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Evolve IP - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 2

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Is your temporary Work From Home solution letting you down?

On Friday, April 3rd, Zoom reported an outage due to strains reported on the cloud video conferencing platform. Because of this outage, clients were reporting error messages after attempting to log into Zoom’s web client. According to Zoom’s status page on Friday, their web client is currently under maintenance and they are trying to get the Zoom web client and web SDK back online.

Additionally, on Wednesday, April 1st, Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, enacted a freeze on all feature development for 90 days due to security and privacy issues such as information leaks reported by users (a.k.a “Zoombombing”).

While Zoom gained popularity during the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the limitation of offering video conferencing capabilities alone coupled with the recent incidents have got businesses wondering if Zoom is a reliable and long-term solution.

Is this the rise or fall of Zoom? Is it indicative of a larger issue with a piecemeal approach to your work from home strategy (or lack thereof)?

What businesses need today – an integrated strategy

Most businesses, employees and customers that we’re interacting with today are looking for an integrated solution that strategically meets these three requirements:

  1. Enables everyone to work from anywhere on any device
  2. All-in-one voice-enabled platform-level collaboration solution
  3. Secure, scalable and long-term

Introducing Microsoft Teams

In a span of two years, Microsoft Teams has become the leading collaboration platform world-wide. It is used by 93 of the Fortune 100 companies and 44 million users daily. Microsoft Teams delivers world-class collaboration features such as collaborative, persistent chats, desktop sharing, file sharing, group editing, multi-party audio/video calling, remote/mobile/guest conferencing and more – all in one place, on one platform, with one click. But what about voice?

Introducing Voice-Enabled Microsoft Teams

That’s where Evolve IP comes in. Evolve IP combines the world’s most stable Cisco hosted PBX platform, with Microsoft Teams to deliver advanced PBX features and contact center functionalities that enable businesses to work securely from anywhere on any device. Evolve IP’s Microsoft Teams solution has helped our associates and customers successfully carry out business and work remote during this pandemic. And whether it’s the Zoom outage that was reported on Friday, April 3rd or a collaboration provider’s outage, Evolve IP has you covered.

Mobile Workspaces –  a better solution than ‘just’ Desktop as a Service

Ditch the VPN with Evolve IP’s Workspaces and give your associates easy identity management and access to all of their SaaS applications, as well delivers data center applications to any device, wherever your users are and whatever devices they are on. IT also features full cloud desktops for power users with heavy OS needs.

Integrated with Evolve IP’s collaboration and voice solutions we deliver a seamless, strategic Work Anywhere approach that keeps businesses productive, secure and mobile.

Business Continuity

With Evolve IP’s award-winning OSSmosis portal, clients can quickly and efficiently reroute incoming voice traffic to an alternate phone number. So during a crisis, an event of a natural disaster or a Microsoft Teams outage, your associates can enable the business continuity feature on OSSmosis and stay connected.

In addition to the call forwarding and remote office option available for voice via Evolve IP’s OSSmosis portal, our Microsoft Teams Direct Routing solution differentiates itself by delivering advanced PBX features, contact center functionalities, call recording, receptionist applications, 24x7x365 US based support and dedicated project management all via a platform level integration (and not a 3rd party software like most vendors out there). And because our solution is built on the world’s leading and most stable VoIP platform, Cisco, we can ensure reliability, security and uptime that no other voice-enabled Teams provider can.

We can help

Do you have a complete Work From Home strategy yet? Are you planning to adopt Zoom and add multiple vendors/solutions for PBX and contact center capabilities? Do you plan on providing virtual desktop options for your associates or deliver one-off access or are you planning to migrate to Evolve Teams Enterprise Voice, the only platform-level solution that integrates with the best technologies world-wide, Microsoft & Cisco?

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/is-your-temporary-work-from-home-solution-letting-you-down

Publish Date: April 6, 2020


Remote Work Considerations – Access Control and the Changing Role of Active Directory

Having provided virtual desktop and infrastructure solutions for over 11 years Evolve IP has seen a massive shift take place in the way IT provides applications to end users.  11 years ago, customers were utilizing 90% client-server based software. Meaning companies would acquire a server, whether physical or virtual, install the application and then install the client on each user’s desktop.   

Now, fast forward to today and I would argue that the number is down to around 25%. So, where are all those applications moving? It should be no surprise when I write Software as a Service (SaaS).  Companies like Salesforce.com, ADP, Concur, Outreach are all delivered via a browser with no software to install. 

For the purposes of these posts, I’ll be using the term “before” to describe how applications were delivered to end users in the “old days” and “after” to describe how applications are delivered today.  We will cover the four main differences and what IT has to be cognizant of regarding these dynamics. This first post looks at Access Control.  

As networks matured over time, IT realized they needed some “rules of the road”.  Active Directory (AD) was put in place to control which network resources users could access.  So, by creating user groups with permissions, IT could enable a user with one set of credentials and off they went.   

Unfortunately, SaaS providers are all independent of each other.  Therefore, there is no common framework IT can enable in order to control access to SaaS providers.  In theory, you could control access from the corporate network to decide which SaaS providers your users could get to, but as with many ideas on how to lock down security, that would prove to be completely inflexible in practice. 

The result? IT is forced to not only provide AD credentials for corporate legacy access, but then enable, manage and finally disable access to all SaaS providers individually.   

For enabling and managing access, this equates to a massive commitment of time from IT.  However, the larger consideration here is when employees are offboarded.  IT must first figure out which applications users were given access to when they started, then what access they may have gained throughout their tenure and finally what other applications do they have access to that IT may not even know of – also known as Shadow IT. When this is an amicable parting of ways, it’s more of an annoyance, but when it’s a sensitive or negative offboarding, this can present huge business risk if not done quickly and accurately. 

Remote Work Considerations – Securing the New Corporate Network

Evolve IP has developed a comprehensive solution that addresses the needs of the IT and the business. Workspaces enable mobility and security and give employees the tools they need to do their jobs in ways that make them more productive than ever.

Enter Workspaces

Evolve IP has been working diligently to address the access management needs of businesses while enabling mobility, security. Evolve IP Workspaces include: 

  • Active Directory Integration – Control access to legacy and SaaS applications through AD 
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Increase security posture requiring a second form of authentication 
  • BYOD Friendly – Allow employees to use any device while maintaining security controls 
  • Custom Toolbelt – Users get just the tools they need, the way they want them, increasing efficiency 
  • SSO and Self-Service Password Resets – Users adopt, and adhere to technologies that make their lives easier 
  • Full DaaS capabilities for power users 

Enjoyed this post? Download all four sections of the Remote Work Considerations - Securing the New Corporate Network brief here. For more information about Workspaces please visit www.evolveip.net/workspaces or give us a call at 855-481-3798 for a demo. 

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/remote-work-considerations-access-control-and-the-changing-role-of-active-directory

Publish Date: March 27, 2020


Work from Home DaaS Comparison – Cost Considerations

If your business is considering enabling remote work, Bring Your Own Device or looking to easily provision, update and secure your users with DaaS or a virtual workspace you’re not alone. In fact, according to Gartner, DaaS momentum continues to build – especially in the midmarket. 

To help businesses think through some of the major considerations we developed a comparison guide that outlines: 

  • How projects get funded 
  • Major solution types 
  • Key questions to consider
  • A cost evaluation process
  • Thoughts on overcoming objections 

So, why would should listen to us? Well, Evolve IP… 

  • Has been providing DaaS solutions for over 11 years 
  • Is the largest multi-tenant VMware DaaS provider in the United States.  
  • Our solution has been named in every Gartner DaaS Market Guide since inception.  
  • We also work with Citrix and have deployed virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for clients. 
  • We have tens of thousands of users 

Bottom line, we have a lot of experience to pull from for this comparison. 

Today we will look at the number one question / consideration we hear … What is the Total Cost of Ownership of Desktop-as-a-Service / DaaS 

If you’ve read any of our previous posts you’ll understand why this question / consideration is the equivalent of an online mic drop! Why? It might have been some twisted joke from our Product team, but in this case better is significantly cheaper.  

Looking at DaaS, for almost every provider the pricing model is the same.  You buy a seat, then you outfit the seat with the ancillary parts and pieces needed to actually make the desktop work.  The typical seat itemization would include: 

  1. RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) – this is a tool used to manage desktops.  In our case, we use N-Able.  However, we also allow customers to bring their own solutions to the table and re-use them in our cloud. 
  2. Anti-Virus – In today’s environment you had better protect those devices.  We utilize Trend AV or allow our customers to bring their own solutions. 
  3. Operating System – Pretty straight forward.  Again, if customers have their own Office 365 OS they can bring that along. 
  4. Patching – This is not a requirement, but more and more clients are asking us to apply Windows, 3rd party and AV patches/updates.  We think this is great move because there is ZERO value to the business handling this exercise and you are paying an IT professional WAY too much for such a mundane chore.  Not to mention we’ve never found anyone in IT that wakes up thinking, “I can’t wait to patch my desktops today.” (If this is you, put down the whitepaper and call someone for help!) 

Comparing DaaS Solutions

This virtual desktop or DaaS comparison guide is designed for those who are looking into hosted virtual desktops or desktops as a service (DaaS). It also compares the technology to Evolve IP’s Workspaces solution.

So, how does a typical DaaS solution compare to Workspaces? Here’s a list price comparison. 

  DaaS    SaaS Only  SaaS & Apps  SaaS & DaaS 
Desktop – 8G RAM  $62  $6  $60  $75 
RMM Tool  $6  Included 
Anti-Virus  $2  Included 
Operating System  $7  Included 
Patching  $12  Included 
Total  $89  $6  $60  $75 

Remember when we talked about the 3 user types?  This is when it really hits home.  In the DaaS world, every user is $89.  However, with Workspaces, users are matched with just the tools they need; drastically reducing your overall TCO!   

Here is an example of what Evolve IP Workspaces looks like with 450 users compared to a 100% DaaS solution. 

  DaaS    Workspaces 
Seat Type  DaaS    SaaS Only  SaaS & Apps  SaaS & DaaS 
User Count  450    50  200  200 
Per Seat Cost  $89    $6  $60  $75 
  $40,050    $27,300 

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/desktop-as-a-service-comparison-cost-considerations

Publish Date: March 26, 2020


Desktop as a Service Comparison – Key Questions and Considerations

If your business is considering enabling remote work, Bring Your Own Device or looking to easily provision, update and secure your users with DaaS or a virtual workspace you’re not alone. In fact, according to Gartner, DaaS momentum continues to build – especially in the midmarket. 

To help businesses think through some of the major considerations we developed a comparison guide that outlines: 

  • How projects get funded 
  • Major solution types 
  • Key questions to consider
  • A cost evaluation process
  • Thoughts on overcoming objections 

So, why would should listen to us? Well, Evolve IP… 

  • Has been providing DaaS solutions for over 11 years 
  • Is the largest multi-tenant VMware DaaS provider in the United States.  
  • Our solution has been named in every Gartner DaaS Market Guide since inception.  
  • We also work with Citrix and have deployed virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for clients. 
  • We have tens of thousands of users 

Bottom line, we have a lot of experience to pull from for this comparison. 

Today we will look at the major questions we are asked and considerations we suggestion to businesses around Desktop-as-a-Service  

Questions to Consider When Looking at Desktop-as-a-Service / DaaS and Workspaces

1.What end-user devices would you recommend? 

This is perhaps the most common question we get as customers are looking to either justify a project with a lower device price point, or possibly as a way of reducing the management overhead of local devices. Essentially there are 2 options in this space.  But before getting to that, we like to point out that the cheapest client is the one you already have.  All desktops and laptops are compatible with DaaS and Workspaces so using the existing infrastructure until it dies is always an option and then replace them with one of the options below. 

  • Option 1 - A thin client which has a stripped-down OS and a browser of your choosing.  These devices are great for using either VMware’s DaaS, Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop or Evolve IP’s Workspaces product. 
  • Option 2 – A zero client. Zero clients are slightly different in that there is no OS and the devices boot directly to the login prompt of the virtual desktop provider. For a one size fits all approach, where you’re looking to lock devices down to only a virtual desktop, this is a great solution.  It’s important to note that zero clients sometimes do not support peripherals like check scanners, printers and other USB devices. 

Note: Zero clients are not a solution for Evolve IP’s Workspaces product as it is built on the notion that users should start with a browser (due to having a majority of SaaS applications) instead of forcing them into a virtual desktop OS.  

Finally, there are different flavors of these clients and it can be VERY confusing.  Some are VMware and Citrix certified, some aren’t. If you are going the DaaS route make sure you know if the service supports PCoIP, ICA or RDP and buy the appropriate thin or zero client.  Or, give us a ring and we’ll assist you with the selection.  

2. How do you want to handle legacy applications on internal servers? 

11 years ago, most, if not all, applications were hosted on internal servers. This architecture meant a desktop was needed as the client to get to legacy applications housed in the business’s data center.   

For a customer wanting to offload their infrastructure to the cloud, the obvious choice was to move their servers to a cloud service provider’s (CSP) data center. The CSP would host desktops back to the customer to solve for the latency that had just been created.  Technically, SaaS-like experience was created in that the customer was able to get to their virtual desktop from any device.  But they still had to jump into that virtual desktop to get to their legacy applications.   

Due to the explosion of SaaS, most workforces are now only using  one or two legacy applications.  Unfortunately, the DaaS provider industry is still trying to solve these applications by giving everyone a virtual desktop. Simply put, that’s a waste of money and resources, but most importantly what an annoying way to do your job!   

Evolve IP is breaking the DaaS industry mold. With Workspaces, we are able to publish legacy applications to the user and provide them in a tile-based SSO fashion.  This makes legacy applications look, act and feel like a SaaS application to the user on whichever device they are using.   

 3. How does your business handle security? 

Security is a huge concern these days.  Every week it seems a new malware or ransomware attack floods the chat rooms and airwaves.  DaaS greatly reduces your threat cross-section and allows IT to focus on protecting the DaaS instances in the cloud while client devices cannot transmit infections into the environment. With the explosion of SaaS, one particular area of concern however is an increase in users that are not accessing legacy applications and simply logging directly into SaaS applications. This does present security risks along with creating the arduous process for IT of trying to figure out what applications a user needs or has gained access to over their tenure and then disabling all those application one by one during offboarding.   

With Workspaces, you can still provide a virtual desktop to those users that need them.  But you can also provide a secure, centrally managed way for users that only need SaaS applications to just go directly to those applications.  But, in an offboarding event, all access to SaaS applications that have been integrated into the Clearlogin portal is immediately zapped.   This provides a much more encompassing way of managing user access to legacy as well as SaaS applications and securing the Enterprise. 

 

Comparing DaaS Solutions

This virtual desktop or DaaS comparison guide is designed for those who are looking into hosted virtual desktops or desktops as a service (DaaS). It also compares the technology to Evolve IP’s Workspaces solution.

4. How dependent do you want to be on your provider for provisioning? 

DaaS provisioning is very … let’s just say, manual.  And that goes for Evolve IP and every other competitor in the market.  Whether it’s actual provisioning or billing adjustments it’s a manual process.  This is due to the fact that VMware and Citrix simply have not focused on orchestration in the multi-tenant space.   

Luckily, in 2017 Evolve IP acquired a company that had perfected a backend provisioning system and that engine now drives the provisioning portal for Workspaces.  

Here’s an illustration of adding 10 new desktops to DaaS (the industry-wide practice) vs. 10 new Evolve IP Workspaces users  

DaaS: The customer tells their Account Manager (AM) they need 10 more desktops.  The AM sends a quote for 10 more users.  The customer signs the quote and the AM passes this on to provisioning and a couple days later, without escalations, the DaaS seats are there.  Can it be done in a couple hours in a pinch? Sure, and we have many times.  But the default process noted here is typical.  

Workspaces: IT logs into their portal and creates 10 users, along with their security permissions and applications access, instantly. Resources for pushing out legacy applications or entire desktops are provisioned in minutes.  The portal then reaches out to Office 365 and provisions their licenses … on the fly.  Charges are automatically added to their monthly billing.  Oh, and should you need to eliminate users, the same is true in reverse to deprovision.  Net-net IT can add users, on their own, in a matter of minutes not days.  Larger changes may require account management but for the most part, capacity planning can be done at your leisure instead of while under the gun to make a small change. 

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/desktop-as-a-service-comparison-key-questions-and-considerations

Publish Date: March 23, 2020


Remote Working Preparedness for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The way people work has evolved. Employees expect businesses to provide access to the right tools to be able to work remotely, at any time, on just about every device that you can imagine. According to IDC, 72% of employees will be working remotely by 2020.

And with the outbreak of Coronavirus, it’s become more critical than ever for businesses to be able to support remote working for their employees along with the ability to seamlessly and instantly collaborate with their teams and customers.

Like most businesses, if you have remote employees or plan to implement a Work from Home (WFH) program, Evolve IP has put a Work From Home Checklist together to enable business continuity.

In the meantime, in this blog post series, we’ll discuss the top things that you need to start thinking about to implement a remote working plan:

Implement A Robust Work From Home Platform

The key items to address from a technology perspective are the ability for employees to collaborate with their teams and customers using a single platform along with the ability to access all the tools and business applications that they would need to get their work done. Here are some specific suggestions to consider when determining the right technology platform for your employees:

Virtual Workspaces - Identity and Access Management, Desktop as a Service and More

Control SaaS Applications - Enable an IAM solution with a SSO portal so users will need only one set of credentials. Ide- ally, multi-factor authentication can be added into this offering to enhance security even further. Check if your solution will be hosted in HIPAA / HITRUST, PCI and SOC compliant data centers as necessary.

Help your helpdesk – Some estimates have a single password reset costing upwards of $70 per incident. Lots of remote workers in new environments may tax your help desk more than ever. An IAM / SSO solution will be a big help here.

Legacy Applications and Virtual Desktops – Depending on your users you may have individuals that need access to ap- plications that are hosted on premises. Others may need a full desktop experience to do their jobs. Get a list of user types together and determine needs for hardware such as thin / zero clients.

Team Collaboration -

  • Do your employees use multiple/different collaboration systems today? If yes, have you considered adopting a single collaboration solution such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco UC etc.?
  • What are the ‘must-have’ features for your collaboration solution? Here are the top few that we’ve seen customers typically choose to support their remote workforce:
    • Collaborative, persistent chat with your team members
    • File sharing and group editing simultaneously from anywhere in the world
    • Multi party audio and video calling for a more personalized meeting experience
    • Remote, mobile and guest conferencing with internal and external workforce
    • Presence to learn if your remote associates are available for a quick conversation
    • Workstreams comprising of direct messaging channels to collaborate with Teams
  • Does your phone / communications system integrate with your collaboration software for a seamless experience? If not, then that’s where the market is headed.
  • What are the ‘must-have’ features for your phone system? Here are the top few that we’ve seen customers typically choose to support their remote workforce:
    • Call recording
    • Receptionist Applications
    • Contact Center Features such as wallboard/dashboard, IVR, Callbacks, Surveys, Speech Analytics, etc.
    • CRM Integrations
    • Calling, number porting, global presence
    • Supporting Handsets
    • Miscellaneous UCaaS features
    • Administration portal to configure and manage telephony, voicemail, call center & conferencing functions O Are your employees phone calls / agents customer calls being recorded?
  • Do you have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy? If not, and employees don’t have a work laptop to bring home, it’s a great time to investigate one.
  • How will your employees access applications hosted on-premises?
  • Will you remotely support the at-home equipment? Will your existing Support hours suffice?
  • Where are the support boundaries drawn for personal equipment? Is this solely the employee’s responsibility?

Click here to download our entire Work From Home Checklist to ensure business continuity during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/remote-working-preparedness-for-covid-19-coronavirus

Publish Date: March 9, 2020


Prepare Your Business and Employees for Coronavirus Now – CDC Guidelines Issued

Every year Milan finds itself at the epicenter of couture. Prada, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana and the world’s fashion stars dazzle attendees under the dancing flashes of a hundred Nikon strobe lights. Packed shoulder-to-shoulder for hours on end, guests at Fashion Week share smiles, laughter … and germs.

This year, those germs may have included Coronavirus aka. Covid-19

Shortly after Armani’s vacant runway event, stressed-out attendees boarded their planes at the Milan Malpensa airport, put on their sleeping masks, and departed for home. And in the high stakes, high-pressure world of fashion, they are already back in the office.

In the United States, the heart and soul of fashion is the Garment District in New York City. To get there, fashion house employees walk down 42nd street. They have lunch in Bryant Park. They take subways home. And with about 1 in 38 people in the United States living in NYC they come in contact with more people in one day than many of us will in a month.

Hopefully, no one picked up the Coronavirus in Milan but it’s already here in the United States and it will spread from behaviors like this.

Because of that, CDC guidelines for businesses have been issued and include a range of recommendations including asking at-risk employees to stay home, disinfecting workspaces, and to “ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.”

I can tell you from personal experience that these three recommendations work. Several weeks ago the flu tore through our client technology area. In the space of 48 hours, 3/4 of the team went from sitting at their desks to lying in their beds with fevers, chills and aching limbs. Meanwhile, other associates in surrounding work areas started falling ill as well.

24 hours later during a global collaboration meeting Sue McCurley, Evolve IP’s SVP of Organizational Development, informed senior management that if associates appeared sick they were to go home. Sick associates were not to come back until they were 100% Influenza free. We also disinfected the office.

It worked. The illness stopped spreading essentially overnight. And, because everyone at Evolve IP can collaborate with teammates anywhere on the globe, and also access all of their files and applications on whatever device they wantthere was virtually no loss in productivity. When associates felt better but were still potentially contagious, they were 100% active and engaged with the business.

What’s more, considering how much productivity would have been lost had the virus spread throughout the rest of the company, we were likely saved from an extremely difficult February on many levels!

If you’re a business executive you have a responsibility to ensure the growth of your business and the well-being of your associates. Remote work / telework not only helps protect your business from the next outbreak, it has been proven to make employees more productive and happier. Check out some interesting stats on remote work from Frost and Sullivan (and others) along with how one of our associates uses the tech every day in this quick video.

The attendees of Fashion Week didn’t have a real choice about attending the event. You have a choice about how you handle the pending Coronavirus outbreak in the US. If you have more than 100 employees and are interested in learning how Evolve IP can support your business with the IT recommendations from the CDC please visit our Website at www.evolveip.net and contact us for a demo.

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/prepare-your-business-and-employees-for-coronavirus-now-cdc-guidelines-issued

Publish Date: March 2, 2020


Collaboration Killed the Handset

I have worked my entire adult life - more than a quarter-century - in tech. Specifically, 26 years in what used to be dubbed “telecommunications.” I started with what was originally a competitive long-distance provider who later got into local telephony, then data networking (remember Frame Relay?) and then what was the beginning of the Internet as we know it today, and more. It was there that, in 2003-ish we got into Voice over IP (VoIP).

Then in 2007 I took a leap of faith along with some coworkers and launched a start-up cloud service provider, a couple of years before it was even called “the cloud”. In the 13 years since we began, we’ve grown from a few of us huddled in a tiny make-shift office to a multinational company with about 400 associates. Not only have we experienced tremendous growth, we have also seen our business, products, and industry morph to the market demands.

I consider myself a networking guy with experience in numerous different technologies, but my career has mostly focused on real-time communications — telephony, VoIP,  video, Unified Communications (UC), Contact Center, and nowadays Collaboration. And that’s why I never thought I would do what I did this week.

I permanently removed the phone from my desk.

What? A phone-guy removed his handset? Yes, I did. And guess what, it’s pretty liberating!

Now, I realize this is not exactly groundbreaking. People have been using softphones and apps for quite some time. But until recently I needed that desk phone, and the quality of soft-phones were, frankly, iffy. But no more. Now I regularly hold video conference calls with people around the globe using a Collab client.

You see, we’ve jumped in on Collaboration. All in. And while we believe Collab is the future of communications, we also know that not every user needs the full monty, some just need dial tone. But the major players in Collaboration — Microsoft and Cisco — only fill part of the communications need so we’ve tightly integrated Collab with our cloud PBX and are working on doing the same with Contact Center.

There are physical (“hard”) phones that work with the Collab offers, and I did trial it that way, but I found myself using the soft-client 95% of the time, and the mobility of that, coupled with my virtual desktop, made it just too easy to be able to work that way anywhere.

Yep, I’m a GenX, old-school phone guy without a phone. Welcome to the brave new world.

Check out the full blog here:

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/collaboration-killed-the-handset

Publish Date: February 5, 2020


How to Strike a Balance Within your Contact Center

Your contact center needs to strike a tricky balance. On one side, you need to provide excellent customer service to drive more revenue and retain current customers. On the other, you must ensure your team is servicing as many customers as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Most businesses are adopting Intelligent Automation, IVR & Self-Service applications to maintain this tricky balance.

Did you know?

30% of a customers's interactions with a company's contact center is with an I.V.R. Yet only about 7% of the companies surveyed offer customer solutions through the IVR experience than an agent can provide.
(Source J.D. Power)

The price of resolving a customer need on a call via the IVR versus an agent is a difference.
(source: Al Cook)

Almost one-third of a customer's time is spent in the IVR.
(Source: Al Cook)

Many organizations want the flexibility to let their customers choose the level of self-service they want to address their inquiry or whether they purely want to speak with an agent. This becomes especially useful when the contact center is closed and customers can still get answers to their questions via automation. Not only will voice automation free up your agents to handle more complex cases, but customers can quickly solve basic issues like bill pay, account inquiries, and the many high-volume / low value transactions typically handled by an agent.

Evolve IP’s customers typically see a 20-30% completion rate in these low-value self-service transactions which frees up agents to handle higher level or more sophisticated functions.

For customers that do engage with self-service capabilities during business hours, many customers find that the customer still wants to speak with an agent but their question is more focused in nature reducing in shorter handle times. Typically, they’ve received some information from the automation and now have a follow-up question that requires the skillset of an agent to address.

Integrations Power Automation

Integration is the key to creating an IVR experience that leaves your customers feeling like the service was created just for them. When your IVR knows the entire customer journey, the products they’ve purchased, their financial status, etc. it can make a huge positive impact on the customer experience.

 Common scenarios include:

  • Self Service applications that empower customers
  • Intelligent / data-driven routing provides personalized routing and relevant prompts
  • Agents can be presented with key customer information along with the interaction
  • An integrated contact history at the agent’s fingertips
  • Last agent routing allows organizations to build rapport

Challenges & Considerations

  • Consider the “openness” of key business applications / CRM for integration: Integrations can be very easy or very tough depending on how open the underlying platform is to building such an integration. Most modern day applications have robust APIs that enable this type of integration. You will definitely need to take a look “under the covers” to confirm that your application is ready to integrate.
  • Ensure the availability of technical resources to participate: Of course, you are going to need help from the technology folks getting access to these functions and everybody has a large pile of technology wishlist items that needs to be sorted through to determine which projects actually see the light of day.
  • Start with high-volume / low-value requests for self-service: It’s always great to start with these high-volume interactions like a status request that consumes up valuable agent resources answering simple questions that just need access to the data to answer
  • Create a simplified personalized experience with minimal prompts that are relevant to the caller: We’ve had great success simplifying the customer experience by personalizing it. Why ask the caller questions to which you already know the answer? Why offer prompts that aren’t relevant to that customer? Move away from the one-size fits all routing that we all dread.
  • Early in the process, design your consolidated reporting across the entire CX: You really want to think about the reporting up-front and not leave that for an after thought. Many times the design of the automation needs to be adjusted to meet the reporting needs. You’d rather get the reporting right the first time than having to go back to the technology well again.
  • Recognize the on-going need to optimize automation based upon results: The IVR is a critical moment of customer engagement, and yet it’s frequently left untouched by companies for years. How often have you heard, “Please listen carefully because the menu options have recently changed” and known that the menu actually hasn’t changed in a very long time? That’s because many organizations don’t take the time and energy to experiment, iterate, and improve the IVR.
  • Deliver multiple, smaller victories over a phased rollout: My personal philosophy is to have many, small victories instead of the big-bang approach which is always high risk. Iterating through multiple phases of deployments usually results in a better product that builds and learns from the earlier phases.

Evolve IP’s Cloud IVR provides call centers with a higher level of customer interactivity and data driven decision making. This enables call centers to deploy a wide range of self-service and outbound dialing features ultimately freeing up your agents to focus on more complex requests and customers requiring a higher touch.

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/how-to-strike-a-balance-within-your-contact-center

Publish Date: October 1, 2019


An Overview of Contact Center Reporting Metrics — Outbound

Competitive contact centers regularly measure their effectiveness. Using the best contact center reporting metrics, leadership can identify the areas of strength and where improvements can be made. When it comes to outbound calling success, there are several metrics that make a real difference. Here are eight to consider.

#1 Call Rates

The strength of your outbound sales calling can’t be judged by eye alone. Sure your team of agents may all look engaged and productive, but the only way to truly gauge efficiency is by tracking the number of call attempts made. Benchmarking the number of outbound calls per agent, campaign, and team can provide useful insights into agent or team productivity. At the same time, if one campaign is taking up much more of the agents’ time, the call script might require revision.

#2 Lead Processing

The number of calls out can indicate that your sales team is keeping busy. But are they actually being effective? That’s where the number of leads processed is a better indicator. Effectively processing a lead will give your contact center actionable information in determining:

• Value of leads
• The effectiveness of sales script
• What is and isn’t working

#3 Conversion Rate

What you really want to see is your agents converting the leads into successful sales, so this one is an obvious metric to measure. Typically measured as a percentage (# of calls/# of sales), the goal is to get a higher conversion rate. A lower percentage means your cost per lead is higher, which negatively impacts contact center revenue.

#4 Calls Per Lead

Trying to gauge the quality of your lead list, this metric takes into consideration the difficulty of making a sale on the first call (First Call Close, is another potential metric). Not every first contact is going to get a sale, but if the leads need many calls to make the sale or they never convert, your organization can revisit its lead list and agent reporting for areas of improvement.

Comparing Contact Center Solutions?

Evaluating contact center providers? We’ve pulled together a detailed comparison of the top 18 contact center software providers. Find out which is the best fit for you.

#5 Average Hold Time

With many contact centers now employing automated dialing, there may be instances when a potential customer picks up the call and is put on hold to wait for an available agent. That’s a recipe for disaster as it leads to call abandonment and reduced overall profitability.

#6 Off-Call Time

You want your agents to spend the bulk of their time on the phone with potential leads, asking questions and offering the right solution. That’s where the sales revenue is generated. So, it makes sense to measure the amount of time your people have to spend on other tasks — prepping for a call, documenting after a call, calling disconnected numbers, talking to dead-end leads, even dialing out.

#7 Forecasting Accuracy

Your resource budgeting depends on accurate forecasting of several factors, including:

• Calls per hour
• Contacts per hour
• Amount of time spent on call
• Leads processed
• Off-call time
• Peak times
• Staff shrinkage

The better your understanding of all of these, the better able you’ll be to truly determine the revenue value of your campaigns.

#8 Revenue Per Call 

Revenue Per Call (RPC) calculates the agent’s effort in increasing sales by dividing the total amount of sale by the total number of calls. Cost Per Call, on the other hand, measures cost incurred for each minute of handling the call workload. This may be focused only on the labor cost, but might also factor in telecommunications, facilities, and other service costs.

Don’t only look for shortcomings with your attention to metrics. If a particular agent has higher call rate averages, for instance, try to determine why. Perhaps there is something that individual is doing differently that you can share with other agents and incorporate into team training.

With contact center software today enabling leadership to react quickly and make live changes, it’s even easier to react in real-time to these metrics. Let Evolve IP set you up for success.

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/overview-contact-center-reporting-metrics-outbound

Publish Date: August 26, 2019


4 Factors to Consider Choosing between On-Premises and Hosted VoIP

Knowing how to choose between on-premises and hosted VoIP rests on understanding the pros and cons of each. This article outlines the top factors to consider.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are increasingly popular. Yet when a business is making the move to a VoIP solution, you must weigh the pros and cons of two basic options — on-premises and hosted VoIP. This article highlights four key factors that could drive your decision.

1. Cost

Let’s be realistic. Cost is a factor in every business decision. Affordability is a key reason many businesses turn to VoIP phone systems in the first place.

Since using VoIP transports voice and data packets via the Internet, the business can reduce and consolidate its infrastructure. Additionally, streamlining voice, data, and broadband services with one provider can save on bills and long-distance costs.

Selecting an on-premise VoIP system is a lot like having a traditional phone system on-site. You will house hardware, IP phones, and other necessary equipment on site. This offers the same flexibility, scalability, and ease-of-use of hosted VoIP services, but your business is taking on responsibility for the hardware, technological maintenance, and keeping the system up-to-date and secure.

Hosted VoIP is a cloud-based solution, which means that a business can reduce resources invested in hardware and setting up and maintaining a traditional communications infrastructure. The service partner takes on upkeep, maintenance, and security. This will be accounted for in their fees, but at the same time, they are able to spread the costs out across several clients to benefit your business. Typically, you will be charged a monthly flat fee for unlimited use or a metered amount based on the actual number of lines and how much the service is used.

 

Comparing Phone Systems?

Not sure which phone system is right for you? We’ve created this comprehensive comparison tool to help you decide the right phone systems provider based on the business needs and features that you need most.

2. Consistency

On-premise solutions are preferred by businesses with low expectations for change in the near future. While both types of VoIP are easily scalable, the on-premise version requires the bigger upfront investment. This can save money in the long run, but the ROI is likely better for a company with relatively stable communications needs. Yet, some companies do prefer on-premise VoIP to ensure their communications needs are met with the stability of service from on-site dedicated equipment.

3. Scalability

Both VoIP solutions offer greater flexibility to scale up and down since it is only a matter of adding lines as needed. Yet hosted VoIP services also offer greater mobility. Since hosted VoIP systems are cloud-based, they offer end users access to their phone services anywhere from any VoIP-enabled device. There is no longer a need to purchase, install, and maintain expensive hardware on site — the entire phone system is hosted on a server that can be accessed for mobile or remote operations via the Internet.

At the same time, both VoIP phone systems offer the ability to scale up your phone system offerings to users as well. They typically come equipped with call control, call management, call training, and analytics features.

4. Service

One main reason some businesses prefer hosted VoIP? They can skip the headache of installing, maintaining, and securing their own phone system. Without the capital to purchase a new phone system, or the resources to monitor and upgrade the technology, they look to a VoIP service provider to shoulder that burden for them. The hosting service provider may also have greater resources to implement flexibility features than your individual business budget would allow.

With a hosted VoIP solution, the provider takes on all of the risk, work, and complexity, therefore providing a service that is always up-to-date and secure. This can free up IT-related resources for other revenue generating tasks.

Of course, some businesses prefer to retain control of their systems. The on-premise solution then lets the business carefully manage its system to best match its needs. Yet it needs to service its own software updates and maintenance processes (or pay to outsource them).

Any size of business wanting to save money can benefit from a business VoIP phone solution. Review our comprehensive calculator to weigh the true total cost of ownership of an on-premise or hosted solution. Contact Evolve IP’s experts to ramp up your phone solutions today.

Categories: Unified Communications

Source: https://www.evolveip.net/blog/4-factors-consider-choosing-premises-hosted-voip

Publish Date: November 15, 2018

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