Preserving the Organization’s Reputation Through Cybersecurity

CybersecurityHackers and cyber villains are lurking in just about every corner of commerce today, from skimmers at gas stations to massive enterprise and governmental system infiltrations. These compromises are incredibly costly, not only in dollars but also in damage to a business’s reputation. Protecting against such crimes has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies of all sizes must invest in cyber security programs to protect themselves and their customers.

The Impact of Reputational Loss

Nearly everyone who reads online news has heard about the financial ramifications of a breach. Not only must a company correct the vulnerability, but they also must help affected parties repair and recover their losses. A successful hacker may collect records for months before being detected, putting millions of consumers and patients at risk of identity theft and financial losses. Breach amelioration costs can quickly reach millions or billions of dollars.

Recovery is not where the catastrophe ends. Even with effective breach handling, the future of an affected company is at risk. Revenues will shrink nearly immediately as consumers look for other vendors or providers of the service and will likely remain severely diminished for a long time period. In many cases, the combination of recovery expense and sharply declining revenue could easily be a company’s end.

In the event that a breached business does manage to recover, the future may be complicated. Regulatory agencies may step in and microscopically review practices and policies, requiring significant time and effort from company stakeholders to comply. All factors considered, reputational damage can be as costly as financial losses.

Building a Security-Minded Team

As hackers create new ways to breach systems and acquire sensitive data, the enterprise’s security processes and procedures must also shift and change. Creating a strong mindset of security in an organization allows streamlined evolution to occur as needed. Every level of the business, from the Board of Directors down to the most entry-level employees, must be educated on cybersecurity and simple ways to prevent exposure. Criminals will go to great lengths to obtain informational assets, and some techniques are as basic as chatting up the administrative assistant.

Multi-Pronged Cybersecurity Efforts

A number of factors will strengthen the company’s security program:

  • Intrusion prevention and detection systems should be active and routinely updated.
  • Train each team member on how to avoid social engineering and phishing attempts.
  • Keep systems separate; many breaches have occurred at the supply chain connection to core systems. Failing to protect that gap has led major enterprises into massive incidents.
  • Restrict privileged access and provide the minimal permissions level required by an individual’s job description.
  • Stay on top of updates to anti-virus/malware signatures.
  • Create and practice an Incident Response Plan, complete with crisis mode.
  • Consider appointing a key officer for security and compliance if one does not already exist.
  • Obtain appropriate and adequate cyber insurance to protect the company should an incident occur. Having a well-constructed security program often reduces the cost of such protection.

Cybersecurity is an important topic today, and companies that fail to execute an effective program typically suffer a tragic fate as their reputation crumbles. For more information on constructing a strong security program, contact ROI Networkstoday.

What’s Next for Enterprise WAN

WANConsidering the increasing complexity in the realm of enterprise connectivity, WAN was a welcome solution when originally conceived. Multiple facilities across the globe were finally able to be linked together. While there was an appreciation from IT leaders for progress in networking, this fix has not been without its faults over the years and there has been a demand for refinement and additional technologies.

Familiar Issues

A number of common weaknesses are often observed in enterprises working with WAN. In addition to the extensive cost involved in managing such far-reaching networks, they may also have a tendency to be slow, suffer downtime, and lack the stability and flexibility desired by most organizations.

Questionable Alternatives

While some alternative connectivity and networking methods perform more effectively, certain factors eliminate them from consideration as an option. Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, for instance, can speed up the WAN through better routing, but the price tag is substantial enough to cause tech leaders to underbuy bandwidth to conserve spending — effectively nullifying any advantage that could be gained.

Another solution is to create a VPN tunnel over common broadband connections. While this improves security and keeps costs lower, any application that could be compromised by lag may experience very spotty performance. In some cases, VPN is used jointly with a limited MPLS arrangement. Since the two cannot operate concurrently, not much usefulness is found in this solution either.

High Potential Possibilities

While other WAN management techniques have been tried and discarded, one that is quickly gaining the interest of technical leaders is Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN). Using SD-WAN, network managers can centrally provision, terminate, optimize, and flex all of the components on the system. Data follows the most efficient route and latency is nearly eliminated. It’s made orchestrating hundreds of access points and switches much simpler, saving IT hours of expensive labor. SD-WAN also leads to cost savings, as it can use cheaper connections like broadband much more efficiently than standard WAN.

Another distinct advantage of SD-WAN is that providers can often bear the burden of management for the company. In this model, the vendor handles everything from maintenance to troubleshooting to updating. This saves the organization labor costs and ensures that the right personnel are working on the right projects rather than being caught up in mundane or non-strategic tasks.

In this world of increasing cloud service options, an SD-WAN infrastructure makes integrating new cloud providers a much more rapid activity, even when multiple company locations are involved.

It’s critical for the future of an enterprise that the network grow and develop into a more manageable tool that easily accommodates growth and flexibility requirements. SD-WAN is one option with great potential to offer in this regard. For more information on WAN evolution and managed SD-WAN technologies, contact ROI Networks today.

5 Ways to Build Better Call Center Coaching Sessions

Call CenterCall center managers are constantly searching for ways to help their teams provide better, more efficient service. Group coaching sessions are an excellent way to create consistency when communicating strategies, techniques, and expectations to agents and representatives, but they need to be carefully designed to ensure their effectiveness.With that in mind, here are five techniques for creating more engaging and productive call center coaching sessions:

Protect Employee Confidentiality
During coaching sessions, avoid calling out individual agents or customer service representatives for errors or inefficiencies. Instead, find private ways of communicating expectations to under-performing employees, or consider using one-on-one coaching for those individuals.

Back It up with Numbers
When the time comes to provide agents and employees with feedback and constructive criticism, it’s always a good idea to back up claims with hard data. For example, rather than telling an individual that his or her quality score has “gone down recently,” offer that it has declined by “X percent over the past Y days/weeks/months.”

This helps employees set tangible improvement goals while giving managers a concrete baseline for evaluating future performance.

Encourage Employees to Evaluate Themselves
Having agents and employees evaluate their own performance, either anecdotally or by using recordings of customer calls, is an excellent way to encourage two-way feedback between management and staff. It also encourages employees to think more critically about how they engage with customers.

Avoid Generalizations
One of the best ways to improve call center agent performance is to be specific rather than general when offering feedback. Again, call recordings can be very helpful in this regard, as they provide specific times, dates, and interactions that managers can use to call employee attention to particular habits or shortcomings.

Offer Positive Feedback
Too often, call center coaching sessions focus on what employees are doing wrong at the expense of what they’re doing right. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way, and encourages employees to work harder at self-improvement. Whenever possible, frame constructive criticism by saying, “You’re doing A, B, and C really well, but I’d like to see you work towards D. Keep up the good work!”

Businesses seeking advanced call center technologies can count on the professionals at ROI Networks to meet their changing needs. To learn more about the ROI Networks suite of solutions, please contact a client services representative.

The CMIO: A Profile of Security Leadership in the Healthcare Industry

december-blog-1For organizations working in the healthcare industry, security is — or should be — at or near the top of the priority list. Cyber criminals frequently target healthcare organizations because they have access to a great deal of highly valuable personal information. Public and private sector organizations that fail to implement safeguards are at risk of security breaches, and that, in turn, can lead to potentially irreversible losses in client confidence.

Thus, the role of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) has taken on added urgency in recent years, as the healthcare industry has made rapid moves towards connected technologies. The role of the CMIO is not well-understood by many lay people. For telecom agents, it’s worth taking the time to understand this role and the responsibility that comes with it in order to build packaged solutions that speak directly to the needs of healthcare organization leaders.

Healthcare Information Security: What a CMIO Does
In most organizations, the CMIO is a licensed physician with specialized training or practical experience in information management and/or technology. His or her core duties typically include:

  • Designing and choosing software technologies used by the organization
  • Ensuring organizational IT systems meet established standards
  • Analyzing and managing health data collected from patients or clients
  • Maintaining quality control standards
  • Improving operations through the judicious management and deployment of data
  • Conducting research using available data and analytics tools
  • Reporting to executives and taking a leadership role in strategic development
  • Training senior staff members in the proper use of IT resources, especially with regard to electronic health and medical records (EHRs/EMRs)

It is important to note that security is not typically part of the CMIO’s list of responsibilities. In some organizations, this can create gaps, as cyber security initiatives are left until the end of the business development cycle rather than being addressed at the outset.

Healthcare Information Security: How the CMIO Role Is Evolving
For a long time, it was standard practice for CMIOs to report to either the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). However, a growing number of healthcare organizations are electing to have their CMIOs liaise with their Chief Information Officer (CIO). This reflects the changing nature of the CMIO’s responsibilities, as digital technology is playing an increasing role in healthcare data collection and applications.

As mentioned, security normally does not fall under the CMIO’s portfolio of responsibilities. However, the CMIO is increasingly being expected to partner with the healthcare Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to build the most effective and robust safeguards possible.

The telecom professionals at ROI Networks offer advanced security solutions for the healthcare industry. To learn more about how ROI Networks can help both public and private sector organizations in the healthcare field improve their cyber security, contact a client services representative today.

Building a Better Customer Experience for Multicultural Consumers

Customer ExperienceMulticulturalism has emerged as a hot topic in the customer experience context, as African-American, Asian, and Hispanic consumers combine to account for about 38 percent of the current population of the United States. That’s over 120 million people, and this figure is increasing by over 2 million people per year.

Given the purchasing power of this large segment of the population, a growing number of enterprises have sought ways to provide multicultural customers with a better customer experience. Technology is an ideal platform for creating a custom-tailored experience for these consumers, as they frequently have unique needs that companies should strive to meet. After all, customers tend to come back to businesses that work harder to understand their needs.

The Multicultural Customer Experience: Speak the Right Language

While it’s by no means accurate to suggest that even a majority of America’s minority populations need service in different languages, it’s important to remember that the United States is one of the world’s most diverse countries. Hundreds of languages are spoken within its borders, and multilingual service channels can break down barriers that might otherwise inhibit business growth.

So far, business efforts to address the multilingual needs of customers have focused on person-to-person services. However, there are many technological tools that are also available to companies that want to serve a more diverse consumer base. Implementing multilingual features in online service channels is a relatively easy and cost-effective improvement that can pay big dividends for businesses while building goodwill with multicultural consumers.
Customize Products to Improve the Multicultural Customer Experience

Market research also shows there are benefits to creating custom-tailored products designed to serve multicultural customers. For example, Comcast recently launched XI En Espanol, a Spanish-language version of its video service cloud platform. Businesses that use static or dynamic media to interact with clients can likely find similar opportunities.

To that end, marketers with a multicultural perspective know that acculturation comes in degrees. Companies that invest in building their understanding of how to provide a better multicultural customer experience will be poised to outperform competitors as America’s population grows more and more diverse.

The business communication professionals at ROI Networks offer a complete suite of advanced tools to businesses looking to customize and improve their technology-driven customer service platforms. Start building a better customer experience by contacting ROI Networks today.

Tech Tools that Support Public-Private Collaboration

CollaborationPublic-private collaboration is an excellent driver of innovation, with big benefits for both government and businesses working in a wide range of verticals and industries. Private involvement ensures that project funds will be prudently used, while government agencies facilitate rapid expansion and public access.

Customer Service

When dealing with public-private collaboration, customer service frequently becomes a key area of focus. Digital technologies have been transforming the service landscape for enterprises for years now, and public agencies are also poised to benefit from technology-driven service tools. Though they have yet to be adopted by government entities to the same extent as they have by businesses, customer support technologies deliver efficiency improvements, cost reduction, and a better overall user experience. These are boosts any government agency can use.

Specific customer service tools that can be adopted by government agencies and public-private collaboration projects include:

  • Multi-channel contact technologies
  • Personalized avatars for online, mobility, and telephone communications
  • Self-service software tools and website features
  • Algorithm-driven service options

They can also help government agencies manage documentation, staff, and transaction processing more efficiently. Analytics and software-driven automation can liberate human resources from tedious tasks, freeing up more people to handle front-line service requests. Actual people remain, and always will remain, a very important component of the service equation for government, and the more people available to assist those in need, the better the outcomes will be for all involved.

Lessons from the Private Sector

Government agencies can learn important lessons from the innovations already in place in the private sector. By combining automation and predictive technologies with person-to-person service, government entities can make enormous leaps forward in terms of resource allocation. Adopting these technologies also makes it smoother and easier to collaborate with partners in the private sector.

ROI Networks can help government and industry partners simplify their collaboration initiatives, all while improving efficiency and aligning service processes to deliver maximum value. The professionals at ROI Networks have extensive industry experience and a deep understanding of the dynamic needs of standalone government agencies as well as public-private partnership initiatives.

By choosing ROI Networks, partners can:

  • Improve communications by unifying voice, data, audio, and video applications
  • Reduce infrastructure needs by streamlining hardware and network architecture
  • Save money while improving performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction rates

To learn more, please contact an ROI Networks client services representative.

Government Security In The New Age of Worry

Security is always a paramount worry, but as cyber attacks get more sophisticated and intense in terms of damage each year, government agencies renew their interest in protecting their networks. As dependency on information technology systems increases, so does the interest of hackers in infiltrating those systems. Learn more about the new age of protection and what government agencies can do to protect themselves and their data.


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Overcoming Objections in Customer Service to Close the Sale More Often

Customer ServiceAnyone in sales must learn very early how to overcome objections voiced by customers. One tactic that helps develop the sales team is to create an objections document. This living document should contain frequent “no” responses and the verbiage that can be used to neutralize them. This is a great way to train new sales reps and educate other departments, and even helps in the planning of future products and services.

Following are a few common areas where objections arise, and how they may be turned around during customer service interactions.

1. Competition

Many customers know what features are offered by the competition. They may wish to know why they should change providers, or what the true differentiators are. This question can be rather complex, as another company’s solution may actually be a better fit for their needs. The key is to find out what the customer wants, the problems they may be having, and why they were thinking of switching. If it is determined that the proposed solution will meet their needs, examples of how this exact solution worked for other customers who had the same issues can serve as excellent persuasion for them to switch.

2. Expense

Clients are typically well aware of what the average market pricing is for what they need. For paid packages, it’s important to be well versed in what the competition is offering and what the differences may be. When questioned about why a product is a higher price than a competitor’s similar offering, being prepared to answer this confidently makes a huge difference to the likelihood of a sale. Discuss added value such as better quality, more quantity, extra features, available user seats, or any other benefit that may exist. Be prepared to accept that the customer looking for a bottom-dollar price may not be convinced to purchase something more expensive even if it is more robust.

3. Reputation

Many competitors may have been in business for a longer time period or have a larger market share. In light of this, customers may be cautious of coming on board and need reassurance that a company is legitimate and permanent. No decision maker wants to make a product or service recommendation only to have the provider fold shortly thereafter.

For customer service calls that are centered around the company’s longevity, reliability, or long-term availability, speak with authority and confidence. Mention support’s high availability or talk about service level guarantees if applicable. If the customer continues to object and the company offers a trial period or introductory promotion, persuade the customer to take advantage of those options. Point out references for review if these are publicized (which they should be).

4. Volume 

Larger enterprises may have a concern about slowdown or interruption of service in relation to the traffic burden they would be placing on the product or service. For this point in the objections document, be clear about any limitations if they do exist. If not, craft an answer that describes a large, busy customer similar in volume and how well the service works for them.

An objections document is an immensely helpful guide for defeating a customer’s hesitation in purchasing. Note the most common excuses or reasons for saying no and craft a meaningful, relatable response. Customer service reps should regularly role play and practice confident delivery. The result will be a larger percentage of sales that close. For more information on this powerful tool, contact ROI Networks today.


Video and the Contact Center: The New Face of Customer Service

Contact CenterEvery generation has a preference for communication methods, technologies, problem solving, and how they get information or assistance. Some wish for the personal connection of a phone call, while others prefer a written route like web search, email, or text. For the incoming generation, the use of video is a growing preference. In response to this new movement, the contact center environment is adapting to integrate video support, added to an already robust arsenal of assistance methods.

Driving Forces Behind Video’s Growth

  • Rising Technology. Video communication tools have become widely prevalent through applications such as Skype, Hangouts, and FaceTime. Social media integrates video chat tools as well. Video has become quite commonplace, so it’s natural that a contact center would fold it into a customer care strategy.
  • Enhances the Conversation. Video is a powerful way of rounding out a discussion. Not only are words conveyed, but representatives can also detect the mood of the customer by their tone, gestures, and facial expressions. The support person is able to make adjustments to clarify confusing information or to better satisfy the customer before too much time is lost.
  • Improved Tech Support. Seeing a problem firsthand greatly reduces the time needed to fix it. Using video to show a product or application that is not working as desired gives the rep a visual of the issue, and the problem can be solved very quickly as a result.
  • Human Touch. Customers are much happier when they feel that the person assisting them is interested in helping them. Sharing video helps the two parties connect on a personal level, build trust, and solve problems in a partnership.

Considerations for Implementation

Before video can be successfully deployed in a contact center, a few factors must be reviewed.

  • Surroundings. If video support will be provided, it should be in front of a proper background. Remote workers may not be the optimal video representatives since their workstation may be their kitchen or another casual space. The video area should be well lit, clean, tidy, and professional-looking. Test for echoes or extraneous noise. Ensure that video workers are properly outfitted and appropriate for the job.
  • Network. Running video on a weak or small infrastructure may result in lag, poor video quality, dropped sessions, and difficulty communicating.
  • Selection and Training. Not all contact center reps would feel comfortable working the video chat support line. For those deemed to be a good fit for the job, it’s important to comprehensively train them on the situations that may arise. Role playing is a powerful training technique, and lots of practice helps smooth out any rough edges. The more experience and information the reps have, the greater the customer satisfaction that will result.
  • Legal Considerations. Recording audio or video for performance and satisfaction monitoring is not legal in all areas. Ensure all regulations are followed before implementing a video solution.

Deploying video in the contact center is an effective way to satisfy customers and give support reps more useful tools to resolve problems. Agents are happier and productivity blossoms. For more information about video as a customer service tool, contact ROI Networks today.

SIP Trunking: So Much More Than a Dial Tone

SIP TrunkingThe first forms of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking services were fairly primitive, and were really just a way to get basic phone lines set up at larger companies. As with any technology, SIP trunks have evolved and developed into much more capable and attractive services, and are predicted to continue growing as a provider offering. When designing telecommunications packages for organizations, there are many ways to creatively arrange the system to make the most of current SIP capabilities.

Rich in Features

Modern SIP trunking packages contain a wide variety of great features such as toll free lines, full 911 services, fax lines, and caller ID. For enterprises that need more intricate phone networks, today’s SIP trunks also contain private MPLS, direct dialing for inbound extensions, PRI transparency, and connection to PSTN/POTS lines.

Some providers have amplified their offerings even further, and furnish call center and conferencing capabilities as well as progressive screening of calls, premium disaster recovery services, and on-site equipment. SIP trunking services may come as a flat fee option, potentially shared across multiple company locations and able to accommodate sudden spikes in call traffic through bursting flexibility.

Making a Move

Many companies still find themselves constrained by old telco lines and antiquated services that they paid high costs to implement and manage. For that reason, they may be hesitant to transition to modern services for fear of not fulfilling their predicted return on investment or concern with the unknown costs of installing a new system. The opportunity cost of missing out on advanced services is quite high, however. Offering improved productivity, better customer handling, and collaboration tools, SIP trunking services quickly make up for any initiation cost.

Leveraging Mobile

Supporting a mobile workforce is increasingly important in today’s market, and old tech simply doesn’t do the job. SIP trunking is an effective tool to handle the needs of this technologically advanced labor pool without requiring a dozen different vendors for telecom services or a huge investment in hardware. These systems are able to connect the old world with the new in innovative and graceful ways. The result is a constantly connected, cohesive set of teams that are providing excellent customer service and getting things done rapidly.

SIP trunking is a robust and flexible service that can dramatically improve communications and production for companies that implement it. To learn more about the benefits of this great arrangement, contact ROI Networks today.