e911 Compliance… How New Rules & Legislation Protect Your People and Visitors

New federal regulations have been passed that will impact emergency 911 calling from businesses: Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act. These mandates are intended to protect everyone in your office or building – employees and visitors – by improving access to emergency services:

  • Kari’s Law applies to newly installed multi-line telephone systems. Users must be able to directly call emergency services by dialing 911 without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line.
  • Ray Baum’s Act requires that 911 emergency operators be provided with the specific location of the calling party so that appropriate assistance can be dispatched to that location.

FCC order and detailed rules here

If you’re planning a new telephone system, you should be aware of these requirements and ensure that your providers’ offerings can comply with these government mandates.

Compliance Challenges

As you take steps to comply with the new 911 rules, you’ll want to keep in mind several factors – including the technology used in your Voice and IT environment, network topology, and the geographic scope of your phone system deployment.

Also, many states have adopted their own 911 regulations which may contribute to compliance confusion.

Need help with e911 calling compliance in your business? TCI can help. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 



Why Workforce Management Solutions are Essential for Contact Centers and Your Business Profitability

With growing demand for a consistent contact center experience regardless of channel – in combination with more complex customer requests – implementing and using a sophisticated Workforce Management (WFM) solution is essential for business profitability.

Whitepaper: What is Workforce Management – Download PDF

Improved Forecasting

Cutting-edge WFM solutions allow for tweaking and fine-tuning your forecasting process. Too high a forecast and agents are idle, as are the workstations – a waste of resources. Too low a forecast and customers get annoyed by long waiting times. Agents become overworked and drained, negatively impacting performance and absenteeism. Without accurate forecasting, your business runs the risk of losing customers, and acquiring new ones requires much more work and resources.

Overtime Savings

Another area that can be addressed by WFM is overtime. It’s easy to reason that a few minutes here and there can’t make much difference, but that number adds up quickly and significantly, affecting pay raises and performance bonuses in the long run. With WFM, thresholds can be set up to keep an eye on scheduled time and keep track of overtime, taking corrective measures if necessary. The solution also makes it easy to determine whether it makes more sense to add staff or plan for a few hours of overtime a week.

Leveraging Simulations

With WFM tools, you’ll be able to monitor, measure, and carry out simulations that test and evaluate a range of parameters to identify those that are essential to organizational performance. Should you invest more resources in making forecasting accuracy as close to perfect as possible OR will this result only if you succeed in improving scheduling that’s suffering from a dip in early morning peaks? Where should you act first for the best results at minimum cost?

Mitel WFM Product Overview Brochure – Download PDF

Talk with the TCI team about your contact center and WFM technology requirements to ensure customer and agent satisfaction while maintaining efficiency and profitability. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.



Why it’s Time to Make Your Move to the Cloud

Whether your old phone system can’t be upgraded anymore, or you need to enable remote work, or a new regulatory requirement can’t be supported, at some point you’ll have to hang up your trusted old phones and move to the cloud. Here’s what you can look forward to…

Simplify Communication, Management, and Budgeting

When you combine flexible communications, mobility, and the cloud, borders disappear, barriers collapse, costs drop, and productivity rises. If these sound like the kind of advantages you want to bring to your business, let’s talk about a move to TCI Host, our customized Cloud Voice service.

  • Talk, Chat, Share & Meet – TCI Host offers all the features of advanced on-premises platforms without the hardware and management headaches. Plus, you get the unlimited scalability, seamless mobility, and open integrated technology that you’ve been looking for to bring your business communications and business intelligence together.
  • Any Device. Anywhere. Anytime Communications – TCI Host fits into the way your office team works. Use a desktop phone, smartphone, or softphone on your laptop. Just one phone system supporting your business no matter when and where your team is working – office, home, or branch locations.
  • We deliver & set up everything – Unlike many providers, who will drop-ship phones and expect you to install and configure everything, our certified Cloud Voice experts come to you and set up everything to your specifications. After we install it, we’ll test everything to make sure it all runs smoothly.

With Cloud Voice, your team can deliver an exceptional Customer Experience. More competitive advantages to look forward to…

  • Be more productive – Bring all of your communications tools into one cloud and one application for a seamless experience on any device – anywhere in the world. Easily manage voice, email, and IM from a single screen to reduce management complexity and boost productivity.
  • No hardware, no headaches – Say goodbye to capital expenses, maintenance, and service fees with a hosted business phone system. You get great call quality, industry-leading reliability, and an easy-to-manage phone system with no upfront costs – everything you need for one low monthly price.
  • Free up IT resources – Don’t waste valuable IT resources on aging PBX hardware. With TCI Host, you enjoy new features faster, you can add or remove lines in minutes, and you always stay up to date with automated upgrades.
  • Pay as you grow – Unlike premises-based PBX systems, TCI Host always provides just the right amount of capacity at the right time to ensure you’re paying for only what you need and not a penny more.
  • Keep your business running – TCI’s cloud-based hosting platform can deliver ultra-high reliability and seamless disaster recovery so you always stay connected with colleagues and customers.

TCI can help you migrate to a cloud solution customized for your business needs. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

5 Ways Your Current Phone System Can Limit Your Success

Has your phone system kept pace with the times? More importantly, is it capable of helping you meet tomorrow’s challenges? Here, we outline five attributes you’ll want to consider when you’re thinking about improving your technology.

1. Ability to Add Features and Functionality

Make sure your phone system can keep pace with technological change and has the ability to embrace cloud-based applications and customized solutions as required. Look for these features and attributes:

  • Third-party integrations allow you to take advantage of cloud-based business process applications.
  • Easy & intuitive communications tools that are as simple as consumer apps will speed adoption.
  • Admin portal enables users to make real-time changes to preferences, permissions and groups.
  • Flexible service plans enable users to change service plans in real time as their needs change.

2. Productivity

Is your phone system boosting worker productivity or draining it? Reduce employee frustration and increase productive work time with these features:

  • Find me – Follows employees so they can get the call the first time around, regardless of the device they are using.
  • Presence – Enables employees to see when other co-workers are available, in a meeting, on a call or out of the office.
  • Collaboration tools – Makes it easier to exchange ideas and get work done with video, instant messaging and file and desktop sharing.
  • Application integration – Boosts the power of your CRM by seamlessly integrating calling features, call histories and customer data.

3. Scalability

Nearly every organization can benefit from the agility that comes from aligning its phone system with business needs. Look for these attributes:

  • Plug-and-play – Provides phones that are easy to install without costly upgrades.
  • Flexibility – Easily scales to support both the office and your mobile workforce.
  • Reduced complexity – Avoids complications that add costs and hinder your ability to scale.
  • Intuitive – Supports easy deployment by administrators and enables users to quickly be productive.
  • Simple licensing – Delivers flexible licensing so businesses can scale up or down as their needs change.

4. Mobility

Does your current phone system provide the same easy features and functionality to all staff members, no matter their location or device? If not, consider these capabilities:

  • Mobile applications – Allows personal devices to be integrated with your phone network.
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi/cellular call handover to stay connected everywhere.
  • Collaboration tools – Provides team and video collaboration, instant messaging, and conferencing to facilitate greater collaboration from anywhere.
  • Security – Delivers features that keep voice and signaling safe, even in public hot spots.

5. Your Budget

Consider whether a CapEx or OpEx budgeting approach makes more sense:

  • Purchasing a standalone system can add complexity and require additional staff and time-consuming administration, resulting in greater costs over time.
  • Consider productivity-boosting options to upgrade your system in an easy-to-manage way that frees up IT resources and saves money.
  • Add new capabilities that seamlessly work with your existing system as your business needs change – without having to pay for features you don’t need.
  • If your system needs a complete overhaul, it may be cheaper to move to the cloud.

Communications are vital to your organization’s success. If your current phone system is holding you back, it’s time to discuss an upgrade. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Exploring UC as a Service? Questions that Uncover what Your Business Actually Needs

With constant change, how can you be confident you’re making technology investments that will help your business meet the needs of employees and customers today while also supporting future growth? Unified Communications as a Service certainly makes it easier to scale and add new features as needed, but there’s a bit more to the equation that requires consideration.

1. What Technologies Will You Need To Future-Proof Your Organization?

Shared workspaces, single-click access to real-time audio and video conferencing, and a seamless experience across multiple devices are just a few of the features you may need right now. Unified interfaces and omnichannel communication are other popular features.

But what might you need in three, five or 10 years? You may not know the answer, so partner with a provider with a focus on innovation. TCI’s Mitel-powered solutions have a track record of being one step ahead. Mitel has been a global leader in the move to the cloud, and your local TCI experts have been supporting remote work well before it took over the working world.

2. What Type Of Workforce Do You Need To Support?

In-person, remote, hybrid – chances are your business needs to be able to support them all. Flexibility and scalability are the most important characteristics when it comes to meeting the needs of today’s ever-changing workforce.

What are the most important communications tools your staff needs to thrive no matter where they are? Some of the items that may be top of mind are a mobile-first design and a unified experience across devices.

Depending on your business, however, file sharing, archiving projects by subject or a personal dashboard for task tracking may be what your employees really need. Be certain the solution you select gives your employees a wide array of options when it comes to communicating and collaborating with each other. The system should make it easier to get work done, and employees should find it simple to use – from anywhere and on any device.

3. What UC Provider Qualities Matter Most For Success?

Every business will answer this question slightly differently, but you can’t go wrong by starting with your partner’s history and reputation. What do their customers say about them? What kind of success stories can they share?

And while a strong relationship can take time to develop, there’s still nothing wrong with trusting your gut. In your initial meetings, anyone who tries to push a cookie-cutter solution that doesn’t exactly meet your needs is definite cause for concern.

Does the provider have a history of reliability? How focused are they on security? Do they make you feel confident your business will stay connected no matter what challenges may arise?

It’s critical to properly assess your needs before you make any big technology investments. With TCI you can rest easy knowing your long-term success is just as important to us as it is to you. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Call Recording… Capture & Archive for Improved Compliance & Customer Service

Here are just some of the compliance regulations your organization may need to address:

  • SOX: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • PCI-DSS: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
  • Financial Services Authority
  • FDCPA: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

For businesses that need to record voice transactions, service calls and other conversations as part of meeting their compliance obligations, there’s a convenient solution… Simply add a call recording capability to your phone system.

Just some of the benefits…

  • Better customer service
  • Timely training
  • Dispute resolution
  • Tracking down information for customers
  • Isolating critical aspects of each conversation

Today’s call recording solutions support single-site workgroups and multiple locations with advanced features. Monitor all calls, or record on demand. Recordings are stored anywhere you choose. You also have access to several useful features…

  • Search and retrieve calls for playback
  • Attach to email, link to CRM records, and more
  • Assign access rights to individuals and groups
  • View the real-time status of users

Learn more about how call recording solutions can help you organize and improve your business communications.
Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

The TCI Difference: Custom-Designed Solutions. White-glove Deployments. Outstanding Support.

We are NOT your average Cloud, Hosted Voice or UCaaS Provider

Powered by technology from global leader Mitel, our Hosted “Unified Communications as a Service” solution fills a crucial gap in the DC Region’s fast-moving Cloud Voice market.

Whether you’re a small or large business, we custom design and manage every solution specifically for your unique requirements. Every TCI HOST/UCaaS client is provided a fully-featured, dedicated arrangement that doesn’t share resources with any other customer. Unlike “One Size Fits All” offerings, our solution will not restrict access to features or limit your deployment options.

Flexible Deployment & Acquisition Options

Exploiting the flexibility of IP technology, your virtualized UC platform may be deployed on your premises, in a public or private cloud, or any data center location, including TCI’s. You can Rent, Lease, or Purchase and we offer Fully Managed or Self-Managed support.

We’re Proven & Experienced

  • Providing service and solutions for 40+ years
  • More than 3,000 systems installed – local, nationwide, globally
  • Over 35,000+ lines under service contracts
  • Mitel Certified Voice & Data Technical Engineers
  • 24 x 7 x 365 Live Answer Customer Service

A Seamless, Easy Transition

Unlike other Business VoIP providers, TCI takes care of all the important details for you, from delivering phones to network testing and set-up, feature programming, training, and ongoing support. Ready to simplify and improve your business communications?

Learn more about The TCI Advantage

Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Attention Educators, Government, Non-Profits… Overwhelmed by the Bid Process?
Simplify with our Sourcewell Contract

Your organization needs better technology… now the hard work begins. You face some important decisions:

  • What solution or service are you going to select?
  • How will you evaluate it?
  • How are you going to buy it?

While the bid and procurement process can be complex, time consuming, and overwhelming, your local TCI team helps you tap into Mitel’s national competitively awarded contract with Sourcewell to streamline and simplify purchasing the communication technology solutions your organization needs.

What is Sourcewell and how can the Sourcewell Contract benefit your organization?

Sourcewell – formerly National Joint Powers Alliance – is a service cooperative that provides programs and services to 50,000+ member organizations and agencies.

Sourcewell’s exclusive agreement with Mitel as its telecommunications provider is a multi-year contract allowing the public sector to access better collaboration and communication solutions through contract # 022719-MBS.

Who is eligible?

The contract is available to state, local & tribal government, education agencies including K-12, higher education, public or private, and nonprofits including churches, credit unions, and trade associations.

The advantages of buying through Mitel’s Sourcewell Contract

  • Offers the best value and is competitively bid
  • Streamlines the purchasing process, saving time and money
  • Satisfies the competitive solicitation process
  • Access to volume pricing nationwide

Simplify your procurements and learn more about our Sourcewell co-op purchasing agreement… Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

Migrating to the Cloud in Five Simple Steps

A future with more features, better reliability and less maintenance awaits you with Cloud Voice services. This simple guide outlines the five steps to activating your new communications system.

Step 1 – Needs Assessment

  • Discuss your unique needs with us so we both understand all requirements you may have or critical systems that need special attention.
  • Review and document any differences between your new cloud service and your current system including updating business processes or workflows that leverage your existing system.

Step 2 – Demonstration

  • Schedule a time with TCI for a Cloud Voice demonstration so you can see the service in action and ask questions.

Step 3 – Migration

  • Review technical requirements and system design that fit the unique needs of your business as determined in the needs assessment.
  • Confirm compatibility with third-party applications and validate integrations.
  • Export user data and configurations from your legacy system.
  • Configure network and firewalls in accordance with best practices.

Step 4 – Number Porting

  • Sign LOA to port DIDs and Toll-Free numbers to your new service.
  • Set up new phones with temporary DIDs for UAT in preparation for cut-over data.

Step 5 – Cut-Over

  • Activate system using ported DIDs.
  • Download and install client communications and collaboration software.

At every step of the way, we’ll be working with you to answer any questions you have and ensure a smooth transition.

Now that you know the five simple steps to migrate to the cloud with TCI, let’s begin the process. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

How to Improve Customer Service in Your Contact Center

Until recently, most contact centers looked like a sea of low-walled cubicles with agents speaking into headsets – with all customer transactions occurring at a fixed office location. Today, contact center agents can work just about anywhere: at home, in hired office space, or even on the move from a mobile device. But that’s not the only benefit mobility has on customer service.

Here are five ways you can boost customer service levels using mobility and cloud-based services…

1. Manage resources to maintain service levels

Some ebb and flow in contact volumes are seasonal, while other times volume may be unexpected. Whatever the case, with cloud-based contact center software, additional seats can be ‘spun up’ in virtually no time at all. Staff at other locations can be redeployed to manage customer interactions during busy periods. Agency staff can be online and handling inquiries and home workers can be ready to go at a moment’s notice. When call volumes stabilize, you can return to normal staffing.

2. Improve access to specialist skills anywhere

In some environments, contact center staff may need in-the-moment access to specialists. Rather than put the customer on hold until finding someone available who can help, the agent can use presence to see if the specialist is online and then either dial that person directly or send him or her an instant message while staying on the phone with the customer. Of course, UC tools allow specialists to be contacted on the go too. If a customer has a question that an agent needs a specialist’s opinion on, the agent can quickly communicate with the expert via a mobile device.

3. Attract and retain staff

Traditionally, contact center staff had to be recruited from a specific geographic location to work in the local office. With virtual contact center technology, businesses can now access a much wider employment pool. That means that you can hire exceptional agents, whether they live near your business or not. This is particularly helpful for contact centers that require agents to have specialist skills, such as technical, medical or legal expertise. And once you find stellar employees, offering them the option to work remotely can help retain them.

4. Ensure your business is always available

Single-site contact centers that cope well during normal working hours may struggle to offer the same level of service at other times. It may be difficult for customers to access the right specialist after regular office hours, especially if the expert is required to work in a fixed office location. But mobility tools allow customers to get their problems solved at all hours of the day. Allowing contact center staff to work from home increases the likelihood you’ll find agents willing to work night or even split shifts, making it easier to offer coverage around the clock.

5. Ensure business continuity in the face of disaster

Cloud-based contact center systems offer resiliency and mobility, meaning you can continue to serve your customers with little interruption caused by power outages, public transit strikes, natural disasters and other situations that may leave you without a place for contact center agents to work. If your office gets knocked out, agents can work from another location or even from home. In addition, staff from other departments and in other locations can be drafted to handle contact center functions remotely.

Ready to improve customer service in your contact center? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.