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DiRAD Technologies - Blog

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Get to Know the DiRAD Technologies Team

John Michne is a big part of the cog-work that makes DiRAD run like a smooth piece of machinery. The day-to-day management of our sales operations falls on his shoulders, and as one of the owners of the company, he takes his job very seriously. Here’s a short interview with the man himself, giving you more insight into the person behind the title.

John Michne, Vice President of DiRAD Technologies

Where are you from? Clifton Park, NY

Where did you go to school? I have a BA in Criminal Justice from the State University of NY Oswego, and a Master’s in Public Administration from UAlbany.

What positive steps toward your future did you take early in your career? No matter what job I had when I was young, I showed up, worked hard, and if I saw something that needed to be done, I did it. I didn’t wait to be told what to do.

What inspired you to get into your field? I developed a deep interest in computing and technology during my time in government service and started thinking about technology as a career when people started asking me for help with their computers.  As I looked for a job, I quickly realized I didn’t know half as much as I should, and would have to find something entry-level.

What did you do prior to working for DiRAD? I was a legislative assistant for a county legislature. After an election resulted in my job loss, I worked at a marina and that became one of the best jobs I ever had!

What made you choose to work at DiRAD? This was 1995. I had planned to propose to my wife as soon as I got a full-time job in technology, and this was the first company that offered me a position. I basically faked knowing a lot more than I actually did — these people were smart! I spent my weekends coming into the office to secretly learn the technology. I proposed to my wife 2 weeks into the new job.

What word would you use to describe the company culture at DiRAD? Family

Tell us about family life –I have 2 boys who are very different from each other. One goes to college for music, and the other goes to a military college. I have an awesome wife who’s an ultra-sonographer, and a dog named Wilson who comes to work with me every day.

Tell us about some of your hobbies –  Riding and racing bikes! There is nothing I like better than an epic 8-hour mountain bike race. It takes months if not years to train for and gives me a purpose in my daily exercise routine. I didn’t say I was GOOD at it. To me, finishing is its own victory.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 3:17 PM

COVID Risk Surveys Weighing You Down?

If your company is open for business you may be collecting “COVID Risk Surveys” at the door. Collecting this important information can make a life of difference!

But if you’re collecting this important survey information, then you should be doing so with a system that is healthy, efficient, and cost-effective! Having to print, put out, and collect these surveys can be a hassle. Then, imagine having to transfer the results to a digital database! It must be time-consuming. And of course, with paper and pen, the risk of spreading the virus is increased.

covid survey assessment
drowning in COVID surveys?

DiRAD’s COVID Risk Survey System is an easy-to-use, web-based tool that provides a non-intrusive view into the health of your staff, customers, students, and residents who are entering your locations. Using just a few questions, you can assess a user’s COVID risk and take immediate action based on survey results.


•Create telephone and text message surveys to assess COVID risk for people entering your facilities, and provide further directions to anyone who may be a risk

• Outbound survey function allows text messages and calls to be scheduled to large groups of users, which provides a snapshot of disease risk across the organization

• Intuitive web interface lets you quickly create new surveys, run reports, and manage users

• Text Message Surveys stay on the device or can be directed to a web address

• Available integration with back-end data sources and business intelligence applications

• Available in many different languages

That means dramatic cost savings, with no need to post personnel at facility entrances!

This easy-to-implement and use system provides the organization with up-to-date information regarding COVID exposure risks among its population. It also automatically stores that data in the appropriate place. Another great benefit to the use of this system is it increases accountability and encourages staff to be mindful of day-to-day exposure risk.

To learn more about how DiRAD Technologies can help keep your organization healthy, safe, and compliant call today. We’re here to serve!


Publish Date: June 8, 2021 3:16 PM

Ryann Walters, Call Center Director

DiRAD Technologies Call Center Director, Ryann Walters, is an incredible asset to the business. With such a large outsourced call center located in Upstate NY, handling many large contracts like the NYS DMV, she is an integral part of the team. We sat down to learn more about this amazing woman and her journey. Here is what we learned…

Ryann Walters

Are you from New York, originally? I am. I grew up in Rensselaer, NY and currently live in Wynantskill, NY.

What inspired you to get into your field? I began working in call centers at a young age, entry-level. I was always fascinated by the work that the leadership team and business analysts put in to make the day to day operations run efficiently. I worked hard to make myself stand out and eventually was asked to work on special projects that gave me the opportunity to work closely with these teams and the clients. One day I was given the opportunity at a position that I was not necessarily qualified for “on paper” at the time, and haven’t looked back since.

What makes you choose to work at DiRAD? Wilson Michne, hands down. When I came in for my interview and saw that face, I knew this was the place for me. That and the fact that this was a blank canvas opportunity for me.  I was given the freedom to come in and “do what I do”.  I recognized that there was so much opportunity for growth coming on board with the company.  I am thoroughly enjoying the ride!

Wilson Michne

What word would you use to describe the company culture at DiRAD? Family. I come from the corporate world, and sadly, the sense of family is not the norm. Working in this smaller business setting, with such great people, has been an amazing experience.

What is the Contact Center environment like? Diverse. A lot of different personalities. Which makes it fun and interesting. Never a dull moment!

Tell us about home/family life – I’m married for 9 years this month and we have an 11-year-old daughter, Isabella. I also raised my nephew, Michael, who is like a son to me (he is now 26). I am the youngest of 3 siblings, 1 brother, and 1 sister. We are all very close and love to spend as much time together as possible. I have a great family and great in-laws. Truly blessed.

Tell us about some of your hobbies – I LOVE art and up until COVID, I had a face painting side gig which I absolutely loved, as it incorporates 2 of my favorite things – art and children. My favorite thing to do is watch my daughter play softball. She plays 3rd base and is an absolute beast on the field. So I really enjoy watching her play.

That’s the second DiRAD team member to describe the company culture using the word “family.” To learn more about the team click here.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 3:15 PM

Make COVID Surveys Touch-Free!

Limit in-person contact & handling of frequently touched items, like a COVID Survey!

Our COVID Survey System is touch-free, easy to use, and inexpensive. It’s also NO CONTRACTS! When you no longer need it, just cancel it.

chatbot conversation on a mobile device



• Create telephone and text message surveys to assess COVID risk for people entering your facilities, and provide further directions to anyone who may be a risk

• Outbound survey function allows text messages and calls to be scheduled to large groups of users, which provides a snapshot of disease risk across the organization

• Intuitive web interface lets you quickly create new surveys, run reports, and manage users

• Text Message Surveys stay on the device or can be directed to a web address

• Available integration with back-end data sources and business intelligence applications

• Available in many different languages

That means dramatic cost savings, with no need to post personnel at facility entrances!

But our mass text notification software is not just for emergency situations. Fully customizable, DiRAD’s mass notification system helps government, public, and private organizations communicate to any audience over any device without a heavy investment.

Request a demo today!

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:43 PM

10 Businesses That Benefit From Outsourced Contact Center

If you’ve started a business recently, you know that it requires lots of your attention. You have to be resilient, focused and have a strong mental attitude. Without those things, you’ll be less equipped to handle challenging times. Speaking of challenging times… we’re all living in one of the most challenging times ever.

women working at a call center
DiRAD’s Call Center is in Clifton Park

If your business experiences results, now in the form of awareness, product/service inquiries, and sales, congratulations! To gain an edge on challenges, many businesses are resorting to the use of outsourced contact center services.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 types of businesses that could benefit from using third-party live agents, or outsourced contact center services.


1. Urgent Care Facilities

Whether it’s a sprain, eye irritation, or another non-life-threatening emergency, urgent care facilities are a godsend and alternative to an emergency room visit. With over 9,000 urgent care facilities in the United States, these businesses have seen growth every year since 2013. Providers are also seeing a high volume of patients. Many centers are also sought after for COVID-19 testing. Higher than normal patient volume puts a strain on staff, making it impossible to handle calls and take care of administrative medical office tasks. Outsourcing these crucial calls can lift the burden and allow all medical staff to concentrate on the timely needs of patients with urgent concerns.


2. TransportationWoman standing for train reading text message

Transportation systems need to keep people moving. These systems also need to be prepared to take on questions, complaints, or reports. Even during times of smooth travel with no accidents, or delays, public transportation organizations must be prepared to handle inquiries from customers. The goal is to keep people safe, but make sure the public’s voice is heard.


3. Home Services

Home services are a broad category that may include (but not limited to) plumbing, electrical, painting, moving, and cleaning. Some of the service businesses offer 24-hour emergency service. Imagine a pipe burst in the basement, or no hot water in January, or a sewer system backup. Homeowners need an immediate response, even when it’s late at night or on the weekend. The professional who services the home can put customers at ease by knowing their call will be answered by someone who is trained to answer with care, but also with a sense of urgency.


4. Medical/Patient Care Facilities

Unlike urgent care facilities that see patients unexpectedly for non-life-threatening situations, medical/patient care facilities may treat individuals for wound care, kidney care, or cancer care. These facilities certainly treat patients, but also offer counseling, case management, support groups, and educational workshops. Because of the specialized care given at these facilities, expect that patients and caregivers will call often to check appointments, ask questions, and get details about payments. An outsourced contact center can ensure that patient needs are addressed all while protecting their


5. Health Insurance

If you’ve ever shopped around for a health insurance plan, you know that it can be a complicated and tedious process. Even after settling in on a plan and getting coverage, there can be lots of questions to ask as a customer. From an insurer’s point of view, it’s necessary to handle member inquiries for claims, requests, medicines, and other health matters. With health care spending increases, it means more interactions between providers and patients. Insurers can benefit from outsourcing because it can help them improve customer call experience and prepare for higher-than-normal call volume.


6. Home Alarm/Home Security

When it comes to home alarms and safety, customers require trained professionals who can quickly process calls. It could be a customer calling for alarm reset instructions. Call agents may also have to dispatch police and fire agencies. This type of business needs to ensure little or no hold time, a calming, professional voice, and immediate action. Outsourcing, even as a temporary measure for home alarm/home security businesses, keeps customers, their property, and their belongings safe and sound.


7. Utilities

Utility companies that provide electric and/or gas service to regions owe it to their subscribers to be available, even after hours. Citizens may need to report an outage, or request service be turned off in case of an emergency. Other calls may include questions about rebates, rate plans, payment, and incentives.


8. Member Associations

Member associations provide perks and a level of access that non-members don’t receive. It could be credit card rewards, access to financial planning resources, or identity protection that are offered to members. As an association, there is a constant battle to differentiate yourself and your business model from other organizations. One way to show uniqueness is with direct access to a call agent. Member associations can use outsourced call center services to engage members and reduce in-house organization costs.


9. Commercial Office Cleaningcleaning-service

The commercial cleaning industry is very competitive. There are companies, large and small, that enter the marketplace and offer similar services. However, they need to be responsive to new customer leads and repeat business. If you’re in the cleaning business, your focus is on performing the best service possible, quickly and safely. You shouldn’t have to worry about keeping up with inbound calls. Instead, consider farming out your call center so your business is not bogged down by heavy call volume and customer requests.


10. E-tailers/E-commerce

Not every e-commerce business can afford to hire a staff of live agents who can be available coast-to-coast across multiple time zones. In many cases, electronic retailers are operating on razor-thin margins. Sometimes, it doesn’t make good financial sense to hire agents directly. A contracted third-party service is a sensible solution to addressing the needs of customers who have questions, concerns, and want to give feedback about the service.

Just because you’re a new business or a business that’s been in operation for a while doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore ways to combat the challenges you’re currently facing. Businesses like yours must stay resilient, focused, and strong by making choices that produce a positive impact.


Now, more than ever, you must place a high priority on cost-efficiency, productivity, and the people who matter most… your customers.


Have questions about contracting out your outsourced contact center? Check out DiRAD’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about call center outsourcing.  

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:42 PM

DiRAD Tech Experiences Growth!

July was an amazing month here at DiRAD. We celebrated independence day with our families, saw great growth in business by welcoming new clients, and most exciting of all – growth on our team!

Tracy Liebenow is the new HR Coordinator for DiRAD Technologies, and the team couldn’t be more excited. She comes with years of experience and a fresh perspective on human resources.

DiRAD decided the best way to get to know Tracy would be to pass on the pleasantries and ask her the tough questions straight out the gate.

Here is what she had to say to Jolene Damián, a business development rep at DiRAD Technologies.

tracy liebenow
Tracy comes with a fresh perspective on HR

What did you do prior to working for DiRAD?

Tracy: My background is in Human Resources, but most recently I had taken a slight detour and was working in the realm of Communications & Engagement within the Employee Benefits field.  I had also recently found myself in the role of homeschool teacher/aide which was definitely a new gig for me and one I am not sure I excelled at.


What steps did you take early in your career that helped your growth?

Tracy: Wow, what a good question.  Honestly, I am not sure I knew what I was doing early in my career!  The one thing that I have always been big on is seeing life as a journey and embracing new experiences.  This has not only allowed me to gain a diverse background, but it has also taught me how to be open to change.

Although having processes and procedures is effective and in a lot of ways necessary, I am also always looking at how to improve things and make them more efficient.  I am also the “why” girl – I always like to understand the reason for things so we aren’t just doing them “because that’s how it’s always been done”.


How did you get into HR?

Tracy: Ohhh…I think like many others in this field, we tend to somehow just “fall into it”.  Back when I was in college I didn’t know anything about HR or that it was even something you could go to school for.  I was studying psychology and was actually introduced to the idea of HR through my job at a grocery store – kind of odd, right?  I originally thought I would further my education in psychology, but after moving across the country to Colorado I decided not to go back to school and took a job in HR department at a hospital— and here I am today.


What made you choose to work at DiRAD?

Tracy: It really comes down to one word – value(s).  I was looking for a company where I felt like I could add value and one where the company’s values and culture resonated with me.  I have touched just about every area of HR there is and I wanted to take my experience and use it in a hands-on but also strategic way.  That said, I didn’t necessarily want to chase a title or certain status, and I happened to see that DiRAD was looking for an HR Coordinator.

After doing research, because that is what I do, I liked what I was seeing regarding the company’s culture.  I also came across a video Lindsey Brundege had done on LinkedIn and reached out to her from a networking standpoint.  I liked what she had to say and enjoyed my conversation with her. I had heard other good things about DiRAD as well and just knew this was something I wanted to be part of.  After learning more about the position itself, I felt like it was a place where I could thrive, make an impact and I was excited about the possibilities –at that point, I was all in!


Do you have thoughts on the company culture at DiRAD so far?

Tracy: I have to say, coming into a company, especially from an HR standpoint, during a pandemic is interesting!  With so many of our employees working from home right now I am sure I am not getting the same experience I would have if I started when everyone was still working in the office.  That said, everyone, I have talked to so far has been very welcoming and easy to work with!  I like that DiRAD has a laid back vibe, but that everyone still works really hard, cares about their job and supports each other.  So far, I am excited to be part of this culture and look forward to growing it!


What changes do you see for the future growth of DiRAD?

Tracy: It may still be a little early for me to tell.  There are a lot of outside factors playing into what change looks like right now.  I know that working from home has been going well for us, so we could continue to see more of that into the future, even beyond COVID.  With that, we will definitely have to work on developing our employee engagement and ensuring we remain connected as a team.  I think there is a lot of potential for growth, and I look forward to building an HR function that supports it!

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:36 PM

How is Covid-19 Affecting DiRAD?

How is Covid-19 affecting you?

We’ve been asked that question by vendors, family, and friends. Businesses all around us are suffering as the economy has effectively shut down, due to Covid-19. DiRAD hasn’t been spared from the economic effects. However, telecommunications are essential. It’s a fundamental technology that must operate 24×7. It is critical that our contact center, IVR, and Cloud Phone System customers receive the same level of service and support that they received “pre-virus”.

Covid-19 numbers are dropping in NYC, according to Fox5News
Covid-19 numbers are dropping in NYC, according to Fox5News, as of 7/19/2020

Since we are deemed “essential”, we are free to run our business, fully staffed in both of our locations. However, we won’t do that. We are using our own technology to enable 100% work from home capability for all our employees. This includes all technical staff, sales, call center agents, and management.

We won’t stop there. We’re also providing emergency instances of our Nextphone Cloud Contact Center solution to various state and municipal customers, without requiring purchase orders or contracts, and setting them up for free. This allows staff to work from home, without the need for phones or additional hardware. We understand that our government customers don’t have the time to initiate a months-long procurement process – they need a solution now, and we’re able to get customers up and running within a day or so.

If you could use a hand during the Covid-19 crisis, let us know how we can help. Let us staff your call center, reduce your monthly phone bill, and get you out of your long, expensive phone contract.  Call us at 518-438-6000 today to learn how we can partner with you.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:21 PM

Using IVAs Across Platforms

By now you may have heard of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and understand the basic concepts of how this technology is a great advancement for businesses and consumers. But what does an IVA look like when it is functioning? What are the situations and platforms where you would find an IVA in action? Let’s take a look.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants Examples on Major Platforms

cross platform technology
intelligent virtual assistants work on your website, phone number, and social sites

A popular use for Intelligent Virtual Assistant is for Appointment Applications. Let’s say you want to book an appointment at the hair salon. Historically, you’d have to wait until they open to call them over the phone. Today you can still call to make an appointment and some businesses also have a web-based appointment program. Taking things even further with a single IVA, a customer can call, text, Facebook message or even webchat with the application in order to make an appointment.

Have you ever thought “How can I, as a business, capture customers across all the channels they use to communicate? Can I do that efficiently and cost-effectively?”

An IVA is not limited to the initial platform that a customer chooses to communicate with. A customer may find the need to cross platforms when speaking with a business. With a well-developed IVA, it will be a seamless interaction. For instance, a patient could be on a text chat with a doctor’s office IVA to schedule a routine appointment. At some point, they type in a symptom (i.e., ‘105 fever’) that triggers the need for a more urgent response. The IVA then triggers a phone to ring for an on-call doctor or nurse, or that professional can take over the text chat.

Benefits of IVA Versus Other Technologies

One of the biggest benefits of an IVA from DiRAD offers over other technologies is that it is built using Google’s API. This programming interface is connected to vast AI resources and a speech recognition library. This means it is constantly learning and updating itself. Because of that, the development resources needed for speech recognition are zero. Unless you have a specialized domain where the words and phrases are unique to that space, that is.

In most cases, development efforts can focus on the actual conversation and not the underlying technology. This leads to lower costs and an increase in the situations the IVA can handle. It also frees up resources for other business needs.

When You May NOT Want To Consider Using Intelligent Virtual Assistants

We all agree that a well-developed and maintained IVA can benefit businesses and customers, tremendously. There are some circumstances where an IVA might not be the best solution, though. Since conversations need to have structure ahead of time, anything that requires free-form interactions could be difficult. Information and tasks must be finite. While AI and machine learning are terms thrown around with reckless abandon, IVA’s are still task-oriented, and those tasks must be anticipated during design and development time.

In other words, for the IVA to perform, the performance has to be defined during development. An IVA alone cannot understand something it wasn’t designed to understand, so a skill is built to handle it. These skills are typically unique to your subject matter, business, and specific tasks you want to be able to define and control.

Areas such as emergency services, medical test results, and other emotional scenarios are also not the best application of IVA. Sensitive situations are where automation may never be the best solution. It would be virtually impossible to develop a system for all types of emergencies to allow people to get the help they need quickly. An Intelligent Virtual Assistant may never be able to provide the empathy required to help a patient through a difficult diagnosis. Of course, with technological advancements that could change. For now, businesses need to make sure they look at IVA from all perspectives before deciding to implement it.

Want to talk more about how IVA can be integrated into your business? Talk to a DiRAD expert today. We’re excited about the evolving capabilities of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and how they will help businesses succeed in the future.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:18 PM

The Truth About What Virtual Customer Assistant Tech Is, and Isn’t

Virtual Customer Assistant technology, or VCA,  is becoming more and more a part of everyday business. It’s important to be aware of what VCA can and can’t do today. It is also wise to keep an eye towards the future and plan for what it may be able to do a few years down the road.

Virtual Customer Assistant that helps customers
virtual customer assistants are the future of customer service

First, let’s start with what a Virtual Customer Assistant is.

virtual customer assistant is a business application that simulates a conversation in order to deliver information and, if advanced, takes action on behalf of the customer to perform transactions. Engagement with a VCA is possible via the web, SMS, consumer messaging apps, and more. They look a lot like a chatbot but don’t be fooled.

  • The integration and customization possibilities make this technology incredibly powerful.
  • It is able to perform many of the tasks a human employee might.
  • Things like scheduling appointments, placing or changing an order, or information requests suddenly become automated. What this can mean for a business is fewer man-hours spent on repetitive tasks and questions.
  • It’s estimated that this type of technology could save business owners over $81 billion dollars by 2022.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Virtual Customer Assistant Tech Today?

  • One myth floating around out there is that VCA can be “tricked” or easily broken. It is true that it can be fooled (i.e., it’s not going to understand something that is outside of its context or domain). For example, a customer asking a question where the answer is unknown or unanticipated is common. At this point in time, it would be irresponsible to have a VCA give an answer that it was not programmed to offer.
  • Others believe that the virtual customer assistant is impersonal – a robot-like entity that is not as “warm and fuzzy” as a real person. For certain instances this is true – think mental health issues or life and death medical issues. That is why it should never fully replace human customer service and interactions. But it should, however, augment customer service when a human is not available, like after hours or when all employees are busy. A well-designed VCA’s convenience outweighs the lack of personality. In some cases, a VCA may offer more personality than some humans. Depending on the use of the VCA personality can be added to the technology. In light-hearted situations, "Facts of the Day" or even dad jokes can be programmed into the script. Adding pauses at certain points, or even adding fake sneezes can bring a VCA to life.
  • Lastly, some people confuse VCAs with plain-old bots/chatbots. A bot lacks context and has a very finite number of responses it can give. After an initial query and answer, a basic web bot won’t do much beyond telling you to check back tomorrow, or taking a message. A VCA is trained to perform certain tasks that go well beyond chit-chat and provide lots of value where none existed before. For instance, if a user is asking the question ‘How do I reset my password?’ A chatbot may refer them to an article explaining how to do the process. A VCA will ask for the user's email address and send a password reset link.

What About Developing A Virtual Customer Assistant?

In order to build a robust, useful Virtual Customer Assistant for your business, a developer needs to know conversational logic, your particular customer experience, and the best ways to funnel many different customer interactions to completion. An IVA that is going to be on the front lines for your business must be designed with the entire anticipated interaction in mind. This requires knowledge of your customer’s business processes and their customers’ intent. This intent is the reason for their contact with you – and each reason has a specific path to follow. While customers may have 25 possible intents, you might need 25 responses or ways of handling each of those intents.

An example where these can go wrong is if a patient asks a doctor’s VCA if they should take aspirin for an ailment. It would not make sense, and possibly be unethical, to have it answer. At this point, the VCA would not have all the knowledge a doctor would have regarding diagnosing patients. Not to mention that it may not have access to medical history where certain recommendations could actually be harmful.

That is why it is critical that in-depth discovery and mapping of the potential conversations are prioritized. It will be time well spent. Programming happens when all human elements have been defined. The “defining” is the hard part. The programming is the easy part, at least here at DiRAD Technologies

The VCA solution must mirror your business processes, mission, purpose, and vision. That’s why consulting with experts in the VCA field is always recommended. From planning and development to testing and implementation, DiRAD considers all aspects of your use case in order to build the best VCA for your customers and your business.

What Does The Future Of Virtual Customer Assistants Look Like?

To the delight of many, the emotional analysis ability of VCA’s will continue to improve. This will allow them to adjust their responses based on the user’s mood and sense of urgency.

In the future, speech recognition technology will become more advanced. Your voice will be cataloged and combined with other data points to get a clearer picture of you as a person, a consumer, and a citizen. Voice verification currently exists and there is no real barrier (outside of privacy issues) beyond the sheer amount of data and processing required to map a voice to a person, similar to facial recognition. Everything could be voice-driven. Think of an ATM at your bank. It could be equipped so that it looks at your face and matches it with your voice – no PIN required. And to thwart would-be criminals, a secret word or wink of the eye could trigger an alarm to the police that you’re taking out money against your will.

VCA will also continue to improve intent detection (i.e., what does this person really want), and make more decisions “on its own” about what to say next. Think of a case when someone is calling for store hours 10 minutes before closing. What the caller is really wanting is for the store to be open in 15 minutes when he finally gets there to pick up a birthday gift. For these situations, the IVA can be programmed to give store hours, but also alert a store representative of the question. If there is flexibility in closing times, the rep can pick up the phone and talk to the customer to let them know they would be happy to stay open an additional 10 minutes to accommodate them.

Do you still have questions you aren’t sure of when it comes to what a Virtual Customer Assistant can and can’t do? Is there a project where you feel a VCA would be a great solution, but you just can’t figure out how it would be developed? Give us a call. Our experts love talking with businesses to figure out how the latest technology can help streamline customer experiences and make businesses more efficient.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:17 PM

Working From Home in the Age of Coronavirus

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has led a vast number of employers to consider work-from-home strategies for their employees. While the jury is still out on the virus’s dangers, the fact remains that organizations are getting serious about work-from-home and are asking for help.

The major challenges of work-from-home include:

  • Issues with employee supervision and accountability
  • Loss of the benefits of in-person staff collaboration
  • Telecommunications challenges of a geographically dispersed staff, resulting in disjointed and unpredictable call handling, presence, and messaging. This is often the biggest challenge: companies ask themselves — how can we present a unified, centralized organizational structure when many of our staff are working out of their homes or on the road?

The challenges can be overcome by Voice over IP (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UC), with the bonus effect of financial savings. We don’t have to get technical about it – let’s talk about how it can help an organization thrive while employees are safely working at home.

Business Communication Systems

Unified Communications Allow for Employee Supervision

Today’s improved UC solutions include a function called Presence that indicates an employee’s status at their workstation (wherever that may be). Employees can choose statuses such as “Available”, “Away from Desk”, “At Lunch” and “On Vacation”. If an employee walks away from their workstation, their status can be set to automatically change. The UC system keeps track of time in each status for real-time supervision and historical reporting.

Taking it a step further, many companies have adopted the use of web cameras to ensure employees are working at their remote workstations. While this approach can work, it is suggested that the employer first use less-invasive measures like presence and productivity metrics, then move to camera use if certain benchmarks are being missed. Going “off-camera” can be used as a privilege that is earned by meeting the employer’s expectations of work-from-home employees.

Communication Tools for Collaboration

With work-from-employees separated from each other, there are concerns that projects requiring collaboration will suffer. This can be addressed with unified communication’s video conferencing features. Using this feature provides a live team environment that brings everyone together and decreases feelings of isolation. Many employees just leave their cameras on throughout the day (or are required to) for quick “drop-ins”.

Solving Telecommunications Challenges

Today’s better unified communication solutions include the ability to make and take calls from a PC or laptop connected to the internet. Most of us know that – but a quality UC system also provides the option for calls to be sent to “physical” lines like home phones and cell phones in case there are internet issues. Unified communications also take care of privacy and company appearance challenges by sending the Caller ID of the company when dialing out to customers. A company with multiple locations can leverage this technology to present a unified organization to callers, avoiding the hassles of dialing multiple numbers to reach the right location.

Looking Ahead to Better Work From Home Options

By leveraging unified communication technology,  work-from-home challenges can easily be overcome. In fact, many companies who have made the switch will never go back to the old way. To them, work-from-home has become a no-brainer. It improves productivity, retention, accountability, and safety. It’s also cheaper, thanks to UC solutions that have the added benefit of lower costs. While possible pandemics cause us to rethink our operations, the end result could make things better than they ever were.

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:15 PM

What is Unified Communication? And Why It Should Matter to Your Business

Unified communications (UC) is not just another technical business trend to brush off as something you don’t need. When implemented thoughtfully, and properly, Unified communications can make a huge impact on your business.

Business Communication Systems

What is Unified Communication?

Your business communicates in a number of ways. This could include phone calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, email, text messaging, chatmessaging services, and document sharing. Right now you probably utilize several different solutions to satisfy these various communication needs. Information shared across one platform can only be accessed via that platform. A unified communications solution brings all of these channels together under one system, allowing them to “talk” to each other. This allows information to be shared and accessed across all channels, no matter where you are.

How Does a Unified Communication Solution Benefit My Business?

UC solutions are beneficial to businesses who wish to streamline their communication processes and future-proof their investment to ensure they keep up with the rapid advances in technologies. Here are 7 ways a unified communication system will improve your business.

  • Improves Collaboration

    Nowadays workers spend a significant amount of time working in remote teams. This requires communication tools to be available across devices and without any media discontinuity. It also requires the mass of information to be managed in a structured way. For instance, knowing immediately what changes have been made to an open project and by whom can prevent duplicate efforts, or overwriting someone else’s work. A UC system makes this type of collaboration simple.

  • Supports Remote Workers

    If you have a remote workforce, a unified communications solution allows your workers to securely access company tools wherever they are. This helps to maintain consistency across multiple channels and locations. It is also great for team members who travel to different vendors or partners on a regular basis.

    Furthermore, if your company has a BYOD policy (bring your own device), unified communications make it even easier to implement. Your team can access communication tools on their own device through an app or portal. This keeps all data and communication on record or in the company database.

  • Efficiently Communicates

    There are so many different methods of communication available at our fingertips these days.  Perhaps one client only prefers phone calls, but never on a Monday. And another prefers emails to calls and prefers correspondence in the morning. As you can see, it can make it difficult to keep all these various communication preferences straight. However, by leveraging a unified system, contact information and preferences are stored in one place and can be easily accessed from anywhere. This ensures that you can always use the most efficient method of communication.

  • Integration Capabilities

    Do you utilize a patient communication system or customer relationship management software (CMS)? Your UC platform can integrate with whatever business tool or software you use. This allows you to look up data, pull information, collaborate on a design project, and even send an email all on one platform. Talk about efficiency.

  • Improves Scalability

    UC systems are set up to only use the data and resources that you need now. This means you will never have to pay for services you do not need. However, unlike traditional communication systems, it is easy to scale and add on resources as your company grows.

  • Saves Money

    Bundled communication services through one reliable vendor can save your business in the same way you get a better deal when packaging cable, phone, and internet services at home. Plus, you get the added benefit of dealing with one company rather than trying to coordinate upgrades or troubleshooting with 10 different companies.

    A cloud-based unified communications platform also removes the need to purchase any expensive hardware. This not only minimizes upfront implementation costs but any maintenance and upgrade costs in the future.

  • Collects Meaningful Data

    Want to know how many people your sales team has contacted in the last 30 days? How about which channel was the most effective at closing a deal? Unified communication systems have great reporting features to give you the answers to these questions and more.

Strengthen Your Business Communication

Are you ready to leverage the power of unified communications?  We can help your business customize a secure and affordable unified communications system to improve internal communication, workflow processes, and enhance the customer experience for your organization. Let’s talk through your needs!

Publish Date: June 8, 2021 2:13 PM

How to Create a User-Friendly IVR System

When done right, customers can find an IVR system immensely useful. However, when set up improperly an IVR system can be extremely frustrating for customers.

We have all experienced these situations. You call to book a simple appointment and are all of the sudden loss in an endless maze of questions, passwords, and detail retrieval. This one frustrating experience alone is enough to turn people from a satisfied, loyal customer, to one who has one foot out the door.

Surely there is a better way to set up a user-friendly automated answering system?

Of course there is!

woman working at a call center

10 Ways To Make Interactive Voice Response More Customer-Friendly

  1. Create a Natural Language-Based IVR System

    Rather than relying on a limited menu system, natural language IVR systems allow customers to answer open-ended questions such as “How can I help you?”. Unlike traditional IVR systems, natural language recognizes phrases that are natural for the customer to use and can ask follow-up questions or connect the customer to the appropriate agent or self-service system.

  2. Keep Menu Options Simple

    When utilizing a menu system, it is tempting to offer a variety of different choices. It can easily feel like you are helping your customers by giving them this wide variety of options. However, in reality, all of these options just lengthens the call and can be extremely confusing. In fact, when presented with a long list people find it more difficult to choose the category that best suits them remember which number corresponds to which category.

    Your motto should be less is more. In order to keep options simple, it is best to present your caller with no more than 3-5 broad category options that reflect the most common inquiries. As the call progresses, you can then divide the categories into more specific branches. Remember the motto though. Less is more. Having too many steps can be just as confusing and frustrating as having too many menu options.

  3. Give Popular Options First

    In addition to keeping your menu options simple, it is important to put the most frequently used options at the beginning of the list. This means doing research to find out why customers call in to contact you and prioritizing your menu options on these results.

  4. Personalize Messages to Sound Human

    Your caller will be aware that they are interacting with a computer, there is no hiding that. However, a personalized greeting message can really make a difference and give your interactive voice response system a more human touch. When recording, your voice artist should aim for a conversational tone that sounds natural. Don’t overuse “OK” and “thank you” as that can wind up sounding very phony and computerized.

  5. Don’t Waste Customers’ Time

    Automated answering systems are long enough. For this reason, it is important to avoid unnecessary messaging like “your call is very important to us”. Most IVR openings include an introductory message that clearly identifies the company. This is fine, but make sure that this message is short and to the point. It should be no more than 7 seconds. Don’t waste time with marketing messages. Instead, save those messages while the caller is in the queue.

  6. Give The Option To Speak to A Real Person

    Even the best-designed IVR systems cannot serve all callers. Because of this, it is important to let them a caller get to a live person at any stage of the call. Or if a live person is not an option, at least give them an option to request a callback.

  7. Allow Barge-In

    In order to respect your caller’s time, it is important to give them the capability to skip ahead and choose their option at any point. This is particularly crucial for longer menu options. Forcing a caller to wait until the end of the menu options list leads to unhappy, frustrated customers.

  8. Provide Alternate Channels

    These days, not everyone wants to talk on the phone. Particularly if your customers fall into the younger demographic. We recommend providing an interactive text messaging “IVR” option in addition to your traditional phone IVR.

  9. Consider Multi-Language IVR

    Depending on where you live and who you serve, a multi-language IVR system could be a must. This kind of IVR system could be built with plenty of self-service features and reduce the need to hire alternate language staff to handle calls. When choosing your voice talent for alternate languages, be sure you are utilizing a native speaker for the best results.

  10. Collect Feedback

    After you go live with your IVR system, it is important to regularly review your setup. Review your IVR abandonment rate, first call resolution rates, and customer satisfaction levels to see where your process and messaging could improve.

Create The Right IVR Solution with DiRAD

As a leader in speech technology, we have worked with businesses of all types and sizes to deliver next-generation interactive voice response systems that customers prefer to use. If you are committed to creating a user-friendly IVR system from the get-go, we are here to help. 

Publish Date: May 10, 2021 9:02 PM

When Should A Business Not Use Texting?

businessman texting on mobile device
As we have previously discussed, text messaging can be a valuable tool for your customer service team and your entire company. From the convenience to the low cost to the flexibility, texting has made its way to the mainstream when it comes to communication between customers and businesses.

With all that being said, there are situations where we would advise against using text messaging and use alternative forms of communication with your customers. Let’s take a look at a few.

When you don’t want personal information floating out there forever. If something is sent via text, there is a strong chance that the information will be stored somewhere indefinitely (particularly if the storage of text communications is something you have set up on your business side, but also with regards to the information that is stored on a customer’s device). This is great for you to review customer contacts, track commonly asked questions, and research customer history. But what about personal information like social security numbers and passwords? It is best if that type of information is not stored in more places than it has to be. For situations where a customer will have to communicate personal information, it is better to stick with more traditional methods.

When you don’t trust your staff to reply with sound responses. What if you are not confident that your customer support team will be able to communicate in a professional tone over text? Some new hires or disgruntled employees may fall into this category. A well-formulated script can always be developed that staff can copy/paste to use while learning the ropes. But with humans, there is a possibility that they go off script and react to a nasty text from a customer by sending something that could be used against your business (i.e., the customer screenshots it and posts everywhere).

Sensitive conversations require a certain amount of empathy from the staff member. Sometimes the tone of a text can be lost by the person reading it. Is the sender joking? Being sarcastic? Downright serious? And often responses from businesses to customers stick to the facts and lack emotion. Knowing that it’s easy to see there may be times when texting just isn’t enough for your customers, and a phone call or video call be in order. This could circumstances involving an account of a deceased family member, issues arising after a disaster strikes someone’s home, or when an issue has persisted after more than one complaint.

Still have questions as to whether or not texting is a viable solution for your business? Give us a call. We’ll be happy to explore your current setup and discuss ways incorporating texting into your customer communications could improve the quality and productiveness of your business.

Publish Date: May 10, 2021 7:57 PM

What Chatbots Can Do To Assist Customers After Hours

chatbot that helps customers
One of the best ways to make your customers happier, relieve some stress on your employees, and make your business more efficient is to utilize chatbots during your non business hours. By offering a chatbot to your customers throughout your off hours, customers can get the answers and support they need on their schedule. The number of employees needed for after hours support is reduced, meaning less odd hour schedules. And by giving certain types of support during off hours, customers who need to actually speak with a representative during normal business hours will get through quicker, as call are now spread out over 24 hours instead of 8 to 12.

Questions And Issues Chatbots Can Assist With After Hours

If you have decided that intelligent virtual assistants and chatbots are the perfect complement to your customer service team, the next step is to plan out what they will actually support with. After your business closes and before it opens again the next day, what are some of the most popular things that chatbots help your customers?

First, chatbots can continue to answer general questions your customers may have. Any answers that have been programmed ahead of time are ready to be sent to customers who ask. Many companies start with the question and answer sheets that representative use, and then they will ask all employees for the most common questions they receive. This is an ongoing process, but once a question/answer pair is programmed into the chatbot customers will be able to get their answer any time, day or night.

Bots can also be integrated with data sources to provide specific information to customers. This could include the status of a customer’s service (i.e., is it in progress or completed), the making or cancelling an appointment, and even reordering a product.

Let’s take a doctor’s office for example. Sometimes a patient gets sick in the middle of the night and needs to see the doctor first thing in the morning. Rather than wait to call when the office opens the next day, they could use a bot to check for openings and setup the appointment immediately. This allows the patient to get a little more rest, and it does not require additional staff for the doctor’s office.

Certain troubleshooting issues your customers may be having during off hours can be remedied by a chatbot. This is definitely something many customers would appreciate. From password resets to interactive problem-solving applications that are industry- and product-specific, there are plenty of common troubleshooting issues that can be solved without a human representative on the other end of the line.

Ready to explore the benefits can provide your business after hours? Give us a call. DiRAD is excited to partner with you to plan and develop an innovative chatbot to improve the customer experience you are offering.

Publish Date: May 10, 2021 7:48 PM

How Using Text Messaging Can Help Your Business

The way that businesses and customers interact is always evolving. From face-to-face meetings to ordering products by mail to online forms, each step was seen as an improvement in some way by both customers and businesses.

And it’s no different with the next step – Business Text Messaging. In today’s day and age, communication between a business and a customer can effectively be done via SMS/text messaging. In fact, many on both sides of the conversation actually prefer to communicate this way.

What Is Business Text Messaging?

Side Note: We are not talking about marketing via text messaging here. We’re talking about consumer-initiated communications or consumer-approved messages. If you are thinking about executing any marketing campaigns with text messaging, it would be wise to research any current laws and regulations you will need to keep in mind.

Business texting can improve customer service, consulting, and negotiating. Any number of conversations that would traditionally be done over a phone line can be had via text.

It can be done from one mobile device to another, which is very convenient for small companies and startups. But the beauty of business texting is that text messaging services can be set up to go through your main phone number to someone at a computer. No new equipment is necessary.

What Are The Ways Text Messaging Can Help Your Business?

The ability for employees to correspond with multiple customers at once. With text interactions, when there is a line of communication open between a customer and an employee, that does not restrict the ability of other customers to reach you. Text interactions allow any employee to correspond with multiple customers at once, without making the client feel like they are going to wait on hold too long.

Lower costs and resources to manage a support team. With the ability for employees to have multiple text messaging chains active simultaneously, you don’t need as many people to handle the phones. If you can guide your customers to engage with your business over text, it becomes cheaper for you.

Easy archiving. Texts are stored in applications like the one DiRAD offers. You can run reports and track interactions in an instant. Customers may also save the texts (even if for a short period of time), so they can reference your response instead of having to call back again.

You’re giving customers what they want. Texting is a preferred method of communication for 18-34 year-olds, even when it comes to talking with businesses. If you cater to this demographic, you need to offer texting.

Customers enjoy the convenience of texting a business. In today’s world, everybody is busy. Finding a dedicated window of time to call and possibly wait on hold is sometimes impossible. Giving customers a texting option so they can shoot you a message with their questions and concerns allows them to go about their day, knowing that an answer will be there when they look at their text messages later.

Text solutions can include popular apps that consumers use. Being able to communicate with your customers on messaging apps they typically use (i.e., Whatsapp and Twitter) only increases the probability they will use it, allowing you to provide a positive customer experience.

Text solutions offer the ability for more comprehensive communications. In addition to the messages themselves, communications via text can include attachments such as photos (i.e., a pic of the problem a customer is having), forms (i.e., the form the customer is looking for), or marketing materials.

How To Get Text Messaging For Your Business

Are you excited about the opportunities that text messaging can bring to your business? Do you have ideas of your own that you are planning to use texting for? Whatever the situation, when you are preparing to introduce a texting solution to your customers, contact DiRAD. Our professionals will help you develop a plan and figure out the best way to implement it within your company.

Publish Date: April 29, 2021 3:54 PM

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