Spoken Communications

News, opinions and information on the state of call centers, cloud contact centers and IVRs worldwide

How to bounce back from your worst mistake

Posted by Heidi Miller on November 25, 2015 at 7:00 AM

recovering from a mistakeMost of us don't like making mistakes. It’s humiliating; we feel stupid; we look bad. We can even lose credibility with colleagues, customers, superiors, family or friends.    

But errors are a part of life. We’re human, and failures happen, especially when we are brave enough to take risks. Every major entrepreneur has failed at at least one business. Still, that doesn't mean that any of us want to be part of that business that fails.

So how does one bounce back after making a really big mistake? You know the kind--the ones that have huge, far-reaching effects, like the guy who incorrectly rerouted some network traffic on Amazon’s Web Services environment that caused an outage taking down the entire network for 24 hours. It was a big mistake, and it was a very public mistake, so therefore very embarrassing for him and far-reaching for Amazon.

That being said, the best widsom I've achieved in my 46 years on this planet has been garnered from mistakes, some of which were mere blips and others of which were life-changing doozies. Here's my advice for dealing with epic fails:

How to bounce back from mistakes       

  • Take responsibility In the words of former President Harry S. Truman, “the buck stops here.” He was the leader of the free world at the time, and he willingly took responsibility for his decisions, even the unpopular ones. The best politicians--and CEOs and customer service agents--take responsibility for their mistakes. Owning your error is the first step in recovering from it. Great leaders (and people for that matter) don’t blame others when things go wrong but rather embrace the mistake as a learning experience.
  • Fix it and share it If possible, take steps to fix the mistake. Send out the wrong price in a mass email? Send a contrite apology email with the right price. Kick a cord and cause a system outage? Work with IT to get the system back up and running. Then tell management, customers or the public what happened. In the tech world, we use a process called Root Cause Analysis. When something goes wrong, a group assembles to determine what happened, why and how to prevent it from happening again in a calm and methodical manner. Then everyone affected gets a copy of the RCA report. In business and in customer service, mistakes will always occur. It's a matter of how you approach them that builds loits how we come back from the mistake that mattersyalty and respect.
  • Apologize All too many people and organizations believe that apologizing is a sign of weakness, which is where the ultimate non-apology "We regret any inconvenience this may have caused" came from. Take advantage of this opportunity for engagement with customers or mangement: issue a real apology that includes the word "sorry." Speak from the heart, and never let the legal department write the apology for you. One of the best apology communications I ever got from a company was from a podcast hosting service, which read, "Oops. We goofed. Sorry about that." It was a real, honest, human apology. I instantly forgave them and liked them better for it.
  • Learn from it When the embarrassment and emotions of the mistake lessen, find and embrace your takeaway as part of your personal or corporate identity. These life and business lessons make for some of the most powerful stories. Remember that Steve Jobs was fired from Apple--and then came back to lead the business to phenomenal market success. The best business leaders embrace mistakes as a path to growth.

Embracing failure as an opportunity for engagement and a path to future growth is essential to success. So don't fear making mistakes--you will. Rather, embrace them as an opportunity to shine.

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Quality monitoring best practices for 2016

Posted by Heidi Miller on November 23, 2015 at 10:30 AM

How have new trends such as mobile affected quality monitoring best practices for 2016?

woman_mobile.jpgWe can all agree that the growth of mobile devices has been nothing less than phenomenal. Over the past few years, mobile devices have transitioned from a secondary means of communication to the preferred means of communication. Virtually everyone on the planet owns at least one mobile device, be it a smartphone or tablet.

This migration to mobile has not only changed how consumers conducts their business but also how the business conducts its business. In a relatively short amount of time, businesses have moved from conducting business strictly face-to-face to conducting a large portion of their interactions online through their websites. In fact, so much business is done via mobile devices, that businesses are now having to devise an entire mobile marketing strategy.

Quality monitoring and mobile

So, how does this trend affect the quality monitoring of customer service interactions within the call center? Good question! In a recent article on TMCnet.com, researchers polled 576 people to help determine this very question. Of those 576 polled, it was determined that phone and e-mail are the top two channels for interacting with agents. It was also determined that contact centers still use customer feedback to improve procedures in their organizations. So while mobile has provided a new means for interacting with contact centers, it has not changed how the contact center operates.

Quality is channel-agnostic

When consumers make contact with a business, they still want to deal with a person at the other end. The device of choice, really makes no difference. Additionally, from the call center’s perspective, the need to monitor these interactions and the means by which data is gathered has remained a constant in the wake of significant change. Contact centers still need to gather data on customer satisfaction, agent performance and a variety of other metrics. When it comes to monitoring the quality of the customer interaction, it really makes no difference what device the customer used to contact you; what does matter is that the interaction IS monitored for quality.  

Quality monitoring best practices for 2016

checklist.jpgSo, in this ever-changing technology climate, what are some of the constant and unchanging principles in quality monitoring? The online magazine CallCentre Helper offers some great tips on this. We’d like to share a few of those here:

  • Spot problems Monitoring is as much about spotting problems as it is amplifying what the call center is doing well.
  • Unused data is pointless Make good use of the information you gather.
  • Get the small things right Regular quality monitoring can help prevent bad habits from seeping in and is a great way to maintain best practices of proper greetings, adhering to call-structure and using positive phrases throughout the call.
  • Use independent eyes and ears Use an independent call monitoring facility. Objectivity can be difficult if the monitoring is carried out by your own people. By using an independent company, you can get a more objective view of how your agents are doing.

This article offered many tips on quality monitoring from various leaders in the industry that you can check out here. Of these tips shared, our personal favorite is the last one: hiring an independent quality monitoring firm.

Why independent quality monitoring?

13459773_s.jpgIt's no surprise that HyperQuality is a big believer in independent quality monitoring, since we conduct over eight million independent agent evaluations a year! But here's our list of the top five reasons to engage an independent quality monitoring firm:

  1. Unconscious bias We all have biases, some of which are unconscious. An independent, third-party firm will rid your evaluation and quality assessment of those biases and focus exclusively on improving agent efficienty.
  2. Sample size It's sometimes difficult to admit, but most call centers don't actually listen to the industry standard of 5% of all calls. Goals, holidays, paperwork and other seemingly more rewarding tasks get in the way of consistent, ongoing quality evaluations.
  3. Sample quality Many of the managers we spoke with confessed they take shortcuts to try to stick to the 5% call volume rule--such as only listening to shorter calls in order to make the monitoring and evaluation quota and still make it home in time for dinner! A third-party firm will focus strictly on evaluations and give you the most representative sample.
  4. Reducing the time sink We often say that we "do the heavy lifting" of quality evaluations and monitoring for contact centers. Let's face it--listening to that 5% or 10% of call volume is a huge time sink. So why not outsource it to a firm that specializes in quality and can deliver results within 24 hours?
  5. Online access Many quality firms offer evaluations in the cloud, through an online portal that can be accessed 24/7. So no need to wait for a report to be emailed--you can access and slice and dice your agent evaluation information six ways from Sunday to determine your best approach to quality coaching.

However you conduct your quality monitoring and evaluations, the key is to be as consistent and timely as possible. As we say, quality is a process of continuous improvement. There is undoubtedly a lot you're doing well, and evaluations and quality monitoring can help you to be EvenBetter every day.

 To find out more about our quality services and online quality tool ClearMetrix, click below:

View ClearMetrix Demo Video

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Five things every CEO should know about customer service

Posted by Chrystal LeWark on November 17, 2015 at 11:26 AM



A CEO has many hats to wear: fundraiser, public speaker, manager, coach and driver. So is it even practical for a busy CEO to have anything to do with customer service? If you consider the myriad of tasks that a CEO has to deal with on a daily basis, it would seem that the function of customer service might not make the cut. However, the perception that customer service is not a C-Suite function is rapidly changing. In fact, 10% of Fortune 500 companies have appointed a Chief Customer Officer to the C-Suite, with 22% planning to do so in the future.

However, the CEO can’t offload the customer service department entirely. Why? Five things that affect the organization’s bottom line:

    • Reducing agent turnover or “churn” Customer service agents literally serve as the voice of your brand because they are often the first impression for your customers post-sale. They field questions, complaints and work to resolve problems for several hours at a time, all while keeping a smile on their face and their own frustrations at bay. It’s no wonder that this position can be prone to high turnover. In fact, turnover rates can be as high as
      . Additionally, a recent customer survey revealed that about 76% of consumers view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. Given these statistics, it is important for CEOs to be well acquainted with the temperature of customer service.
    • Banishing the cost center mentality Think of your call center as a customer loyalty engine instead. According to NewVoiceMedia, an estimated $41 billion is lost by US companies each year due to poor customer service. However, according to the same source, after a positive customer experience, 69% of consumers would actually recommend the company to others and 50% of those surveyed tend to use that business more frequently. A Bain & Company report shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits anywhere from 25%-95%. Rather than seeing the customer service center as a place where costs can be cut, one should really see it as the vital revenue building center that it is.
    • Differentiating your brand For good or ill, your customer service center can be what makes or breaks your brand. Zappos is an online retailer who prioritizes quality customer service. According to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, “Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson are other examples of CEOs who have built their companies on a customer-centric culture.
    • Risk losing great people One of the biggest complaints from agents that contribute to agent apathy and frustration is the inefficiency of their tools and difficulties with their systems. Empowering agents with the tools and knowledge they need to do their jobs
      will go a long way in increasing customer engagement on both sides. When agents feel empowered to help their customers coupled with reliable technology their job satisfaction increases. Happy, satisfied agents translate into happy, satisfied customers.
    • EVERYONE is a customer representative The bottom line: the customer affects everything from revenue to products and services as well as the reputation of an organization. In the words of Richard Branson: “Customer service is everything in the end.”


HyperQuality believes contact center operations can be turned from cost-centers to revenue generators with a three-part process: 

  • Perform sharp analysis on care methods with constant calibration
  • Provide reliable and valid data for agent improvement
  • Engage in a frequent and thorough review process
  • This unique three-part approach gives HyperQuality’s clients the freedom to improve — and prove — their customer care and contact center operations every day.

Interesting in learning how HyperQuality can help with your  contact center operations? Contact us to learn more. 


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Call Center TCO: Why It Doesn’t Matter

Posted by Heidi Miller on November 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Why you should stop trying to figure  Total Cost of Ownership in the call center

calculator for call center tcoAny call center leader making the switch from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based, has one goal in mind: to reduce CAPEX and increase OPEX while gaining scalability and reducing costs and complexity. Due to this main objective, many people attempt to calculate and subsequently compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) between the two infrastructures. But is this the right approach to determining which solution is best suited for your company?

"On the premises side, I think TCO is largely a fantasy," Dave Michels a No Jitter contributor and TalkingPointz analyst said in a recent post. “… We often use TCO as a means to justify a decision, but to really gather TCO for any given product or solution is pretty darn hard, and it's filled with a lot of assumptions... Our assumptions are borderline correct tomorrow and almost always wrong five years from now."

Due to this ambiguity when it comes to gathering an accurate TCO, call center leaders tend to shy away from diving into the pros and cons of adopting cloud infrastructure in their businesses, as there is so much that must be taken into account. For instance, many call center leaders find it difficult to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of implementing cloud infrastructure compared to that of their current on-premises infrastructure because they aren’t sure what features must be accounted for or what numbers to plug in to make an accurate calculation.

If you insist on TCO

If you really want to compare the total cost of ownership, you can gain the clearest view of the cost and operational differentiation between on-premises and cloud infrastructure, begin by addressing the features and advantages that you currently pay for with your on-premises system—licenses and subscription fees, maintenance, customization and integration, hardware, etc. Then, address the features and advantages that you wouldn’t have to pay for (or pay as much for) by implementing cloud—for instance, in-house maintenance, applications, vendor support, implementation, hardware, training, etc.

  • List current on premise features
    • Licenses
    • Subscription fees
    • Maintenance
    • Customization
    • Integration
    • Hardware and software updates
  • List included cloud features
    • Included applications
    • Additional security
    • Geographic redundancy
    • Training

Then, it’s possible to use a pre-built TCO calculator to help determine an accurate number. For instance, Software Advice created an online calculator meant specifically for on-premises versus SaaS comparisons; test it out for yourself by clicking here.

What isn't included in TCO

But keep in mind that these calculators don’t cover the hidden costs of on premise systems:

  • More IT staff required to maintain
  • Opportunity costs of a rigid system that can’t scale
  • Opportunity costs of long-term contract
  • Opportunity costs of a lack of agility to move with the market

In a nutshell: cloud usually wins

We’ve conducted our own research and found that, over a five-year time span, the TCO of a cloud call center model remains significantly lower than that of on-premise infrastructure. The consistent cost reduction is largely due to the various advantages of cloud, including:

  • Flexible pay per use without assuming the risk of idle capacity
  • Reduced need for IT staff
  • Time value of money (delayed cash flow)
  • Reduced opportunity cost
  • Predictable operational expenses
  • No obsolescence of equipment
  • Cost of 24/7/365 support and maintenance is built-in
  • Ability to extend to other geographical regions without additional investment

And we aren’t the only ones who realize how immensely these features and advantages correlate to the cost efficiency of SaaS infrastructure. As a matter of fact, a survey from Gartner revealed fourty-four percent of survey respondents said that overall cost reduction continues to dominate as th emain reason for investment.* What's more, the traditional deployment model for on-premises software is expected to significantly shrink from 34 percent today to 18 percent bt 2017.*


Don’t make TCO the driving factor

But what many call center experts are finding is that TCO isn’t always the driving factor for cloud adoption. In fact, there are many other reasons why more call centers are adopting cloud outside TCO:

  • Increased reliability: A best-in-class SaaS platform should provide two geographically diverse, fully redundant data centers as well as a live-live configuration that protects you against outages that could bring your productivity to an abrupt halt.
    Heightened scalability: When you don’t have to manage your on-premises infrastructure, you are free to move about the country, the continent … heck, why not the whole world? When you don’t have to pay to physically move your infrastructure to new locations, the world becomes your oyster.
  • Heightened security: Most cloud call center providers offer higher levels of security than are typically implemented for on-premise systems. Vendors offer security features such as PCI-compliant data centers, unique, on-the-fly call encryption and credit card masking, to name a few. Click below to discover Spoken’s cloud security features:

  Download  Security Brochure

Go for value over TCO

So if you feel that it’s a must try using a pre-built TCO calculator to compare the costs of on-premises and cloud infrastructure. But remember that cloud is advantageous for more reasons than just cost efficiency. What business goals might the cloud facilitate for you: agility, scalability, reliability, security or control?

*Gartner Press Release, Gartner Survey Reveals That SaaS Deployments Are Now Mission Critical, November 25, 2014, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2923217 



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Six cloud predictions for 2016

Posted by Spoken Communications on November 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM

The cloud has been around since 1999, and cloud usage has been exploding in recent years. What do the experts say 2016 will bring for cloud innovation and adoption rates?  

It’s November, and you know what that means: it’s time for the yearly summary and speculation about the future of cloud technology and the call center industry. And we’re game to take on the question of what the cloud might look like in 2016. Of course, no one can know for sure, but when we look back at certain trends that gained or lost momentum in 2015 as well as the growth rate of cloud over the last 15 years, a few things do stand out.

A brief cloud history from 1999

One of the biggest areas of change in the IT world over the last 15 years has been the advent and growing adoption rates of cloud technologies.

1999 The debut of Salesforce.com, which pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a website and led to wide adoption of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

2002 Amazon Web services provides a suite of cloud-based services that included storage, computation and human intelligence through human crowdsourcing via the Amazon Mechanical Turk.

2006 Amazon launches its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2) as a commercial web service that allowed small companies and individuals to rent computers to run their own computer applications.

2009 Google and others started to offer browser-based enterprise applications through Google Apps. The emergence of applications, along with other factors such as high-speed bandwidth and universal software interoperability standards, have been major contributors to the explosive growth of cloud adoption rates we’ve seen in recent years.

The view of cloud adoption and innovation from this cloud vendor

The cloud has proven to be flexible, safe and cost-effective for those companies that have transitioned to it. As we transitioned a dozen new clients and thousands of call center agents to the cloud in 2015, we heard both hand-wringing concerns as well as driving factors for ultimately making the cloud transition from our prospects and clients:

Six cloud predictions for 2016

In a recent article by David Guthrie in CIO.com, several IT leaders weighed in on this subject. Here’s what they predict:

Gerard Verweij, Principal of PwC: 2016 IT budgets will be impacted by the continued move from on-premise to cloud solutions.

Corey Nachreiner, CTO of WatchGuard Technologies: CIOs should expect a slight increase in their overall IT budget due to the positive state of the economy and the need to modernize IT services.

Justin Giardina, CIO of iland: Companies will invest heavily in security measures, and this will dovetail with a growing dependence on cloud computing over the data center, as it has proven to be safe and effective.

Scott Gilgallon, VP Channels & Business Development of Appcara: 2016 will be the year of multi-cloud adoption and multi-cloud application management.

John Matthews, CIO of ExtraHop: We will see continued downward pressure on the datacenter as more and more companies will move toward hybrid cloud environments.

What do we think? 2016 will bring continued growth of cloud adoptions, increased demand for diversity and customization of applications and, with any luck, larger budgets for cloud implementations.

We blog about cloud, call center technology and customer service. Want to read more about the cloud? Click here for all our cloud technology posts.

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How to lose at Buzzword Bingo

Posted by Spoken Communications on November 5, 2015 at 9:55 AM

Buzzwords: what are they and why do we use them? The definition of a “buzzword” is: a word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.

Why do we all fall into the trap of using them? Many folks believe that use of buzzwords and jargon makes them sound smarter or more professional, but in truth, these overused expressions tend to make the speaker sound less creative, less specific and less knowledgeable. What’s worse, they can actually decrease productivity due to a lack of clarity about objective and the follow-up actions required.

In fact, corporate buzzwords have generated so many eye-rolls that the game of Buzzword Bingo was created (originally in 1994 in the Dilbert comic strip) as a way to entertain meeting-goers sick of hearing the same meaningless expressions.







DILBERT © 1994 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.


How to lose at buzzword bingo

If you want to win buzzword bingo, by all means, use these tired phrases devoid of meaning. But if you’d rather lose at bingo and gain clarity, replace each of these tired expressions with something more specific, literal and creative:


Specific word/phrase

Thinking outside the box

Crazy ideas, think creatively

Circle back

Let’s meet at 2:00 next Tuesday to revisit this.

Paradigm shift

A new way of thinking, a new outlook

What’s your workload like?

Can you take on creating this document by Thursday?

Game changer

A new way of thinking

Touching base

Let’s meet at 2:00 next Tuesday to revisit this.

Mission critical

A high priority/the highest priority

Low hanging fruit

The quick and easy win

Back burner

We are not pursuing this idea right now, and we may or may not pursue it later.


Buzzword Bingo Board





















No one likes vagueness and that’s what buzzwords create; they are nebulous and unlikely to result in precise action. When it comes down to it, most people appreciate honesty and clarity, especially coming from their leaders. So if you’ve found yourself using these or other buzzwords, now is a good time to turn over a new leaf.

Or maybe just commit to clear, concise language usage.


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7 things CEOs should know about social media

Posted by Chrystal LeWark on November 3, 2015 at 9:22 AM

Social media, content marketing and digital marketing tend to be the domain of… well, the marketing department. But many CEOs have taken social media to heart as a way to engage with their staff as well as with brand ambassadors and loyal (or not-so-loyal!) customers.

You might be surprised to know that the world’s top 50 CEOs are active on social media—primarily on LinkedIn, the business platform of choice. In fact, participation in social media by CEOs has doubled since 2010.

Courtesy of Marketwatch.com














If you’re new to social media, don’t fret. Here is a cheat sheet of the top seven things you should know about social media:

It’s nothing new

Social media is really nothing new, it just looks different than it used to. We used to call it “word of mouth” and essentially it still is; it just happens to be online. And, because it’s online, this word of mouth marketing has much greater reach than it ever did before.

It’s here to stay

Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active accounts. Google+ has more than 300 million active users. LinkedIn has 334 million users. Twitter, 288 million users. Advertising revenues on these platforms continues to rise.

It’s powerful and effective

Because social media provides a platform to reach so many people in so many ways and quite frequently, it is a powerful and effective marketing medium. This is a boon for marketers but can present its own set of problems as well, however. Think of inappropriate posts, such as Kenneth Cole’s infamous attempt to hijack the #Cairo hashtag in 2011 with a distastefully self-promotional Tweet. But savvy social media marketers have learned, in some cases the hard way, how to avoid these pitfalls.













It’s a two-way conversation

With more conventional marketing methods, you have a message sender and a message receiver. Social media allows companies to open up that line of communication allowing them to have a two-way conversation with their customers. While this may be frightening to some, think of the power of being able to get feedback from your customers every day; it’s like having a 24/7 focus group at your fingertips.

It’s a customer service tool

Because of the two-way communication that is unique to social media, many companies are leveraging social media channels to provide customer service. If a customer complains about your brand on Twitter, your customer service team can respond and engage quickly and directly with that customer. In 2009, Comcast made history when Director of Digital Care, Frank Eliason, put together the first customer service Twitter team under the ID @comcastcares. "It's a little more personal,” said Eliason at the time. “More back-and-forth discussions, and it's less formal. And it gives immediacy to interactions.”

It’s trackable

Every CEO will attest to the importance of tracking the effectiveness of any marketing campaign. The beauty of social media is that it’s all online, so a wealth of data is available to analyze to determine the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. While it’s impossible to know how a billboard influenced people, it’s easy to track a click from LinkedIn to a landing page and a download of your new white paper or latest coupon.

You can fish where the fish are

Social networks are already established, and your customers are already there, interacting with friends, relatives and brands. No need to set up your own network; you can go straight to the pool where the fish are and start listening today. The barriers to entry are low, and the conversations you have there can provide a wealth of engagement and insights.

As CEO, it may not be necessary for you to become an expert in social media, however, as the visionary of your company, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of how you can leverage social networks to monitor and guide conversations about your brand.


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Six things CEOs should do every day

Posted by Heidi Miller on October 27, 2015 at 10:00 AM

CEO tip 48 hour ruleSix daily tips from top CEOS to help you work #LikeABoss

CEOs are ultimately responsible for the operation of an entire organization. They have to know what is going on with every facet of the company, from marketing to finance to social media as well as with each team member. Every CEO is incredibly busy due to the nature of the job, but the majority of CEOs seem to have a knack for getting it all done while maintaining good working relationships with their staff.

How do they do it? Well, we did a bit of research, and we learned that most CEOs have one or two tricks up their sleeve that allows them to manage their time effectively and still maintain a connection to their team.

Don’t schedule a ton of meetings

This may seem counter-intuitive to most people, but the harsh reality is that meetings take a lot of time and chop up the day, hindering productivity. Most CEOs find they can increase productivity by having one maybe two short meetings a week is plenty to connect with the team and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Observe the 48 hour rule

Simply put, if there is a difficult issue to confront, do your best to deal with it within 48 hours. The longer a difficult situation is allowed to drag on, the more far-reaching the negative fallout. Dealing with things in a timely manner keeps negative fallout at bay and keeps morale high.

CEO leadershipTake the time to talk

Investing time to talk, answer questions and offer encouragement lets your team know that you’re present and that you care. One CEO said he likes to manage by walking around. He said, “During the day, I make five or six trips to the kitchen at the other end of our office. On my way, I try to talk to people one on one, solicit their questions and reinforce our strategy as it pertains to them.” Leadership begins with listening.

Manage your e-mail

Email is a challenge for everyone and for busy CEOs in particular. Figure out the best time of day to sort through your email and sort through it. One CEO realized that while he only dealt with a couple of emails at a time, he realized that it was adding up to about two hours a day. Another CEO answered emails only at 7:30 AM before she left for the office and at 3:30 PM, when the calendar was free of meetings. The beauty of email is its efficiency, but if it’s eating up too much time, increase productivity and focus by setting aside time in the morning or at the end of the day to deal with email.

Hire the right people and trust them to do their jobs

This one is pretty self-explanatory. A good CEO will be able to accomplish a lot simply by hiring the right people. Lee Iacocca famously said, "I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way."

Get into the trenches with your team

This may seem like micro-managing, but it’s not. It’s important for leaders to know the day-to-day workings of the company. Why? So that she can see any problems that may exist and to provide accessibility to the team. One CEO put it this way: “The worst thing a CEO can do is fail to understand the work that the employee at the lowest rung of their business is doing.”

By keeping meetings to a minimum, acting immediately, managing email and getting into the trenches, successful CEOs toe the line between leadership and engagement. Are you a CEO or in the C-suite? What are some things you do every day to stay efficient and engaged?

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The top ten things all business owners should know about the cloud in 2015

Posted by Heidi Miller on October 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM

If you’re a business owner or manager who is still contemplating a transition to the cloud, we’d like to help your process along by sharing with you some insights that should make your decision a little easier. According to a recent article in SWAG, there are a number of things, seven to be exact, that every business should know about migrating to the cloud.

We even added a few of our own ideas into the mix:

  1. cloud lowers costsThe cloud can lower cost According to statistics from curiousrubik, 80% of companies who adopted cloud technology noticed a significant savings in their functioning expenditures. The reason for this is twofold: (1) cloud providers are in charge of most of the IT management and (2) energy and facilities costs are usually lowered, since the servers are operated by a third party.
  2. A wide variety of cloud services are available The cloud is not a sole platform that manages all business needs. You select the platform that complements your business depending on the type of service you want to transition to the cloud. Some of the options include: Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), which our Gartner analyst affectionately pronounces "Kick Ass."
  3. Security This remains one of the biggest concerns most people have when it comes to moving to the cloud, and understandably so. Cloud security has improved as cloud providers have learned to make security their top priority. Confidence is building, however, as curiousrubik reports that 50% of organizations using the cloud have transferred sensitive data to the network. That said, it’s still a good idea to study the privacy policies of the potential cloud provider.
  4. cloud either or decision hybridThe cloud does not have to be either-or Most business owners believe that you either move everything to the cloud or move nothing, and that’s not true. Hybrid clouds are available, allowing businesses to move less critical resources to one cloud while using a private cloud to handle more complex information.
  5. The cloud goes down at times If the internet goes down, so does your cloud access. Always have an emergency backup that allows for business continuity.
  6. Some vendors try to lock you into a contract Always read and study the contract before you sign. Some vendors will ask for costly termination fees or demand ownership of your data until the contract expires. Again, study before you sign.
  7. The cloud can increase productivity The cloud allows employees to access business applications from anywhere and with any device, so transitioning to the cloud can be a great step in enabling staff to work from home. In fact, according to curiousrubik, more than 80% of the companies using cloud services have shown an increase in productivity within the first six months. Our research showed that contact centers that implement the cloud to enable work-from-home agents increased productivity as well.
  8. There’s plenty of space Currently, curiousrubik tells us there is an estimated one exabyte (one billion billion bytes) of data stored in the cloud. That translates to a huge number with more zeros than we care to count!
  9. cloud growthGrowth is expected 2014 turned out to be a landmark year for cloud computing, as cloud workloads exceeded IT workloads by a ratio of 51 to 49. Curiousrubik reports that by the end of 2015, it is expected that $180 billion will be spent by end users and according to Cisco forecasts, the amount of traffic hosted through the cloud networks will triple by 2017.
  10. Companies will be looking to consolidate providers Most IT departments will be looking to consolidate cloud operations from several providers to just one or two in order to more effectively manage the entire cloud operation.

While the benefits of cloud are substantial, a cloud transition still requires a significant amount of dedication and involvement from the organization's IT team to ensure a smooth transition, and things do go wrong. A concern I often hear is the chance of business disruption during the transition. For that reason, we often recommend a gradual integration into the cloud, starting with either a small percentage of call volume (5%), a single telephone number or even simply overflow call volume.

To see how this gradual transition worked for one major outsourcer, download a free case study here.

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New credit card muting service helps call centers avoid credit card data theft

Posted by Heidi Miller on October 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Spoken call center credit card maskingIn this day and age of database hacks and privacy concerns, call centers are tightening security around customer data. In particular, accidentally exposing caller credit card information is a primary concern. But in the call center, all conversations are recorded for quality assurance, and many are subject to screen capture as well. How to secure those interactions in real time?

The challenge

Here is a common problem our clients bring to us: implement audio and screen privacy for credit card information in real time. Spoken has been working with three clients with requirements to mask payment information from both live audio and live screen recordings.

The problem isn't as simple to solve as it sounds: automatically removing payment information can be very challenging and requires a third party vendor (which translates to more expenses) if your current recording vendor can't provide this feature. The third-party approach also leads to additional ongoing costs and complicated systems integration and networking, which both bring increased risk for production issues.

The solution

Through the Spoken Call Center as a Service (CCasS) platform, we now provide real-time muting of call audio and real-time masking of payment elements in screen capture. This Credit Card Muting service can easily be integrated (through APIs) with your Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) to provide precise muting and masking on the live call. Why this approach? Due to the real-time nature of the masking, it's far more secure than post-call redaction, which still requires payment information to sit in the recordings for a period of time. Here's the process:

  1. Inbound sales call initiation The caller calls the client call center (that is using Spoken CCaaS) for a sales call
  2. Credit card input The caller decides to purchase client's product and offers payment information
  3. Agent input The agent inputs the credit card information via the client's CRM
  4. Audio and video redaction At this point, Spoken proactively suspends the audio and screen capture recordings until the  card entry is completed.
  5. Recording resumption Once the agent finishes entering the payment information, the audio and screen recording continues

System requirements

Sound too good to be true? It's not. However, there are a few system requirements. First, your must be using Spoken Call Recording on the Spoken CCaaS platform to take advantage of Credit Card Muting. If you're not yet using our Call Recording, our sales team would be happy to assist you. Second, it does take a few days to integrate with your CRM. And while most CRMs are supported (SalesForce, RightNow, etc.), it's a good idea to contact us to make sure your CRM is fully supported.


In most cases, our clients are up and running in about four weeks.


How many organizations are using Credit Card Redaction?
Currently, Spoken real-time mutes and redacts payment information on over 10,000 calls a day.

What if I don't want the agent to hear the information at all?

The Spoken Secure IVR takes payment information in a secure, PCI-compliant manner.

How much does it cost?

For a detailed quote on integrating this service with your system, contact Tyler Peterson of Client Services.

Find out more

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