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ConnectCentral 2017 Hackathon: Join RingCentral Developers to Compete for Cash Prizes

Are you a developer, innovator, or IT engineer who sees a process at work you’d like to improve? Do you want to share your development ideas with other like-minded individuals? Would you like to learn about how members of the RingCentral developer community use different tools to automate business workflows and streamline their day-to-day work?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then register now for the ConnectCentral Hackathon. Preceding RingCentral’s ConnectCentral 2017 annual conference, the industry’s premier cloud communications event, this complimentary developer session will give you a chance to show off your skills and connect with others to create cool hacks and win great prizes.

When: October 21–22, 2017

Where: The Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco, CA

The challenge

For the ConnectCentral Hackathon, RingCentral is calling developers to build interactive chatbots from scratch, or port existing messaging, virtual assistant, customer service, or e-commercial bots from other frameworks to the RingCentral Glip™ bot framework. Or use RingCentral Connect Platform™ APIs to build next-generation interactive experiences that improve the way businesses engage with their customers.

Participants can compete as individuals or enter as a team with up to four members. All entrants must follow the Hack Code of Conduct and are free to use any programming language or technology. If you prefer, you may begin preliminary work on your hack before arriving at the event.

The reward

Winning teams will receive the following:

First prize: $5,000

Second prize: $2,000

Third prize: $1,000

All members of winning teams will also receive a RingCentral backpack.

In addition, RingCentral partners will join the ConnectCentral Hackathon to launch their own challenges. It’s your opportunity to win even more great prizes.

The schedule

Day 1: Saturday, October 21

1:00 p.m.     Opening ceremony and swag pickup

1:15 p.m.     RingCentral welcome and partner breakout sessions

1:45 p.m.     Team up and begin coding

2:30 p.m.     Technical workshops (30 minutes/session)

6:00 p.m.     Dinner

9:00 p.m.     Doors close for day one

Day 2: Sunday, October 22

8:30 a.m.                    Doors open, breakfast

9:00 a.m.                    Coding

12:30–1:30 p.m.         Lunch

4:00 p.m.                    End coding

4:15 p.m.                    Team presentations/demos (three minutes per team)

5:15 p.m.                    Judges deliberate

5:45 p.m.                    Winners announced

6:00 p.m.                    Doors close for day two

Register today for the ConnectCentral Hackathon. Then stay on to experience the power of connection at the three-day ConnectCentral 2017 annual conference.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/08/connectcentral-2017-hackathon-join-ringcentral-developers-to-compete-for-cash-prizes/

Publish Date: August 30, 2017 5:00 AM


Announcing ConnectCentral 2017 Keynote Speaker: Sal Khan, CEO, Khan Academy

RingCentral is excited to announce our first keynote speaker for ConnectCentral 2017: Sal Khan, founder and CEO of the not-for-profit Khan Academy. Millions of students from all over the world learn at their own pace on Khan Academy every day. With 52 million registered students in 190 countries, Khan Academy is rethinking the world of education with the power of technology.

At ConnectCentral 2017, RingCentral’s annual conference, Khan will share how he’s leveraged technology to achieve his vision of providing free, world-class education to students around the globe. With video and other advanced communications solutions, the Khan Academy has removed traditional barriers to education, making it available and accessible to all, and enabling students to learn anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Join us to explore the power of connecting people at ConnectCentral 2017, the industry’s premier cloud communications event. You’ll hear from thought leaders and experts on advances in the communications and collaboration industry and how you can leverage this for your business. You’ll see real-life examples of organizations that have empowered their teams, customers, and partners with RingCentral. You’ll get hands-on experience using RingCentral cloud communications and collaboration solutions while networking with your peers.

The three-day conference agenda also includes:

  • Hands-on training sessions and labs
  • Breakout sessions with actionable takeaways
  • Networking with your peers

And much more.

Don’t miss out on Early Bird pricing—register for ConnectCentral by August 31 and save $200 per person.

Look forward to seeing you October 23–25, 2017, in San Francisco as together we explore the Power of Connection.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/08/announcing-connectcentral-2017-keynote-speaker-sal-khan-ceo-khan-academy/

Publish Date: August 10, 2017 5:00 AM


5 More Reasons for Call Centers to Embrace the Cloud

At this point, most call centers or hotline centers have realized the potential of cloud computing, management and tools. Many have even deployed cloud software or platforms for their employees.

In fact, cloud technology has transformed many businesses and enterprises in recent years, but not as quickly as you might expect. All that is about to change, as market experts believe cloud computing and software is entering a second wave.

As 2017 progresses, so will the cloud market, accelerating faster than it ever has in the past. This will be spurred by enterprises and brands who want to boost efficiency and productivity, at least according to Forrester Research.

But what does this have to do with the average call center? Market trends affect cloud platform deployment in cloud centers, and call center managers and administrators have many reasons for adopting this technology.

1) Trustworthy Companies Come Onboard

Keep in mind, when we refer to “trustworthy” companies, we’re not talking about exclusivity. Most managers and administrators prefer to use tools and software from providers they are familiar with.

In the case of cloud computing and call centers, some of the biggest names in the business are gearing up to launch various services. For example, reports claim Amazon and its Web Services unit are working on cloud-based tools and software for companies that need to manage call centers.

Most likely, you use some form of Amazon’s Web Services already, either through your online toolset or existing cloud systems. It’s not that there’s been a lack of support in the past. There are already some great cloud providers out there. But when the biggest names start to jump in, like Amazon, you can bet the market is picking up considerably.

It also leaves room for innovation, so we may see some new uses and deployments of this particular technology in the call center environment.

2) Security Improves Every Day

One of the biggest benefits of using a cloud provider is that your security concerns and efforts are streamlined. That’s not to say you are shifting responsibility, as you are always responsible for the security and privacy of your personal data and that of your clients. But when you use a third-party cloud provider, you don’t have to worry about the incurred costs of boosting security, and you can take advantage of the updates immediately.

That is, when a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services rolls out new security updates and protocols, you benefit immediately, and so do your clients.

And since providers are working on improving their security every day, you better believe the security of your platforms and data will benefit from that boost.

3) Efficiency of the Cloud Becomes Better

TechStyle Fashion Group, the parent company of brands such as JustFab, Fabletics, ShoeDazzle and FabKids, recently deployed a cloud workforce management (WFM) system for its customer service team. Since adopting the new system, its answer speed has improved from more than a minute per call to 32 seconds per call. In addition, its answer rates have jumped from 92 percent to 97 percent.

There’s a real opportunity for you to boost efficiency for your own team. But it also depends on the kind of work your team is doing. TechStyle’s employees, for instance, primarily handled “retention” during calls. This is because the companies associated are mostly membership and subscription-type programs.

That doesn’t mean a cloud system won’t work for your call center if your focus is different, but it does mean you’ll need to come up with unique strategies for your team. In the end, it’s all worth it if you can boost efficiency and productivity just like TechStyle has done.

4) Versatility Comes to the Fore

Call center technology deployed locally has some pretty serious limitations. For example, it’s not as easy to outsource your team or have them work remotely. There are ways of adopting remote systems served through a local network, but it can be costly, especially when you consider maintenance.

Cloud technology offers so much more versatility in this aspect. Since you are not actually hosting the tools and software to do the work, you can station your team anywhere. This is great even during disasters or local failures. Why? Because you can have a remote team still doing work through the same systems, even if your local team doesn’t have access — like if there’s a serious power failure in your home office or something similar.

It’s even possible to deploy hybrid cloud platforms that are a mix of both public and private cloud services. Seventy-one percent of business respondents admit to using hybrid platforms, which is an increase from 58 percent in 2015.

5) Talent Pool Gets Bigger

Working in a call center is fast-paced, stressful and competitive, especially if your team is handling sales or leads. That means it’s expensive to train new team members, and it’s just as expensive — and difficult — to find good, reliable workers.

When you use cloud-based systems, you can borrow and hire from a much wider talent pool. For instance, let’s say all your systems are local and you need your team members to work from a single office location. You can only seek out potential team members locally. But if this was expanded to include remote locations, you could sort through a much larger pool of potential workers, and that means better and more experienced talent.

Kaplan — a company that now allows about 85 percent of its employees to work remotely — has attributed cloud technology to an expanse of its talent pool options. In addition, it’s improved its retention, increased productivity, lowered office and operating costs, and more.

This has allowed it to look for and hone in on team members with a particular set of skills, beneficial to its industry. The same could be done with your team in your customer service or call centers, strengthening your team and the service you bring your customers.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/04/5-more-reasons-for-call-centers-to-embrace-the-cloud/

Publish Date: April 28, 2017 5:00 AM


How to Get Management’s Buy-In for Today’s Contact Center

In this day and age, it’s easy to think that every business has a contact center. Yet, not only do many businesses not have one, but among those that do, there’s a growing desire to modernize their systems to keep up with changing customer expectations. These are two very different scenarios, but both often face a common obstacle in the way management thinks about the contact center.

While there certainly are contact centers performing at world-class levels, a lot of things have to go right for that to happen, including management buy-in for making the entire business customer-centric. In this post, I’m going to address each of these two scenarios, both in terms of what management’s thinking looks like, and what you can do to change that.

Scenario 1—No Contact Center

This scenario actually has two branches—businesses that have never had a contact center and those that have but for whatever reason chose not to continue it. Each of these warrants deeper analysis, but for now, I’ll focus on two common issues. First is the associated investment, ongoing cost, and technical complexity around having a contact center.

While these issues are valid contact center deterrents, they are based on legacy technology models and don’t reflect the current state of the market. This is particularly relevant for never-before situations, which tend to be smaller businesses having serious IT limitations. They may, in fact, want a contact center, but based on what they know—or think they know—the business simply has higher priorities.

A second common issue would be the belief—primarily from management—that the use case just isn’t there. This could be based on prior results—possibly from experiences at other companies—when the effort simply didn’t translate into happier customers. Whether that may have been the result of poor agent training and/or relying on legacy technology, management has made their decision. A possible supporting factor may be business related: wherein the company has a strong enough market position that a contact center isn’t really warranted. Typical scenarios would be highly regulated markets, captive customer bases, and mature sectors where hardly anything changes.

In 2017, it’s hard to support any of this thinking, and management really needs a reality check. Every sector is vulnerable if customers are taken for granted, and a good starting point is to update management on how technology has evolved—not just for customers, but in the contact center. A related holdback is the language we use around this, namely “call center” or “contact center.”

Given the legacy associations with terrible service experiences, it won’t be enough to talk to management about what’s new without changing the nomenclature. If management associates these terms with bad service, it’s no wonder they won’t be interested. As such, the strategy is to change the narrative and talk instead about “customer care.” That’s the language of 2017, and it doesn’t carry any of the legacy baggage that is holding back these companies.

Scenario 2—Want to Modernize Contact Center

At least these businesses have enough buy-in from management to have a contact center, but they are still being held back by legacy thinking. Given the capital-intensive nature of premise-based systems, many businesses have little choice but to make do with aging technology that puts agents at a stark disadvantage when dealing with tech-savvy customers.

Again, this is a case when management needs to be updated, especially around CCaaS—contact center as a service. All the legacy holdbacks to modernizing the contact center go away with CCaaS, at which point management can begin to think differently about what’s possible. Here too, a narrative built around customer care will help them reframe things around what’s really important—the customer, rather than trying to keep contact center costs down.

Instead of thinking in terms of being a cost center, the emphasis needs to be on empowering agents to have deep engagement with customers. This is how you increase customer satisfaction, reduce turnover, create brand ambassadors, and increase share of wallet. These are the outcomes management understands and values, and that’s what customer care is about.

They may not see any of this if you keep talking about the contact center in legacy terms, so it starts with you. For IT decision makers reading this post, I think you’ll understand what to do, and the same holds for service providers selling hosted services to businesses. You may have access to great technology with CCaaS, but that’s not what management cares about. However, by translating that into business-level benefits, you might be surprised how easily the conversation about modernizing the contact center will turn.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/04/how-to-get-managements-buy-in-for-todays-contact-center/

Publish Date: April 27, 2017 5:00 AM


Developing with RingCentral for TADHack ’17 — In Under 20 minutes

RingCentral is heading to Orlando, FL to sponsor Enterprise Connect Conference (March 27th — March 30th, 2017) and the associated TADHack (Telecom Application Developer Hackathon, March 25th — 26th, 2017). This is exciting for us since TADHack is the first hackathon to be attached to the Enterprise Connect Conference (we have been sponsors of Enterprise Connect for many years, and this is a really welcomed addition).

If you haven’t already registered to participate in TADHack, you can register to participate in TADHack ’17 here.

  • Are you a developer, programmer, data scientist, UI/UX developer?
  • Planning on hacking with RingCentral in your TADHack ’17 project?
  • Want to get up-to-speed with RingCentral and our Platform quickly?
  • Got developer questions about RingCentral APIs, SDKs, WebRTC?
  • Want to hack on Glip APIs or create a ChatBot for Glip?

Join the TADHack-RingCentral Developer Acceleration Webinar + Q&A (2017–03–17)

Good news for you! Friday, March 17th at 10:00AM PDT I will be conducting a RingCentral Developer Acceleration Webinar empowering your success hacking on RingCentral! Our goal will be to help you get enabled for hacking on RingCentral in under twenty (20) minutes. I will leave the last ten (10) minutes for Q&A.

Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android (requires download/install of RingCentral Meetings): https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1486462872

Or iPhone one-tap:
+1(773)2319226,,1486462872#
Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 (773) 231 9226
Meeting ID: 148 646 2872

International numbers available: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/teleconference

RingCentral at TADHack ’17 Prize List

  • 1st Place — $2,000.00 and a Raspberry Pi Project Kit w/ 7″ touchscreen!!
  • 2nd Place — $1,000.00
  • 3rd Place — $300.00

All cash prizes will be equally divided by the number of people who are on your hackathon team, and distributed to each eligible member of your TADHack team.

RingCentral Judging and RingCentral Prize Eligibility Requirements

Team Eligibility. Each team who wishes to be eligible to be judged and considered for the RingCentral prizes at TADHack ’17 MUST COMPLETE the TADHack ’17 Team Registration Form (one registration for the whole team)

Developer Eligibility. Each member of your teammate you listed, MUST COMPLETE the TADHack ’17 Developer Registration Form (individual registrations are required from each teammate).

How Do You Win the RingCentral Prizes at TADHack ‘17?

Simple, just let your fingers do the walking (oh wait…that’s the old Yellow Pages slogan, heh heh).

First and most importantly, make sure to submit your Team Registration Form here, and be certain that each member of your team submits their Developer Registration Form here. This MUST be done (by all teammates) before 6pm on Saturday, March 25th, 2017. No late submissions accepted, and no exceptions.

To win the RingCentral TADHack Prize(s), Developers must use one (1) or more of the RingCentral API resources for your submission to be considered meeting the minimum for judging consideration (view the official RingCentral API Documentation here).

Bonus Point Opportunity During Judging

We will be giving bonus points toward teams that develop applications -or- integrations using:

  • Chatbots on Glip
  • AI-Driven RingCentral Applications -or- Integrations

Don’t know how to build or deploy a Chatbot for Glip? No worries…

  • View the various Glip API resources, SDKs (Ruby and JS), Adapters (Botkit, Hubot, and Lita), Sample Bots and Libraries here:
    http://ringcentral.github.io/glip/
  • RingCentral Engineering Team Wiz-Kid, Tyler Long has created a simple tutorial explaining how to deploy a Glip Chatbots using IBM Bluemix.
  • For the JavaScripters, the talented John Wang, RingCentral Director of Platform Products, has created a handy tutorial showing How to Build a Customer Feedback Bot for Glip using Hubot.
  • Botkit lovers! Our Mad-Wicked, Messaging-Guru and Platform Product Manager, Pawan Vengopal, has created the Glip Botkit Adapter. In case you’re unfamiliar, Botkit is a toolkit for making bot applications.
  • Or you can just execute a quick search on your favorite search engine for the term, “chatbots on glip”. Here’s a quick link to those SERPS for that term on Duck Duck Go.

Why is RingCentral so Excited to be Sponsoring TADHack?

Easy, we love developers, LOL! In all seriousness, RingCentral is sponsoring TADHack because we love developers, but also because we are launching new resources as part of API that are entirely focused upon Glip.

Hackathons are a great way for us to get real feedback from developers about the experience of using our newly released Platform resources in a very short amount of time so we can make improvements before we ship the production versions to our entire developer community for consumption.

What is Glip…?

Glip is RingCentral’s FREE enterprise messaging, team collaboration and productivity product (yes, I said that right…FREE, get your FREE Glip account here). Glip is changing the future for how teams communicate, but don’t take my word for it.

Here is what users are saying about Glip…

Learn more about RingCentral for Developers and our Connect Platform!

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/03/developing-with-ringcentral-for-tadhack-17%e2%80%8a-%e2%80%8ain-under-20-minutes/

Publish Date: March 15, 2017 5:00 AM


Outbound Communication: Taking Your Contact Center to the Next Level

Legacy contact center systems may have more impact than you realize in terms of the forms of customer support provided. While you may take today’s multimodal world for granted, it’s not the norm in the contact center, where agents can be challenged to meet customer’s communications expectations. Most contact centers are still telephony-centric, but that’s changing as they migrate to IP-based solutions, and that’s a good thing. What may not be changing, however, is how decision makers think about customer service in addition to new possibilities offered by today’s technologies.

A key characteristic of this mindset is the reactive mode of service, in which agents take customer inquiries as they come in. Given the sunk costs of a telephony-centric system, agents are evaluated on how efficiently they manage calls, and the objective is to make it easy for customers to call in and get help. Not only does this tie up agents to engage with customers in other ways, but legacy systems have limited ability to leverage other communication modes or to automate certain forms of customer service.

Given those constraints, contact center decision makers will have difficulty seeing how other modes of service provide new business value. This is where cloud-based contact center offerings start to make sense, especially for providing outbound communications options. I’ve addressed various facets of CCaaS (contact center as a service) in other posts here, but in terms of taking things to the next level, I want to now focus on outbound communications.

Legacy flavors are generic, impersonal, and aren’t very engaging for customers. With CCaaS, this mode has more intelligence once integrated with CRM, and that enables personalized communication that can be highly relevant and timely for customers. To recognize this new value, here are three ways of thinking differently for decision makers to consider.

1) Outbound is a new mode of meaningful customer engagement.

Legacy contact center thinking is all about inbound inquiries coming over the phone. That doesn’t have to change with CCaaS, but alongside that, compelling outbound use cases become possible. To date, the applications for outbound have been limited by legacy technology, but no more. Now, decision makers can consider the business value of proactive customer service, where various channels—not just telephony—can be used to communicate with customers. Instead of solving customer problems, outbound communications can be used to provide alerts, notifications, special announcements, status updates, etc.

When tied to CRM, these messages can be very customer specific, and this is where they bring new value. Doing so expands the scope of customer service; and when thinking more broadly about understanding the customer journey, this is a low-risk way of driving their satisfaction with your products and your company.

2) Outbound can streamline your business processes.

With CCaaS, you can also start thinking more broadly about business processes that span across your organization. Outbound communications are not meant to exist in a vacuum—the value comes from tying them to business processes. Consider a customer that has an annual renewal coming due. It’s simple enough for CRM to trigger an outbound notification about this, but so much more is possible with CCaaS. First of all, the customer can choose which mode to receive the update: voice, text, email, etc.

Building on that, customers can be prompted to update their profile, their payment method, or any changes in their business relationship with you. They could also be prompted to set up an account review, receive a personalized update on new offerings that might be of interest, or provide feedback on how well you’re meeting their needs. The possibilities are endless, and the point is that these notifications can trigger business processes that might otherwise not take place because these dots aren’t being connected.

3) Outbound can help automate contact center operations.

Some forms of outbound communication are best done by live agents, and in some cases, this is the only way to do them. Compared to what CCaaS can support, this isn’t an efficient model when considering the value of the agent’s time, along with the effort involved to make the calls and move on quickly when getting an answering machine. With today’s outbound notification solutions—especially around advances in speech recognition—this entire process can be automated and managed with a high degree of accuracy.

As with other lines of business, contact centers are under increased pressure to automate processes, and this is a great benefit of using outbound communications. Providing proactive customer service is a big step forward, but so is thinking about leveraging new technology to automate the operation. By breaking away from the legacy model of customer service, these forms of value-add become apparent, and from there, good things will happen. In this case, not only will you automate a laborious task, but that will also free up your agents to communicate more effectively when dealing with inbound customer inquiries.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/03/outbound-communication-taking-your-contact-center-to-the-next-level/

Publish Date: March 14, 2017 5:00 AM


Communicate, Collaborate, and Connect with RingCentral at Enterprise Connect

It’s an exhilarating and truly revolutionary time for business communications. We are witnessing the massive disruption of legacy on-premise PBX technology; team messaging and collaboration are becoming integral to working culture; and the buzz gets stronger around open platform solutions. There’s an increasing focus on customer engagement and satisfaction, and the need for global solutions that empower modern workforces is a major focus in the enterprise market.

RingCentral is a leader of cloud business communications, so we’re gearing up for a dynamic show this year at Enterprise Connect—the industry’s premier event, focused on enterprise communications and collaboration. We’ll be participating in thought-provoking panel discussions and general sessions, informative booth activities and demos on the expo floor, and we’re looking forward to hosting the RingCentral VIP party at Enterprise Connect.

Join our thought leaders for speaking engagements and panel discussions

General Panel Sessions:

Monday, March 27; 10:15–11:15 a.m.
What Role (If Any) Should Cloud Communications Play in Your Enterprise?
Vlad Shmunis, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, RingCentral

Wednesday, March 29; 9:05–9:45 a.m.
Messaging & Team Collaboration: Overhyped, or the Next Platform?
Kira Makagon, EVP of Innovation, RingCentral

Breakout Sessions:

Monday, March 27; 3:15–4:00 p.m.
Deployment Strategies for Cloud-Based UC
Curtis Peterson, SVP, Cloud Operations, RingCentral

Tuesday, March 28; 8:00–8:45 a.m.
Persistent Team Collaboration Spaces: The Next Video Conferencing Revolution
Jose Pastor, VP Product Management, RingCentral

Wednesday, March 29; 1:00–1:45 p.m.
Case Studies: Working with Communications APIs: Tales from the Trenches
Ian Cabalse, Operations Analyst, Naked Wines (Customer)

Wednesday, March 29; 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Where Is the UCaaS Industry Headed?
David Sipes, COO, RingCentral

Wednesday, March 29; 3:15–4:00 p.m.
Team Collaboration Apps: What’s Under the Hood?
Jose Pastor, VP Product Management, RingCentral

Thursday, March 30; 8:00–8:45 A.M.
Cloud Case Studies: Making the Move to UCaaS
Jason Kasch, CIO, Structural Group (Customer)

Market Leaders Theater Presentation:
Tuesday, March 28; 2:00–2:20 p.m.
What AI and the Cloud Revolution Mean for Business Communications
Curtis Peterson, SVP, Cloud Operations, RingCentral

Visit Booth #609 for executive briefings, theater talks, activities, and prizes

Meet our team, enjoy activities, attend talks on hot topics, including team collaboration, customer engagement, and open platform, and enter to win exciting giveaways!

Theater Talks:

Powering the Modern Workforce

Jim Payne, Senior Manager Product Marketing, RingCentral

How we work has changed and workforces need to be able to adapt. Learn about the modern communications and collaboration tools that empower today’s businesses to operate more effectively and efficiently.

Monday, March 27, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 28, noon and 4 p.m.

Wednesday, March 29, noon

The Power of Collaborative Communications

Paul Comaroto, Product Marketing Manager, RingCentral

Email and instant messaging aren’t sufficient to meet the demands of current business workflows. We’ll explore the tools that facilitate and streamline collaborative communications.

Monday, March 27, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 28, 1:00 and 5 p.m.

Wednesday, March 29, 1 p.m.

Enhancing the Customer Experience

Max Ball, Director of Product Marketing, RingCentral

Fostering trust and strong relationships requires a strong system. Learn how Contact Center and real-time analytics supporting customer-facing workers can make all the difference.

Monday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 28, 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 29, 2:00 p.m.

The Power of Open

David Lee, VP Product Platform, RingCentral

Application and cloud ecosystems are getting increasingly complex. You need business intelligence and seamless workflows at your foundation. Discover how an open platform is essential to your infrastructure.

Tuesday, March 28, 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 29, 3:00 p.m.

Business communications are at a pivotal junction, as more and more enterprises face the decision to move away from hardware and transition to cloud technologies. Enterprise Connect 2017 will be an exciting chance to network, mingle with peers, and connect with leaders in the industry. We hope to see you there!

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/03/communicate-collaborate-and-connect-with-ringcentral-at-enterprise-connect/

Publish Date: March 9, 2017 5:00 AM


No Contact Center in Your Business? Yes, You Can!

My previous blog post examined the business case for having a contact center based on the needs of vertical markets: more specifically, vertical scenarios that normally don’t have a contact center, but do have ongoing customer-facing engagement among everyday office staff. While technology is certainly a factor in the analysis—especially when introducing the CCaaS option—this is very much about how the business thinks about customer engagement. I’ll be exploring this theme often in upcoming posts, along with how cloud-based solutions provide new options that can help change that thinking.

For this post, I’ll continue on the CCaaS theme—contact center as a service—particularly focusing on businesses that don’t currently have a contact center. Having one essentially goes hand-in-hand with being customer-centric, but clearly, not all businesses have come around to that way of thinking. Fortunately, that is changing, and as competition becomes ever more persistent, there really won’t be a choice, and that’s good news for contact center providers.

Until that time is reached, many of the barriers to having a contact center remain in place, and I’m going to briefly touch on five that will likely be familiar. Following that, I’ll explain how CCaaS overcomes these, and with that, those new options open up, not just to improve customer engagement, but to enable all your employees to communicate more effectively.

1) Capex investment

Contact center systems have long been premise based, and while shifting more from hardware to software, they’re still capital intensive. Getting Capex funding for any form of technology is increasingly a challenge, especially with the pace of change. There’s just too much risk with long-term investments now, and that’s a real obstacle for businesses that want a contact center but only think in legacy terms.

2) Complexity

Contact center technology has always been complex and is even more so today given the need to integrate with CRM and to provide real-time agent performance metrics for supervisors. Aside from that, customer expectations are higher, especially in terms of how they’ve already mastered the technologies that add complexity to the contact center. As the demands on IT keep growing, complex initiatives like contact centers tend to drop on the priority list.

3) Costly to manage

Aside from the high cost of entry, the ongoing costs present another adoption barrier. This is more of an Opex issue, and a key limitation of legacy systems is their lack of flexibility. Call volumes can be highly variable, and with labor being a major cost factor, there is little cost certainty for everyday operations. Matching up staffing and seat licenses with the cycles of customer activity is a fundamental challenge, and one that often leads to overspending. This isn’t a good long-term model, and it’s easy to see why it can be a holdback for businesses struggling with cash flow.

4) Small-scale of customer base

Another reality posed by legacy systems is scale. As with PBXs, they are built for a certain level of need where the capital cost makes them prohibitively expensive for smaller businesses. Most contact centers are brick-and-mortar operations where the economics require a good-sized customer base.  As such, this holdback is especially relevant for SMBs, and so long as these systems don’t scale down to their needs, they will continue to be underserved by contact center providers.

5) Benefit not clear cut

Clearly, this applies to businesses that aren’t customer-centric, but there’s more to consider. Some sectors are highly regulated where competition is limited, and others are mature where customer relationships are deeply entrenched, along with high switching costs. Another scenario would be cases where a contact center was in place, but for whatever reason, it was taken out. Any of the above holdbacks would be good reason, along with the simple fact that the operation simply didn’t deliver better customer satisfaction levels. That’s the ultimate payoff, and, based on industry trends, it’s clear that many businesses are not getting the desired results.

With CCaaS, yes, you can

If you took all these holdbacks at face value, most businesses would not have a contact center. While legacy systems are widely deployed, the shortcomings are well understood, and they certainly keep many others from going down this path. For any business that seeks to become—or become more—customer-centric, a contact center is table stakes, and the core issue becomes one of determining the best deployment model.

With CCaaS being a relatively new option, awareness isn’t high, and that’s why I’m writing this post. The cloud continues to gain adoption across a growing range of business applications, and the contact center is now in that camp. As a starting point, the hosted model removes the Capex hold-back, and being a subscription service, the ongoing costs are easier to predict. Additionally, the scalability is far more flexible than with a premise-based system, making this a practical option for SMBs. Scalability also makes it easier to adapt to changing demand cycles and brings more cost certainty into the operation. CCaaS will also appeal to IT by removing the inherent complexity from their workload and having that managed by the cloud provider.

Ultimately, CCaaS breaks down all these barriers and allows businesses to think differently about what’s possible. Not only does this provide a new option for considering or reconsidering a contact center, but it also opens up the field in terms of providers to partner with. When thinking about being customer-centric, businesses need to enable all employees with UC capabilities, not just agents. In this regard, your decision about a CCaaS partner will be tied to having deep UC integration, and that may well take you beyond the conventional circle of vendors. If you’re ready for “yes, you can,” then you’re in the right place now to learn how, and I hope you’ll stay here for my upcoming posts.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/02/no-contact-center-in-your-business-yes-you-can/

Publish Date: February 27, 2017 5:00 AM


Structural Group Mobilizes 1,800 Employees Across 22 Locations with RingCentral

When Structural Group decided it needed a new-generation flexible, mobile-first solution to enhance customer engagement and productivity for its mobile workforce, it turned to RingCentral. A recognized leader in the specialty construction industry, Structural Group has more than 1,800 employees across 22 locations in North America. With such a distributed workforce, Structural Group understood the value of cloud communications and was in the market for a flexible, collaborative solution.

With a small internal team, Structural Group needed a solution that was both user-friendly and easy to administer and manage. The RingCentral Professional Services team assisted with project management, porting, and several other back-end efforts, enabling the IT department at Structural Group to deploy the solution across 22 locations in just 90 days.  

Like many enterprise customers, we work with that have dispersed workforces, Structural Group prioritizes mobility and collaboration as core components to business success. With RingCentral, Structural Group is already reporting quick and easy communication and collaboration among the civil engineers who work off-site and the professionals who work out of their offices.

Additionally, with access to the RingCentral Connect Platform, Structural Group hopes to further increase collaboration in the coming months as it integrates RingCentral into the other cloud productivity applications they utilize on a daily basis.

We’re excited to work with Structural Group and provide its workforce with a solution that is improving employee flexibility and efficiency.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/02/structural-group-mobilizes-1800-employees-across-22-locations-with-ringcentral/

Publish Date: February 8, 2017 5:00 AM


SMB Focused CRMs vs. Size-Agnostic CRM Providers

CRMs are a useful tool for businesses but many entrepreneurs have not implemented one yet. They consider it to be too much of a burden and can’t afford to spend a great deal of time and resources on it. But in this way, they prevent themselves from capitalizing upon the benefits of a CRM and growing their business.

CRMs are not an option but a necessity today. If you plan to invest in a CRM for your business, you will be overwhelmed by all of the different options available in the market. However, this can be tackled if only you know whether you want an enterprise CRM or a small business CRM. This will help you narrow down the options so that you can make a wise decision.

Entrepreneurs who complain of CRMs being too complex or inefficient don’t realize that these problems crop up, only, because they don’t choose the right CRM for their business.

CRMs aren’t magic bullets that shower you with a cluster of benefits right from implementation. It needs to get seamlessly integrated with the sales, marketing, and customer support processes to start streamlining them. And this can only happen when the right CRM is chosen for the business.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be 100% sure that your chosen CRM aligns seamlessly with your business process. For instance, if you are a small business owner, you may not need the breadth or complexity of an enterprise CRM tool. Similarly, if you own an enterprise, you cannot expect to fulfill all your business needs from a small business CRM solution.

Here are some of the differences between large-scale CRM solutions and CRMs for small to medium businesses that you should be aware of. These will help to determine which option would be effective for your company.

Enterprise CRMs

As evident from the name, these are designed for large-scale organizations and include a plethora of features. Many enterprise CRM solutions integrate customer-facing activities spanning multiple departments and offer strong automation and customization functionalities. However, focused on solving the complexities of big companies, they’re often complicated and more expensive versions of the standard CRM software. This is the reason enterprise CRMs demand a great deal of time and resources in implementation and maintenance. However, once setup, they are incredibly powerful and empower enterprises with their advanced features.

Small Business CRMs

Small business CRMs offer a unidimensional functionality to manage the flow between sales, marketing, and customer support processes. They work as centralized customer data repositories, which can be collectively and collaboratively used by sales, marketing, and support agents. This unifies the whole business into one combined unit and breaks down the concept of watertight departments.

By looking into the CRM, agents get a 360-degree view of customers and identify their position in the sales cycle. They acquire all information pertaining to the lead or contact from the CRM which enables them to understand the context of the conversation, provide a personalized approach and deliver a great customer experience at all stages of the customer lifecycle.

Sales agents benefit the most from small business CRM solutions as they convert the wealth of information and powerful insights into actionable business intelligence and use it to nurture leads and close deals faster.

Small business CRMs are typically less expensive than enterprise CRMs. They are easier to learn and use because unlike their counterparts, they are not stuffed with unnecessary bells and whistles.  As a consequence of which, user adoption of small business CRMs is always high, even if they are lacking in some of the more advanced features.

Final Thoughts

Small businesses have fewer employees and a singular flow between departments.  A simple CRM solution with basic functionalities works perfectly for this and this is precisely what small business CRMs offer.

Large corporations have a network of departments, maze of customer interactions and more than one channel to generate revenue. A simple CRM is too basic for them. They require enterprise versions of CRM software to simplify the complexity of their processes.

To find out whether you need an enterprise CRM or a small business CRM, analyze your business operations and have a clear set of strategies. Identify the features required in the software which will tell you the type of CRM you should look for.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/02/smb-focused-crms-vs-size-agnostic-crm-providers/

Publish Date: February 1, 2017 5:00 AM


How Reliable Would Your Phone System Be in a Disaster?

Cloud-based business phone systems are powerful tools for modern communications, but for some potential buyers, cloud services raise concerns about reliability. After all, for many businesses, downtime directly impacts revenue.

Since day one, RingCentral has been designed with reliability in mind. Early on, we made a strategic decision to build our own network, which allows RingCentral to provide carrier-grade reliability and outstanding call quality. Here’s how our network keeps your business up and running even in the face of disaster.

RingCentral is fully redundant geographically in every location where we operate. This is a key differentiator between RingCentral and our competitors, many of whom do not have international redundancy built into their systems. This redundancy helps RingCentral maintain service to customers through natural disasters, such as severe storms or earthquakes, as well as human-made disasters like hardware failures. RingCentral maintains a direct trunk connection with the PSTN and does not rely on multiple hops through aggregators. The goal is enabling all calls to make one hop to their destination. As a result, RingCentral has high mean opinion scores—an important indicator of quality.

When considering cloud phone solutions, you may think that virtual solutions are less robust than traditional hardware, when in fact the opposite is true. RingCentral’s redundant systems ensure that even when there is a problem, services can continue uninterrupted. The RingCentral platform has been architected to support failover conditions in case of emergency. Using SIP-trunking, RingCentral provides real-time disaster recovery by switching active services from one data center to another. Thanks to redundant internet connections, our fax, voice, voicemail, and conferencing services will all continue to operate without interruption. RingCentral is built with geographically distributed operations so that service continues if one location is not available. This provides our customers around the globe with service reliability unmatched by both traditional hardware and other cloud-based systems that don’t have the redundancy we’ve built in from the start.

In addition to disaster recovery, RingCentral’s systems are designed to continually monitor the end-to-end performance of our network to ensure call quality, completion rates, and service availability remains at peak levels. We have alarms in place to warn of widespread, significant drops in endpoint performance. RingCentral also monitors network configurations and proactively notifies customers when problems arise.

For example, a customer with 100 lines experienced a decrease in call quality every afternoon at the same time. RingCentral reviewed network settings and discovered that the customer’s IT department ran a remote backup at the same time every afternoon, effectively consuming all the available bandwidth. As a result, by proactively monitoring and reviewing the network settings, RingCentral prioritized the network traffic and successfully resolved the customer’s issue.

RingCentral also utilizes a next-generation audio technology called Opus, designed for interactive real-time audio transmission over the internet. Opus includes very robust protection against packet loss and jitter as well as other capabilities designed to compensate for network issues. RingCentral uses Opus on all software end-clients and mobile apps. The resulting call quality is a key competitive differentiator as many of our competitors have yet to implement the Opus codec.

RingCentral’s robust platform is built from the ground up with disaster recovery in mind. Keeping you open for business is our top priority, and our robust business phone service is monitored 24/7/365 to provide the most reliable communications for your company.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/01/how-reliable-would-your-phone-system-be-in-a-disaster/

Publish Date: January 30, 2017 5:00 AM


Five Reasons Why Virtual PBX and VoIP Are Here to Stay

Business telephone systems are evolving alongside all of the other technology in our lives. Gone is the legacy PBX hardware stuffed into closets and copy rooms of businesses of all sizes. Instead of these antiquated phone systems, businesses are moving toward cloud-based virtual PBX systems. RingCentral offers all the great PBX features businesses are used to, without the limitations of older PBX hardware. Here are five reasons why virtual PBX and VoIP are here to stay.

1) Lower costs

Using a virtual PBX reduces your up-front costs and eliminates the long-term, hidden costs of maintaining and expanding PBX hardware. With RingCentral’s VoIP phone system, you don’t have to shoulder the burden of hardware upgrades and upkeep. Your state-of-the-art cloud communications system is continually updated to deliver the latest in communications technologies.

2) Flexibility

A virtual PBX gives your company the ultimate in flexibility. New telephone numbers, extensions, and even entire offices can be added as needed. Your business is prepared for rapid growth, whether it’s a permanent expansion or you’re responding to a seasonal bump in business. Your entire phone system can be administered from any computer or mobile device, so changes can happen instantly, rather than needing to rely on costly specialized tech support.

3) Support for mobile workers

Today’s workers are more mobile than ever, thanks to smartphones and tablets. Remote workers are also becoming more prevalent in businesses of all sizes. RingCentral mobile and desktop apps turn any mobile device or computer into a full-featured business phone. With RingCentral, your employees have the freedom and flexibility to work more efficiently, no matter where they are. Empowered workers are more productive, and that can have a tremendous effect on your company’s bottom line.

4) Advanced features

Customers today expect instant gratification. RingCentral’s advanced features allow your business to offer the kind of customer experience that will help you exceed those expectations. Call routing is easy to manage and seamlessly transfers calls from your desk phone to a home office to a mobile device, for example. Message alerts ensure that important messages don’t go unnoticed. Using RingCentral apps, you can use Business SMS to send and receive text messages from a computer or mobile device, without having to reveal your personal contact information. Team collaboration with RingCentral Glip empowers your team with a unified platform for scheduling, to-dos, messaging, and file storage. All of these features, and more, add up to a superior experience for your customers as well as a more productive workflow for your employees.

5) Integration with third-party services

Cloud phone service from RingCentral integrates with third-party apps that you already use. Instead of wasting time migrating or duplicating information you already have inside another application, you can seamlessly use your Salesforce, Google G Suite, or Dropbox data. Robust cloud APIs and SDKs allow you to create custom solutions for integrating RingCentral into your business workflow.

These are just some of the reasons why cloud-based phone systems are here to stay. No matter what size your business is, RingCentral’s virtual PBX gives you a better, future-proof phone system that your business can rely on.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/01/five-reasons-why-virtual-pbx-and-voip-are-here-to-stay/

Publish Date: January 26, 2017 5:00 AM


Contact Center Trends to Watch in 2017

Recent research from MarketsandMarkets states that the global market for cloud contact center software will explode over the next five years. Market size is expected to hit $15.67 billion by 2021. As the market grows, these are the contact center trends to look forward to in 2017.

Growth (especially in retail)

According to MarketsandMarkets, retail and consumer goods will be one of the largest growth markets for cloud-based contact center software. As consumers continue to gravitate toward online shopping, responsive contact center solutions will be mission-critical when it comes to attracting and maintaining customers in a highly competitive marketplace.

Virtual agents

Cloud-based software is changing the way that contact centers operate. Rather than being limited to physical locations, the flexibility and scalability of cloud software allow businesses to have customer service agents in multiple remote locations, whether those are smaller local operations, or a crew of remote employees working from home offices. Using RingCentral’s advanced analytics dashboards, key metrics can be monitored in real-time to ensure the best customer experience. The right contact center software empowers you to make critical business decisions based on a range of reporting options, from prebuilt, ad-hoc, or custom reports. Up-to-the-minute information allows your business to stay agile and address problems quickly.

Omnichannel communication

Thanks to mobile devices and “always on” communications, customers have become accustomed to switching communication modes in social interactions. They expect the same kind of flexibility in their interactions with businesses and want access to support resources using whatever medium is at hand. RingCentral Contact Center enables customers to reach you via voice, email, web chat, fax, social media, or SMS. Inter-channel handoffs are seamless, for the best and most convenient customer experience.

Artificial intelligence

As companies embrace the power of artificial intelligence (AI), it raises the possibility that AI is the future of customer service. Chatbots are particularly hot technology that will continue to grow in 2017. Messaging apps are becoming increasingly sticky for users, and companies are looking to chatbots to take advantage of where their customers are going. For example, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has a Facebook Messenger bot that provides flight information, and there are already multiple options for ordering pizza via chatbots. Chatbot technology could be refined for contact center use. Bot-enabled contact centers would empower customers to find their own solutions via messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), or via SMS text messaging. Adding in voice control features like those already available from Amazon and Google, and the potential for a revolution in the way that customers access service options becomes clear.

2017 is poised to be a big year for contact centers. As consumer preferences evolve, a significant challenge will be adapting to rapidly changing needs. The right contact center software can help businesses of all sizes stay ahead of the curve and continue to offer the high levels of service that customers have come to expect.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/01/contact-center-trends-to-watch-in-2017/

Publish Date: January 17, 2017 5:00 AM


4 Huge Capabilities Your Mobile Workers May Be Missing

Mobile is the new reality for business. IDC recently predicted that by 2020, mobile workers will account for nearly three-quarters of the US workforce. Your company may be there already. But are your smartphone-happy employees as effective as they should be? Let’s take a look at some of the newest must-have capabilities enabled by cloud phone systems like RingCentral Office.

1) BYOD (bring your own device)

BYOD is booming. According to Tech Pro Research’s latest survey, 74 percent of organizations are either already using or planning to allow employees to bring their own devices to work. That’s great for small business owners because they don’t have to provide expensive smartphones or manage cellular expenses. But giving up control and your brand is not so great.

RingCentral provides a free mobile app that packs the capabilities of a full-featured desk phone into an employee-owned iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. In addition to sending and receiving calls over the reliable RingCentral global network, users can send and receive Business SMS texts, or fax documents stored in the cloud. The user-friendly interface also makes it fast and easy to administer the system, access the company directory and see who is available, transfer calls, and check visual voicemail notifications with one touch.

Better still, you maintain control over your business identity and contact information. Customers contact your employees through your business number—not a personal cell number—and a business number also shows on caller ID when employees call customers. If an employee leaves the company suddenly, all of the contact info that would have been stored locally on the BYOD phone stays in the cloud—where you have access to it, but they don’t.

2) Meetings to-go

An all-inclusive cloud business communications service like RingCentral Office makes it cost-effective for mobile workers to use must-have features like conference calling, web meetings, and even HD video conferencing. You can hold global audio conferences with up to 1,000 participants. Assemble teams on a web meeting or HD video conference where participants can share presentations, photos, or other files stored in Dropbox or Box with one tap on the mobile app. This capability means your employees can collaborate or give presentations to customers without the cost and time of business travel. And there are no carrier charges for bandwidth.

3) International calling without carrier charges

With the app installed on their device, employees traveling out of the country can make and receive calls over Wi-Fi without using expensive carrier roaming. This is a big plus for any business person who has experienced the sticker shock that even a few minutes of calling can cost in some countries. The app also lets you send and receive SMS and faxes or join audio conferences, web meetings, or HD video conferences over the internet. Some enterprising users have even reported renting Wi-Fi hotspots with unlimited data plans and carrying them in their pocket to save on international roaming while walking or riding in a train or car. And because RingCentral owns and controls its own robust global network, the call quality should sound like you are calling from next door.

4) One-touch access to meetings

Busy workers on the go often have to jump on a conference call, web meeting, or video conference from anywhere. Have you ever tried to dial into a conference bridge while driving, and switch back and forth between the keypad and email to get the meeting ID? The RingCentral Mobile app provides a unique one-touch feature that allows users to click on a link in an SMS, email invite, or calendar event to join a meeting instantly. The app dials the designated number and automatically enters the meeting ID. You can also touch to set up a meeting or page a group of contacts from your Favorites list to request a meeting without using complicated key codes.

If your employees still don’t have these new mobile capabilities, your business is missing out on some big benefits. You might want to check out a cloud business communications solution to see how it can save you money and integrate today’s nomadic workers into a cohesive and more effective organization.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/01/4-huge-capabilities-your-mobile-workers-may-be-missing/

Publish Date: January 6, 2017 5:00 AM


The Best VoIP Phones for Your Business

RingCentral offers a range of VoIP business phones to meet your needs. They’re preconfigured to work with our virtual PBX and available with a variety of features to fit small and large businesses alike.

The Polycom VVX 500 is a full-featured desktop phone perfect for receptionists who need to monitor presence for a large number of users (up to 50 with an expansion unit). The phone has 12 lines for high call capacity and HD voice2 for superior sound quality. Patented acoustic technology provides echo-free and crystal-clear conversations. The Polycom VVX 500 is designed to adapt as your business grows with software update capability and a built-in USB slot. A 3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen provides simple and intuitive navigation

The Cisco SPA508G is an 8-line business-class IP phone that enables calls of unprecedented quality including HD voice for unsurpassed voice and enhanced speaker quality with easy installation. The phone supports eight lines and has a monochrome backlit display. Dedicated buttons for voicemail, mute, hold, speaker, headset, and other common functions make the phone easy to use. For users who need presence capability, the phone can monitor up to six colleagues and supports up to two expansion modules, adding monitoring for up to 64 additional colleagues.

If you need mobility, the Yealink W52P cordless phone is ideal for users who move around the office. The W52P utilizes industry standard DECT cordless technology for secure communications and the handsets offer exceptional HD sound quality. Up to four handsets can be provisioned from a single base station and can make/receive calls simultaneously. The handset features a bright 1.8″ color display that offers an intuitive user interface.

For conferencing, Polycom’s SoundStation IP 6000 is designed for small- to medium-sized rooms. It includes advanced features and high voice quality that ensures excellent performance. The SoundStation IP 6000 is HD voice-enabled, and has an audio range from 220 Hz to 14 KHz, to capture the deep lows and high frequencies of the human voice. It also employs Acoustic Clarity Technology to eliminate drop-outs and echo. The unit features a 12-foot microphone range combined with Automatic Gain Control for superior sound. For larger rooms, you can add up to two optional expansion microphones.

RingCentral’s range of compatible phones and devices can meet the needs of businesses of any size. With our easy account setup and fast ordering and shipping, you can set up a new account and be using your new VoIP business phones in as little as five days.

Source: https://blog.ringcentral.com/blog/2017/01/the-best-voip-phones-for-your-business/

Publish Date: January 4, 2017 5:00 AM

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