Guest Post: Increase Your Social Media Engagement with These Proven Strategies

How-to-Create-a-Brand-Identity-Using-Social-Media-04

There is no question that social media has earned its spot in every business’ digital marketing strategy. The rise of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have forever shaped the way users express themselves online.

Nowadays, almost every business has some type of social media account. 83% of fortune 500 companies have a presence on Twitter and over 3 million companies have LinkedIn profiles. However, simply having a social media account and posting content is not enough. What makes the difference between good brands and great brands on social is not only the quality of content, but also the level of interaction and engagement they devote to their audience. Are you replying back to users who comment on your photos? Do you regularly like trending posts within your industry? Have you developed an online personality for your brand?

Follow these guaranteed strategies and you’ll be well on your way to connecting with your target audience and increasing engagement on all of your social media platforms.

Facebook

4 million likes are generated by Facebook users every minute.

Liking is one of the most important aspects of social media. So hop on the bandwagon and click the thumbs up button! It’s important to like something when you see that it pertains to your business because you’re not only engaging with your industry, but you’re also connecting with accounts who share similar interests. Over time, social media platforms will start to see patterns in the content you’re liking and expose you to more related items. The great thing about Facebook is that if you have a particular reaction to a post, you can choose that instead of just thumbs up. Choose the laughing emoji when something is funny or the angry face when you’re upset. The important thing is when you react to a post, you begin to get filtered into a particular niche. What you discover in that niche is other users who belong there as well.

Those users are your target audience. So be friendly and say hi! Put a huge emphasis on liking content in your social media marketing strategy. Give users a like on their posts and explore what you have in common. These users will start to recognize your name and become familiar with your online presence. With one click and some curiosity, they could end up on your page! Don’t be stingy with likes, spread the love and watch it return back to you.

Instagram

Instagram generates over 3.5 billion likes a day and its usage has doubled in the last two years.

Much like Facebook, the way you’re able to connect with people through Instagram is by liking photos. Some users will exercise proper etiquette and like one of your photos in return for your like, but other times it just might not happen. That’s okay though, there’s no limit on the amount of posts you can like, so go ahead and double tap on posts that are relevant to your industry!

YouTube

100 million people take social action on YouTube every week in the form of likes, shares, or comments.

Commenting is just as important as liking for the same reason that you get to interact with your target audience and engage in your community. The difference with a comment versus a like is that you have the opportunity to communicate your unique perspective on a topic.

You can answer questions on trending posts, offer insight, or type something reactionary. This will help increase your engagement because users can actually see what you’re thinking.  They can go off on your ideas or like your comment in agreement with what you’ve said. Comments provide another opportunity for users to engage with your brand. Be social and leave a comment!

Twitter

500 million Tweets are sent every day, which translates, to 6,000 Tweets a second.

Twitter is all about the short and the sweet. Essentially, Twitter is a string of comments. The way you get your brand to increase engagement on Twitter is by participating in the never-ending dialogue. You can do this by liking, commenting, and most importantly, retweeting.

Twitter is a little different from other social platforms because it has a higher frequency of posts. According to Neil Patel (social media marketing maven and co-founder of KISSmetrics) the optimal amount to post on Twitter to increase engagement is 1 – 5 posts a day. Plan your posts beforehand or retweet other authorities within your industry. Keep up with the pace of Twitter so users can recognize your effort.

LinkedIn

The 14 most popular posts on LinkedIn are all about advice in the workplace.

LinkedIn is the platform business professionals go to in order to apply for an internship, look for a job, or expand the range of their professional network. What users are looking for on LinkedIn is the means to gain a better standing in their career. This can be in the form of acquiring a job or the knowledge to gain better skills. Your posts on LinkedIn should be about interesting water cooler topics professionals can read in their downtime. It’s perfectly acceptable to be on LinkedIn during work, so keep your content related to the workplace if you want to see engagement from this audience!

A Quick Recap

Social media marketing is genuinely about being social on the screen. If your brand is

participating in the social aspect of each platform, you will begin to see engagement rise because your account is active. It’s important to keep that part of social media in mind because it shows your followers you understand how to use their media! Let’s Recap:

  • Facebook – Like posts that are related to your industry
  • Instagram – Double tap appropriate photos in your niche
  • YouTube – Provide insight, leave a comment
  • Twitter – Keep up with the pace of tweets
  • LinkedIn – Make it about the workplace

 

About Author:

therese

Therese Palmere is a passionate content writer at Aumcore. Aumcore is a New York based digital marketing agency offering solutions from creative social media campaigns to SEO and web design driven by results.

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Guest Post: 5 Tech Solutions That Will Help You Exceed Customer Expectations

In a time where the world is more connected through technology and social media, providing excellent customer service is crucial. The reputation of your business is built on its effectiveness, including the customer experience.

Exceeding customer expectations creates loyal customers and it differentiates you from the competition. In addition, word of mouth is now more powerful than ever, as customers can easily share both positive and negative opinions online.

Here are 5 powerful tech solutions that will help you exceed customer expectations and provide exceptional customer service:

work

  1. Vision Helpdesk 

Serving businesses of all sizes and levels, Vision Helpdesk is a leading customer support software that comes in 3 different products. There’s the Helpdesk software, which enables customer support agents to receive, process, and respond to service requests. On the other hand, the Satellite Helpdesk software provides a multi-company customer support management solutions.

Additionally, all features from Helpdesk and Satellite Helpdesk combined are provided by the Service Desk software which follows the discipline of IT service management.

Unique features of these software include task management, ticket billing, asset management, and release management. Vision Helpdesk allows you to stay on track as you serve clients, creating a client portal that is convenient for both customer and company.

There are multiple pricing plans offered, varying by the specific software and the hosting plan. Pricing starts at $7 per month to host Helpdesk on your server with a recurring license, or a one-time license for $150.

  1. TeamSupport

This customer support program allows teams to collaborate better by eliminating miscommunications and quickly addressing customer issues. Improving customer communication helps teams handle the customer service process better.

The program has some key unique features that help with the delivery of cohesive customer support. There is ticket automation, which allows support staff to flag messages by word or type. For example, a staff could add a flag for any support request that contains the word “upset” or “frustrated.” This allows the team to prioritize the more urgent requests that need attention.

Another key feature is the Knowledge Base tool. This allows clients to try to solve their own minor issues, which enables support staff to handle bigger challenges that may arise. With TeamSupport, customers can have their needs prioritized and met with efficient responses. Pricing starts from $40 per month.

  1. Office 365 

Another top solution that will help you exceed customer expectations is Office 365. This cloud-based service features a number of different tools that can be beneficial. One of the newly debuted services is Bookings, which allows customers to schedule appointments with a company using online software. This makes a convenient process for customers as it eliminates the need for a phone call.

Dynamics is another Office 365 software tool. The CRM package brings a line of integrated business management solutions that allow your staff to make important business decisions with a greater sense of confidence. Key features of Dynamics include lead management, contact management, and territory management.

Pricing for Office 365 starts from $5/month per user, for the Business Essentials plan. Microsoft Dynamics pricing plans start at $4 per user/month.

  1. Samanage

If your company is seeking a more advanced, user-friendly help desk solution then Samanage is the option for you. Making life easier for both your team and the customer, Samanage has comprehensive functionality that allows you to quickly respond to service requests. This results in improved support for your customers.

The intuitive service desk ensures that your team will deliver exemplary support. Clients use their email or the powerful self-service portal to submit service tickets. Users can even search for a solution independently by using the system’s Knowledge Base.

In addition to submitting a new service ticket, your customers can easily track the status of a pending issue.

Samanage allows for a desk data integration and can be used on the go from any smartphone or tablet with web browsing capabilities. You can experience the convenience and up-to-date reliability of Samanage for an affordable annual subscription based on your software needs.

  1. AmoCRM

AmoCRM allows you to manage your pipeline and sales team. The sales management service is a web-based platform enables businesses to manage customer relationships more effectively. You can directly link platforms such as Facebook, Dropbox, Xero, and Zendesk to AmoCRM.

Valuable features include sales analytics, lead scoring, and email integration. The software supports custom field creation and provides a user-friendly approach to managing your company’ interactions with current and potential customers.

AmoCrm allows you to upload existing customers from contact databases such as Gmail and Outlook. There are also follow-up tasks to keep you up-to-date on meetings and calls, and these are attached to the contact or lead cards.

AmoCRM is free to try and plans start from $15/month.

There are many excellent technological solutions available that help businesses thrive in managing their customer service by maximizing efficiency and enhancing communication. However, technology can only take you so far. In order to provide a stellar customer service, your entire business should be customer-service oriented. Strive to exceed customer expectations whenever you can and this will definitely take your business a long way in terms of longevity and reputation.

 

About the Author:

heather

Heather Redding is an avid reader, freelance writer, coffee snob and a tech enthusiast from Aurora, Illinois. When she is not working, Heather enjoys swimming and hanging out with her friends. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

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Guest Post: How to Manage Your Remote Customer Service Team

The internet has made it possible for businesses to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world – yet at the same time, the internet has shifted power to consumers as they can get information on any product or service from multiple vendors and compare prices. In order to win business and succeed in this type of competitive environment, you must take a customer-centric approach and support your customers with the best possible customer service possible, even if that team’s scattered around the world.

That brings us to our next point. How do you manage a remote support team? How can you optimize support to cover all 24 hours of the day? Aside from logistics, how can you keep everyone productive and accountable? How can you make sure nothing slips through the cracks? While it may seem like a daunting task, successfully managing your remote customer service can be done well by following the below tips.

 

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1. Hire the Right People

Working remotely first appears to be a great opportunity for most individuals. You get to work from the environment you’re most comfortable in, there’s more flexibility in your work schedule, and you don’t have to deal with hours of commuting, to name a few. Yet working remotely is a skill in itself and it’s important to look for people who don’t just like the idea of working remotely, but can actually work efficiently with limited supervision.

To ensure that you hire the right remote staff, see if they’ve worked remotely before. Perhaps they have experience freelancing or running their own business. These two characteristics can demonstrate the applicant’s level of accountability, and often is an indicator of a hardworking employee you can trust. You’ll also want to make sure to ask the following questions to make sure they’re the right fit for how you like to manage your teams:

  • What kind of work schedule do you prefer?
  • Have you worked from a co-working space before?
  • Can you attend regular meetings via platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts?
  • What are some out-of-the-ordinary things you’ve done to help customers and make them happy?

 

2. Choose the Right Customer Service Software

Along with hiring the right staff, having the right customer service software in place is essential for successfully running a remote customer service team. The right help desk software will automate the way customer inquiries or issues are submitted, handled and followed up on, making it easy for your remote team to support customers efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, your team will be given access to a wealth of data which allows them to track conversations, monitor client relationships, and revisit past communications with a specific customer at-a-glance. Having this type of organized, easy-to-access information makes it possible for your support team to provide the high-quality assistance your customers deserve.

And while giving your team the tools they need to succeed may be important for you as a manager, let’s not forget the value that customer service software provides you. Such software allows you to avoid micromanaging your team (which can be time consuming and counterproductive when your team’s scattered across the globe) because you’re always in the loop. From details like number of calls taken each day and numbers of issues resolved to hours worked by each staff member and any high-priority issues that need addressing, you’ll have a pulse on the health of your team so you can make any necessary adjustments and fix productivity issues as soon as possible.

 

3. Utilize Knowledge Bases

Did you know that 62% of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience? Make sure you don’t become a part of this statistic and create engaging customer service experiences that not only assist your customers, but make them comfortable making a repeat purchase with your company.

In order to achieve this level of trust among your customers, your customer support team will need to have access to as much company information as possible. Even your best customer support representative will come across a question that requires a bit more research. And when that representative is a remote worker, getting answers quickly isn’t as easy as walking over to you and asking a question. This problem gets further compounded when you factor in the time differences between you and each of your remote workers.

This is where a robust knowledge base comes in. By having information in one easily-accessible place, your team always has access to the answers they need to best support your customers. You can create private wiki for this type of knowledge share or create your own internal customer service knowledge base. But keep in mind that the creation of this knowledge base shouldn’t just be left to you and other managers and executives.

Utilize your customer service team to help with its creation and encourage them to update it and add answers on an ongoing basis. Thinking of your knowledge base as a living, breathing document that is constantly changing will give you an unparalleled resource to use for years to come.

 

4. Keep Your Team Productive

One of the most common concerns of individuals managing remote teams is how to keep the team productive and accountable. Fortunately, with the many technologies and platforms available for task management, your support team can be just as productive working from home as they would be in the office. Here are a few types of technologies to look into:

  • Messaging apps – Open communication is a must when managing a remote team. You need to be able to easily share questions and feedback so team members can share what they accomplished the day before, what they’re working on, and any roadblocks in their way. This keeps everyone accountable for making progress each day and keeps your team in the loop about what’s going on.
  • Video conferencing apps – While messaging apps can be helpful for quick check-ins, it can be good to have regular face-to-face meetings via video conferencing apps. Being able to talk to your team and see them visually can help to foster feelings of positivity, support, and encouragement.
  • Task management platforms – It can be hard to manage the tasks of one team, let alone one that’s remote and possible scattered around the world. To increase team cohesion and make sure there are no overlapping duties or individuals encroaching on the work of others, task management apps like Trello are a great option for easily identifying and staying on top of short-term activity, long-term goals and overall progress.

Remote work comes with its challenges, but with the right strategies and tools, you can build and grow a productive and effective customer service team that helps your customers – and your business – succeed.

 

About the author

 jill

Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps

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Oracle Service Cloud Announces New Releases

Oracle Service Cloud announces new releases for enhanced functionality in Web Customer Service, Contact Center including the Agent Browser User Interface, Knowledge Advanced, Policy Automation, and the Oracle Service Cloud Platform. Included in he release is a new Internet of Things (IoT) Accelerator, which provides a bi-directional integration with Oracle IoT Cloud.

The integration helps customers seamlessly interface with IoT technology so that service events and alerts received from smart devices can be consumed, as well as appropriate action taken by agents, within the Oracle Service Cloud desktop. Field Service seems to be an area where IoT can easily provide true use cases that can quickly garner ROI. It will be interesting to see how vendors incorporate IoT in the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator will allow internet enabled devices connectivity to Oracle Service Cloud. Accelerators are a collection of sample code, sample workflows, and best practices, documentation, and design guidance to assist customers with seamless updates or integrations with Oracle Service Cloud.Oracle Service Cloud Releases

Oracle Service Cloud also provided a sneak preview of Live Chat. What is the capability really about? Sneak preview allows chat agents to see what a customer is typing before they hit submit. Sneak Preview is designed to enhance agent productivity and bring value to the contact center by decreasing handle times. By allowing the agent to see what the customer is typing ahead of time they can begin to formulate an answer faster, which results in faster responses, and faster conversations. And Live Chat is now a fully supported channel; contacts are automatically matched and the contact and chat workspaces are integrated.

In addition, the release includes analytics performance enhancements with caching for frequent reporting and better notifications for report authors. Modern gauges are added to create much more intuitive and modern reports, allowing users to interpret data quicker, as well as new rendering options, to remove unnecessary components in reports, crisper rendering of charts, and a new modern layout theme. In addition, there is a new dashboard concept—specifically designed for that 5-second-glance overview for busy customer service leaders.

These at-a-glance infolets are available out-of-the-box and contain a number of single metric charts with real-time key performance indicators like open incidents by severity, SLA, First Contact Resolution, new incidents by channel, and so forth. Contact Center Directors can also schedule and send the infolet dashboard by email to key stakeholders at regular intervals. This is key as the more senior stakeholders are more involved, the more they begin to realize the importance of customer experience and customer service to the overall health, stability and revenue generation capabilities of their company.

In addition, the the agent browser UI has gone through a significant performance enhancement to support high interactivity and now supports a much broader range of analytics capabilities. The agent browser user interface is now a single version, meaning it is compatible with versions of Oracle Service Cloud all the way back to May 2015 and upgrades will now happen with zero downtime.  The UI theme has been updated for consistency across all Oracle Cloud portfolio applications. Knowledge authors can now use the Agent Browser User Interface to author and edit knowledge articles with a new HTML editor with HTML5 support.

As the race to provide the best customer experience continues, brands must choose between more single point solutions vs large system platforms. It will be interesting to see the choices of brands and how the customer experience evolves to meet the brand promise.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Drive Awesome Customer Experiences

www.constellationr.com

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Genesys & Interactive Intelligence Acquisition Is Complete

Genesys has completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence. Why acquire Interactive Intelligence? The idea is that the addition of Interactive Intelligence will enable Genesys to accelerate its mission of powering the best customer experiences in more industries and more countries – over any channel in the cloud and on premises. The acquisition also means that Genesys now has over 10,000 customers in more than 100 countries supporting over 25 billion customer interactions per year. Genesys will continue to offer support and invest in best-in-class solutions, including PureCloud®, Communications as a Service℠ (CaaS) and Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC), in addition to our core Genesys products.

In terms of how the company is run, Paul Segre will continue to serve as CEO, providing leadership that best supports the needs of customers, partners and employees. Genesys will maintain its headquarters in Daly City, as well as key offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and Durham, North Carolina.

This acquisition is one of many that are being seen in the customer service and customer experience world. It gives Genesys a larger customer base and integrates many of the features and functions Interactive Intelligence brought to the table. As customer experience becomes one of the most important differentiators in a brand’s overall experience, choosing the right vendor to deliver on complex customer service and customer experience interactions will be key. While there are vendors that are part of a larger marketing, sales and service suite, there are other vendors who remain focused on the customer service marketplace. Time will tell how organizations see the need to go with solutions that service part of an organization vs having the capability to connect to the back office as well as other lines of business.

Below is a snapshot of Genesys’s capabilities:

Overview of Genesys

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

www.constellationr.com

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Jacada Announces Private Equity Investment

Jacada Ltd. (OTCQB: JCDAF), a global provider of customer experience technology designed to simplify the interaction between businesses and their customers, announces that Israel Growth Partners (IGP), a Private Equity investment. Jacada’s visual IVR is a key asset to their capabilities has other digital transformation solutions aiming to reduce the cost to serve customers while driving a seamless customer journey. The visual IVR transforms the typical “press 1 for….” Press 2 for…” type of IVR and instead uses a touch interface. Companies looking toward digital transformation of the customer experience are using the visual IVR as a cornerstone of their digital transformation. This investment should be helpful in Jacada’s future growth.

Jacada Visual IVR@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Digital Customer Experience Transformation in Customer-facing Application

Constellationr.com

 

 

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Congratulations to the Constellation Super Nova Award Winners in Customer Experience!

The reason we at Constellation Research created the SuperNova Awards is because we know advancing the adoption of disruptive technology is not easy. Technology adoption faces resistance from budget constraints, hurdles to adoption, and myopia. All the finalists here today have successfully implemented technologies that will lead their organizations into the future. These people have vision. These people are leaders. These people understand the value of disruptive technology. All of the SuperNova Award applications are on the Constellation website.

Today’s customer demands a personalized experience during every stage of the buying process. Customers demand to be treated like royalty before, during, and after purchase. Customers want this same level of service across social, mobile, and analog channelsFinalists in the Next Generation Customer Experience category understand today’s demanding customers. They have implemented technologies and programs to boost brand loyalty and customer engagement. The finalists for Next Generation Customer Experience:

  • Amihai Zeltzer from Stanley Healthcare
  • Martin Marcinczyk from Comcast
  • Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour
  • Roshan Koonja from Constance Hotels and Resorts
  • Scott Strickland and Jim Flatt from Denon + Marantz Electronics.

And the winner of the SuperNova Award for Next Generation Customer Experience is…. Murray Swartzberg from the ATP World Tour! Murray and his team won the SuperNova Award for enhancing the tennis experience for fans and players.  The ATP partnered with Infosys to produce Game-Stats that are based on the real-time in-memory paradigm aligned with IIP Tooling & Apache Spark. The project revolutionized how tennis analysts and fans receive statistics about professional tennis players

Make sure to apply next year!

Congratulations to all the executives and their teams who are truly making a difference in creating great customer experiences.

@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering customer-facing applications that deliver excellent customer service and customer experience!

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Constellation ShortList™ for Field Service Management

Constellation has announced the Constellation ShortList vendors in Field Service Management which provides the best capabilities to help employees serve customers. Field customer service occurs when resources or services are deployed onsite at a client. Field service management software enables companies to be flexible and nimble when providing service. These offerings are great at detecting problems before having to send someone to repair or fix a customer’s issue. In the event they must send someone, they can communicate in real-time with customers, provide on-site information about products and repair issues while offering relevant and timely service.

These offerings help companies improve their operational efficiencies by optimizing work-order routing and technician scheduling, which results in quicker resolution of issues. Analytics used in field services often optimize when services are deployed and how assets are tied to deployment of resources. They have advanced scheduling systems that let the customer know when the technician or field-service employee will arrive within a reasonable window of time. Helping provide an excellent customer experience is the most important aspect of field service management solutions.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research.  This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Good diagnostics prior to rolling out the truck
  • Resource management
  • Case management
  • Communication with the customer on the status of the technician’s arrival
  • Scheduling
  • Resource allocation
  • Inventory optimization
  • Mobile enablement.

Constellation evaluates over 25 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. These are the best-of-breed vendors that provide applications and services without bundling into another platform:

  • IFS
  • Oracle Field Service Cloud (formerly TOA Technologies)
  •  ServiceMax
  • ClickSoftware
  • PTC
  • SAP
  • Vertical Solutions.

For more information on the short lists, please see the Constellation Research site.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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Constellation ShortList™ Customer Service and Contact Center Software

Constellation Research is launching a new program, and I’m happy to share that the vendors that have been listed on the Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Service and Contact Center Software. The program offers buyers of technology a list of offerings to consider in their pursuit of digital transformation to provide the best capabilities to drive leading customer service.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research. This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Customer service and contact center software helps solve customer challenges faster by offering the right tools and support, regardless of channel or device (e.g., phone, tablet, email, chat, text, website, Facebook, other social networks). These offerings can effectively manage inbound communication for increased first-contact resolution, in addition to providing co-browse capabilities to allow visual communication for quicker query resolution. Additionally, they can support the reduction of cart abandonment and increase customer satisfaction with in-cart assistance. This type of software provides personalized care through the use of analytics, offering insight into customers’ behaviors for relevant, contextualized service that can predict future needs. Companies can identify new opportunities by integrating these customer insights into their companies’ innovation processes.

The software also creates seamless, online experiences with a knowledge base that learns from every interaction, enabling them to match content to consumer intent, which results in higher conversion rates. The top solutions also provide smart customer self-service, allowing customers to help themselves by fostering peer-to-peer support communities and eliminating the need to reach out to the contact center.

Constellation considers the following key criteria for these solutions: Self-service capabilities, case management, natural language processing for knowledge management and search, omni-channel and device customer journeys, mobile customer service and self service, queuing and routing, workforce optimization, predictive and prescriptive rules and advice, next-best action, natural scripting, customer feedback collection capabilities, IVR, visual IVR, inventory optimization, mobile enablement, social and digital engagement simplified user design (UX/UI), reporting and customer analytics, integration to IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and devices, data dashboard and data visualization.

Each Constellation ShortList evaluation will be updated every 90 days as needed. Constellation clients may work with the analyst and research team to conduct a more thorough discussion of this ShortList. Constellation can also provide guidance in vendor selection and contract negotiation.

The ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. The Shortlist includes:

  • Aspect
  • Avaya
  • Cisco
  • Genesys
  • inContact
  • Interactive Intelligence
  • Oracle
  • Salesforce
  • Verint.

For more information about the ShortList, please visit the Constellation Research site.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications.

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The Business Phone System Reinvented: The Next-Generation Cloud Communications and Collaboration Tool

The only way to build a truly innovative and collaborative culture is to give everyone a voice. In working with Dialed, I just completed some ROI research to understand how quickly, easy and affordable it is today to plug every employee into your business with a very innovative phone system. They way it works is that Dialpad turns all of your devices into your business phone, letting you make high-definition calls over Wi-Fi or your carrier network from anywhere. And businesses can let their  remote workers and global offices feel like a part of HQ with peer-to-peer HD video. This is especially great for field service, where video often can solve the problem like no other solution because you can SEE the issue. In these new systems, modern business communications integrate seamlessly with the productivity apps that employees use every day, making it easier than ever for them to collaborate with docs, emails, and calendar invites.

With this system, a brand can move a phone call from their WiFi to their carrier or from a desktop to a mobile device very easily, so in essence it is very easy to switch calls from device to device (phone, tablet, desktop…) It is also easy to transfer calls between colleagues or departments simply by looking up a name in the directory.

In the ROI research we interviewed two companies, Vivant Solar and a large communication services provider to see how they transformed their on-premises telephony systems to a purely cloud-based communications solution using Dialpad. The change, depending on the situation, resulted in six- to seven- figure cost savings. Both companies previously had legacy, on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) technology, which is a private telephone network used within a company.

Dialpad provides a secure, enterprise communications cloud solution that incorporates traditional PBX features into a modern cloud-based, business communications VoIP system. The solution integrates with Google Apps for Work and with Office 365, with a user interface built to satisfy the needs of a modern workplace but without the typical costs of traditional enterprise, on-premise telephony systems.

The platform offers messaging, voice, video, conference calling in the cloud, attributed call transfer, auto-attendant, IVR, business SMS, MMS, and group messaging, call recording, live-call device switching, international outbound calling, local telephone numbers, multi-device functionality, toll-free numbers, visual voicemail, contact profiles, a company directory and fax support as well as core social profile applications, such as LinkedIn and Twitter for context about the caller. In case you are wondering, has anyone else discovered this service, Dialpad’s customers include 60 percent of the Fortune 500, high-growth enterprises, and forward thinking organizations and start-ups. The service is built on the WebRTC framework and runs on a redundant global network of nine data centers on four continents.

CUSTOMER ROI CASE STUDY: VIVINT SOLAR 

In the evaluation of various technology infrastructure systems, Mike Hincks, Director, IT Infrastructure at Vivint Solar, found that traditional IT voice systems come with hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly infrastructure and hosting costs, all designed around employees using desk phones. The catalyst for change was to use a system not tied to a desk phone. One of the many interesting features was that Dialpad had no upfront capital expenditures or maintenance costs, which made it easier to get the technology approved by senior leaders at Vivint Solar.

In addition, Hincks looked at the money the sister company was spending on long-distance contracts. With Dialpad, there were no long-distance carrier costs. Hincks also looked at the cost of the team he would need to hire in order to maintain an on premise, hosted solution. The sister company had had a five-person team to manage voice applications. In addition, Hincks would have needed to schedule the IT team’s time to provision a new phone for each employee, with at least one hour of training per employee and some additional time from the IT team for troubleshooting. Dialpad required less than one full-time equivalent employee.

Another one of the biggest conveniences was that Dialpad integrated with Google for Work without any authentication process. “I found the Millennial workforce wants technology to work right away. They don’t want to set up an application, have to go through training or troubleshoot it. They want to click on an app and see it work immediately,” said Hincks.

The positive feedback about Dialed from Vivint Solar’s more than 4,000 mobile workers includes:

  • Improving the ease of signing up and using the communications technology
  • Increasing agility to work anytime and anywhere on any device with technology that doesn’t get in the way of productivity
  • Increasing productivity by being able to use a simple user interface
  • Boosting the ability to make bigger sales at a faster rate.

The ROI: Costs were reduced by several hundred thousand dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure and maintenance costs
  • No long-distance carrier costs
  • No need to hire a team to manage the cloud based communications
  • No need to train employees or engage the training department
  • High user adoption rate because of the simple user interface
  • Improved ability to attract talent by reducing recruiting costs and increasing retention of top talent

A GLOBAL COMMUNICATION SOLUTIONS AND SERVICES COMPANY

In the second company, the Director of Digital Workplace Technologies set up a proof of concept (POC) with Dialpad. He found that the best way to meet the needs of workers in the modern enterprise was using cloud technology. He wanted to re-conceptualize how communications services could be presented to users and to eliminate deterrents to productivity, especially for the geographically distributed workforce that used telephony systems. The Director of Digital Workplace Technologies said, “It was important to look at an IT project as an organizational change management project. We learned this lesson when we moved our users to Google Apps for Work. Technology changes that affect how productive workers are should be seen as organizational change projects. If you can’t find something you are looking for, it makes you less productive and frustrated. So we always overlay organization change management with our IT rollouts.”

DON’T FORGET ORGANIZATION CHANGE MANAGEMENT

The company needed to have a new communications system that could be completely up and running in minutes, compared to months or even years required for deploying global on-premises systems. Applications built in the cloud reduce costs because they are more flexible, extensible, and easier to work with while making collaboration intuitive. And this company found organizational change management was a key element for a successful implementation of this new communications system.

The ROI

Using Dialpad, the company was able to retire several of its old telephony systems and realize millions of dollars in cost savings by reducing:

  • Maintenance agreements
  • Infrastructure
  • Service and support for the infrastructure
  • Phone lines from service providers.

Today, the company has deployed about 6,000 VoIP lines on Dialpad, which cover about 40 percent of its global employee base. It is looking to expand coverage every quarter. The company’s savings were several million dollars, year over year. Savings came from:

  • No upfront capital expenditure
  • No maintenance costs
  • Reduced reliance on IT helpdesk
  • No long-distance carrier costs.

GIVING EMPLOYEES MORE CHOICE, RESULTING IN HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY

After implementing Dialpad at just one large site, the global company reduced the site’s cost per minute of call time by double digits. In addition, the new system offered features that the old telephony systems could not. For instance, the PBX system had been tied to a particular device – the desk office phone. However, most people are now mobile, working from various devices and remote locations. Clearly, workers could not take their desk phones outside of their offices. When workers were away from their desks, they had to use cell phones or other alternatives – from multiple phone numbers – that created additional costs for the company.

Dialpad, however, allows employees use to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. When the company moved to Dialpad, employees could use their computers to place calls, essentially replacing desk phones. They could also use the Dialpad application on their Android or iOS mobile devices. To the person receiving the call, it all comes from the same phone number, whether the VoIP call is made from a computer or from a mobile device.

Employees could also become more productive. With the ability to communicate from any place, using any device, while still being accessible from a single phone number, people could connect with each other more easily. As collaboration was made easier, the ability for teams to work more effectively with remote employees was also improved. In essence, the company had a new potential to increase the agility and adaptability of its workforce. Employees could be more productive, collaborative and feel more connected to each other using Dialpad.

MODERNIZING THE WORKPLACE 

The new technology enabled the company to modernize its workplace. The company realized that it needed to give employees – as well as new hires and interns – technology tools that are modern, intuitive and easy to use, unlike traditional enterprise tools. The company found employees could easily pick up how to use Dialpad because they were familiar with Google Apps for Work. While moving to Dialpad, the company was also able to shift a portion of its traditional help desk activity to a self-service and community-supported model. In the community, users can ask influencers an guides questions.

WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IN CHOOSING NEW TECHNOLOGY

Hardware costs and desk phones traditionally have driven the voice communications industry. While struggling for decades to bring down hardware costs, providers attempted to shift to a software model that yielded some feature and cost improvements. However, these changes have not significantly reduced costs, improved scalability, boosted agility or simplified use. In contrast, a revolutionary, exponential change occurs in the telephony industry from using a 100 percent cloud based system designed with the user in mind that is extremely easy to deploy and use while slashing operating costs, eliminating call charges, and offering rapid, unlimited and affordable scalability.

GIVING EMPLOYEES THE RIGHT TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY RESULTS IN BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES

At the end of the day, it’s really the employees that create the customer experience. And employees can’t do that unless they are given the right technology. It’s up to companies to evaluate the technology they are using and to provide them the latest technology that allows them to be their best. For information about this research study, you can find it here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Creating Great Customer Experiences By Empowering Employees

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