Lower Call Center Costs with the Right Metrics

Call Center MetricsThe average call center inbound call costs $5.90.

US call centers receive 45.4 billion calls per year, which means that the cost of all inbound telephone customer service in the U.S. costs nearly $267 billion each year. And the ramifications of poor customer service costs call centers even more.

However, 79% of customers still consider a phone conversation with a call center agent as their preferred means of accessing customer service (Zendesk). Read the full entry

Cost-Effective Communication: In the Office and On the Go

Mobile CommunicationWhether it’s taking calls in the office or keeping in touch with your mobile sales team, communication is important for your business to stay on track.

While many big-box businesses can afford expensive, complex solutions, your business can stay connected for a fraction of the price.

Look into new and emerging technologies to help you maintain all your necessary communications without breaking the bank. Read the full entry

Failing at Customer Service? Try Outsourcing Your Help Desk

Outsource your help deskWhether you sell a product, offer a customer web portal or simply receive a high volume of support calls from customers, a help desk is something you may already be invested in.

However, handling these operations in-house may not be the most efficient or ideal solution. Read the full entry

Should You Migrate Your Call Center Software to the Cloud?

Businesses which want to take advantage of the latest technology while still saving money should consider migrating their call center to the cloud.

Unless your head’s been stuck in the metaphorical clouds, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about The Cloud.

These days, anything with a digital footprint — music, photos, video, e-mail and whole software systems — are now hanging out in this much-buzzed-about binary brume.

Among the latest functions business owners should consider migrating to the cloud is call center software.

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Expert Advice on VoIP and SIP Services for Small Business

Expert Advice on VoIP and SIP Services for Small BusinessYou have probably heard of Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, but you may not be sure what it means. SIP is basically a signaling protocol that’s used for controlling communications, like voice or video calls over the internet. SIP can be used for initiating, modifying, and terminating two-party or multi-party communications sessions, and it’s closely entwined with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony.

Business.com spoke with Nik Korchewsky of VoIP-SIP.org about VoIP and SIP services for small businesses.
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Expert Advice on Switching Your Business Phone System to VoIP

Logan Abbott of VoIP-Info.org says switching to VoIP is a no-brainer.

With the rocky economy, small business owners are looking for any way they can to save a buck or two — from printing two-sided copies to taking back those company credit cards (sorry folks, no more five-course lunches!) to switching their business phone system to VoIP.

“Switching to VoIP should be a no-brainer for small businesses because they stand to save up to 70 percent on their monthly phone bill,” said Logan Abbott, president of VoIP-Info.org, the largest VOIP information wiki on the web. He estimates that 70 percent of U.S. businesses now use VoIP.

Aside from saving money, other benefits to switching to VoIP include access to advanced phone system features like voice-to-email transcription and “find me, follow me,” Abbott said. And while in the past, customers have complained about call quality and reliability, these days — with advances in VoIP technology and Internet speeds — those complaints are mostly things of the past.

Still wondering if you should make the switch? Read on as Abbott answers some more questions regarding VoIP phone systems:

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Save Big with the Best VoIP Mobile Apps

voip appsOur cell phone attachment has reached an all time high. We feel as though we must always be within an arm’s reach of our phones. Whether we’re texting between bites of a sandwich at lunch, or falling asleep with our phones in our hands, many of us spend more time with our mobiles then we spend with our friends or family members.

But in the world of business, sometimes we have to maintain this obsessive relationship with our cell phones. But what does that mean for the cost of our phone services? Read the full entry

The 7 Coolest New Add-ons to Call Center Software

Call Center Software is changing in leaps and bounds - improving everything from analytics to efficiency.

Have you heard about the app that allows smartphone users to put call centers on hold? With a single tap, the app navigates users to the department they need, then rings their phone once there’s an agent on the line.

Luckily, app developers aren’t the only ones out there trying to improve customer service. With the rise of everything from social media to smartphones to the Cloud, Call Center Software has evolved to meet the needs of customers, calling agents and managers.

Take a look at some of the coolest new call center software add-ons of the past year:
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10 Reasons It’s Time to Cut the Cord on Your Landline Phone System

10 Reasons Its Time to Cut the Cord on Your Landline Phone SystemTraditional business phone systems operate conventional phone hardware over landlines. Newer systems utilize Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), in which calls are made over the internet. Today’s VoIP systems offer many advantages over traditional lines. For example, you can use a phone, PC, or mobile device to make calls inexpensively using the World Wide Web.

If your PBX business phone system is nearing the end of its lifecycle, if your business is moving locations, or if you need to save money, then it may be time for a change. Here are 10 reasons that it may be time to cut the cord on your landline system.
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Is Your Business Phone System HIPAA Compliant?

Business Phone Systems: HIPAAThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for the healthcare industry to protect confidential and sensitive patient data, like medical and billing records. HIPAA rules regulate the daily activities and tools of many healthcare and related companies, including common business phone systems.

HIPAA compliance is obviously required for healthcare providers like hospitals, clinics, and individual practitioners, but your small business may also fall under required HIPAA compliance. If your company is a private sector vendor or third-party administrator that accesses, collects or transmits protected health information over the phone, you’re required to adhere to HIPAA’s guidelines.

Phone System Requirements
Physical and network security measures, as described in HIPAA guidelines, require that business phone systems can process patient health information safely over telephone lines. Consider a common medical office scenario: the administrator on the phone taking patient’s medical or billing information writes it down on a piece of paper and, after a busy day of multitasking, misplaces the note or, even worse, shuffles it in with other patient information. The patient’s personal information is at risk.

A secure business phone system ensures HIPAA compliance and protects your office from penalties and criminal prosecution. So how do you know the phone system you use in-house is HIPAA compliant?

Among other rules, HIPAA standards require:

  • Access control
  • Audit controls
  • Person or office authentication
  • Transmission security
  • Workstation security
  • Device and media controls
  • Security management process

If you use VoIP, understand that anything transmitted across the web-based platforms is not guaranteed to be secure, and carries a higher risk of violating the recommended guidelines. As such, tools like Skype are generally not recommended. Instead, opt for other secure landline telephone systems that offer audit trails and backup capabilities, breach notifications, and encrypted transmission of voice communications.

Using Your Phone System Properly
When it comes to adhering to guidelines, it’s less about the actual business phone system, and more about the behavior around transmitting data through voice communications. It’s been said that “technology itself can’t be HIPAA compliant; hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare-related businesses must be HIPAA compliant.”

First, it’s important to note that your phone must be in a secure location that prevents unauthorized access. You must also assure that any voicemail where sensitive information could be stored has access restrictions, ensuring a secure password and a policy around retention of the voice message.

You should also have a plan or policy around recording voice conversations. Installing such a recording system ensures sufficient accountability in terms of tracking and accessing information. These systems can store audio files electronically to be accessed in the future by the proper personnel.

The Consequences
So what happens if you find your phone system — or how you use it — is not compliant? An act supplemental to HIPAA was passed in 2009 to address this – the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). The HITECH Act was formed in response to health technology development and the increase in use, storage, and transmittal of health information electronically.

There are four categories of violations that coincide with increasing levels of liability. Each level has a corresponding penalty that culminates in a maximum penalty of $1.5 million for all violations. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reviews all reported violations, and determines the amount of the penalty based on the nature and extent of the violation and the potential harm caused to patients by the violation. There is no “one size fits all” penalty for each violation. In most cases, you have opportunity to right the wrong when notified of your non-compliance; your business won’t incur a penalty immediately, but rather you’d have 30 days to fix the circumstances.

Photo source: healthcarelawmatters.com