote worker.

Your customers are changing. 

Business’ needs are evolving as fast as technology is and this evolution is being driven by employees.  Cloud PBX supports the needs of the evolving remote workforce.

Having a working knowledge on how cloud PBX supports and fosters this rapidly growing segment of the marketplace will take your sales into the future.  The platform you suggest for you customers needs to be able to facilitate someone working from a home office several times a week if not daily.  The way people communicate matters and drives business forward.

b-hive cloud communications business phone system supports our remote staff with Communicator which includes a softphone, our mobile app and features such as hot desking, ring configuration, call forwarding, virtual fax and more.

Knowing the ins and outs of the struggles this growing remote workforce pose for both IT departments and managers can turn a discovery call into a closed deal.

Posted on: September 9, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Business communication case study: MyEyeDr.

Founded in 2001 by a group of optometrists executing a high-growth-through-acquisition strategy, MyEyeDr. is a network of more than 400 local, well respected practices in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The 10,000-plus employee company offers eye-care services and a wide variety of prescription eyewear and contact lenses. By using innovative technology and empowering its doctors to do what they love, the company is championing a new path for vision care.

“As a longstanding customer, we have a deep level of trust in Vonage®, not only as our business communications provider, but as a partner that is equally focused on creating a better and more personalized experience for our patients.”

Alex Healey, Director of IT, MyEyeDr.

Background

When joining the MyEyeDr. family, the majority of the company’s optometry-practice acquisitions typically lack the business communications infrastructure that supports both the organization’s signature level of customer service and its post-acquisition integration model’s under-90-day cutover time. The eye-care provider needed to avoid the traditionally excessive construction costs and setbacks associated with a new addition (e.g., the frequent 6- to 12-month delays created when pairing a new location’s pre-existing T1 line with a new fiber-optic network connection), reuse their pre-existing broadband connections without exacerbating packet loss or downtime, empower their acquisitions to engage with in-person and call-in patients in a HIPAA and PCI-compliant manner, and more.

Challenge

To provide a scalable, standardized, healthcare-tailored unified communications solution, MyEyeDr. needed a communications partner who could lay a foundation that would foster the company’s ongoing growth, seamlessly deploy a better, cloud-based communications solution as the company acquires optometry practices, maintain a positive brand transition for loyal patients, and supply the process-driven expertise that would help the vision-care network’s assimilation cycles go smoothly.

Solution

MyEyeDr. chose Vonage for its enterprise-grade unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform, advanced call center technology, award-winning SD-WAN product, and proven success in deploying thousands of cloud seats for rapidly expanding organizations. The future-proofed solution enabled the company to bolster owner trust and confidence before, during, and after acquisition talks, support efficient call flow and voice prioritization, enhance the quality of patient interactions, avoid delays of revenue, support regulatory compliance, maximize uptime reliability, and realize a 28-percent reduction in support tickets between 2016 and 2018.

Results

Creating an Unsurpassed Patient Experience
The Vonage Enterprise UCaaS platform facilitates MyEyeDr.’s nimble, rapid-growth business model by freeing the company from having to accommodate the legacy technology of each new location (e.g., adding new fiber-optic network connections, etc.), providing each addition an encrypted, private MPLS network solution for enhanced productivity, regulatory compliance, and real-time collaboration (which has directly contributed to a 98-percent post-acquisition talent-retention rate), creating a consistent, seamless experience for all patients, no matter which location they visit or call center they reach, ensuring business continuity by automatically rerouting calls to a predetermined backup number in the event of a loss of power or internet connection, and more.

Freeing In-Store Associates to Focus on In-Store Traffic
Vonage Call Center gives MyEyeDr. the ability to successfully optimize pre-existing broadband connections, minimize on-hold times, optimize the call center experience for its patients, maximize the in-person customer service experience for its visitors, and prepare itself to deploy a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) solution with APIs. During peak periods of in-store traffic, the solution’s automatic call distribution (ACD) functionality promotes a positive patient experience by intelligently rerouting calls to a MyEyeDr. call center, offering call-back options, and encouraging online-booking alternatives, while its interactive voice response (IVR) system provides a voice-driven menu that offers callers streamlined pathways to the live agents who can serve them best.

Getting All Calls Answered and All Appointments Set
By managing critical quality of service across all locations and pinpointing bandwidth utilization problems, Vonage’s SD-WAN solution, SmartWAN, ensures MyEyeDr. can prioritize voice traffic, rely on real-time stateful failover capability (i.e., in the event of a carrier’s disconnection, all calls are diverted to a secondary carrier—in real time—so the appointment-driven organization can maintain an exceptional level of uptime and 24/7 availability to its patients), elastically increase its network capacity, and more.

Posted on: By: Lauren Epperly

UCaaS: A Critical Customer Service Component

Business administrators sometimes ask why they have to put so much care and attention into customer service. They want to know if it’s actually necessary to provide stellar customer care, or if they would be better off re-allocating funding into areas like research and development, technology, or overall operation.

Related: How Does Disaster Recovery Work With VoIP?

The fact is that customer service is absolutely critical—and businesses that neglect it do so at their own peril.

Here’s why:

The system that you’re seeing here today did not happen overnight. Customer service has been a continuous progression, which started with the first enterprise switchboards and culminated in the modern contact center as we know it.

Related: Five Features You Need In a Contact Center

As customer service improved over the years, with the advent of the internet and mobility, customer expectations skyrocketed. As time progresses, these expectations are only going to intensify.

The Rise Of CX

Today, we’re living in the age of the customer experience (CX), where customers are fully mobilized, ultra-connected, and ultra-demanding. Competitors are always just a Google search away, and customers will not hesitate to search for them when they are unhappy with the service they are receiving. Customers now expect to receive first class support at all times, on their preferred channels like voice, video, live chat, text, and email.

Related: UC Solutions For Every Industry

So it doesn’t make sense to scale back on customer service, when considering how strong demand is for it. Businesses should be charging full speed ahead. Consider the fact that 76 percent of customers expect companies to understand their needs. 67 percent will pay more for a great experience. And 64 percent are more likely to recommend a brand to other people if it can offer a simpler experience and communications.

In light of these findings, business leaders should instead be focusing on how to provide customer service in a way that is cost-effective, and more effective than what their competitors are offering. The truth is that customer service doesn’t have to be a drain on an enterprise. In fact, it can be a major driver of revenue if it’s managed correctly.

Related: Why Businesses Are Changing Their Views On UC

How UCaaS Can Help

This can be easily accomplished by leveraging Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), a must-have communications technology that can streamline all aspects of customer support. With UCaaS, a company can take all its disparate communications tools and combine them into a single, cloud-based console that can be easily accessed from any location.

Here are some of the ways that UCaaS can improve customer service:

Lower Costs:

Reducing contact center costs remains a top priority for businesses. With UCaaS, companies can replace traditional phone lines with virtual lines that can be easily scaled up or down as they are needed. UCaaS can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership.

Related: What Is UCaaS?

Data-driven Interactions:

Businesses today are collecting more data than ever before, but not all of this information is going to use. UCaaS, however, can link to leading customer relationship management (CRM) databases—making it possible to put valuable customer data into the hands of agents during interactions. This results in interactions that are more intelligent, and more effective.

Enhanced Productivity:

At the same time, UCaaS makes life easier for agents. By centralizing all communications tools into a single platform, UCaaS can reduce time waste and make it easier for agents to reach their target goals. When workers have access to the tools they need to do their jobs, they are more likely to remain happy. This can help to reduce turnover.

Related: What Are The Benefits Of UCaaS?

So don’t run from customer service—embrace it. With UCaaS, your company will communicate more effectively than ever before. Customer service will become a strength, rather than a weakness.

 

Posted on: September 5, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Your guide to understanding UC white-glove service

“White-glove” means marked by special care or attention1 . Companies often throw this term around, but rarely take the time to explain what it means for their company. And with good reason. White-glove service can vary from a range of meanings from something slapped on marketing materials to the company’s very heartbeat.

But when does our white-glove service begin? Our simple answer is: from the very beginning.

The moment you speak with a Momentum representative, your white-glove experience starts and this continues throughout the sales process, implementation, training and ongoing support.

The experience’s first phase, the sales process, is uniquely highlighted by three characteristics:

Engagement

Our sales process includes input from our sales management, solution design engineers (SDEs), operations, engineering and (most importantly) you! We do this because we value creating getting the right solution that works for your enterprise. All of these parties add a particular value to creating a solution that allows Momentum to achieve the optimal proposal to take each and every organization to the next level.

Data Collection

The Momentum team takes the time to ask and discover what the enterprise actually needs and what they want. On top of that, learning about the business processes and current network configurations helps create a solid understanding of the company’s network, processes and IT challenges.

Design

Once we have engaged with the customer and collected data on their company’s needs and configurations, our team turns to our innovative product line to collaboratively build a customized and truly comprehensive communications solution designed to work for your company’s needs.

Posted on: September 4, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Technology requirements of mid-market organizations (ranging from 1K to 5K users) are becoming increasingly complex. The potential of digital transformation to redefine business models and customer experiences is gaining the attention of smaller enterprises. More specifically, companies are looking to enhance collaboration among remote workers and dispersed teams, quickly add locations and users and streamline infrastructure.

UCaaS solutions that bundle basic collaboration with additional functionality such as perimeter security and the SD-WAN flexibility can help businesses address these challenges and boost competitive advantage. Historically, however, the needs of mid-sized businesses have been overlooked. Providers have focused instead on plug-and-play solutions for small businesses at the low end, and on resource-intensive sophisticated solutions for the high end. In the process, mid-sized companies have been limited to generic, cookie-cutter solutions.

A recent white paper by Frost & Sullivan concludes that this landscape is changing.

In response to market demand and increased competition, providers are bringing a wide range of robust solutions to market, giving mid-sized enterprises unprecedented options. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, emerging capabilities include:

  • Advanced collaboration functionality that includes multimedia conferencing, content sharing, instant messaging and presence and mobility
  • Integrated UCaaS and contact center as a service (CCaaS)
  • Greater service reliability and stronger SLAs
  • Improved security posture and compliance to regulatory requirements
  • Enhanced service provider implementation and support, specifically in the areas of assessment, professional and managed services
  • Flexible APIs and greater third-party software interoperability, enabling true customization and tighter multi-vendor integration
  • Broader selection of communications endpoints, including desktop and DECT phones, conferencing devices, headsets, PC and mobile soft clients

So the good news is that mid-market enterprises now have more choices than ever when it comes to UCaaS functionality. The challenge now, of course, becomes making the right choice.

One potential pitfall is to select an overly complex solution that requires extensive internal resources to manage. Focusing solely on price, meanwhile, can have the same result, since bare-bones functionality typically requires greater oversight. These poor choices, meanwhile, can result from a lack of understanding of available options, or of the potential of available functionality.

In other words, customers often don’t know what they don’t know about UCaaS

Mid-sized businesses that have tested the waters of UCaaS can be particularly susceptible to this trap. Buyers whose experience has been limited to sub-optimal technology are likely to have a low bar of expectations. If the tools work at a basic level, the thinking goes, that’s about all you can hope for. The idea that the tools might work much, much better doesn’t seem realistic.

In today’s environment of rapid technology innovation, that mindset can result in significant missed opportunities to leverage UCaaS to reduce costs, streamline operations and enhance collaboration across the enterprise. To avoid the trap, businesses exploring UCaaS options should take a rigorous due diligence approach with potential providers. Specifically, they should demand that technology partners invest the time and resources to assess and truly understand business issues and priorities.

Based on that understanding, providers can better explain – and customers can better understand – the art of the possible with today’s UCaaS solutions.

 

Posted on: By: Lauren Epperly

In this two-part blog, we will explore and define Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). In part one, we will examine RTO (Recovery Time Objective).

What is RTO and RPO?

Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective may sound alike, but they are entirely different metrics in disaster recovery and business continuity management.

Calculating your RTO and RPO allows you to plan accordingly with the proper resources, before you need them. In this blog post, we will examine RTO and clear up any confusion.

RTO: Recovery Time Objective

RTO dictates how quickly your infrastructure needs to be back online after a disaster. Sometimes, we use RTO to define the maximum downtime a company can handle and maintain business continuity. This is often a target time set for services restoration after a disaster. For example, a Recovery Time Objective of two hours aims to have all servers with that RTO back up and running within two hours of service disruption notification.

In the case of a healthcare organization for example, they might ask themselves the following questions when determining RTO for their applications and data:

  • For hosted email servers: How long can we go without accessing our email without impacting the business?
  • For patient record storage: How quickly do we need to provide access to patient records to maintain compliance?
  • Operational applications: Which servers are critical to business operation? How quickly do we need each restored before serious impact to the business?

Depending on your business requirements, you may need better RTO for certain data and applications. With lowered RTO comes an increase in cost, though. Companies must balance downtime with business impact to ensure the RTO is appropriate. Whatever RTO you choose, it should be cost-effective for your organization.

Whether you need geographic redundancy, virtual backups, or a combination of the two, Data Canopy can help you develop the plan that keeps your business running when disaster strikes.

Ensure mission critical data is secure and available in the event of an emergency with a disaster recovery plan and solution designed for your business. Data Canopy offers geographical redundancy from data centers nationwide, full encryption and corruption detection capabilities, and virtual server backups for seamless fail-over in the event of an outage.

Posted on: August 26, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

If delivering extraordinary digital customer service were as simple as following a formula, everyone would be doing it. But not everyone is. In fact, 89% of tweets from customers to businesses still go unanswered, and poor customer service is one of the main reasons for customer churn.

Clearly there’s plenty of room for improvement in customer service. Let’s make it simple: Great digital customer service depends on a combination of the best software and the right soft skills. It’s all about a combination investment into software and into employees.

Delivering exemplary digital customer service — which increases loyalty, sales, and ROI — means integrating trusted, powerful digital customer service software and then training your staff to take full advantage of the technology.

The right software is a key asset…

Today’s digital customers are more impatient than ever, so customer service on social media must move at the speed of now. When most customers are expecting a response in under an hour, agents really must be on point. This is where digital customer service software comes in. Trying to maintain an active brand presence on social media without the right software is like trying to build a house without nails.

Businesses know digital customer service integration is a necessity, but don’t always understand what they’re looking for in a software solution. There are plenty of options to consider, so it helps to do some research first.

It’s also very important to define exactly what your needs and expectations are. A solution that can quickly scale along with peak usage times and company growth will be invaluable over the long term.

No matter how big your business, there are fundamental points you should identify before committing to a vendor. Here are some of the key features for any digital customer service software:

  • Powerful CRM: The right CRM tool will tell you more about each customer, gathering valuable information from across digital channels into a constantly growing database. With more info about each customer, agents can offer more tailored service.
  • Intelligent Routing: Routing each customer to the best agent based on the nature of the query and previously collected CRM data helps agents create human connections while providing more efficient service over the long term. Set the parameters that best suit your needs and get started.
  • Chatbot Builder: Customers are increasingly demanding chatbots. Why not give the people what they want? The best digital customer service software provides a simple-to-use chatbot solution that you easily can build according to your specifications.

Once you’ve got the best digital customer service software for the size of your company and the needs of your customers, there’s an important second step to take. You’ve got to make sure your agents are properly trained on the new software, so they can take full advantage of its capabilities to serve customers with greater efficiency and with greater results.

…but soft skills are invaluable

Bearing in mind the essential soft skills for customer service agents will help you hire the best agents for the job and then train them more effectively. Here are some of the key skills that all customer service agents should have. Any customer service agent training should focus first on these:

  • Empathy: This trait is invaluable in customer service. Great service is empathetic because it values each customer as an individual, making them feel appreciated, which in turn inspires loyalty.
  • Knowing how to humanize communication: Customers want to talk to humans, not robots. This means that all customer communication should be human-centric. Make use of the spontaneity and quirks of real communication — things that chatbots just can’t replicate.
  • Using data to provide better service: Powerful CRM gives agents invaluable data about each customer, and it’s important that they are properly trained to make the best use of it. Personalize service by knowing more about each customer and using this data to make real connections.

We believe that the future of customer service is powered by humans helped by call center software.

Posted on: August 23, 2019 By: Lauren Epperly

Everybody wants a secure mobility strategy, but what is anyone doing to make it happen? They don’t just spring into being, pulled whole and breathing out of the box you bought your mobile devices in. They’re the result of a lot of effort, planning, and resources that make a powerful strategy come together and protect our devices and the information contained therein. So how do you go from no strategy at all to the kind of strategy that stops hackers and other bad actors in their collective tracks? A few common elements will get you a long way down that road.

What Needs to Be Part of a Secure Mobility Strategy

Establishing a secure mobile strategy requires different things of every company, but there are some key elements that approach universality — with a few adaptations.

Start with the User. Many potential security failings start at the user level. The user is the one who installs apps and software without it being vetted because the user finds that software necessary to get a job done. The user doesn’t care about your secure mobility strategy; that’s not what keeps the user employed. If your secure mobility strategy gets in the way, you can imagine what the priority for the user will be. Prepare for this by including elements such as self-service provisioning and automated controls on data sharing. The more you can do to get the user on board, the less of a threat the user will pose to your strategy.

Block Off the End Runs. As much as you can do to augment the user experience, there are some things that just need to be prevented. One such event is known as the “quadruple bypass,” a complex and downright terrifying notion for any secure mobility strategy. This is described as a user taking a consumer-grade device, accessing corporate data, and sending that data directly to a cloud source. This leaves in-house IT utterly out of the loop, and it represents a loss of data that’s untracked, unwatched, and unaddressed. Again, the more you can do to prevent users from going off the page the better, but some points simply need to be shut down outright.

Don’t Forget the Training. While you want to do as much as you can for your end user to prevent them from going off the rails, and you want to outright forbid some things that are necessary to forbid, there’s a big middle ground that likewise needs to be addressed. As noted previously, end users represent some of the biggest threats around. Much of this is due to issues they’re not fully aware of, so making training a part of your secure mobility strategy will help address this immediately. It will not only help address these issues but, done properly, it will help encourage employees to stick to the plan as opposed to viewing it as a big hurdle to get around to get their jobs done. Better yet, it can also provide insight into what you can do to improve employee access and not get in the way.

Bring in Automation. Imagine a world where a lost or stolen device isn’t a calamity, but rather an annoyance so minor it’s fixed with a click. That’s potentially available today. With the right services, a user’s business apps and information can be transferred to the new device, and the old one can be locked and remotely wiped to the point of uselessness. This also makes it supremely easy to get new users on board. One click can load a device with all the necessary apps, tools, and information to get the user started quickly.

Protect the Important Stuff. Many companies here use a simple, three-step solution, sorting all data into categories of public, confidential, and restricted. Putting the strongest protection around restricted data and working downward from there — it’s also a good idea to make as little data “restricted” as possible — helps ensure that people have what they need. This is a better alternative than either leaving all data on the equivalent of the front lawn or locking up everything to the point where your network is a room with no doors.

Make Compliance Part of the Framework. While businesses will be impacted by compliance to different levels — some much more so than others — for those that must face regulatory ire, the best thing to do is to build compliance directly into the system. With hundreds of regulations around security and privacy potentially in play, and thousands of specific controls, systems not only have to be ready to meet these, but they must also be ready to demonstrate how these are met to the point of being ready for audit at any time. Thus, building these points into systems right from the start to the point they’re applicable is a vital part of any reasonably secure mobility strategy.

Start Future-proofing Immediately. There’s one major development out there that, over the course of the next several years, will fundamentally change the way you do business and will impact your network in a host of ways. That’s called the Internet of Things (IoT), and if you’re not preparing for it now, you’ll likely run afoul of it later. It’s the last word in mobility; it requires the use of remote sensors and similar tools in a range of ways, and all of these are poised to connect to your network. They do so for the best of reasons — to supply data generated remotely for use in analytics and other functions — but their simplicity and remote location makes them easy to hack. A secure mobility strategy must embrace the IoT, but that’s not where it stops. There are developments like these in the making right now, and building your secure mobility strategy so that it can effectively address future developments is crucial to getting the most out of these.

How to Get Help Establishing a Secure Mobility Strategy

Taking these elements together will go a long way toward producing a secure mobility strategy. But what do you do when you know what needs to be done but not how to carry it out? Drive your secure mobility strategy past the finish line by getting in touch with us at Acuity. Our line of mobility managed services will contribute to a secure mobility strategy by taking some of the heavy lifting off your shoulders and putting it squarely onto ours. Our dedicated approach to mobility services helps to ensure our focus on protecting these systems as they deserve. So just reach out to us for a fresh set of eyes to work on managing your secure mobility strategy.

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