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7 Steps to Smarter Contact Center Coverage Scheduling

Contact center managers are under a lot of pressure to deliver better results with fewer resources. Meanwhile, diminishing corporate budgets are forcing organizations to think of creative ways to compensate staff. These include pay-as-you-go arrangements in the form of zero-hour contracts, reduced and annualized working hours, and time off without pay.

How then can organizations achieve all-around contact center flexibility and cost savings in a way that satisfies staff, customers, and the business?

It comes down to leveraging the top 7 capabilities and benefits of today’s automated Workforce Management technology:

1. All-In-One, Easy-to-Use Solutions

The biggest barrier to embracing new technology is ease of use, or rather the lack of it. Fortunately, today’s fully automated solutions make light work of managing staff effectively – forecasting demand, creating schedules, developing accurate and insightful reports, and improving overall customer satisfaction. These automated tools make it easy and efficient to optimize workforce management.

2. Easy Access, Anytime, Anywhere

Agents can log in from home or on the go to check their schedules, see whom they are working with, and let their managers know when they are available. Managers and resource teams are able to build efficient schedules at any time and from anywhere for complete control of their call center scheduling operations.

3. Intelligent Resourcing

Using historical data, resource teams have the power to predict at the click of a button how many agents they will need, the skills they require, and who the right people are to fill those roles. They can even support a number of different shift patterns, including short shifts or split shifts, rather than employ a set number of people at set times of the day.

4. Flexible Planning On the Go

Key features provide much-needed flexibility. Real-time adherence monitors agent adherence to schedules. Automated alarms flag when schedules are in danger of being breached, and a real-time data feed – updated in seconds – enables fast decision-making.

Intra-day scheduling allows small changes during the day while considering unplanned agent absences and changes in customer demand. For example, managers can flexibly change break times and lunches or move people between skill groups, as well as front-office and back-office work. The changes may differ by only a few minutes, but those small changes can make the difference between meeting service levels during peak times and losing valuable calls.

5. Fit for the Future

The latest forecasting scheduling technology helps to right-size your contact center for the future. Running a series of “what if?” scenarios can predict staffing needs for regular seasonal fluctuations, upcoming marketing campaigns, and even the organization’s long-term business plan.

6. Self-Service

Self-service capabilities empower agents to trade shifts, voice their preferences for overtime shifts and request time off, increasing contact center flexibility and agent satisfaction. Plus, setting up auto-approvals means your staff doesn’t have to wait until the next day for an answer if management is not available.

7. Time and Cost Efficiencies

The automation provided by workforce optimization technology combines strategic planning with instant fine-tuning throughout the day to create a highly flexible contact center framework that keeps agents motivated, customers satisfied and CEOs happy.

Contact Center management continues to evolve. Ready to explore the latest innovations? Contact TCI experts today: (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

6 Cybersecurity Best Practices You Need to Implement in 2023

As the hybrid workforce has increased, so has the number of cybersecurity breaches. Fortunately, many of the security vulnerabilities that come with remote work can be minimized with clear-cut policies, training, and IT support for your remote workers. Here is a helpful checklist of best practices you can implement to better safeguard your organization.

1. No Public Wi-Fi

40% of the remote workforce spends time in public or shared spaces where privacy isn’t guaranteed. If your employees still want to work from Starbucks, instruct them to set up a personal hotspot on their mobile device to bypass the public Wi-Fi or have them use a virtual private network (VPN).

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings and Communicate Responsibly

According to a Code 42 study, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in airports alone. Instruct your remote workers not to be careless with their work laptops. They should remain alert if they work in a public space. They should ensure no one can sit behind them and watch/record everything they do. Employees should take their devices to the restroom and avoid leaving them in their cars. On video calls, use headphones and employ safe screen-sharing practices.

3. Encrypt Stored Data and Update Devices & Apps

Make sure your remote workers are using devices set to encrypt stored data. Encryption encodes data to make it unreadable to anyone without the matching encryption key, password, or PIN. Keep devices, firewalls, and apps up to date. Developers are constantly working to close security gaps, so it’s essential to set the software to update automatically when patches are released.

4. Enable Email Encryption

Emails are another point of vulnerability for remote workers. Just as you want to ensure that all stored data is encrypted, it’s also a good idea to encrypt the data attached to any email. This will prevent an unintended recipient from viewing the information.

5. Disable all External Drives and Store Work in the Cloud

Consider disabling all external drives on work devices. USB thumb drives are popular vehicles for bad actors to use for malware attacks. Bad guys can install malware onto thumb drives and then distribute them where an unsuspecting worker would pick one up, and thinking it was theirs, plug it into their device. Use secure, cloud-based storage instead.

6. Update Password Policies and Enable Security Features

Instruct employees to choose strong, unique passwords and to have different passwords for different apps. Users can store passwords in an encrypted password manager or use a password generator to make them up. Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds another layer of security using a second or third identification element, like a key card, fingerprint, or text code, to verify identities. Turn on location-finding and remote wiping to manage devices if they get lost.

Final Thoughts

When you keep your communications platform up to date with the latest software and features, it will be protected with fixes that address security flaws and close security holes that could be exploited.

UC or voice platforms/services also require proactive updates to help ensure your business can head off cyberattacks on your communications systems.

TCI can help ensure your systems are continuously updated and secure. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Choosing the Best Deployment Platform for Your Business Communications

We don’t believe in “one size fits all.” TCI’s custom solutions are designed to meet the precise communication needs of large and small organizations. A variety of cloud and on-premises deployments are available to connect your company and every location in your enterprise, and we’ll help you find the one that fits you best.

Cloud Considerations

When it comes to the cloud, here are some of the factors that will help determine the best platform or combination for your business…

  • What goes in the cloud? What stays? Start by identifying the applications that really matter and check 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.
  • What level of privacy and security do you need? If you’re in government or a highly regulated industry like financial services or healthcare, you may want to consider combining a private, onsite platform with cloud services. A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency, and cost management. If advanced features, privacy, and control are essential to your business, dedicated private solutions offer the customized tools and flexibility you need.
  • How important is reliability? If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data, like large multimedia files, consider storing your data using redundant onsite and offsite storage. If you operate a busy contact center, a dedicated private cloud solution combined with redundant backup can protect you from costly downtime – if you lose your onsite system, the cloud will be there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider your in-house infrastructure will be your safety net.
  • Will the communications system grow and flex with you? For many small and mid-sized organizations, the public cloud environment can be very cost-effective. You typically pay on a flat, user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you may connect via a public Internet connection, you can overlay a private network service for added reliability. A hybrid solution gives you added flexibility to scale more broadband when needed, ensures reliability, and allows you to maintain control.

On-Prem Still Makes Sense for Many Industries

Many TCI customers continue to choose on-prem based on control, reliability, security, customization capabilities, and complex integrations with other business applications. In some cases, Cloud providers either simply do not support these customizations or, if they do, they require the use of additional third-party platforms and complex custom application development.

A preference for CAPEX over OpEX and forecasted Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) are financial factors that drive some organizations to go with on-premises platforms or complement what they have with cloud apps.

Making the Right Decision

TCI can help you refine your communications strategy and will design, deploy, and support a solution tailored to your specific requirements – on prem, cloud, or a blend of both.

Get started today. Contact us at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Stay Competitive… Ensure Your Communications System is a Strategic Asset in 2023 & Beyond

Today’s business reality is that you can’t be competitive without a fully optimized communications system. That’s why it’s important to regularly take a hard look at what you have and what you should have.

Many communications system features that may have seemed unnecessary a few years ago are now table stakes. Likewise, features you thought would improve operations may no longer be delivering the benefits they should be providing.

  • Efficiency – Research shows that 85% of small businesses agree that efficient communication between different teams is fundamental to staying ahead of the competition. But a poor technology strategy can have serious repercussions on a business and even affect a company’s ability to compete. For example, inefficient communications can cost upwards of $6,000 per employee per year to a small business, even more for an enterprise.
  • Integration – Systems that aren’t integrated with core applications, like CRM, that don’t provide a single unified view of all communications options and that don’t enable team collaboration, video conferencing and anytime, anywhere access to email, text and chat are no longer adequate.
  • Software Updates – Likewise, systems that offer all those things but are two or three software updates behind are not operating at peak efficiency and may, in fact, be reducing productivity and increasing the IT threat surface.
  • Reassessment – Organizations that don’t view their communications system as a strategic asset, reassess their investments regularly and optimize their systems at every opportunity can find themselves in situations where their communication technology mix does not meet today’s demands.

Keeping pace with ever-changing communications technologies will position your business for success when an unexpected crisis arises.

Schedule a technology consultation or site survey to ensure your Business Communications are ready for 2023. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Get Free Headsets with Mitel’s New On-Premises Phone System Monthly Subscription

Mitel’s popular MiVoice platform brings organizations customized communications and an improved customer experience. 

Acquiring an enterprise-level, on-site phone system typically requires a hefty CAPEX investment or lease. But now TCI and Mitel offer a budget-friendly way to simplify your Communication and Collaboration needs as a predictable OPEX subscription.

Why Subscribe to MiVoice?

  • Only pay for the number of users you have now – scale up and down as needed
  • Have on-demand access to the latest software/security updates. You choose when updates are installed 
  • Choose your calling, collaboration, video, and contact center user levels
  • Make budgeting predictable and reduce your upfront costs
  • Deployment flexibility – You can choose the best arrangement for your needs: On-Prem, Private Cloud, or Public Cloud

MiVoice OPEX Headset Promotion:  Free H-series headset with select MiVoice Business Subscription & Contact Center Licenses. Offer available until March 31, 2023

MiVoice Subscription uses the exact same communication, collaboration, and contact center applications as MiVoice Business – without the big upfront price tag. 

  • No need to combine tools from multiple vendors – MiVoice delivers an end-to-end on-site phone and unified communications solution from a single provider.
  • Mobile-first IP Desktop Phones – The MiVoice 6900 series boasts exceptional HD audio quality, one-touch Bluetooth pairing, and seamless integration with your mobile phone.
  • Flexible, Easy-to-Manage Platform – Web-Based Management ensures administrators can deploy a multi-platform MiVoice solution from their web browser.

For more details on Mitel’s flexible MiVoice subscription plans, contact TCI today: (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Improve Your Technology Performance with High-Speed Wi-Fi and Cabling Infrastructure 

TCI has 40+ years of experience designing, building and maintaining flexible cable and wireless infrastructures that support voice, data, video, security and multimedia systems…

One-Stop-Shop for Cabling

  • Inside & Outside Cabling
  • Rack and Cabinet Layout, Design, Installation
  • Pathway and Conduit Design, Installation
  • Fiber Optic Design, Installation, Testing
  • Copper Design, Installation, Testing
  • CAD, Documentation, Labeling
  • Testing and Certification
  • Ongoing support

And Wireless Solutions…

We extend your cable infrastructure with Secure Wireless LANs to allow your employees to work anywhere in your building or campus, with convenient, worry-free access to the Internet or your local IT resources. Our Wireless team covers it all…

  • Wireless Site Surveys
  • Wireless Coverage R>F Testing
  • Optimized Coverage Maps
  • Access Points | Placement and Cabling
  • Wireless Security
  • Testing and Certification

TCI Cabling & Wireless Experts Manage All the Details

Whether you need to connect a new building, renovate a space or bring more mobility to your business, TCI has the experience and expertise to deliver your cable and wireless projects on time and within budget.

Learn more about our network infrastructure solutions. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Want Stronger Cell Signals in Your Building? TCI Offers Fast Deployments and Big Savings

Suffering from weak or intermittent cell phone coverage in your building? 

You’re not alone… Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to ensure that on-the-go employees and visitors can stay connected in every corner of their buildings – even the basement. At stake are user productivity and customer service.

You can expect poor signal strength or dead zones when mobile carrier signals can’t penetrate your building’s glass, metal, concrete, or other obstructions. This results in more dropped connections, wasted time, and frustration.

What’s needed is a carrier-neutral, in-building cellular boosting solution that allows you to take control of your wireless communications. TCI can cover anywhere mobile connections are weak, including…

  • Offices in high-rises
  • Parking garages
  • Warehouses and manufacturing facilities
  • Arenas and entertainment venues
  • Hospitals
  • Campuses
  •   

TCI Boosting Solutions

TCI offers cell signal boosting solutions that have the flexibility to accommodate any space or floor plan. Our network infrastructure experts will design, configure, install, and support the latest technology to boost the service providers you need to connect with – including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. 

Your TCI project team manages all the details from site surveys to configuring the equipment that gets the carrier signals into your building. Then they deploy the antenna systems and cabling that provide the coverage you’ve been missing.

Don’t let spotty in-building cell signal coverage slow you down. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Expert Insights: 2023 Unified Communications Predictions

Today, unified communications (UC) technology is more than just IP phones and simple features like live chat. You’ll want to partner with a local provider who can help guide you toward the right mix of today’s solutions and evolve with you in the future.

TCI has been supporting the DC Metro Region for 40 years and we’re here to help. As we look toward the new year, we know many organizations will be modernizing their communications systems to streamline operations and keep employees and customers connected.

Our strategic technology partner, Mitel has weighed in on what UC will look like in 2023. Here are their predictions.

Generative AI will take off.

Generative AI can create content automatically. It has the potential to revolutionize certain aspects of business, specifically when it comes to content marketing and contact center communications.

The technology can improve the chatbot experience on websites and provide personalized content to customers based on their history. In the contact center, Generative AI can produce content for agent coaching. It can also document and summarize interactions between agents and customers, creating content that can be used for training and development.

Organizations and UC providers need to stay on top of the role Generative AI will begin to play and be able to incorporate the content produced by it into their UC technology stacks.

CISOs will focus on recruiting employees to play a bigger role in preventing attacks and securing edge devices.  

Phishing attacks rose in 2022 and organizations are concerned about unauthorized access or leaks of their proprietary information. Business leaders need to raise employee education and vigilance in avoiding ransomware, phishing, and other threats coming in email, texts, and social media.

Another challenge is securing a rapidly expanding universe of edge devices, both professional and personal. Most employees work on multiple devices, and you can’t protect what you don’t know about, so auditing and securing a widely dispersed infrastructure will be essential.

Mitel and TCI offer a software assurance (SWA) subscription that keeps your UC up to date on the latest software, security fixes, and compliance requirements.

A one-size-fits-all approach to delivering UC will no longer work. Organizations are demanding customized solutions.  

Customers have many communication technology choices today, and many use a mix of infrastructures. In 2023, the world’s business communications will occur across a panorama of on-prem, private cloud, hybrid, and UCaaS systems.

Currently, deployed on-premises solutions lead the pack, but Mitel’s survey found that over 40% of enterprises are combining their on-premises solutions with a cloud solution, and almost half are either evaluating or currently moving their on-premises communications to the cloud.

UC providers need to fully embrace Customer Lifecycle Management as organizations look for the right communications solution to deliver long-term value for both the customer and employee experience.

With so many choices regarding technologies and deployment options, organizations need more than just a drop-ship phone provider. They need a local partner who can support them on-site and guide them toward solutions that support shared workspaces, file and screen sharing, and a mobile-first design. Businesses are looking for a quick and sustainable ROI that empowers their customers to collaborate and complete tasks from anywhere.

Our local team of experts is ready to advise you on the best path forward as you implement your 2023 plans. Contact us at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

7 Office Trends Redefining Online Team Collaboration

The way people use technology continues to shift quickly, and consumer behaviors and expectations are bleeding into business environments, creating new requirements and methods of doing business.

Here are several important office trends redefining how businesses and people collaborate online.

1. Using More Outsourced Resources – Freelancers and consultants fill various roles depending on a company’s size, priorities, and policies. Whether enterprise or SMB, some companies use the expertise of outside resources to provide a necessary perspective, service, or advice to help businesses. Other companies use outsourced workers to quickly scale up and down, improving their agility and flexibility. Businesses using freelancers, consultants, or other types of remote support need robust online collaboration tools to connect these outsourced workers and the company’s staff to work effectively and efficiently.

2. The Rise of Solopreneurs – The trend of companies using more outsourced workers and the rise of solopreneurs go together. Solopreneurs run their single-person businesses, often relying on contracting or consulting work for employment. They’re usually experts in niche areas. As more workers become solopreneurs, companies will increasingly have to look outside of their walls to fill needs in those specialties. Your online collaboration tools should be user-friendly, so solopreneurs don’t need to become experts in obscure software to get on board and pitch in.

3. Cloud Enablement and the Rise of Mobility – With increased connectivity, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and a global economy, mobility changed the game for many companies. With today’s cloud-based technology, work is an activity, not a location. Files and other resources once chained to the office are now available from anywhere with a decent Internet connection. Online collaboration tools are more important than ever to connect those in the office, those traveling, those working remote or hybrid, or outsourced resources to keep work moving productively.

4. Real Estate Consolidation and Savings – Real estate can be pricey for businesses, with some urban areas commanding $100 or more per square foot of office space — a 10×10 office costs a staggering $10,000 per year in some places. Enabling remote workers can help keep real estate costs under control by reducing your need for space, avoiding relocation, and more. Without a good online collaboration tool designed for remote workers, it’s tough for workers to connect with their in-office counterparts to get work done.

5. Hyper Specialization – When you need an expert in a particular field, there’s a good chance they won’t live near your office. Some are willing to relocate. But many are not. If your much-needed expert feels like staying put, you may need to make concessions to bring them on board. Or you might have to offer them work-hour flexibility as a perk to seal the deal. Either way, it makes hyper-specialization another factor putting pressure on companies to use reliable online collaboration tools to stay competitive.

6. Wanderlust and the Rise of Ex-Pats – Have you seen House Hunters International? It’s not just showcasing ex-pat retirees settling into another country to spend their golden years with an exotic sea breeze tickling their noses. More people on the show are working professionals who want to travel or live abroad while continuing to work. This trend is growing, and innovative companies are leaning on online collaboration to help enable staff to work where they want to keep key talent on board.

7. Bring-Your-Own-Device – BYOD shouldn’t be a big surprise when it comes to identifying trends that are redefining online collaboration. Bottom line: companies that enable BYOD must find an online collaboration tool that works across various platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. This trend points to the need for a user-friendly interface that’s intuitive and easy to use. If it’s not easy to use, workers will be quick to abandon it, hurting productivity or spawning pockets of shadow IT.

Adapt to Stay Competitive

The workplace is changing fast and leading to a revolution in how we collaborate online. Innovative companies and savvy tech providers adapt to stay competitive and ensure work gets done. Whether you’re affected by one of these trends or all of them, it pays to know the forces reshaping the landscape. Because the more you know, the better you can respond.

Let’s talk about your business and how you can exploit better Online Collaboration tools. Contact TCI today at: (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.

 

Improving Operations with Better Technology Starts with Your 2023 TCI Planning Session

With budget season here and 2023 right around the corner, now is a great time to start evaluating your office technologies and setting strategic goals.

A TCI Technology & Business Review gets you prepared for the new year, whether you’re connecting a Hybrid Workforce or thinking about Faster Broadband, Online Collaboration, Disaster Recovery, Cloud, or Managed Services.

Not familiar with the latest innovations or apps? We’ll get you up to speed so your business can connect more easily and become more productive than ever.

Schedule your 2023 planning session with TCI today. Contact us at (703) 321-3030 or GetHelp@tcicomm.com.