The Must-Have Contact Center Technologies

A contact center, which is normally referred to as the e-contact or customer-interaction center is the nerve of your business communication or customer interaction. It is the central point in any given enterprise from where all the business’ customer contacts are managed.

An enterprise’s contact center typically comprises of one or more virtual call hubs. They may however include other forms of customer contact details as well. These details may include email newsletters, Web site chats and inquiries, postal mail directories and a collection of customer information put together during in-store purchasing. Normally, this center makes part of the general customer relationship management (CRM) of an enterprise. Regardless of the nature of your business, here are some technologies that make your contact center live to its task.

The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

An automatic call distributor (ACD) or dialer is something that every call center should have. It will help manage all incoming calls to the call center and route them out to the right party basing on some handling instructions that are pre-established in the system. Most of these ACDs or dialers have skill-based routing technology which directs calls to the appropriate agent at the call center based on their skillset.

Email response management software

Emails are an important and common means through which every organization communicates with not just the customers but all stakeholders as well. The email response management software will automatically handle the enterprise’s emails based on user-defined rules. This email software is currently used by different call centers to manage enormous volumes of mails. The software can track and record the status of every email message and even a follow-up message. Email response management software is often used also to provide automated responses to different incoming mails guided by similar email responses from the past.

Campaign Management

This contact management technology is used in the call center to let the dialer know who is supposed to be contacted. With that information, it produces a list of telephone numbers or enables the dialer to create a list of email contacts. If you have a more advanced campaign management solution then it will also show you the response activities for each customer.

Call recording solution

The call recording is often required in the call center industry to keep a record of call interactions for use in the future should need arise for the same. Call records can always be required for legal matters or as evidence of interaction that has taken place before. The needs for call recording may differ from agency to agency or with circumstances. The technology will capture all interactions that can later be replayed if necessary. These call recording solutions may capture only the call, or may add in other related screens along.

The IVR

At times you may not require a live agent for communication interactions regardless of the business or industry being served. These are common interactions requiring certain specific responses, and that is where the interactive voice response solution comes in. In addition, the contemporary increasingly mobile consumer is more interested in the ability to handle their own interactions, which makes the IVR an indispensable solution. The interactive voice response (IVR) technology enables self-service and lessens the organization’s cost of operation.

Quality Management Solution

This solution provides the management with the needed insight into performance and interactions that involve service to the customers. Organizations must be so concerned with the way they (their staff) interact with customers since that will determine the overall performance of the organization and the image the public will attach to them. Call center agents are supposed to adhere to particular procedures and policies within the organization and the quality management solution makes this much effective.

The News – Alert (CTI)

With the Computer telephony integration or news alert, the call agents no longer have to spend time looking through customer directory for customer information. Neither do the customers have to provide pertinent information any more at multiple stages of the call. This advanced call center technology links up the ACD and the CMS app to deliver a screen pop up with the basic needed detail.

Creating the Entrepreneurial Virtual Workforce

Twentieth century small American businesses didn’t have as many options to look for competitive market resources. As a result, they relied on relatively cheap labor.

However in the 21st century, “virtual teams” have made it possible for entrepreneurs to take full advantage of labor resources around the globe.

To take it a step further, the quest of cheap labor is mandatory for a successful business whether it is located in emerging markets or first-world countries.

Here is the underlying truth for all businesses: paying the lowest cost for labor will boost the overall top-line and bottom line growth. In our contemporary era, this is called outsourcing, or creating virtual teams.

There is nothing futuristic today about what is now a basic commodity — the Internet.  It is a gateway that has fully opened up the world in the last 20 years more than Christopher Columbus could have ever imagined when he discovered a new realm.

Business is no longer limited to the free trade concept. It is now a labor trade concept. Everyone who engages in and interacts with the outsourcing market gives themselves originality and the ability to compete for jobs, money and security on a level that was not even dreamed of 20 or 30 years ago.

Because of the Internet, companies around the world can grow rapidly. CEOs and managers will  pay less for labor without the worry of over-hiring or over-paying someone to sit in their office for a simple job that someone on  the other side of the world can do just as well for half or less of the paycheck.

Outsourcing gives companies financial freedom and reduces the cost of hiring a permanent employee. It gives employers freedom to peruse and browse a broader pool of qualified workers who will do the same task for less money — especially quarterly or annually. It allows for a greater top and bottom line number.

In this contemporary, networkable, computer-age working environment, people are no longer restricted by geographic location. Businesses are located anywhere. Entrepreneurs can simply search for and find staff anywhere via outsourcing. Necessary tasks can be given to anyone, anywhere who has a computer or tablet and access to an Internet connection.

If you’re not taking advantage of this new way of doing business by hiring outsourced work, why? Do you consider yourself ahead of the curve or behind it?

In my opinion, the clear answer is that you are behind the curve.

 

What Systems Do You Have in Place

Today I would like to talk about systems. All of us have systems and processes, however the reality is most of us have not taken the effort to systemize everything and to really get a clear understanding of exactly how our processes work. Therefore, it often times makes it very difficult to delegate aspects of our company if we don’t have well-defined goals and descriptions. It’s critical for you to have some type of soft- interface to help you communicate. Today, we use a variety of different tools: video cameras on our phone system, CRM, and project management tools. We have so many tools and systems in place. It really helps keep everything accounted for and organized.

Redundancy – ensure you have contingency plans in place. Part of having a great system in place, is having a very well-defined, plan B if there happens to be a failure. If there is a failure, then you have backup capacity, which will allow you to continue operating. Even if it’s at 50%, it’s 100 times better than being completely down. We have multiple redundancy pathways in place, yet there are still some times we get caught flat-footed. The unthinkable takes place and there you are. Ensure you have other suppliers in place to handle additional work you can offload until you get back to 100%. The last thing you want to happen is for your inefficiencies to filter over into your clientele business or lifestyle, depending on the clientele you serve.

Nothing will cost you more business faster than the inability to supply your customers with what you’ve promised. This can be a hard, expensive lesson to learn. Be proactive and look at all systems you have in place, and ask what is the cost to build a redundant system in place? Do you have a list of similar businesses you can offload business to on a short-term basis while you work on our infrastructure? Do you have multiple pathways into your building in the event you were to lose Internet connectivity? If your building floods, do you have a way of sending people home and having them work from their homes equally as efficiently as in their office? These are just some of the many contingency plans that need to be put in place.

For example, it is much the same way, Henry Ford took a very complicated process of building an automobile and broke it down into having a worker sit in the same place, and tie down bolts, put a tire onto a rim, and to tighten four screws in order to lock down the engine onto the motor mounts. Henry Ford went through the entire process of manufacturing an automobile in very small, incremental steps that allowed him to mass-produce the product with relatively unskilled labor.

Prior to Henry Ford’s approach, manufacturing of automobiles was done as a customized solution, and master craftsmen completed the work. This made the production of the automobile very slow, tedious, and it required highly skilled labor in order to complete the process. So before you start saying my processes are too complex to systemize, think about the automobile and the amazing achievement Henry Ford accomplished. He independently re-created the way that manufacturing facilities would run forevermore. By creating systems and breaking up difficult tasks, you will discover new aspects of streamlining your business.

Let me share with you some of the systems I have. One of the systems I have in place is the lead generation system through LinkedIn. I have developed scripts to be used by our employees to make contact with people, with members, and members of groups. We contact the members of groups and give them our first script. Depending upon the response my employees get back from the prospect, they will send another script. This correspondence will generally go on two or three times until my employees invite them to do a call with one of our sales representatives. The sales representative will look at the prospect’s profile information in LinkedIn prior to the call. This gives the sales representative the ability to identify key information about the prospect before they jump on a call. The salesperson then, has a scripted presentation that they go through with them, and the objective is to enroll the client into becoming a customer of ours. This is one of our systems. Does your business have a similar system?

Let’s talk about another system one of the greatest basketball players of all-time had in place, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He, when you add up all of his points from playoff appearances, regular-season games, and All-Star games the total points scored are exactly 44,400. This is a feat I’m sure would’ve been impossible for him to have conceived. I can only assume this number was achieved by sheer luck, but this is the exact number. It was not rounded off! It is exactly 44,400 points. This makes him the all-time, highest point scorer in the history of NBA. How was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar able to achieve such amazing feat? Well for one thing, he developed a system of scoring. You see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 7’2″, and even by NBA standards, he had an unfair advantage. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar maximized his unfair advantage and capitalized on it.

He did what I would suggest all businesses do: take your strengths and develop a system that exploits your strengths compared to your competitors. Give yourself an unfair advantage! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s unfair advantage was his patented shot called the “skyhook.” The skyhook is an over the shoulder shot at his release-point when he was fully extended. The top of his release-point must have been close to 10 feet. This created an unstoppable shot. This patented shot became so successful it landed him among the ranks of the NBA Hall of Fame. Here is a list of some of his other phenomenal achievements: six times MVP, six times as a NBA championship team-member, All-NBA team 15 times, All-Defense team 11 times, Rookie-of-the-Year 1970, All-Star 19 times, and listed as one of the top 50 greatest players of all-time in the NBA. How did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar achieve these impressive accolades? It was by developing a system. Magic Johnson would feed the ball in to Kareem, and then “bam,” the skyhook.

Does your business have a skyhook? Start delegating today, build your team and systems!

The Power of Using Emerging Market Economic Conditions to Maximize your Company’s Profit

World has become a global village. With the revolution in technology and means of transport, now people in one part of the world can have access to the resources and people of some distant part of the globe.

On the basis of economic development, the world is basically classified into two economies. The developed or prosperous economies, and the emerging economies. The main characteristic of emerging economy is the per capita income, where people have middle to low per capita income.

The per capita income is an economic condition, which the business owners of developed economies can utilize to increase their return on profits. The low per capita income and the quality resources available in emerging economies makes it ideal for a business to outsource its processes to such market conditions, and earn greater profits.

The two primary advantages of making use of emerging economy market conditions, along with the ways of doing so are discussed below.

  1. The primary advantage a business owner can reap from an emerging market is the low cost. As the per capita income in emerging countries is low, therefore if a business can find the right people that could do the job of the business’s on shore processes in a professional manner, then the business can save great on cost by outsourcing the process to emerging economy. For instance, if a business pays high cost for its telemarketing processes on shore, then the business can easily shift or outsource its processes to a country like India or Brazil, where employees can be hired on a value driven cost.
  2. The second advantage comes in the form of competent workforce. Although the emerging economies have low per capita income, but the talent they have is as competent as it could be in any part of the world. The most suitable way for an entrepreneur, or the CEO of a small and medium business to make use of the talent of the emerging economies would be by hiring a Virtual Assistant. The virtual assistant or assistants, are hired employees of the business, and perform all the tasks and duties assigned by the employers from there homeland, which reduces the burden as well as the cost of the business owner onshore.

When it comes to ways of making use of the powers of emerging economy market conditions, there are two ways of doing so.

  1. The first and the orthodox way of doing so would be that the business owner visits the emerging economy market, makes an assessment of the resources available there both in terms of physical and human resource, and then accordingly decide on whether to establish an offshore office in the market or not.
  2. On the other hand, the new and trending way of making use of emerging market economy is by consulting an outsourcing firm and then asking the firm to hire virtual assistants that should perform the delegated tasks. This way of taking advantage is commonly adopted by entrepreneurs, and small to medium size business owners.

Bottom Line:

In a nutshell, emerging economy markets offer great potential to the business owners in developed countries. By availing the expertise in emerging markets that are available on value driven rates, a small business can significantly increase its return on profits.

Traits That Need To Be Considered While Hiring A Virtual Assistant

Hiring an employee is one of the most important activities undertaken by a business owner. The selection of an employee directly affects the productivity level, if the wrong employee or employees be hired it can lead to decline in productivity level and vice versa.

The trend of hiring virtual assistant is quite popular in the market these days. Business owners need to deal with the hiring of a virtual assistant the same way, as they would deal with any other employee. The lines below explain the traits a business owner should look for in a good virtual assistant.

Degree Holder:

Education is an important characteristic to look for in any employee especially virtual assistant. A VA must at least be a graduate. A virtual assistant with graduate qualification would be able to understand the commands of the employer and would have the understanding for basic business processes, which is necessary for better productivity.

Good Communication Skills:

Usually the virtual assistants belong to other countries where English is not the native language, in such case a virtual assistant must possess excellent communication skills so that the assistant be able to better understand the message conveyed by the employer, and communicate in a better way any issues related to task at hand.

Multitasking:

Multitasking is another quality a virtual assistant must possess. When an employer hires a virtual assistant, he or she expects the assistant to be a jack-of-all-trades. Therefore, the more skilled an assistant in different areas, the more beneficial would the agent be for the business.

Bottom Line:

In short, before hiring a virtual agent an employer must look for traits such as the multitasking ability, the level of communication skills, and the education the agent possess in order to ensure the right selection that helps increase productivity.

Virtual Assistant Making Life Easy For The Small Business Owner

Small business owners are usually very busy people and have a very hectic routine. Due to the shortage of budget and resources, the small business owner has to do multiple tasks himself. This makes the life of a small business owner very hectic, and very little relief is left for the business owner.

The virtual assistant service comes as a blessing for the small business owner. An SMB owner can simply assign tasks to the virtual personal assistant and make time for him take some rest, regain energy and focus on the more important tasks. Some of the ways in which a virtual assistant can make the life of a small business owner easy are given below.

virtual personal assistant

  • Answering calls of the customers and prospects is an activity that takes the most time of the business owner, for which the owner has to stay in office. By hiring a virtual assistant to answer calls, the owner does not necessarily have to be in the office all the time.
  • Setting appointments with prospects is another task which consumes a lot of time of the business owner, as most of the time the prospects are not available so the business owner has to wait. Hiring a virtual assistant to make appointments is a way by which an owner can free up time and does not has to stick with the seat.
  • Thirdly, mail dispatch or responding to emails also takes a lot of small business owner’s time. A virtual personal assistant can perform both these functions efficiently, saving the time of the owner, to focus energies on more important tasks.

In short, hiring a virtual personal assistant can help free up time for the small business owner those results in greater energy on part of the business owner, and more focus on strategic matters.

Virtual Personal Assistant Coming To The Rescue of Small Business

In this era of economic down turn, every business is looking for means to save cost. Its the saving on cost, that can help a business survive in this economic crisis along with global competition.

The economic conditions are specially hard for small businesses. Therefore, a majority of small businesses is opting for outsourcing. When it comes to outsourcing the prevalent trend is of virtual personal assistant. A virtual assistant is the one, which a small business can hire to perform the assigned tasks in the minimum cost possible.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant can perform a variety of tasks for the employer, which ultimately lead to the owner saving on cost, which the owner might have otherwise paid in great amount to an in-house employee. The lines below give the tasks by performing which a virtual personal assistant rescues the small business in this economic crisis.

Data Entry:

Upon the assigning of the employer, a virtual personal assistant can perform the task of data entry. It is a trivial task, for which a small business needs an additional resource. With a virtual assistant on board, the task can be allocated to the virtual assistant who can do it with the due diligence.

Call Answering:

A virtual personal assistant can perform the task of call answering on the behalf of the employer. An owner can have the calls re-routed to the virtual assistant, and he or she could answer the calls of business and deal with the customer in the most professional manner.

Email Responding:

A virtual Personal assistant receives training about the business before performing any of the tasks. With proper knowledge of the business, a virtual assistant can effectively respond to the emails of the business in the absence of the employer.

Appointment Setting:

As the small business owners are always on the go, therefore, they need an assistant who could set their appointments. A virtual personal assistant can perform this function of appointment setting by calling the clients and asking them time for an appointment.

Bottom Line:

In short, a virtual assistant is a blessing which a small business owner could long for in these days of economic crisis. With low cost and the added value services, virtual assistance service is worth the dime for a small business owner.

A Perfect And Productive Virtual Assistant Experience

Gone are the days when an entrepreneur had to go through the daunting task of conducting interview to hire an assistant. Thanks to outsourcing companies, now a business owner can simply give a job description to the outsourcing service provider and they arrange an assistant for the employer, who works virtually.

Virtual assistant is the rising concept in outsourcing industry and is a dire necessity for small business owners. The owners of startup businesses require a helping hand, which the outsourcing companies can provide in the form of virtual assistant. However, the employer needs to be very cautious in the selection process. The lines below give the right process of hiring a virtual assistant which makes the process productive.

Virtual AssistantFinding A Virtual Assistant:

The process starts by finding a virtual assistant. The employer gives a job description to the outsourcing company and it arranges an according VA. However, the employer needs to decide the way its going to require VA services. Some of the common ways are:

Task-Based VA- Hiring a virtual assistant for specific tasks and projects, so that it does not cost employer much, and secondly whenever the project finishes the virtual assistant does not cost the employer anymore.

Part-time VA- An Assistant that performs assigned tasks on daily bases in some certain hours of the day. This option is suitable for employers who want to cope up with additional work burden.

Full-time VA- Hiring a virtual assistant to perform full time duties is the need of businesses that plan to save cost and increase productivity in a long run.

Assigning Tasks:

An employer needs to be very cautious in assigning tasks to a virtual assistant. As it is the first time both the parties are working together, and it’s the information or work of the employer that is at risk, that is why the main responsibility lies on the shoulder of employer. The steps an employer can take in this regard are:

  • Create backup of all the information on which the virtual assistant is to work.
  • Provide in detail instructions to the virtual assistant.
  • Don’t consider the VAs a replacement of one’s self.
  • Explain the time deadlines to the assistant in a clear manner.

Once the employer finds the right VA, selects the right time duration for the service, assigns the tasks in the best professional manner, then it is guaranteed that the VA experience for the employer would be next to perfect and equally productive.

Top 5 Reasons For Hiring A Virtual Assistant

Small business owners and budding entrepreneurs are always consumed with work load and they cant find time to manage all the tasks and activities at hand. The owners would be traveling frequently, meeting prospects, working on business development and so on. In such situation, the entrepreneurs are in desperate need of a helping hand in the form of a virtual assistant that could work virtually for them.

virtual personal assistant

Virtual assistance is one of the fast trending concepts in the outsourcing industry. A virtual personal assistant brings various benefits to the small business owners and entrepreneurs. The lines below give top five reasons for hiring a virtual assistant.

1. Time Saving Option:

Having a virtual assistant that provides assistance to an entrepreneur in respective business activities saves a lot of time on part of the business owner. The entrepreneurs can have the virtual personal assistant do all the trivial tasks, while they focus on the tasks of more grave nature such as strategy development.

2. Cost Saver:

The expertise which virtual assistants have would cost a great deal of money if the assistant is to be hired in-house. Therefore, hiring a virtual assistant is a definite cost saver for small business owners, who already are short on budget.

3. Increased Productivity:

With a virtual personal assistant working for the employer, the employer can prioritize better, and select the tasks that require managerial attention, and transfer all the non-managerial tasks to the virtual assistant. With all the tasks properly prioritized, they can be effectively targeted, thus an increase in performance and productivity.

4. Employer’s Authority:

The virtual personal assistant service providers, offer full authority to the employer in assigning tasks and duties to the virtual assistant. Having a virtual assistants does not mean that the employer has no authority over the assistants, rather, it would be the same as an assistant working in-house, just with a difference of him/her working virtually.

5. Multitasking:

In majority of cases, a virtual assistant is a jack of all trades, rather than being a master of one. To name a few of the tasks a virtual personal assistant can perform for the employer are:

  • Email responding
  • Mail management
  • Call answering
  • Appointment setting
  • Calendar management
  • Travel arrangements

The above mentioned are only a few of the multi-tasks a virtual assistant can perform for the employer. Thus, in the cost of one, the employer gets a multitasking professional.

Tips For Getting The Work Done From Virtual Assistant

Hiring the right virtual assistant to perform your tasks and duties is a job half done. The real job is to get the work done from a VA. It is an art to get the job done from VA, therefore it is of utmost importance for a employer to know that how can he/she have the work done from a virtual personal assistant.

virtual personal assistantThe biggest difficulty that comes is in assigning the first task to your VA. You have not had any interaction with the VA before, and the VA also has no idea of the way you are used to of working. Therefore, you need to be extra cautious when assigning the first task to your virtual assistant.

The lines below give a few tips for getting the first task done from a virtual personal assistant.

Create Backup- Before you are to assign any technical task to your virtual personal assistant make sure that you have created a backup of all your files. There are chances that the VA would take time to meet your expected level, therefore creating a backup is always a wise choice.

Detailed Instructions- To get the job done in the given timeframe you must provide the virtual assistant with detailed description and instructions of all the sub tasks.

Assuming VA is Not you- The major reason why employer fails to get the work done from a virtual personal assistant is that the employer thinks of the VA as another himself. The rational approach is to deal with virtual assistants on their level and not expect them to be at your level.

Getting the job done from a VA assistant is an art that an employer must master to get the value for the money invested.