What's your disaster plan? That's a question I've been helping many businesses address over the past several years. Many organizations have plans to relocate personnel and offload many of their data applications to hosted data centers but few have a solution to address a disaster to their telephone system. To get a feel for how important your telephone system is here's an experiment to try.

Tomorrow when you get to the office, unplug your telephone system and email server at the same time and see which one you get more complaints about.  Now take a look at how orders come into your business.  If you do business online and your website was down would customers call you to place orders? I would guess so(they probably did that before your online store). If your customers order over the phone, would they go to your website to order? Or call someone else? What if you're one of the 90% of companies that don't have web based ordering?

Now imagine if there was a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, etc. How quickly could your organization restore operations if forced to move to a new facility? Your data might not be too bad. You probably have off-site back up or maybe even replication. Simply restore to a data center hosting service, use a laptop with VPN,  and you are back up and running.....albeit maybe limping along.

But how long would it take to restore phone service? Didn't it take 6 weeks to get your original PRI? How current is your last backup? Can your carrier move your numbers to your temporary location? Or even provide service in that area? If your customers can't call to place orders or schedule service could you lose them permanently to a competitor? For some reading this your current telephone system is no longer even made.....

With a few recent technology advancements, we can bring you a cohesive disaster recovery plan for both your voice and data. With Mitel's new virtulization technology we might even have a single unified DR plan for both. Mitel was the first company to be able to run all of our voice applications in a VM Ware environment. This allows us to to use many of the same DR tools for data for your voice as well.
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With Mitel Virtualization Technology we can move you're phone system automatically from one server or data center to another without end users even realizing it happened.  Our solution supports all the typical VM Ware tools including Vmotion, High Availability, Site Recovery Manager, and more.  

 
 

Multi-Media Conferencing- Audio, Video, and Web conferencing is the application that I’ve seen has the quickest return on investment to bring profitability…..and everybody needs it……..EVERYBODY. Eliminate airfare, mileage, windshield time, and airports. Host meetings in Houston at 11, Chicago at 1, and Green Bay at 3……No problem. Use it to record internal training sessions for new employees, new applications, or any other repetitive task. You can also use it to evaluate yourself and improve your presentation skills. Simply record your own session and play it back to critique yourself. Need IT help? Simply allow your IT staff to take remote control of a user’s computer to make quick fixes.


Reporting Tools- If you can’t measure it…you can’t manage it. You need a cockpit to drive your business from. How long are your customers on hold? How many service advisors are currently available? When are your peak call times? How many abandoned callers did you have today? Better yet….who are they and what’s their phone number?

Mobility- First there is cellular integration. Allow people to reach you by calling a single number that reaches you on any device, office, mobile, or even home. Give mobile users the ability to conference and transfer calls back to the office so that callers can get resolution to issues faster. Provide in office mobile employees with wireless handsets or headsets. Integrate your telephone system to your two-way radio infrastructure.

Call Recording- Did he say 500 or 5000 units? Was that 1065 Main or 1056 Main? Have documentation that the customer order parts for a 1992, not 1993. Maybe you simply want to evaluate employee performance for your customer service group, or critique a new employee. Use it to share quality calls with other team members.

Teleworking- Eliminate the commute, improve morale, reduce real estate costs, and increase productivity. I’ve worked from home for 8 years, and I enjoy every convenience of the office at home…..without all the gossip and distraction. I eliminated 90 minutes of daily commute. I also work much longer hours, and odd hours of the day that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The other morning my 7 month old, Jameson, woke up at 2 am. After getting him back to sleep, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so at 4 am I went into my office and started work(It’s amazing what you can get done before the phone starts ringing at 8). It’s also easy to be available off hours. I’ve had numerous after hours calls where the caller said “Oh, I expected to get your voicemail”. My response is “Well you have me, what can I do for you?” It allowed me to address the question immediately reducing voicemail tag and the customer waiting for an answer.

Presence and IM- See if people are available, on the phone, out of the office, on vacation, or in a meeting. Better yet, see when they’ll be available if they aren’t currently. Ever send out an email to a group of people trying to solicit the fastest response for your question? Then sit and stare at Outlook waiting for responses….only to get 10 responses over the next 2 days, when all you needed was 1. Maybe, you would like to see which engineer is available to get an immediate answer for a customer you are currently speaking with. You could even instant message them to get the aswer right away. If you don’t use Instant Messaging now, you will in the next 5 year. If you have a child between 12 and 25…..I guarantee they use it now. They will expect it as they enter the job market.

Virtualize- Consolidate servers, reduce power consumption, and improve management complexity. You have a Disaster Recovery Plan for your data……what about voice? By virtualizing your voice technology you can utilize your data DR plan for voice while reducing overall operating costs.

Fax Server- Reduce operating costs, like paper, toner, analog lines, or even the machine itself. A fax server is a very cost effective way to deliver faxes to the appropriate quickly and securely. Eliminate the waste of SPAM faxing. Make sure the privacy of certain document remains private. Have the ability to digitally archive fax documents. Eliminate numerous trips to the fax machine to see if your fax arrived.

Multi-Media to your Contact Center- How do your customers communicate with you......Voice, Email, Fax, Web Chat, SMS, Walk In? You contact center might be able to track how well you service the calls of your customers, but can it track how quickly the respond to other media? Better yet can you see a history of communications with their customers? Can they see the customer’s emails from the previous day, or who responded to them? What about integrating web callback or web chat so you customers can get questions answers immediately while browsing your website.

SIP- Session Initiation Protocol brings new features and functionality not available with traditional technologies like analog, T1, or PRI. SIP allows you to terminate remote numbers locally. For example, you can have New York telephone numbers terminate at your Chicago office. Consolidate trunking and eliminate telephone system hardware at remote sites, while providing better communication between locations. With one customer recently we were able to move all dial tone to his corporate office while preserving each local number in cities across the country. We replace 4 different telephone systems with one centralized system that supported all offices and also home based workers. The results reduced his telephone bill and system maintenance costs dramatically, while providing better communication for all employees.

 
 
When I meet with a new client for the first time I like to understand what makes their business successful and what theyfeel sets them apart from their competitors. All too often they tell me their competitive advantage is that "We provide better customer service than our competitors do." So my next question is question is... how do you measure your customer service to maintain that competitive edge? Of course this is typically followed by blank stares and silence.



Many companies have no tangible way to measure such statistics, yet these are some of the most important statistics a business owner needs in order to make critical business decisions. Without impeccable customer service your clients will go elsewhere. Without enough productive employees, customer service will suffer. Sometimes companies address this situation by just adding more employees.......but that is a rather expensive alternative. A more practical solution is to deploy the necessary reporting tools to gain insight into your own organization. Mitel's Business Dashboard Software gives you both historic and real-time reporting to help managers make these critical decisions.



Historical Reporting



Historical reporting will provide you information about calls that have already happened. These reports can provide general statistics like number of calls into customer service, average hold times, abandon rates, talk times, or they can provide you detailed analysis at the rep level. For example, Jane Smith had 5 hours of talk time, 1 hour of email responses, 30 minutes of webchat, and 47 minutes of idle time today. Another useful is the Un-Returned Abandoned Call Report below.
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This report will tell you who called into your company, hung up, and subsequently didn't call back in later that day or receive a return call from someone in the organization. What a great way to pick up some additional sales!!!! "Hi Mr. Matthews I see you called in today but we weren't able to get to your call. Is there something I can help you with? $$$$$"



Historical reports give you the data you need to be able to make long term decisions like when do you add more employees and how should I schedule my CSRs to best serve my peak times. They can also be used to learn other information, like what types of calls you receive.....password resets, pricing, FAQs. This information might give you insight to post additional information on you website or host a webinar to address certain issues in a attempt to reduce the numbers of calls you receive on that topic.



These reports can also provide you in site on how best to spend your advertising dollars. For example, if you had a separate number for each advertising medium you use. 920-555-1001 for Website, 1002 for Yellow Pages, 1003 for Amazon.com, 1004 for Newspaper, 1005 for Radio, etc. Everyday you would be able to see how many calls came in from that media. You could then use that information to determine which advertising outlets you should allocate more money to and which outlets you should stop using.



Real-Time Reporting


In addition to historical reporting, managers need Real-Time information at their finger tips. Mitel's Real Time dashboard gives you access to what's happening within your organization right now. The dashboard can provide with hundreds of different statistics including:

  1. How many calls(emails, webchats, faxes) are currently waiting in queue

  2. What are your employees currently doing(on calls, idle, on break, logged out, DND)

  3. How long have your customers been waiting

  4. How many calls were abandoned(and after how long on average)
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Managers are able to take this information and quickly make decisions to change the current conditions. For example we can alarm a supervisor if hold times have exceed a satisfactory level. They can then reach out to their employees to have additional people log in and answer calls until the desired service levels are attained.

Without the ability to measure customer service it's really have tomanage customer service. Implementing a reporting tool like Mitel's Business Dashboard is a great way to obtain the metrics necessary to make critical business decisions.



To see a brief demonstration of many capabilities Mitel's Business Dashboard offers click on the link below:

Mitel Business Dashboard Flash Demo

Mitel Customer Service Manager Video

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    Author

    I've been helping people optimize their data networking, security, and voice solutions for over 20 years.  I'm currently a  Territory Account Manager  with  Juniper Networks  specializing on LAN/WAN, Cloud, Security, and Virtualization.  I also have expertise in Unified Communications, Video, Voice, and Contact Centers.    

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