Staying Agile in the New Year

staying-agile-in-the-new-yearOne of the ways successful companies prosper is to keep employees agile and well-connected, however as each year comes and goes, safeguarding a positive ROI for such connectivity gets lost in the shuffle, worse yet chalked up to a run of the mill office expense. As companies grow and expand workforce, investing in communication systems and strategies enables them to not only survive, but thrive. Is your team well-connected?

The UC Connect Contact Center from ShoreTel does just that, offering universal queuing, access from any location, and a single-screen view to assess all interactions at once. When a customer calls in to your business, employees can manage and oversee all activities for that customer in one place. The history, agent who handled their last correspondence, as well as trunk activity, is all handled in the database in an easy to see centralized screen.

Training and supervisor support functionality is unparalleled. Supervisors can route in to calls either privately or publicly to assist in situations or feedback or give feedback and monitor the employee without barging in on a call. Customers gain the satisfaction of getting managerial assistance while employees gain problem-solving ability, all without the customer getting shifted and transferred multiple times.

Automated appointment scheduling emails and text notifications alert customers of their appointments and payment scheduling, cutting back on no-shows during valuable times of the day.

Don’t forget too, that consumers are increasingly picky when it comes to selecting brands to do business with. Loyalty is an important factor, but a business that refuses to modernize and remain competitive, will find itself losing out. The UC Connect Contact Center allows you to go digital with increased web utilization and customer access including web chat and Call Me Now functionality. For businesses where your call center is also the front-facing customer service representative (think financial institutions like banks and credit unions), decreased call volume allows for more personal interaction with customers face-to-face with you.

With more and more employees working reduced hours at the headquarters and more time on the go or at home, features like mobility access which routes work calls to employee’s personal phones without needing to give out personal phone numbers, are most necessary. It’s these process improvements that will continuously place your business ahead of the competition.

These personal touchpoints are what makes the UC Connect Contact Center the complete package for many institutions. Lower multi-transfer calls, make customer service more efficient, call volume management, and fewer customer appointment no-shows – having more engaged customers increases satisfaction and revenue.

Contact Us

To learn more about ShoreTel’s UC Connect Contact Center, give us a shout, 860.668.5285 or e-mail info12@hilltoptech.com.

When It’s Time to Move On

move onIt’s not every day that your business’s phone system is on your mind. You’re busy conducting business as usual and unless something is disrupting that, you’re likely not thinking about your next phone system or upgrade. But if you’re using a legacy on-premise phone system, it may be a good time to consider some alternatives. Legacy systems are becoming obsolete at an increasingly rapid pace. It’s not your fault – technology in general is making advances that make it difficult to keep up. But it’s best to not be behind the curve when you need to be effectively maximizing service for your customers and productivity for your employees.

One solution we see business owners and IT departments making is adding on functionality. Such add-ons to legacy systems can be helpful short-term solutions that allow you to continue your investment versus fully replacing it. However, we have also seen so many add-ons piled onto systems that businesses have spent more money across various vendors than they would have if they just moved to a cloud solution or a hybrid. The maintenance alone on too many solutions and vendors can get nightmarish.

It is important to point out too, that switching phone systems does not need to be completed in one clean sweep. That can be a big, daunting move. Instead, consider the circumstances. Are you growing? Increasing remote activity or expanding to new locations? Take a slower migration to a new system. Switch the most logical parts of your department to the cloud. Begin where the cost savings is the greatest – where the call volume or staff fluctuation is the highest.

One thing is certain – it will be time to move on eventually. You’ve got nothing to lose in at least exploring your options now and getting ready for such a switch. If anything, you just have time and money to gain in the long run. Make a move now when you’ve got time to weigh options with a clear head and not when it’s forced upon you with non-functioning infrastructure. Contact us and we will help you identify the best action plan to put you in the best position for continued growth and clear communication.

Planning for a New Business Phone System in 6 Steps

Planning New Business Phone SystemMoving to a new business phone system takes proper planning and execution. Rushing to a decision can mean disastrous outcomes for your company if the options aren’t weighed and the proper system put in place. After all, phone systems are an investment – one that your company will need to live with for years. However, if you follow these six steps, you’ll be on track for success and when the system and communication is improved, you’ll be the hero.

1. Know the Terms

Chances are you’re in a contract. Review the original contract and verify the expiration date. Proper planning should begin 10-12 months before the expiration date of your contract. The first step is understanding what is and isn’t possible under your current agreement – what can be changed under contract and how much lead time is required for such changes? If you’re planning for the following year’s budget, don’t forget to include the new phone system on your list and be sure to mention that a new phone system doesn’t always mean there will be upfront capital expenses or increased costs.

2. Pick Your Team

There are several vendors and solutions and making the decision as to which will be able to assist you in your implementation is an important one. Your best bet is to form an internal team to be charged with assessing your company’s needs and weighing the options. Make sure your team members meet regularly and know the plan of action from the get-go, including expectations with regard to the final decision and their participation in the process.

3. Perform an Audit

With your new team in place, establish clear goals and objectives and evaluate how they align to the corporate vision and expectations. Is your current phone system helping or hindering you? What works? What doesn’t? Scrutinize your customer service processes. Does your current technology dictate how you perform certain functions? Review current costs as well, making sure to not just include the monthly phone bill, but energy costs, productivity losses, etc. Then create a list with the features, functionality, maintenance, and reliability that you wish to see in your next system.

4. Research the Option

With your list of desired functionality, have your team members perform an online search based on the key features you’ve identified, exploring vendor testimonials, online reviews, and analyst insights. Consider hiring a telecommunications partner to assist with evaluating and recommending a communications system that fits your company’s needs. You can also attend a webinar to learn more about available options in the market or request a lunch and learn that can speak to your needs or questions.

5. Vet the Vendors

Based on your research and the list of top vendors, begin to drill-down to see what the vendor’s capabilities are holistically – product, support, training, scalability, etc. Ask for a demo so you can see the system for yourself, how it will work, and verifying it can perform the functions you need it to. Don’t just listen to what they are saying, but consider what they aren’t saying too. Sometimes the devil is in the details. Ask what the typical implementation process might look like so your team can plan on the time needed and their involvement during the transition.

6. Prepare for Lift-Off

Depending on the decision you reach, whether that means renewing your existing contract or not, notify your current vendor of your plans. If you move to a new vendor, work closely with them to outline a plan that will ensure successful user adoption. Cushion a migration with enough time to solidify a smooth transition from one to the other. Communicate with other departments about the plan and timing so they can prepare for the new system’s implementation. From there, sign the new contract and consider your work done. Cheers to being well-prepared and thoughtful.

 

Consider Hilltop Technologies in your planning process. We have been helping our clients plan for and evaluate what systems are best for them since 1999, but our services don’t stop there. We also provide comprehensive training and support to ensure they are maximizing their system. Our certified team possesses top-notch expertise and is ready to help you no matter where you are in the planning process. Schedule a Lunch & Learn and see the latest phone systems in action. Need more information on possibilities? Contact us today.

Hilltop Technologies Receives Partner in Customer Excellence Designation from Avaya

Partner in Customer ExcellenceWe at Hilltop Technologies are pleased to announce that we have achieved Partner in Customer Excellence designation by Avaya. Receiving this title is based on superior customer satisfaction, as indicated by an average customer satisfaction score of 4.4 or higher on completed surveys initiated by Avaya in our geographical region.

Our EVP, Owen Wilson, commented, “It’s an honor to receive this designation from Avaya, as a result of our customers’ satisfaction with our quality of service and implementation for which we pride ourselves on.”

Avaya awards the designation to a limited number of partners via their Avaya Connect Partner Program. The Avaya “Partner in Customer Excellence” designation identifies and rewards channel partners who achieve significantly higher scores in their customer satisfaction surveys. The companies who receive this award are the ones whom consistently go above and beyond for each of their customers. Avaya bestows only the very best of their partners with the “Partner in Customer Excellence” and Hilltop Technologies is currently the only one in the greater Hartford, CT area.

To learn more about how you can receive a better partner for your telecommunications needs, contact us.

Trend Alert: Integrations

trend-alert-integrationsThanks to their relatively low costs, lack of upfront investment, and universal reach, hosted business phone systems are popular because they can so easily be integrated with other software/solutions you may already be using in your company. Adopting a VoIP system allows you to manage multiple functions through a single communication system, reducing further operating costs and leading to quicker customer service. To get the most out of your phone system, the name of the game is integrations. A good business phone system should integrate with these critical business solutions likely already in use at your organization. We’ve outlined three of the most basic integrations you should be focused on.

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software compiles existing and prospective customer data, organizes it, and uses it to manage sales and find new opportunities for growth. Integrating your phone system with your CRM
solution into the same interface allows your customer service team to quickly find customer information during calls, as well as expedite inquiries to the sales team. The CRM will keep a log of the length of customers’ calls, what the call was about, and other information about the customer. You can use this data to serve customers more effectively, building a stronger relationship and likely fostering future business with you.

Unified Communications

Improve employee productivity in the office and on the road with unified communications that allow fully integrated voice, video, instant messaging, desktop sharing, and audio/web conferencing. Plus, link into integrations with applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Lync, Google Apps, and salesforce.com – ensuring consistent experience across desktop, tablet and mobile operating systems.

Virtual Private Network

Sending audio files over the internet makes it easy for hackers to obtain sensitive company information, potentially putting you and your clients at risk. To minimize the risk, consider integrating your VoIP system with a virtual private network, or VPN. Your router will automatically encrypt all of your audio files and then send them through a secure channel, allowing you to access your phone network from anywhere without having to worry about leaking confidential information.

 

Of course, there are several integration options with enterprise phone systems. Need more info on any these or additional integrations? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!