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5 tips for integrating modern contact centres

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A contact centre must work seamlessly with a business and its people and it should not come with an unrealistic price tag. 1Stream’s BRUCE VON MALTITZ and JED HEWSON outline five steps to integration success.

Investment into contact centre integration doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Not anymore.

For the business that wants to expand its footprint and engage its customers, investment into a contact centre can singlehandedly tick the box of strategic technology investment while expanding customer engagement and sales.

Every organisation wants to grow. Most are staring down the economic barrel with trepidation. Fluctuations in market and confidence are impacting on most organisations and introduce a fine balancing act between caution and innovation. A recent global analysis found that growth and technology are the two biggest balls that the Chief Financial Officer has to juggle. They are expected to research and invest in innovation so the business can evolve, but they also have to ensure budgets remain smart so they can survive within the stony grip of recession.

The struggle between growth and constraint has never been more relevant.

The contact centre is the ‘you have arrived’ of the corporate GPS. Still, even with that accolade, it must work seamlessly with the business and its people and it should not come with an unrealistic price tag. Want the benefits without the drama? Here are five steps to integration success.

  1. Get cloud

Cloud is the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ that doesn’t  require investment into heavy hardware just to get a taste of its potential. The ability to truly assess the capabilities of a system before spending plenty of money on it is something that wasn’t possible in the past, but allows for enormous freedom of investment and opportunity.

“If you wanted to introduce web chat into your call centre you would have to go and buy all the kit, put it in and then, if it didn’t deliver business value it was too late – you’d spent the money anyway,” says Bruce von Maltitz of, 1Stream.

To ensure that investment into the call centre fits within corporate requirement before it is wedged into corporate budget, the CFO should consider trying it out before buying it. Technology is on a relentless innovation cycle so it is essential to ensure that it works with legacy systems and expectations.

  1. Invest in trust

“Another step is to ensure that the company used is one that has a proven track record,” says Jed Hewson of 1Stream. “There are plenty of providers pushing all types of technology, so go and see it in a live environment and confirm that it will deliver. Don’t just look at the brochure and sign the deal.”

  1. Read the fine print, again.

Ensure that the cost savings of the investment are real. You may need to reallocate a portion of your staffing budget (which usually makes up 70% of your overall contact centre expenses) to your technology budget (which is normally only 7% of the overall costs) to give your contact centre a 10% saving through a rise in productivity or reduction in staff.

“You should be looking to bring in systems that make the call centre more efficient rather than trying to constantly save money,” says Bruce. “It is worth spending on the technology if it helps to make the people more efficient as they make up most of your operational costs.”

  1. Assess integration

Be careful when weaving new technologies through the business. Look to systems that allow for add-on functionalities that can be integrated fully. If you tack on different functions, such as email or telephony, and these are not comprehensively integrated, then the reporting and the consolidation of data has to be done separately. Next thing, you have to hire someone who spends their time trying to add one solution’s report to another. Make sure you understand the knock-on consequences of adding new technologies into the call centre.

  1. Get an expert on board

“Finally, beware of the homegrown IT guru that haunts every business hallway,” concludes Jed. “They can put your contact centre together and do it cheaply, but the challenge is that you can end up running out of the features and functionality you need, just when you really need them. Then either the industry or the guru move on, and suddenly nobody knows how it works or why it suddenly stopped working.”

Call centre technology is a critical business function and therefore needs the same care of investment and quality as any other core functions. Instead of leaping for cheap, focus on cloud solutions that allow you to try before you buy and implement the one that’s ideally suited to the dynamic nature of your organisation. It may sound complex, but thanks to the ubiquity of technology, it is far simpler to find the perfect call centre platform right now that it was a few years ago.

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How tech is keeping us young

Research by Lenovo revealed people who use tech feel, on average, 11 years younger.

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Technology is making the world feel younger, healthier and more emotionally connected, reveals new research by Lenovo, suggesting a growing relationship between technological innovation and wellbeing.

The research, which surveyed over 15,000 individuals from around the globe, from the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy, not only found 40% of global respondents feel “a lot” or “somewhat” more youthful thanks to technology, but on average it made them feel younger by 11 years.

This rings most true in China, where 70% of Chinese respondents said technology made them feel more youthful, which could be perhaps due to technologies ability to build connections between generations, especially those who might have once felt disconnected from tech-savvy youngsters. For example, grandparents are now able to better communicate with their grandchildren via smart technology due to its growing ubiquity and ease of use.

The research suggests that this sentiment is felt world-over, across genders and ages. “To know how to operate newer technology makes me feel younger” one US woman, said.  Another woman, from France, also stated, “Compared to the younger generation who are born with all these technologies, my adaptability makes me feel younger”. On the other side of the globe, one female respondent in India cited tech as making her feel like she “can do anything with it which any youngster can do,” and one Chinese male respondent said: “It helps me catch up with the times – not only gaining more knowledge, but also feel that I’m on-trend; I feel younger”.

The research generally revealed that many older generations think using technology helps them to connect better with younger people as well as feel livelier and more knowledgeable. This is especially evident when it comes to the role smart devices (from PCs, tablets to smart home assistants and more) play in terms of relationships with family and friends. When asked to compare technology today to those of 20 years ago for giving them the ability to feel connected to what is going on in the lives of the people they care about, 65 percent answered it’s “getting better”. While 75% also said technology is improving their ability to stay in touch with family and friends who live far away.

The global research also revealed that tech is helping people when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, offering emotional gains, particularly in parents. Over three-quarters (78%) of working parents stated the ever-connected nature of technology helps them feel more emotionally connected to their children, even when they are away from home. An even larger portion (83%) of working parents agreed that emerging technologies are making it easier for them to feel confident that their kids are safe and secure while they are at work.

Over two-thirds (67%) of respondents in the survey stated they were optimistic about the future of technology and the role tech can play in our lives and society, especially in wellbeing, with 67% believing devices are currently having a positive impact on the ability to improve their overall health. And that’s hardly surprising, considering 84% also said tech has empowered them to make improvements in their lives overall.

Take for instance how one respondent, a 51-year-old woman from the US, highlighted how science is using technology to do great things for amputees, and enabling those suffering from mental illness to better connect with people from all over the world. “I think that the medical breakthroughs we’ve had are a tremendous statement on how we can have a positive relationship with technology,” she said.

The recognition that tech is helping to improve the quality of life could also be a result of the time it tends to save people. Half of respondents across all markets (50%) feel their smart devices save them 30 minutes or more a day by helping them do something faster or more efficiently. Similarly, over half (57%) agreed smart devices, such as computers and smart home devices like smart displays and smart clocks, are making them more productive and efficient, the highest perceptions of which were seen in China at 82% and India at 81%.

In terms of personal health, 36% of respondents said smart devices have made it easier for them to access health care providers and make doctor’s appointments, and a further 39% of those under 60 years of age stated modern tech makes it easier for seniors to contact emergency services.

A 23-year-old woman from India, for example, expressed her belief that the technological advancement of medical science is helping people better fight diseases and potentially cure them. “Lives of people are better off nowadays because they know ways of curing such health hazards,” she said. “Through technology, increasing the life span of an individual is very much possible.”

Psychologist and founder of Digital Nutrition, Jocelyn Brewer, said: “Keeping up with advancements in technology can feel like a full-time job, but it can have positive impacts on people’s sense of themselves and their age. While older people are stereotyped as being techno-phobic or inept at staying on-trend, this research points to the fact that maintaining currency in the digital space helps people feel more youthful, more connected to young people and youth culture, which in turn is a social currency for feeling valued and a sense of belonging or in ‘the know’.

“It’s this tech knowledge that drives the perception of feeling younger, without having to revisit the angst of our adolescence!

“Staying connected to the people we care about is a wonderful feature of technology. And while it is no replacement for face-to-face connection, it is a valuable supplement to communication for those who might be geographically divided. Parents can manage a range of responsibilities and provide increasing appropriate autonomy to teenagers through a variety of communication tools, reminders and systems that can help take the struggle out of the daily juggle.”

Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of User and Customer Experience, Lenovo, said: “There is a growing relationship between innovation and wellbeing as smart technologies are not only helping people globally to stay more connected but aiding wellbeing in the form of compassion and empathy by building better connections between them.”

“Technology has a transformational ability to unite people across generations and walks of life around the world, with the potential to help them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives. At Lenovo, we passionately believe in creating smarter technology for all, which is why we focus on making our technology accessible, blending into the everyday lives for the benefit of more people.”

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Advanced traffic management tech market hits $1bn

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A new report from Navigant Research analyzes the ongoing transformation occurring in the traffic management industry, providing global market forecasts, segmented by region and technology, through 2028.

Advanced traffic management systems (ATMSs) such as adaptive traffic control (ATC) are enabling greater efficiencies in the traffic management ecosystem and can help integrate the expected growth in vehicle populations without overwhelming existing infrastructure. ATMSs are also enabling the development of smart intersections, which are emerging as one of the most important data-driven backbones needed for solving core city challenges. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, the global market for advanced traffic management will be worth more than $1.1 billion in 2019. Annual revenue is expected to grow to nearly $3.8 billion by 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.2%.

“The global advanced traffic management market is expected to more than triple by 2028,” says Ryan Citron, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Over the next 10 years, the market is expected to achieve gradual but accelerating growth as cities prioritize reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, make improvements in safety and livability, and integrate ATMSs with other smart city initiatives (e.g., smart street lighting).”

Currently, cities vary in their level of maturity in using ATMSs. Collecting traffic and vehicle detection data is often the first step toward advanced traffic management. Then, in-depth traffic analytics enable traffic managers to develop mitigation strategies and make operational improvements to existing traffic signal timing systems. In cities with mature traffic management solutions, ATC technologies enable traffic signals to adjust based on real-time traffic conditions, traffic data is sent from traffic lights to connected vehicles, inter-agency data sharing is on the rise, and transport platforms are used to manage mobility ecosystems.

The report, Advanced Traffic Management for Smart Cities, analyzes the ongoing transformation occurring in the traffic management industry. The study focuses on ATC, traffic analytics, artificial intelligence, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and vehicle detection technologies. Global market forecasts, segmented by region and technology, extend through 2028. This report also explores regional trends in advanced traffic management strategy and highlights city case studies where innovative projects are being deployed. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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