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Five Top Workforce Optimization Questions Revealed - Q&A With KnoahSoft

The contact center is a critical component to customer experience and a critical component to the contact center is…Workforce Optimization (WFO). So we thought it was time to sit down with our team and talk about the top five things we all should know about WFO platforms. Questions were asked and valuable insights were given. Ready to get the insider scoop? Here’s a look into our Q&A session.


Q: Why is WFO such a powerful part of the Customer Experience (CX) journey?

A: Let’s start at the beginning of the CX journey. First and foremost, you need to have a base level of understanding of what your customers are looking for. Check out our recent blog “How to Perfect Your Customer Service Basics” for tips on that topic. Once you have a baseline understanding and can articulate it, it’s extremely important to continually monitor against those service level expectations. And that’s where WFO can be a huge asset. By using live call monitoring and quality management tools within the WFO platform, organizations can rapidly identify areas of concern—and rapid is the name of the game. Today’s customers live in a real-time world and they expect that level of response when it comes to customer service. And we can’t forget about social media. You never know when a disgruntled customer might share his or her frustrations with the world, so quality assurance is more important than ever.


Q: Who can use WFO in their contact center?

A: That’s one of the best things! Not to be cliché but the answer is really anyone with a contact center. WFO solutions are affordable for businesses of all shapes and sizes—you don’t have to be a mega corporation to use these critical tools. With a modular approach, a WFO solution can be easy to install and easy to manage while still providing the heavy lifting of call recording, agent coaching, reporting, dashboards, and more. And if we can brag on our own blog (is that okay?), KnoahSoft’s WFO software suite boasts the best total cost of ownership profile on the market.


Q: There are new rules and regulations popping up across the world. How can WFO solutions help?

A: For organizations required to comply with specific industry regulations, WFO is their best friend in the contact center. The rules can be long, and in many cases arduous, but if you utilize call recording, live monitoring and screen capture, you can drastically reduce or eliminate deviations in compliance. Recording and logging (both voice and non-voice) have become critical to industry compliance around PCI, MiFID II, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, but in addition they are now being used for dispute resolution, as fraud prevention, and for collections.


Q: We hear the term culture thrown around a lot but don’t typically think WFO. How can WFO solutions affect corporate culture?

A: You’re right. Culture has become an industry buzzword. Organizations have a focus on developing an internal culture that employees AND customers can fall in love with, thereby helping drive business success. When employees are supported, have fun at their jobs and see opportunities to learn and grow; their attitudes translate directly to delivering better customer experiences. It’s a win for everyone! So why not use coaching and learning tools to develop that culture of growth? Go beyond the norm of contact center systems and compliance training to offer eLearning courses about stellar communication techniques or dealing with difficult personalities. Identify the business skills your employees want and integrate coaching and learning around those. It’s a whole new world for this component of WFO.


Q: How does Workforce Management (WFM) affect the bottom line?

A: If we can boil it down to one sentence, here it is: WFM solutions help organizations save budget, improve service and lower agent attrition. Why? It comes down to people. People are an organization’s most costly resource. If your people are used in the most effective positions in the most efficient way possible—by forecasting accurately over the coming quarter, season or year—an organization saves on budget. If your people are happy because they are being utilized to their fullest potential on the right platforms for them (voice, social media, chat, etc.) and are given the ability to manage work schedules around their personal lives, they are less likely are to go somewhere else. The cost to replace and train employees is big. Massive even! And last but not least, if morale is high because your people are happy, that will naturally come through to the customer, improving service. That’s it. That’s the bottom line!


If you want to discuss these five Workforce Optimization questions in more detail, give us a shout at info@knoahsoft.com. We’re here to help! And chatting about WFO is one of our favorite things to do.

Source: https://www.knoahsoft.com/blog/five-top-workforce-optimization-questions-revealed-a-q-and-a-with-knoahsoft

Publish Date: November 1, 2017


How Big e-tailers Are Dominating Customer Service


The influx of e-tailers in the last several years is incredible. While it’s not a new trend for a brand to create an online presence, there has clearly been an emergence of only-online retailers – and they are thriving! And their customer service skills are too. Beyond utilizing tools on their own sites, smart e-tailers are leveraging the many social media platforms available today to engage customers – truly upping the bar when it comes to the online customer experience.

However, for all of the companies doing it well, there are many struggling too. Yet, there is hope! By looking at the successful practices of the pacesetters, every brand – online-only and brick-and-mortar ones too – can learn how to improve their own customer service practices and processes. This Small Business Trends article highlights six of the ways that e-tailers are winning in the customer service arena and we’re here to summarize it for you – so you can start learning from the best right now!


1)  Respond promptly

Nobody likes to wait. Consumers today expect immediate gratification – especially when it comes to customer service. So, regardless of how a shopper is reaching out, you really need to respond quickly. There’s a reason why KnoahSoft provides real-time call monitoring. Real time call monitoring empowers supervisors and managers to listen to agent calls, record calls and capture desktop agent screens to ensure that agents are not only responding quickly to customers but are also skilled at using the business systems to retrieve answers to customer inquiries. Live monitoring is also a very useful tool to help identify top performing agents and those that need additional training and mentoring.


2)  Be transparent

One of the fastest ways to turn a customer off is by surprising them with unclear policies regarding your products and services. Today’s consumers want to know exactly what they’re getting and have little tolerance for the fine print. Transparency is the name of the game and it will absolutely impact your brand’s reputation and your ability to retain customers. We see the same demand for quality in contact centers and are vigilant about arming supervisors and managers with the tools necessary to provide it. In a nutshell, an integrated quality assurance program is the very best way to hold agents accountable for delivering service that meets your customer experience expectations and create collaborative work environment.


3)  Act quickly

While consumers realize there is lead-time with online ordering versus walking into a brick-and-mortar store, they also have their limits. Plus, with programs like Amazon Prime becoming an industry standard, many companies are promising rapid shipping – without a hefty premium. If you want to keep your customers satisfied, get the products and services they order into their hands as soon as you can.


4)  Be personal

For a long time, brick-and-mortar stores were the only ones to offer a personal touch. However, the e-tailer landscape is quickly catching up. Some leave personal notes in packages; some provide an unexpected discount or gift. These surprises are not only welcomed by consumers, but can also make all the difference between a good customer experience and a great one. Use KnoahSoft Harmony’s speech analytics application to discover why customers are calling your company and what they really think about your products and services. Then pass this information onto to your marketing department so they can build high probability campaigns and programs that drive additional sales revenue.


5)  Solve Problems

No matter how hard you try, you’ll always hit some snags. A package could get lost or damaged during shipping … the wrong item was sent from the procurement facility … or the package never arrived. When these challenges arise, remember how frustrated your customer must be and be compassionate and helpful. The more empathetic you can be and if you can prove that you’re working to solve the issue as efficiently as possible, the more likely you are to retain that customer.


6)  Be everywhere

We’ve said it before, but with the omnipotence of social media, it’s worth repeating – be everywhere! Social media has completely changed the way we engage with customers. And that’s a good thing! With the variety of channels, tools and apps available today, there are more touch points and opportunities to engage customers than ever before. So be everywhere. If you have customers using a new social media platform, you better have a presence too. Showing your brand’s logo, voice and personality via a multitude of mediums will keep you relevant, checked-in and ahead of the curve regarding customer needs. KnoahSoft knows all about casting a wider net. We developed our mobile application knowing that call center operations had to stretch way beyond the desktop. With the KnoahSoft mobile app you can be in control of your contact center operations away from the office.


The more vigilant you are about using best practices like these, the more likely you are to deliver a positive and differentiated customer experience. And ultimately, that’s our sole mission – to help YOU create the best experiences for your customers by helping you create contact centers that provide great service with speed, accuracy and smarts. Need some advice on how to up your customer service game? Visit www.knoahsoft.com to learn more.

Source: https://www.knoahsoft.com/blog/how-big-e-tailers-are-dominating-customer-service

Publish Date: September 1, 2016


Empower Your Employees to Serve Your Customers

It may seem that we talk a lot about trends in our Spoken blogs, and a quick search of our blog archive would certainly confirm that, but trends are an interesting phenomenon in that they act as a teacher of sorts when it comes to learning about what’s happening in an industry, or the world for that matter.  Plus, watching trends helps us to know what steps should be taken in order to “ride the wave” of the trend instead of getting “swept away” in it.       

Let’s take, for example, the issue of Customer Service.  In recent years, the function of customer service has trended away from a single department/cost center to a primary marketing function of an organization.  What’s brought about this change? In a recent article by Tricia Morris, consumers now tend to value customer service and customer experience even more than they value a product or a good price.  Consumers are much more savvy than they used to be; they have the ability to shop multiple sites to compare products and prices and once they’ve found what they want, the process of making a purchase then becomes all about how quickly and easily they are able to do this and how well they are treated should an issue arise with their order.   Additionally, this article points out that 90% of consumers expect consistency and continuity from a brand across channels. That means regardless of how a customer contacts you via phone, e-mail, live chat or a social media platform, they expect the experience to be exactly the same. 

These changes in customer expectations have been the driving force behind the call center’s shift from single department to a more front and center marketing function. Interestingly enough, however, not all contact centers have implemented a multi-channel integration that provides a consistent experience across platforms. Additionally, many contact centers are still lagging behind when it comes to training their agents across multiple channels or equipping them to make on-the-spot decisions that will assist the customer. 

Check out this Spoken blog to learn more about how to equip your call center agents to meet the customer’s expectations.

Considering that this customer trend will not be going away anytime soon, it’s important to implement some customer service principles that will enable your organization to grow with the trend instead of getting lost in it.  This requires a commitment from all levels of the company and is the process by which you make your customer service move from a “back-office” department to a front and center marketing function.  Here are a few specifics:

Empower Employees:  Leaders need to train their customer-facing employees to know what they are doing, what they can offer and where to go to get the information they need to assist the customer.

Insights:  Leaders need to equip the customer-facing employees with access to key customer insights that will make the customer experience more personal. This should include customer profiles on the products and services they use and analytic tools to view customer history.

Mobility: Customers are mobile and customer service should be as well. Leaders who monitor trends will see the importance of a mobile customer service department that is ready to connect and engage with customers on any platform with any device.

Empowering employees to serve the customer requires leadership from the top down that embraces trends, uses multiple channels to engage your customers and training all of your employees to be customer centric. Leaders who have moved with the call center trends have reaped the benefits and built a company that is seen as a leader in customer service.

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/empower-your-employees-to-serve-your-customers

Publish Date: July 28, 2016


Give Your Customers More ‘Wow’ Experiences With Smarter Technology

It’s no secret that customer service expectations are high and growing higher as new technologies are helping to streamline communications between brands and consumers. But due to these high expectations the probability of meeting these service ideals is low and customer let downs are commonplace following contact with today’s call centers, whether with a live agent or an IVR system. One might even say that your customers are prepared for the worst from the moment they dial into your hotline. One mix up by your auto-attendant, for example, could send the whole customer experience spiraling downward.

Since customer service is a top priority for brands, upgrading your technology to support your call center team and improve every customer service interaction is vitally important to your company’s reputation and, ultimately, its bottom line. So ask yourself: Is your current technology causing more mishaps than success stories? If the answer is yes, then now is the time to stop letting your subpar system diminish your call center’s ability to provide excellent customer support.

With the right technology, you can let the capabilities of your call center shine and never worry that your customers are growing frustrated by an IVR system that frequently transfers them to the wrong representative, for instance.

So, what does a call center model that produces “wow” results look like? Here are few features and benefits:

  • Full redundancy: Is there anything worse than having your phone lines go down due to a storm or power outage? Your customers expect that you’ll be available under all circumstances, so make sure you have technology that can support this supposition. Your technology provider should have redundant and geographically diverse data centers that will back up your phone lines and keep the calls flowing no matter what. For instance, in the event that one data center fails, the second data center will immediately take over the full call volume without missing a beat or disconnecting a single customer.
  • Smart IVR: Your IVR system should be fully customizable to your specific call center needs. That is, you need your IVR system to be intelligent enough to automatically identify and route callers with specific qualifications to particular agents. For example, an IVR system with flexible and programmable call flow capabilities enables call centers to choose exactly how they need their calls to be routed. In addition, advanced programming capabilities help call centers more accurately route callers to the representative most knowledgeable about their issues.
  • Usage-based pricing: Another important feature that will help you produce more internal (in addition to customer-facing) “wow” results is usage-based pricing. For example, if you employ a team of remote agents, they’ll need to use a virtual desktop solution so that they can access the same tools their colleagues in the office use. But some agents may log in at different times, or may not have the same volume of calls each day; therefore, it’s more cost-efficient to pay per minute of usage so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Rather than paying upfront for capacity that may not be used at all times, pay as you go and avoid shelling out more money than is truly necessary.
  • Advanced security: Security is a major concern for customers who share their personal information—from home address to credit card numbers—over the phone. As such, it’s important to choose a provider that can offer on-the-fly encryption that uniquely codes each customer’s phone call, making it extremely difficult for hackers to gain access to data that is shared. Rather than only having one general encryption for all of your customers, individual call encryption ensures that, even if there was a security breach, the hacker wouldn’t be able to gain access to all of your customers’ information at once.   

So put an end to letting your customers down when they dial into your call center. Arm your call center with the advanced technology that can fully support your customers’ needs and deliver high-quality results.

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/give-your-customers-more-wow-experiences-with-smarter-technology

Publish Date: July 21, 2016


An Inside Look at the Customer Success Manager

We recently came across a fascinating article detailing the relatively young profession of the Customer Success Manager, in the recently released 2016 Customer Success Salary & State of the Profession Report. What’s a Customer Success Manager you ask? Well, to best answer that, let’s learn a bit about Customer Success Management programs.

Customer Success Management is a new term that describes a Business to Business program designed to bring success to your business customers.  For example, here at Spoken, we sell products and services that are designed to support the Customer Service functions of our clients. We have a vested interest in making sure that our customers succeed because if they don’t, we don’t. Say we want to implement a program or new piece of technology that we believe will bring great success to our customers, like encouraging certain customers to move to the Avaya Cloud. In order to insure that this “push” is successful, we decide to implement an incentive program for our agents that offers some additional commissions or bonuses for every customer that they are able to successfully transition to the Avaya Cloud system. That is a Customer Success Management program. It is a program that really benefits all involved, because it will bring greater success to our customers and at the same time, reward our employees or Customer Success team for a job well done.

Below is a graph that outlines some of the possible top goals of a customer success team.

 

 2016 Customer Success Salary Survey & State of the Profession Report

 

Want more? You can learn other techniques for reducing churn in our recent blog.  And here’s 5 tips for customer retention.

 

Customer success programs are growing as are the teams that manage them. As the Customer Success teams grow, so does the need for managers. Customer Success Management is a new and fast growing profession that has seen tremendous growth within the industry over the past two to three years and is proving to be a profession with low turn-over.

 2016 Customer Success Salary Survey & State of the Profession Report

Compensation

The compensation structure within the customer success program can be key when it comes to successful implementation. In addition to their salaries, agents can earn additional compensation within the Customer Success program.  As we mentioned above, incentives can be offered to agents when they successfully move a customer into a new program or a new product. Additionally, other metrics, such as churn reduction, renewals, upselling, or portfolio health can be factored into the compensation structure.  Bonuses can be driven by both the team performance and company performance as well.

Teams

Customer Success teams can have as few as 1-5 members or as many as 100 plus. Larger companies are likely to have a number of positions that comprise the Customer Success team, beginning with more entry level positions and continuing up to executive positions. 

 2016 Customer Success Salary Survey & State of the Profession Report

The Customer Success Management Program is a trend that is worth watching and one that we anticipate will continue to grow and change with our every-changing and growing industry. 

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/an-inside-look-at-the-customer-success-manager

Publish Date: July 19, 2016


What is the real driver of cloud growth in 2016

2016 Cloud Trends Unfolding Series

So far, as we’ve been moving through our series on Cloud Trends Unfolding in 2016, we’ve talked about cloud providers optimizing big data in the cloud followed by how cloud analytics helps IT and  the emerging security standards we can expect to see. Let’s take a closer look at another cloud trend for 2016: how contact centers are approaching cloud adoptions.

However, before we dive into this, let’s take a quick overview of the cloud and how it works. First, it’s important to remember that the cloud is not a single thing but a network of services, storage, applications and servers that both perform tasks and store data. Some of those servers provide services, while others provide storage. An example of the services the cloud provides would be something like SalesForce or Adobe Photoshop. We used to access this creative service by buying the boxed software, now Adobe Photoshop, along with other creative services, has been moved to the cloud and is accessed through a subscription in order to use the service. Microsoft has moved to a subscription model for its popular Office suite as well, now charging for a yearly subscription rather than for a one-time download and outright ownership. 

And anyone who has uploaded photos to iPhoto or Instagram or who has shared documents using Google Drive or SharePoint knows about cloud storage. 

The real driver of cloud growth in 2016

Given that consumers use the cloud every day without realizing, what is the value to the enterprise of cloud in 2016? According to Dustin Smith, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Tableau Software, it's ease of use. Moving data to the cloud will become as easy as a simple copy/paste move. Smith predicts:

"With self-service cloud analytics and data prep now a reality, the chance of letting an individual move data into a cloud ecosystem quickly and easily (and without a technical background) is on the horizon," he says. "Simple solutions that largely decouple the complexity of data integration, staging, and transformation and focus solely on letting business users drop data into preferred cloud databases and warehouses are on their way."

Smith states a simple truth: the ability to easily back up, access, share and store data in the cloud without even thinking about it is the real value here. Ten years ago, data backup procedures required hardware, manual action and strict protocols. Today, even a non-techie can backup, store or share data in the cloud without even thinking about it. What is driving cloud growth is that it is so easy to use that we can now spend our energies focusing on our core tasks rather than on manual ways of storing and sharing data.

More cloud predictions and other cloud technology posts

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we’re learning as we watch these trends unfold is simply that cloud technology is easily accessible to the average user with minimal barriers to entry. In the early days, changes in technology had to go through the IT department. But the accessibility of cloud computing meant that departments could bypass IT entirely: a sales team could easily implement SalesForce, a marketing team could implement HubSpot and a development team could share documents on Google Drive or DropBox without going through a lengthy IT vetting and installation process. 

The contact center cloud in 2016

A recent report by research firm Frost and Sullivan on contact center modernization predicted that the cloud contact center market will grow to over $3 billion by 2017. This represents the combined spend across ACD, IVR, outbound contact, chat, quality monitoring, workforce management, and analytics applications.

Furthermore, Frost and Sullivan has reported that the adoption of hosted or cloud solutions is not concentrated to any one industry or few industry sectors; rather, it is fairly distributed across industry verticals.  They believe its high adoption in industries such as financial services and healthcare validate the robustness and maturity of the model.

According to the Cloud Contact Center Market Trends Report by Frost and Sullivan, the key considerations for moving to a cloud-based contact center include:

  • Reduced systems maintenance and management costs
  • Reduced IT budgets to buy and manage infrastructure in-house
  • Rapid time to deployment
  • Flexible scalability and business agility
  • Ease of provisioning and managing multi-site operations
  • To support remote / at home agents

It only makes sense that contact centers are flocking to the cloud with the abundance of benefits and the increasing simplicity.  Will the cloud contact center market reach $3 billion by 2017? Only time will tell. But based on the growth we are seeing at Spoken and the immense benefits our clients are receiving, we certainly think so.

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/real-driver-cloud-adoption-2016

Publish Date: July 7, 2016


Top five customer service trends of 2016

Even though we are a technology company, pretty much everything we do here focuses on one thing: improving customer service and the customer experience. The products and services Spoken creates enable the customer service departments, in a wide variety of industries, to do their jobs and provide a high level of customer satisfaction to their clients. Needless to say, (but we’ll say it anyway) we tend to watch the trends that impact this industry VERY CAREFULLY!  

A recent article detailing customer service trends caught our eye. Not only does this article offer some interesting insights into today’s customer, but it also details some very specific trends that will impact the customer service industry going forward.

First, let’s talk a little about today’s customer and how they have a major role in shaping how customer service is done. Customers today tend to be very savvy and well informed. With a simple “click” on a tablet or smartphone, a customer literally has a wealth of information about the product itself as well as access to dozens or hundreds of customer reviews.   

Online customer reviews have been the key factor in upending the business to customer relationship. Why? Because they’re right there for all to see! By reading online reviews, customers can see how problems are handled and whether or not the business truly does value their customers by seeing to it that they’re satisfied especially if there has been a problem. Online reviews as well as social media platforms have forced a transparency in the business world that didn’t exist even ten years ago, and this has had a HUGE impact on customer service. Basically, if a business is not tracking brand mentions online and engaging in conversations via social media--well, as we used to say in the days of The Cluetrain Manifesto, "the conversation is happening out there, with or without you."

Customer service trends in 2016

But aside from understanding that markets are conversations, 2016 has brought a plethora of new trends to the customer service space.

  1. Quicker responses: Customers who complain on Twitter expect a response within 60 minutes. A recent study showed that customer expectations of email response time has sped from four hours in 2014 to just one hour in 2015. It's no longer acceptable to deliver a response in 24 or 48 hours. And what about on weekends? It may be time to review and refresh your response rate policies.
  2. Video chat: This is a new and innovative technology that is beginning to emerge and can be seen on popular tablets. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX, for example, feature the Mayday button, which allows a customer to connect with an agent within 10 seconds via a one-way video chat. And medical video chats are becoming all the rage; even insurance companies are covering these effective, low-cost service calls. Other companies are beginning to hop on the band wagon with their own versions of this; expect this technology to become much more common in the future. 
  3. Making self-service easier: Zendesk reported that 91% of customers said they would happily self-serve using an FAQ database rather than contacting customer service directly. Making your FAQ section more robust and easy to navigate will become increasingly more important moving forward. Businesses can beef up this section simply by mining the interactions between the customer and the agents.
  4. Connecting with customers on every channel: In the 2015 Call Center Report, one key conclusion we discovered is that customers each have a preferred channel, and it's fruitless to try to drive them to another channel that isn't their preference. Customers want a variety of options when it comes to communicating with a business, so be sure you have phone, e-mail, live chat, text and social media covered.
  5. Rewarding success: Building a company culture of care and going the extra mile will foster a customer service department that is committed to customer satisfaction. Happy employees make the best customer service agents, so invest in team building and employee appreciation events to ensure the best team possible.

The 2015 Call Center Report: Telephone wins and IVR loses

What trends do you see as we move through 2016 and into 2017?

 

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/customer-service-what-are-the-trends-shaping-this-industry-in-2016

Publish Date: June 28, 2016


Three business intelligence trends impacting your call center in 2016

Business Intelligence, often abbreviated BI, is the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. You probably already know that there are tools available today that businesses can use to gather information that will help them make informed business decisions.

And most businesses use some form of BI, but there are several factors that affect whether businesses are actually using their BI tools to full advantage. After all, if the intelligence isn't comprehensible or actionable, how intelligent is it, really?

Tableau recently released a report citing 10 trends that are impacting Business Intelligence in 2016. I found that three of them ring especially true for the call center.

1. Data integration 

Many companies today want to have agile analytics. In other words, analytics or business data that allows them to see the big picture instead of just the pieces. Think of it like a puzzle: you’ve got hundreds of pieces that need to be put together before you are need to see the full image to figure out what to do next. Data integration is a bit like the finished puzzle: it allows a company to see the whole picture by integrating data from various departments and putting it all together. The call center is one particular business that benefits greatly from data integration. With analytics and data coming off the Automated Call Distributor (ACD), the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, the Interactive Voice Response (IVR), speech analytics and customer satisfaction surveys, it's essential to be able to get the full picture of the complete customer experience data.

For example, if the ACD data indicates a long hold time, the CRM indicates the third call this month, the IVR indicates a high-value customer and speech analytics show dissatifaction keywords, a 360-degree view of that data in one place could lead a supervisor to save a lost customer in real time.

Four insights your call center analytics SHOULD reveal

2. Cloud data and cloud analytics 

As enterprises have continued to embrace the cloud, they’ve learned that it offers the analytics agility they need. The cloud has been proving over and over again that it is safe, reliable and adaptable to a business’ specific needs.

Six cloud predictions for 2016

3. New technologies 

New technologies are constantly emerging to adapt to customer expectations in the contact center space, and call center technologists are inevitably scrambling to catch up. In 2016, we are seeing increasing demand for multichannel contact center support as well as speech analytics, real-time reporting and cloud transition support. This is where BI comes in: new technologies mean new data information sources, which contribute to a more complete picture. For example, when customers implement the Spoken Smart IVR, there is a wealth of new data about the automated interactions newly available: every single customer utterance as well as any Guide corrections are compiled in a database, which makes it easy to visualize the information and spot areas for improvement.

For example, one customer noticed that callers were giving a 10-digit number when asked for their street address. Aha! That is probably a phone number. So we worked with them to automatically run any response to the "What is your street address" IVR prompt as a phone number. The results? A 10% jump in caller identification rates!

Spoken Smart IVR case study for Guthy|Renker

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/three-business-intelligence-trends-call-center

Publish Date: June 22, 2016


Body Language 101 for Business

Does our body language REALLY matter in our day to day communication? Aren’t our skills and qualifications all that we really need to be successful in our lives and chosen vocations? One would think the answer to that would be “YES, of course”, however, according to non-verbal communications experts, the answer to that question would be “NO! Body language is extremely important!” In fact, our body language could be the difference between staying stuck in the same position or advancing up the corporate ladder.    

Let’s take a look at some ways that positive body language can make a significant difference in how you are perceived.

Posture: Sitting or standing with good posture, shoulders back, spine erect and head up conveys to the listener that you are confident and comfortable in your own skin.

Approach people directly: Rather than approach people from behind or from the side, it’s better to approach them head on and while conversing with them, make sure you stand face to face. This will allow you to hold their attention while you speak to them.

Eye contact: This one is SO important! Good eye contact allows you to establish trust between you and the person you’re addressing. Think about it for a minute; when you speak to someone who can’t look you in the eye, doesn’t it make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps even a little suspicious?

Voice Pitch:   Did you know that breathing deeply and lowering the pitch of your voice will project a calm confidence when you speak? Try it sometime.

Use your hands: Using your hands in certain ways can also work to your advantage. It will cause you to feel more engaged in what you are saying, but you do want to ensure that you are not being aggressive or invading someone else’s space. One specific gesture is called the “steeple gesture.” Touch the tips of your fingers together while keeping your palms open. Believe it or not, this communicates sincerity.

So these are some of the positive body language habits that you want to put into practice. The following infographic details some of the more negative body language habits that can be a hindrance to your success.

Where do you fall between the two lists?  Do you think body language really matters?

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/body-language-101-business

Publish Date: June 16, 2016


Top Three Misconceptions About CCaaS Solutions [Webinar]

If you’re reading this post, I'm going to assume that you’re curious about transitioning your contact center to a CCaaS or cloud model. That said, you may also be reading this because you still have reservations about uprooting your on-premise contact center infrastructure. So here you are, diligently investigating to avoid making an unwise investment and losing control of your contact center altogether.

If you currently use on-premises contact center infrastructure such as Avaya, you might feel attached to your legacy technology. And we get that; it's a huge financial and cultural investment. But did you know that Avaya recently teamed up with Spoken Communications to present to you—the skeptical contact center supervisor—a CCaaS model that looks, feels and functions just like your old Avaya system, but with the added benefits of the cloud?

Six barriers to entry to the Avaya cloud call center (and how to overcome them)

Top three CCaaS objections

After spending last week at the Avaya user group conference (shout out to our new friends from Avaya Engage 2016!), we heard quite a few objections to the cloud. Happily, most of those concerns have been overcome in the last few years:

  1. A rip and replace will be disruptive. As with many things, this is an "it depends" answer. Yes, if you go with a cloud-in-a-box vendor, a rip-and-replace approach can be exceedingly disruptive. However, that is not the only approach to a CCaaS transition. We have found that a gradual method works much better and prevents rollbacks. You can choose the type of cloud that works for you--shared, dedicated or private--and choose a transition pace that prevents business disruption. 
  2. I'll lose control of my system. Not true! Many cloud solutions offer a level of control. The Spoken CCaaS solution powered by Avaya is designed to afford a 360-degree view of your operations. Get a 24/7 online dashboard to administer agents and users, play back and download call recordings, view real-time reports or even listen in on live calls. You stay in control of call center operations without the hassle of on-premise infrastructure.
  3. The cloud is always less secure. This is a myth we've been working to bust for years, yet many still believe that news headlines about hacks mean that all cloud platforms are inherently insecure. Again, this is an "it depends" answer: yes, some cloud platforms are vulnerable to security breaches. But most cloud platforms offer far better security than on-premise ones. A few questions to ask your cloud vendor:
    1. Are all the data centers PCI Level One compliant?
    2. What is your call encryption protocol?
    3. Do you provide unique encryption keys for each interaction?
    4. Do you encrypt the live call or wait until it is completed?

Five things you need to ask about security when choosing a cloud contact center vendor

Want to find out more about what it's really like to take the leap into a CCaaS model? Join our webinar this Wednesday at 10:00 Pacific/1:00 Eastern in which leading BPO CIO Martin Ingram shares his experiences with moving to the Spoken CCaaS powered by Avaya:

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/three-common-misconceptions-about-contact-center-as-a-service-solutions

Publish Date: June 13, 2016


Five innovations cloud call centers offer that on-premise doesn't

Call it what you want: virtualization, cloud or distributed computing. But the cloud is one of the most innovative technological advances to hit the call center in a long time. It has literally changed the way that organizations operate, and its effect on the call center industry has been nothing short of revolutionary.

According to Frost and Sullivan, the cloud contact center market is predicted to grow to $3 billion by 2017. More and more call centers are migrating their premise-based solutions to cloud-based call centers and finding that, in addition to delivering on the standard promises of cost savings and scalability, cloud vendors are also leading the way in technological innovations for the call center.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways the cloud is innovating the call center:

  • Streamlined logins With many on-premise call centers combining solutions from three or more vendors, it's not unusual for the agent login process to be convoluted and end up driving unnecessary calls to technical support, thereby decreasing the agent's productivity and increasing the cost of supporting agents. Cloud vendors have leveraged the uniformity of SaaS and can often streamline the agent login process, ending calls to tech support and skyrocketing agent productivity.

Arise case study: Spoken Avaya CCaaS cloud reduced internal support calls by 99%

  • Live call observation: Because cloud solutions don't require on-site installations, useful tools such as live call observation for remote agents can be implemented quickly and easily. Rather than relying on a supervisor walking around a brick-and-mortar call center, cloud-based live call observation allows any supervisor working at any location to listen in on any live agent call at any time and give a coaching whisper when needed.
  • Speech analytics Many call center cloud vendors are showing their innovation expertise by setting up internal think tanks to create technology that addresses common call center issues. For example, call transcription and speech analytics tools can provide data insights that can help drive call center quality best practices.
  • Agent verification With a growing portion of call center agents working from home, verifying agent logins has become even more critical. For example, Spoken has developed a voice product that compares an agent's voice print to original samples to ensure no imposters are logged into the system.
  • Smart IVR IVR is a critical yet often overlooked component to the customer service experience. Current research suggests that, for most tasks, a large percentage of callers prefer self-service rather than speaking to a live agent. Interactive Voice Response is the means by which a contact center offers a self-navigating solution to customer inquiries or problems, but it hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. Except for this bit of cloud innovation: Spoken's patented Smart IVR combines the speech recognizer with an online dashboard and a Silent Guide who performs near-real-time corrections to caller utterances, thereby increasing the call completion rates and dramatically decreasing misroutes and opt-outs.

Neat case study: Smart IVR increases routing accuracy and lowers costs

  • Call recording It's no secret that on-premise call recording is klunky, incomplete and expensive. Cloud vendors improved not only the quality but the quantity and availability of call recordings. And, as mentioned above, many cloud vendors are also implementing innovative analytics programs to suss out even more data and insights from call recordings.

What innovations would you like to see next in your cloud call center? Let us know in the comments!

Want a more in-depth look at the reality of transitioning your Avaya call center to the cloud? Register for our upcoming webinar on June 15th.

WEBINAR June 15: Transition to Cloud with Avaya: a Customer Case Study

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/five-cloud-call-center-innovations

Publish Date: May 26, 2016


Webinar: a customer perspective on transitioning to the Spoken Avaya CCaaS cloud

A leading BPO shares the real experience of transitioning to an Avaya cloud with Spoken Communications

You’re an Avaya loyalist. You love your on-premises infrastructure. And while you understand the benefits of the call center cloud, you certainly aren’t interested in investigating a cloud transition that doesn't involve an Avaya ACD. You might even fear that transitioning to the cloud means uprooting your current call center systems, retraining employees to use new tools and, worst of all, compromising productivity that results in an optimized bottom line.

What if we told you that you could keep all of your familiar Avaya call center technology and seamlessly transition to the cloud at the same time?

It’s true; you can now abandon your fears of a nightmarish cloud transition when you use Spoken Communications to easily and seamlessly move your Avaya call center technology to the cloud. Sound too good to be true? It isn't.

On June 15, Spoken is excited to bring you a webinar that will detail the case study of Arise Virtual Solutions and how that major outsourcer transitioned from an on-premise system to the Spoken Avaya CCaaS. Arise CIO Martin Ingram will share the driving factors, the challenges and the end result of moving to an Avaya contact center cloud. Webinar attendees will learn:  

  1. The value of a highly reliable and secure Avaya cloud CCaaS and simplified utility-based pricing structure.
  2. Common pitfalls of transitioning and how to avoid them
  3. How to evaluate and differentiate common cloud delivery and pricing models.

Click here to register for this webinar on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

There are a myriad of benefits to transitioning to the cloud and we can help you transition at a pace that is comfortable to you.  Additionally, you can save on Avaya licenses and gain all the benefits of the cloud while sticking with your tried-and-true Avaya system. You can continue to use all the same tools in the cloud, so throw your worries of productivity loss and retraining employees to the wind. When you use Spoken to transition to the cloud, you can take it step by step, or, perhaps more appropriately, app by app.

Have we piqued your interest? You can also learn more about this exciting opportunity to leverage Avaya in the cloud by registering to attend the International Avaya Users Group conference in Orlando, Florida June 5-9, 2016.  Spoken will be there--come visit us at booth 117! We hope to see you there. 

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/spoken-avaya-cloud-call-center-webinar

Publish Date: May 23, 2016


Seven things to consider before selecting a private cloud vendor

Is an Avaya private cloud right for you?

The cloud is probably the most cost-saving innovation in call center infrastructure since the invention of the IVR. Many vendors will offer private cloud options, especially to owners of Avaya infrastructure who want to stay in the Avaya system. With a dizzying array of options ranging from homegrown public clouds to Avaya public clouds to Avaya private clouds to hybrid offerings, it can be difficult to know which cloud configuration will deliver the most benefits to your organization. 

Curious about an Avaya private cloud? Stop by Spoken booth 117 at IAUG.

Benefits of a private cloud

A private cloud, also known as the “internal” or “corporate” cloud, differs from a public cloud in that the physical servers reside within the company's environment or colocation. Unlike a public cloud, which may house tenants from multiple companies, access to a private cloud is restricted exclusively to the company employees or business partners. There are five key attributes the private cloud offers:

 

  1. Offering resources (infrastructure & applications) as a service
  2. Flexibility and scale that meet client demands
  3. Resource sharing among large number of users
  4. Measurement and payment according to use of the service
  5. Use of Internet protocols and technologies to access cloud resources

Drawbacks of a private cloud

Wherever there are benefits, there are drawbacks. Depending on the vendor selected, a private cloud solution can carry with it some of the drawbacks of a premise-based solution, including a lack of redundancy and a lack of security. While these can be implemented, the cost might increase in order to accommodate the additional servers required for full redundancy or to become PCI level one compliant. Additionally, some of the anticipated cloud cost benefits can be lost, since a large capital expenditure is still required.

How to select a private cloud vendor

When selecting a vendor to provide a private cloud solution, consider the following:

  1. Do you have a name brand system of preference, such as Avaya or Cisco?
  2. Is the vendor partnered with those brands?
  3. If the cloud is homegrown, what references can the vendor provide?
  4. If reliability is a concern, is geographic redundancy included in the private cloud offering?
  5. If security is a concern, will the data centers be certified PCI Level One compliant?
  6. How does the vendor guarantee a smooth cloud transition?
  7. What Service Level Agreements (SLA's) does the vendor provide in terms of maintenance and upgrades?Can the vendor integrate with any existing systems (CRM, IVR, etc.) seamlessly, or will those need to be replaced?

Case study: from on premise to a Spoken Avaya CCaaS private cloud

What about a hybrid cloud?

As you can see, a private cloud can offer great advantages for those who are more comfortable with servers being hosted on site as opposed to publicly. And just to throw a wrench in the debate, there is yet another option: a hybrid cloud.

As with hybrid gas/electric cars, a hybrid cloud can offer the best of both worlds. Companies can keep the systems at highest risk of hacking, such as CRM systems hosting private customer data, on site, while leveraging a cloud-based ACD, call recording and reporting capabilities.

Is an Avaya hybrid cloud right for your call center?

Ultimately, the decision of public, private or hybrid cloud is up to the business requirements and objectives of the organization; one size does not fit all. To find out more about the details of a real-life private Avaya cloud implementation, join us for our upcoming webinar on June 15 at 1:00 PM Eastern.

Webinar: Transition to Cloud with Avaya: a customer case study, June 15, 2016 1:00pm EST, 10:00am PST

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/seven-things-consider-before-selecting-private-cloud-vendor

Publish Date: May 17, 2016


Six barriers to entry to the Avaya cloud call center (and how to overcome them)

Smashing down the most common barriers to an Avaya cloud transition

As we approach the season for the annual International Avaya User Group (IAUG) conference, one thing is becoming clear:  change is difficult. Change is scary. So why in the world should you consider transitioning your Avaya contact center to a cloud-based solution? After all, a cloud transition can often mean taking three steps backward for every one step forward. It can mean retraining your employees and incurring costs associated with downtime and lost productivity, leaving both your customers and your team dissatisfied.       

Stop by the Spoken booth 117 at IAUG to see our new video and to get a live demo!

And let's face it: many cloud vendors promise a low-cost, no-stress utopia, while the end experience ends up being more post-apocalyptic.

What’s more, most Avaya users love their on-premise Avaya contact center solution. Even if competitors are transitioning to an Avaya cloud, there are real objections to taking that step within your organization. All cloud platforms are not made equal, and selecting the wrong Avaya cloud could lead to a world of regret.

Three steps to taming the complex cloud integration

I hear that. So let's talk about the main objections I hear about Avaya cloud transitions. My goal here is not to convince you of one solution or another but rather to bust some of the myths circulating about what a cloud transition is really like.

Barriers to entry for an Avaya-based cloud contact center

Over the years, I've heard quite a few objections from Avaya users about transitioning to a cloud platform of any kind and to the Spoken cloud platform in particular. And I always take it as a sign that we're doing something right, that the cloud is a wise decision for these companies, provided that these issues can be addressed.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. I don't want to swtich off Avaya in order to get a cloud It's true that only one vendor currently offers a public cloud platform with an Avaya ACD and access to Avaya EMC multichannel solution. (And yes, you guessed it: it's Spoken!)
  2. Cloud transitions are always disruptive. While no one can predict the success of every element of a cloud transition, choose a vendor that allows you to transition to the cloud when you want. A tried-and-true method is to start with a small call volume--maybe 5% of total call volume--and test the system. Find the misalignments and bugs. Fix, re-test, repeat. Gradually increase the call volume over as long as 18 months with no disruption. It's not magic; it's method.
  3. I'm worried about sunk costs. The investment in not only Avaya infrastructure but also in the third-party integrations required for call recording, CRM and other systems as well as training to use them is not insubstantial. Here's a recommended approach: keep your sunk investment by retaining all your existing systems. Start with a single application, such as cloud call recording or transitioning a single telephone number to the Spoken Avaya Cloud ACD while leaving the bulk of call volume on the legacy systems. As the systems age out, transition the rest of the volume and applications to the cloud.
  4. I have a complex legacy infrastructure that will be hard to upgrade. Don't we all? Select a vendor that can work with your legacy infrastructure rather than doing a rip-and-replace.
  5. I'm worried that a new cloud solution won't be able to scale with my call volume. The beauty of an Avaya public cloud is that it's designed to house a minimum of 10,000 agent seats. Homegrown cloud vendors can't compete with that volume and provide the scalability your business needs. When you select an Avaya cloud vendor, be sure to ask about maximum call volume: in your wildest dreams of success, how much volume could the cloud vendor take? If you scale to 5,000 peak concurrent calls, will you have to switch cloud vendors to accommodate the additional volume? Or will you have to pay more, if you're considering a private cloud model?
  6. I haven’t heard of Spoken Communications As the head of marketing, that's my fault. We made the decision to put our money into developing the only public Avaya cloud call center platform available today rather than buying advertising to shout about it. But if you've read this far, allow me to introduce us further: Spoken is a technology innovator that provides a cost-effective, secure and high availability call center cloud platform that is the platform of choice for over half of the world's major outsourcers.

And I want to hear your additional objections: what else is keeping you from transitioning to an Avaya cloud? Let me know in the comments!

Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/six-barriers-to-entry-to-avaya-call-center-cloud

Publish Date: May 13, 2016


Is an Avaya hybrid cloud right for your call center?

Choosing the right Avaya cloud for your organization

If you’ve been keeping up with technology trends, you are well acquainted with the cloud and the advantages that it can offer for your contact center, including business agility, scalability and cost savings. However, one of the challenges we run across is that very few contact centers are green field implementations: almost every contact center already has some type of existing legacy infrastructure, very often an Avaya system. And with that comes the question: how can I transition to the cloud without losing the benefits of the sunk costs in my legacy infrastructure?
As part of our series of cloud trends unfolding in 2016, it's time to finally address the concept of a hybrid cloud for Avaya users and why, when and where a hybrid cloud strategy is best applied.
Upcoming webinar June 15, 2016: Transition to cloud with Avaya: a customer case study

The promise of the hybrid cloud

"Hybrid" is used to refer to a cloud solution that is something other than 100% public, multitenant cloud. As we know, a cloud solution is one that is hosted on remote servers. Hybrid refers to a cloud environment that uses some type of mix of premise-based infrastructure, private cloud or third-party, public cloud services with some type of connection among the platforms. Organizations opt to implement hybrid clouds for a number of reasons, including data security and optimization of legacy infrastructure. 

Premise-based infrastructure is purchased outright by the organization and housed on the organization's preferred colocation. Many of Spoken's customers, for example, have existing Avaya on-premise equipment and are interested in transitioning it to the Spoken Avaya cloud platform. Premise-based infrastructure has the advantage of being private; however, it is costly to purchase, expensive to maintain over time and difficult to scale when more volume is needed.
Public cloud refers to cloud services that house multiple tenants, referred to as "multi-tenant." Gmail, DropBox and Amazon Web Services are examples of public clouds. They generally offer high levels of security, scalability and cost-efficiency, since the vendor develops a large host of servers and provides cloud services to a variety of tenants on them. It's simple to scale up or down if your call volume increases or decreases, and there is no large capital outlay to a cloud contract, since you're paying for services only.
Private cloud refers to a single-tenant cloud platform that is implemented for a single organization. A private cloud offers the key benefits of cloud with the added benefit (and drawbacks) of outright ownership. However, it also offers the key disadvantages of premise-based infrastructure, since it must be built and customized for a single company. This model is sometimes called "managed services," since the company purchases the infrastructure for its private site, while the cloud vendor maintains the equipment providing the service.
Three helpful steps for your cloud transition

Step 1: Take inventory

The first step in determining which type of platform will work best for your situation is to take inventory of your current infrastructure. The contact center is a complex web of integrated systems: the ACD, CRM, call recording, IVR and reporting structures must be kept up and running through any transition process.

For example, if you have existing Avaya licenses and infrastructure, you probably want to retain that legacy system and select a vendor that can do a cloud or hybrid cloud implementation as a wrapper over your existing system.

  • Which critical systems must be retained? Why?
  • Which systems have contracts expiring soon?
  • Which systems would most benefit from a cloud transition?
  • Which systems would cause the least disruption with a cloud transition?
  • What will your business look like in three months, six months, a year? Do you need room to grow?

Step 2: Define your goals

If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. What are the primary goals of your cloud transition? If your goal is cost savings and ease of transition, an Avaya public cloud is probably the best option for you. If you want access to innovations such as live call observation from anywhere or 100% call recording, either pure cloud or a hybrid cloud might fit the bill. If, on the other hand, data ownership and security are more important than cost savings or ease of use, a hybrid solution might be the best option.

Step 3: Choose your Avaya cloud

While a multi-tenant or public Avaya cloud works well for most organizations, your goals or inventory may reveal the need for a hybrid cloud solution, with one foot still firmly planted on premise. For example:

  • Data privacy if your client data must stay on site, you might consider an Avaya public cloud ACD that will integrate with your CRM database, which could remain on your private colocation.
  • Business disruption If a key goal is lack of business disruption, you might consider a hybrid model wherein your existing Avaya infrastructure remains in place, and a cloud "wrapper" is implemented on top of it. Access to 100% end-to-end cloud recording would decrease liability, and you would still be able to keep your existing Avaya ACD. Once the current ACD ages out, a transition to an Avaya public cloud ACD could be implemented.

For example, major outsourcer Arise Virtual Solutions had a customer requirement for Avaya but the need to be able to scale for thousands of new agents in a matter of weeks. Since the Spoken Avaya Contact Center as a Service public cloud offered more security than the premise-based solution, Arise opted to leverage the cost-efficient Spoken Avaya public cloud rather than a hybrid model. However, to prevent business disruption, a gradual transition plan was developed. Eighteen months later, 24 customers had been transitioned to the secure public cloud with no rollbacks.

Read the case study: Arise Virtual Solutions transitions to the Spoken Avaya Cloud

Ultimately, the cloud decision for Avaya users is up to you: public, private or hybrid, the key is to meet your business goals with minimal disruption.

Want to find out what it's really like to transition your on-premise contact center to the Spoken Avaya Cloud? Grab a seat at our webinar on Wednesday, June 15, 2016:




Source: http://www.spoken.com/blog/avaya-hybrid-cloud-right-for-your-call-center

Publish Date: May 4, 2016

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