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Re-Opening Reality Check… Getting to Know the Public’s Preferences for Getting Back to ‘Normal’

The conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted from shutting down non-essential businesses to how we can get back to ‘business as usual.’ But until a viable vaccine or effective treatment is widely available, you should expect many customers to remain wary. Based on our conversations, many leaders are privately planning for the possibility of working from home for months or longer. Others will need to come back in some kind of Hybrid mode.

State of the Nation polling reflects a very cautious public [PDF]

We’re in this for the long haul 

The public and private sectors will, of course, continue to adapt to serve their customers and constituents, and how you approach your workforce infrastructure will play a big role in how well you can respond to challenges and opportunities in the months ahead.

TCI can help your business stay connected

We’ve been supporting the DC region with customized remote workforce and business continuity solutions for 40 years. When it comes to customizing technology for your business or non-profit, we can map out the best mix of cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployments to connect your customers and workforce at the office, in the field and at home.

Hosted Voice, Unified Communications & Teleworking 

MiCollab & MiTeam Meetings for remote workers

Customer Contact Center 

Google Cloud AI-powered Virtual Agent and Agent Assist

Let’s talk about the technology you need to keep your workforce and customers connected. Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Rapid Response Success Stories… DC Region Associations Act After Stay-at-Home Orders

Northern Virginia Cloud Voice Customer

When the Governor’s order went into effect, our team had to act fast. Our client had 100+ users in the office. They called us on Tuesday, and they wanted everyone working from home by Friday.

Already subscribed to TCI Host, our flexible, all-in-one cloud voice service, the busy association had built-in telework capabilities, but had always conducted their work in a traditional office environment.

Without missing a beat, our outstanding support team ensured everyone’s endpoints were programmed, tested and ready to support incoming calls from the association’s membership.

By Friday, the association’s busy office was empty, and every user was connected at home using their preferred device – whether they opted for a laptop softphone, an app on their smartphone, or a desktop office phone.

Maryland Mitel On-Premises System Customer 

Another association just outside of DC in suburban Maryland, had 130+ users all connected in their office via an on-premises Mitel MiVoice platform. Most incoming calls came in on the main number and were distributed across multiple attendant consoles where calls were transferred across the organization.

When the stay-at-home order came down, the staff was able to quickly connect at home using a mix of plug-and-play Mitel Teleworker phones or MiCollab apps running on their laptops and smartphones.

Home-based attendants are still managing the high-volume flow of incoming calls using a completely PC-based call-handling setup with an intuitive graphical user interface that lets them know the ‘presence’ status of every user before they transfer the caller.

The association is delighted with their Mitel system and its teleworking capabilities – their employees are staying productive and their members are getting the support they need.

TCI is Ready to help

Whether your phone system is on-site or already in the cloud, when it comes to supporting your customers, our rapid response team can deploy and support the essential tools you need to work anywhere in these uncertain times.

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

 

 

Worried About Staying Connected? UCaaS Has You Covered!

Any number of threats can take your business offline, including floods, road closures, and fires. Add to all that, a pandemic that suddenly changes where and how work is performed. When your people can’t work, your operations can come to a grinding halt and the collateral damage from your unexpected shutdown can be severe.

In addition to the pain of lost revenues, your customers may find alternative providers, your business could lose its place in supply chains, and your employees could experience  stress about their uncertain future.

Paying for expensive redundant services can help mitigate such calamities, but with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) you’ll get a built-in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan – without the extra cost.

Today’s voice systems and services are more powerful than ever and are designed to safeguard your business from a range of contingencies. As long as your team has UCaaS, smart phones and wireless data, and/or laptops with access to WiFi, they automatically have the essential elements of a DR plan.

Equipping your team members and contact center reps with their office tools and apps – as they seamlessly work from home – will enable your business to withstand virtually any local emergency that threatens to shut down your building.

Let’s get ahead of the next disaster before it arrives and talk about exploiting UCaaS for your business continuity plan. Contact TCI today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

 

Migrating to Cloud Voice Doesn’t Have to Wait… TCI’s Remote Deployments Can be Arranged with “Zero Touch”

If you’ve been planning to transition your voice communication to the Cloud, there’s no need to wait out the COVID-19 virus before taking action. TCI can handle all the implementation details for you remotely, so you don’t have to touch a thing.

Your team will be able to work from the office, at home, or on road. They will be able to handle calls from their desk or the mobile device of their choice. TCI can provide the phones, or you can source your own. With our “zero touch” implementation, your teams continue doing business from any location without skipping a beat.

Select the best deployment model

Delivered from our VMware-enabled data center in Ashburn, VA, our TCI Advantage services offer the flexibility to deploy UC your way – Hosted, Premises, Hybrid, Virtualized, or as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). When your needs change, we can make the necessary platform adjustments for you.

Choose the level of support you need

TCI can manage everything end-to-end or you can manage your own changes and only call us when you need help. Either way, easy online management and reporting is included. Choose your service plan – from traditional break-fix to fully-managed.

Customize to fit your business needs

  • Full integration with Salesforce, Outlook and other CRM applications
  • Deploy a world class Contact Center with agents working from anywhere
  • Seamless office unified communication on a desktop, laptop or mobile phone – or all at once!
  • And much more…

Mitel-powered… TCI-delivered

TCI’s business-class communication solutions can be deployed in any configuration, with tailored financing options to meet your budget requirements. TCI makes Cloud Voice easy – all for a budget-friendly monthly subscription.

Talk to our experts and schedule your online Cloud Voice demo. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

A Video Meetings Guide for Your Remote Workers

Videoconferencing has suddenly become “business essential.” Now more than ever, teams are relying on videoconference meetings on a daily basis so they can get work done effectively and efficiently.

Many of your remote workers, however, may have to adjust to this way of communicating with their colleagues.

Here’s a checklist of what every remote worker must consider as they get up to speed…

  • Visual presence – Since you may be in your home office, or even the kitchen, you will have to pay attention to lighting, visual background and ambient noise.
  • Prepare the content – Take a few moments ahead of time to organize your thoughts. This can make all the difference between a frustrating call and a productive one.
  • Agenda – If you’re the organizer of the call, be sure to send out an agenda at least a day ahead of time. Identify what you expect from each participant.
  • Your role – If you’re not the leader, reach out to the organizer and ask for clarification on your role and how you should prepare. Think through what you’d like to contribute.
  • Other participants – Find out who else will be on the call. Just as with face-to-face meetings, it’s helpful to know beforehand who will be “in” the meeting.
  • Limit side conversations – Keep one-on-one chats to a minimum. Instead, take notes for follow up.
  • Internet connection – Your WiFi needs to be strong enough to handle both voice and videoconference calls. What’s fine for browsing or email may not be robust enough to facilitate real-time communications.
  • Up-to-date software – Make sure you have the latest version of the meeting software. Or use a web-based business videoconferencing solution where you only need to sign on.

The right videoconferencing application makes it easy to assign tasks, send follow-up emails and group messages, share documents and schedule future meetings – all from a single interface.

Need support arranging business-class videoconferencing solutions? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

TCI Makes Getting Connected Easy… Get Mitel Licenses for more Remote Work Softphones

Mitel softphones allow remote and mobile workers to take advantage of a full range of productivity enhancing tools right from their smartphones or laptops – no desk phone required. Your employees can stay in touch with the same features and tools they had in the office.

A software license from Mitel is required for each remote worker. TCI will assist in getting all the licenses you need and then set up and implement the softphones so your organization can continue running with minimal disruption.

Teleworking UCC / MiCollab options include:

If you are not a UCC Licensee, certain features can be purchased separately…

When it comes to maintaining staff productivity and supporting your customers, softphones are essential tools for doing business in these uncertain times.

We can equip your remote workers with softphones now. Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

 

Frustrated by a 40-Minute Limit on Your Video Calls? Get 6 Months Free Access to Unlimited Business-Class Video Collaboration

MiTeam is an easy-to-use, secure remote meeting solution that can help any size organization stay connected – and you don’t need to be a Mitel customer when we set it up for you.

We’re extending TCI’s provider license to all of you because we want to help you get through these difficult times.

And unlike other providers’ service trials, you won’t be limited to 40 minutes or less. You can stay on a MiTeam Meetings call as long as you want (up to 20 Hours).

Check out this 2-minute Video to see MiTeam Meetings in action

Here’s just some of the capabilities you’ll get with MiTeam Meetings…

  • Schedule meetings in advance with calendar integrations
  • Start live video sessions in seconds from a chat or call
  • Get a complete view of everyone in the meeting with 16-person multi-pane viewing (up to 100 participants total)
  • Grant center stage to presenters with active speaker windows
  • Display and whiteboard ideas in real-time with screen sharing
  • Send important meeting documents through file sharing
  • Keep track of important discussions with persistent chat logs

If you’d like to get MiTeam Meetings for 6 months free, we’ll get you up and running. Contact us at TCICustomerService@TCIcomm.com

 

 

Managed Infrastructure Solutions… We Make Connecting Your Business Easy

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an IT environment that is provisioned and managed by TCI. With IaaS, you simplify your life and avoid the complexity of buying and managing your own IT and network infrastructure. Rather than paying a big upfront capital expense, your affordable monthly subscription covers everything you need.

TCI’s experienced experts handle all of the details

We design, build, test, certify and support…

  • Structured Cabling – Inside & Outside Plant
  • Managed Wi-Fi
  • LAN/WAN
  • Mobile Devices
  • Endpoints
  • Server Rooms
  • Data Centers
  • UPS
  • Security

We’re flexible

You can own any aspect of your IT environment and subscribe to IaaS for the elements you’d like us to manage. IaaS offers…

  • End-to end setup, implementation, and testing
  • Ongoing monitoring and support, including a 24×7 help desk
  • Upgrades that include new equipment as technology evolves/improves

With over 40 years of certified networking experience, TCI’s trademark craftsmanship offers the expertise and project management you need for today’s technology infrastructure. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

 

Hybrid, Public or Private Cloud Deployments… 5 Questions that Lead to the Right Choice

The cloud is a proven platform for deploying and managing all-in-one Voice, UC and collaboration capabilities across every location in your enterprise. Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – public, private or hybrid – asking the following questions can help you choose the best path for you…

1. What level of privacy and security do you need?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, government or healthcare, consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. If privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.

2. How important is reliability?

If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data like large multimedia files, consider either a private cloud or storing the data on site. If you operate a contact center, consider a hybrid solution: a private cloud combined with on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime; if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.

3. Will the communications system grow and flex with you?

For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public Internet connection, it can be combined with private network solutions. A hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives you room to scale up when necessary and allows you to maintain reliability and control.

4. How can you connect to the cloud?

  • SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) uses one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of Internet and/or Internet with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are optimized, it can switch circuits quickly.
  • MPLS (Multiprotocol label switching) uses high‐speed networks to efficiently transport packets over virtual links. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.
  • Public Internet Access Services like business-grade broadband connections are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.

5. What goes in the cloud? What stays?

Start by identifying the applications that really matter and checking for redundant functionality across applications; then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, evaluating each offering against your value proposition.

TCI can help you refine your cloud deployment strategy and implement a solution tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

8 Ways to Ensure Your Remote Workers Feel Like They’re in the Conference Room

Because remote employees are not physically at the conference table, they miss the non-verbal cues and side conversations, while those attending in person often forget who’s on the other end of the speaker phone.

To make your remote colleagues feel connected and valued, here are 8 ways you can help them feel like they’re in the conference room along with everyone else.

1. Make it mobile-first.

The first step toward changing this dynamic is to provide remote employees with the right tools. They need the ability to join meetings from any device with a single click – mobile, tablet, desktop – and any operating system.

2. Set a clear agenda.

A UC solution with a built-in agenda capability enables you to send the meeting plan with the invite. This way, remote employees aren’t at a disadvantage. Everyone is on the same page from the get-go.

3. Establish meeting ground rules.

For instance, one person speaks at a time with no interruptions. Have everyone say their name before speaking to help remote colleagues who are not in the room. This also serves to remind everyone that remote colleagues are on the call.

4. Start with introductions.

Have everyone say “hello,” give their name and role, and explain why they’re on the call. Small talk can help make everyone feel included, especially remote colleagues. If it’s a video call, make sure everyone is on video – not just audio. If someone can’t be on video, ask them to post a photo of themselves.

5. Invite participation.

Since it’s easy to forget who’s calling in, it’s the job of the facilitator to make sure everyone contributes. Keep track of who has spoken – and who has not. Ask direct questions to those who haven’t contributed.

6. Speak clearly.

It is important that the facilitator speak clearly and slowly, with more pauses to make sure everyone is following.

7. Make it visual.

Use collaborative conference software that allows anyone on the call to share their screen. Use visuals to keep everyone engaged. Ask different participants to share documents.

8. Break it up.

When planning the meeting, be conscious of keeping it interactive. For instance, stop after three slides to ask questions. Assign different items on the agenda to each participant. In this way, the remote worker feels like an important contributor to the meeting.

Conference calls have always been challenging, but with more team members working remotely, it’s essential for businesses to make sure they contribute and feel included.

Let TCI help you choose a cloud business communications solution that gives you the tools to create an inclusive, collaborative workspace. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.