Even Outsourced Workers Need to Feel Engaged

October 31, 2014

In the tech industry, buzzwords and “buzz-phrases” come and go almost daily. But one that’s starting to show some strong staying power is the term “employee engagement.”

It basically encompasses the idea that if you keep you people interested or ‘engaged’ in what they’re doing for you at work, you stand a better chance of retaining the folks you invested so much time and money in. It’s an idea worth pursuing, and one way to do that is to build trust with your staffers.

That’s the idea behind a blog post by Scott Ence, a Human Resources “Business Partner” at inContact, the company whose cloud solutions “help you keep pace with your customers while building memorable and lasting relationships with them.”

Ence notes in a recent blog that “Successful companies achieve great results – and provide tremendous customer service – through their engaged employees.” In his study of the topic, he’s come up with two strong conclusions:

1 — An alternate definition of Employee Engagement could be Discretionary Effort, or, more simply, “going above and beyond.”

2 — Disengaged employees stay for what they can get, while engaged employees stay for what they can give.

Ence looks at the larger picture and believes that a feeling of trust on the part of the worker can go a long way toward building a lasting relationship. To that end, he offers three ways employers can help engender such feelings, and reap the benefits of employees that feel someone cares for them:

  • Give Trust: Trusting others allows them to trust you, and leaders should take the first step in this exchange.
  • Build Transparency: The more information that can be shared regarding your own ideas and initiatives, the team’s objectives, and the company’s mission and/or strategy, the better it will be for everyone.
  • Commit Time: Leaders are frequently “too busy” for many things, but this absolutely cannot be one of the things you skip. If you desire to increase and maintain engagement, keep your team working and happy, you must make yourself available.

It sounds simple, but sometimes the best solutions are the easiest. As Ence concludes in his post, “Trust is a common thread in great workplaces, and great leadership. Build it.”

Outstanding Contact Center Customers Honored

October 30, 2014

inContact is known globally as a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, enjoying ongoing growth in this expanding market.

But the company acknowledges that it couldn’t have achieved the heights it has without the collaboration and cooperation of its loyal customers. As such, the company recently recognized a number of them with its “Mojo Awards” at ICUC, the inContact User Conference, held this year in Orlando, Fla.

“The inContact philosophy celebrates excellence in our customers’ organizations, and ICUC provides the perfect opportunity to shine the spotlight on those who exemplify an outstanding commitment to superior contact center practices,” the company noted in a release. “This is why we created the Mojo Awards.”

inContact CEO Paul Jarman was equally effusive in his praise of this year’s honorees.

“inContact customers represent a full range of industries from consumer brands, business services, banking and finance, utilities and the public sector,” Jarman said in a statement. “Every year at ICUC, inContact customers and partners, together with contact center experts, gather for training and to share case studies, insights and future trends. The Mojo Award winners are a vital part of the overall inContact community.”

This year’s Mojo Award winners were:

Columbia Sportswear, a leading global brand for innovative outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment;

CCC Information Services Inc., the nation’s leading provider of technology solutions to automotive collision repairers, parts suppliers, and property/casualty insurance carriers;

Employees Retirement System of Texas, which handles benefits administration for the second most populous state in the U.S.;

GoExcellent, a leading customer experience service provider in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark;

LG&E and KU Energy LLC: The Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company are consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States;

MINDBODY ( – ), the largest cloud software provider in the health, wellness and beauty industries;

Orange Lake Resorts, a leader in vacation ownership, and home to the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand; and

Universal Orlando Resort, the popular theme parks and on-site themed hotels.

This year’s ICUC event was attended by a record 700 participants, the highest in the conference’s history.

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Need Better Contact Center Performance? Adapt to the Times

October 22, 2014

Achieving greatness as a call center requires going above and beyond simply meeting required expectations. According to a recent , this does not necessarily mean religiously following traditional customer service philosophy. More customers are coming from a younger generation raised on technology; the old techniques won’t work as well anymore.

The article cited which found that Millennials make up a higher percentage of the customer base than before, and will outnumber Baby Boomers in 15 years. Since they are more likely to buy groceries from a convenience store than a grocery store and prefer upscale fast food restaurants to traditional ones, speed and efficiency are more important to them than friendly service.

Millennials are more likely to consult their social networks online for a purchase than an industry expert. When they need support, they prefer to go online to find a solution before speaking to a CSR ( – ).

An omni-channel approach to customer support is going to be the best way to help the traditional and non-traditional customers. The old-school customer who wants to interact with a person will get what they want and the millennials will get the speed that they want.

Omni-channel systems must also keep track of the context of every customer interaction. If a customer has visited a self-service portal, sent email and instant messaged a CSR, they don’t want to have to rehash everything when making follow-up contact with the next CSR.

This tracking has to go beyond tracking one incident – it means keeping history on each customer. Knowing a customer’s tendencies makes it easier to accommodate their unique preferences and better manage call queues based on urgency.

A one-size-fits-all approach to customer support is not going to cut it in 2014; the customer base is more sophisticated than that. A winning strategy accommodates all the different possible means of communication, is speedy and efficient, eliminates aggravation and provides customers with more than just answers – it provides them with the . 

inContact’s Cloud Platform a Hit With Financial Company

October 22, 2014

inContact, a provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, has announced that its core cloud platform has been selected by a leading financial institution. By selecting both inbound and outbound solutions from inContact’s cloud core, the institution (which declined to be identified, as per inContact company protocols) hopes to improve the efficiency of its 280 agents, as well as expanding its operations.

The cloud contact center platform by inContact helps call centers increase market share and profitability, as it doesn’t require expensive hardware or software. Automatic Call Distribution and Interactive Voice Response are the building blocks of the platform, and the system also adds customer feedback, CRM/ CTI ( – ) integration, dialers, quality management, workforce optimization and management, reporting and analytics tools as well.

inContact’s cloud software offering, combined with its global telecommunications infrastructure, was the main factor in the company’s decision, it noted in a statement, as it strives to improve operational efficiency and ensure business continuity and disaster recovery. The cloud will further provide enhanced functionality, flexibility and scalability and service to its customers.

“Cloud technology offers growing organizations a stable base for contact center operations that is also easily scalable as their needs change,” said Paul Jarman, inContact’s CEO. “Customer service must be adaptive and cloud technology is an ideal solution for this rapidly evolving industry.”

inContact helps organizations around the globe create customer and contact center employee experiences that are more personalized, more empowering and more engaging. The company notes it is the only provider to offer core contact center infrastructure and workforce optimization, plus an enterprise-class telecommunications network for the most complete customer journey management.

In related news, a global player in safety products and services announced that it, too, has selected inContact’s award-winning for its own purposes.

Earlier, the company (which also declined to be named) reported that it constantly faced service downtime and system limitations due to its older premise system. Owing to these issues and more, its ability to provide a high level of customer service and to take a more intelligent approach to customer-facing operations was obstructed, which in turn was negatively affecting its growth, so it decided to go with the inContact solution.

Vocalcom Intros Cloud-based Contact Center Solution for US SMBs

In the digital age, customer services are delivered through audio, video, social media and various other channels. Savvy customers demand more from contact centers. Under this backdrop, more and more small and medium businesses are embracing cloud hosted contact center solutions to offer superior customer services. Delivered as platform as a service, these cloud-based solutions let businesses scale up and down according to seasonal needs and save costs. Given the tremendous growth potential of cloud contact center market, Vocalcom, a well known vendor has come up with a new, feature rich cloud contact center platform. Called Vocalcom Cloud, the solution has been specially designed for the small and medium sized businesses.

One of the major benefits of hosted contact center solution is: it helps streamline IT. The feature rich Vocalcom Cloud is highly scalable and as such can support the needs of both large enterprises and small businesses. Features or additional seats can be easily added to support the growth of a company.

Companies can easily add functionality or additional seats as their business grows, or as it cycles through seasonal or situational volume influxes making the solution a highly versatile, low-risk investment.

The platform can be set up quickly and without any additional investments. In fact, the platform allows a call center to be up and running in hours with no setup costs, or capital investment.

In addition to voice, web chat, SMS and email interactions, Vocalcom cloud also incorporates self service features. The software has also been designed to support mobile applications, using mobile API. The software can be used to launch campaign for a variety of channels. 

Above all, Vocalcom Cloud is backed by around the clock support.

Because of all these benefits Vocalcom Cloud makes a low risk investment for the small as well big businesses.

It will be worthwhile to mention here that Vocalcom supports some 10 million digital and voice interactions each day. Businesses willing to leverage the benefits of cloud have embraced Vocalcom could to boost their strategies.

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Aspect Workforce Management Cloud – a Boon for Contact Centers?

Trapeze artists have to do a fine balancing act; contact centers are no different, as they have to efficiently manage a huge workforce and cater to demanding customers. Aspect Software’s workforce management (WFM) cloud, which comes fully integrated with its omni-channel cloud contact center solution Zipwire, seems just the tool for this.

“Aspect’s WFM Cloud provides the perfect complement to Zipwire, our award-winning omni-channel Cloud contact center, and is certainly among the best if not the best workforce management pure-cloud platform on the market,” says John Amein, vice president product management, Aspect.

Anyone managing a contact center knows how difficult it is to manage staffing levels and employee skills to market demand. Customers expect quality service and staff availability; employees want job satisfaction and work-life balance while management demands efficient, profitable operations.

Having the right employees with the right skills is not enough. Agents resources have to be optimized fully without overages or shortfalls, employees have to be motivated to achieve operational excellence and deliver outstanding customer service.

The Aspect cloud delivers all this- enterprise-class workforce management with the added benefits of cloud delivery: scalability, lowest total cost of ownership and elimination of software and hardware.

Aspect’s WFMC has a simple, intuitive interface that Web users find simple to use. An easy-to use schedule editor with a self-service interface allows agents control their own scheduling needs, while agents and supervisors are fully engaged and highly productive. In addition, it offers central visibility into employee activities and accurate forecasting in all contact center environments – all of which add up to simplify the management of workforces across multiple sites and locations.

Thus, Aspect’s WFM cloud appears to be the panacea for contact center ills as it helps achieve cost efficiency and superior customer experiences. “Because the solution operates seamlessly in the Aspect Cloud and is fully integrated with our Zipwire contact center, customers enjoy fast deployment of the two core elements they need for customer engagement,” observed Amein.

Aspect’s WFM solution is stated to be the system of choice for many leading companies, several of whom have as many as 40,000 agents. It is believed to have helped the world’s most demanding contact centers seamlessly align their people, processes and touch points to deliver remarkable customer experience.

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When Outsourcing, Choose Your Partner Carefully

October 17, 2014

have become an integral part of every business as they have a dedicated team to handle customer requests and complaints. Many companies even prefer to outsource these customer-centric operations to specialized call center companies so that they can cut costs and can keep their focus on the core business. As a result, call center outsourcing has become the norm in today’s business world, with the bulk of this outsourcing going to companies in India, The Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

However, choosing the right call center partner is not easy because of geographical distance and cultural differences. The following are just some best practices that can make this choice easier for companies looking to outsource their operations:

Capabilities of the Chosen Vendor: Before outsourcing, it is important to thoroughly examine the chosen vendor company. Experience in call center operations; feedback from past clients; current workload and employee strength; the training and recruitment process of the vendor company; and its multilingual and multichannel capabilities are some of the factors that need to be considered.

Types of Services and Pricing Model: Companies should have a clear business plan as to what is expected from vendor companies. In general, outsourcing companies offer Inbound and Outbound Call Center Services. Based on the services needed, an appropriate pricing model should be chosen. There are many types of pricing models such as FTE, incidence-based, sales-based and transaction-based ones. Out of these different models, the “per transaction” model is the one adopted by most companies because clients get to play a single flat rate for every transaction, according to Sanyam Khurana of .

Political Stability: Another impact aspect that should be considered is the political climate of the country where the chosen vendor is located. This is an important to ensure that business is not interrupted by political upheavals and riots.

In short, outsourcing call center operations provides big benefits for companies, provided they choose the right partner. 

Exostar Recognized as Specialist Member of BT for Life Sciences

a company offering cloud-based identity assurance products and business applications, has recently announced that it is now a Specialist Member of the BT for Life Sciences partner ecosystem.

The two companies have been working together to enable Exostar’s federated identity solutions to ensure life sciences organizations receive seamless, secure access to the BT for Life Sciences’ cloud compute platform. After receiving the Specialist Member status, Exostar has offered BT’s Life Sciences customers to take advantage of the virtual scientist’s workbench in the cloud using Exostar IAM solution as a secure access point.

Users also have the privilege to get entree to a robust, global collaboration environment just by connecting BT’s Workbench Informatics and other BT for Life Sciences solutions to the Exostar Life Sciences Identity Hub. All these are done without any comprise on the security.

The combination of BT for Life Sciences, the BT Cloud Compute platform, and Exostar’s Life Sciences Identity Hub aims to offer easy, rapid and safe access to existing solutions. It will also enable the future development of virtual ‘scientist workbenches’ custom-made to various disciplines such as Bioinformatics and Cheminformatics.

The common goal of both companies has been to let the scientist focus on the science and not have to worry about the complexities of secure information management, particularly in a cloud environment that crosses enterprise boundaries.

“BT for Life Sciences offers an extremely powerful suite of solutions that enable Life Sciences organizations to more productively conduct critical activities throughout the drug R&D process,” said Daniel Pfeifle, Exostar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Pfeifle further said that all these facilities are part of BT’s effort to increase “the potential utility of the tools exponentially by putting additional partner data, resources and applications in the hands of their customers.”

BT for Life Sciences has also launched solutions that provide scientists easy and effective access to the rich sources of information, based on its innovative cloud-based infrastructure. These are available today on a global basis.

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Philippines Gaining Contact Centers that India is Losing

October 13, 2014

India has seen a recent exodus of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) from its shores, and most of these businesses have made the Philippines their new home. A new report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has shown that India is likely to lose $30 billion in foreign exchange revenue because of this competition from the Philippines, according to Ted Toress of Philstar.com.

This new finding has brought up the question of why companies are choosing the Philippines over India. The key difference has been in the employability levels of graduates. In the Philippines, more than 30 percent of graduates are employable while in India, the number is a paltry ten percent. As a result of this difference, companies that had operations in India had to spend more time and money on training employees, which in turn increased their costs.

Another difference is that people in the have better American accents and are culturally more acclimatized to the U.S., when compared to BPO workers in India. This difference can go a long way in putting American consumers at ease. Due to these factors, Manila has become the second most preferred destination for outsourcing after Bangalore. Other cities in the Philippines are also making it onto the top ten list, which was earlier dominated by Indian cities.

But all is not lost for India, as it has been able to claw back some businesses from the Philippines. A high churn rate and the risks that come from doing business with a small country have been cited as for some companies to move their operations back to India. Furthermore, companies are looking beyond voice calls and are seeking to integrate other tech components as well. These factors could give India an edge over the Philippines in the future.

In short, the Philippines have taken a lot business from India, but it has to constantly innovate to keep India at bay. 

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