Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Lower Average Call Handling Time

Call center agents should always look for ways to striking a balance between delivering excellent customer service and ensuring they do not waste too much time on a single client. When an agent spends too much time with a single client, it becomes expensive for both the business and the client.

Here are some practices can help reduce average handling time.

Have all the relevant information at the start of the call
The agents should collect all the necessary information at the start of the call with the client. The business should invest in customer service software or operate with a cloud based call center that connects the agents to other sources of business information and the CRM database. This prevents the customer from wasting time by asking clients they’ve answered with your business before.


The customer care representatives should have deep knowledge of the company business model, products and services, and any promotional offers. They should also know the possible problems with the products and what solutions should be applied if they are to arise. Agents should be able to use CRM, and any other customer service software with incredible ease, which helps them give accurate answers to the clients.

Share relevant customer information with the team
Sometimes it is necessary for the customer call to be transferred from one team member to the other in order for a satisfactory solution to be communicated to the client. In this scenario, the second agent should have all the customer information that is necessary for him or her to give a quality answer. This prevents him or her from asking similar questions as the ones asked earlier. This not only wastes time but also lowers the customer experience.

Allow agents to learn from each other
To improve the efficiency of the agents with high call handling time, allow them to listen to the call recordings of those with low call handling time. This provides constructive feedback that is positive to the agents who have not caught up with others.

Identify the pauses
It is important to know what happens during the pauses. This could be that the agent is struggling to get information that is necessary to serve the customer or the call switching is taking up too much time. There may be other technical issues that are slowing the agent such as changing the software or breaks in the call connection. Handle each problem as it arises and maintain communication with agents to assure they are up-to-date.

4 Best Practices for Call Quality Monitoring


Most companies are thinking of social media and messaging services when looking at customer experience, but they often overlook the voice channel. The voice channel remains the most trusted channel when it comes to solving complex customer needs. Older customers also prefer the channel to other methods. With call quality monitoring, the customers are assured of great experiences in line with other channels. Try the best practices below to monitor the call quality effectively at the contact center.

Invest in call recording tools to aids in call analysis
It is important to have outbound and inbound call recorded for the proper analysis. Invest in call center software that has call recording capabilities. This kind of software enables you to monitor the call quality performance and assess the performance of your agents. Try to analyze a few calls one after the other rather than sampling calls at random.

Define what makes an ideal call
Your team of contact center agents should know what makes an ideal service call. After carrying out the analysis described above, list the main strengths and weaknesses of your team. Look at practices that can be amplified and those that should be changed in order to achieve the ideal call.

You may need to revise the call script, look at the tone of the agent conversations, or even add more languages to your contact center service. You should also consider better CRM software, such as that of a cloud based call center, to enable seamless integration of the contact center with the customer information and the company resources. Sometimes the agents would need additional agent training to get them on par with the new requirements.

Ask for agent feedback
Think of your agents in the quality call delivery process. Seek their insight on how to improve the voice practices. Include them in the script revisions, simplification of the technical language and the trial process for the new software. Do not shy away from asking what should be done to improve their skills at the call center.

Reward the agents for good work
Rewards are great motivators and help encourage workers to improve their performance. Design an evaluation process to rate the skills and quality of performance for your agents. You should also empower agents to self-evaluate their performance and make the necessary improvements. Brilliant contact center agents should be recognized and rewarded accordingly. The reward should be enough to encourage others to put in the effort to achieve the same success.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Planning on Disrupting the Market? 3 Things You Must Avoid

Disruptors have the potential to make it big in the market. They go after the market goliath and make a killing. However, it is not such a simple thing if not well planned. Are you planning to be a disruptor? Here are three things that you must stay away from.


Do not let them know you want to disrupt them
In most, if not all of the cases, you will be going against the big fellows in the industry. They have the financial muscle and market to play around with. Your best strategy is to avoid head-on competition with them. Do not expose yourself to them as they will become interested in what you do and how it affects them. Build your empire silently so that you have the time to do what you want without spending so much effort on defending your territory. Remember the big kahunas are great at buying off great ideas in the market. Your business should not be one of their possible targets.

Do not respond to their maneuvers
If you light up emotional fires in the industry, you are likely to cause the bigger fish in the industry to come out firing and mess with you as they furnish their ego. They may actually crash you. Even if they will not crush you, they are likely to hurt you as well as your great ideas. Try to keep temperatures low in the industry so that the bigger businesses act rationally. Most disruptors are tempted to respond to every move by the competitor. They forget that in doing so only distracts them from their mission. This also exposes the good ideas to copycats and alternatives.

Use a critically inferior product
Your product should be inferior in some way or the other that is critical to the product features of the competing product. The large competitor will ignore you if your product does not touch on the core customer base. In fact disrupting is offering a product that is the best alternative to what the business is offering. Do not try to create a better product than the competition in all the attributes. This is simply copying the competition and not actually disrupting them. Disruption is all about fresh ideas and alternative thinking. Play your cards well so that the product you make becomes a simpler faster or better way to satisfy the needs of your client without necessarily looking similar to the competing products.

Friday, October 21, 2016

5 Creative Ways to Use Instagram for Your Business

Instagram, a popular photo-sharing mobile app, has around 80 million users and it’s still growing. Purchased by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is a great platform for businesses to earn more visibility and engage with the larger Instagram community to drive sales. Most business owners do not know how to market on Instagram. Here are some great ideas.

Let your customers see your products
People love to browse the products, especially their photos. Give your customers this opportunity by displaying high-resolution images of the products that you sell. You can engage your followers to explain how to use the product or benefits they find in the product. For service-oriented businesses, they can display some of the equipment they use for service delivery.

Show the process of making the product
Customers are always curious about where the products come from. Use Instagram to show your customers where and how their favorite products come to fruition. You can take shots of items in various stages of production and make posts that follow the products as they are being manufactured. It is an indirect way of selling the actual products by satisfying the curiosity of the customers.

Give the customers a view of behind the scenes
Are you planning to launch a new product or host an end of the year party? Are you shooting a commercial or a media briefing? Your clients love the juicy behind the scene news. Take snapshots of the preparation especially those goofy moments. Such stories get a lot of shares from people and help push the brand visibility.

Show the products in action
Can your product do more than one thing? Use Instagram to show the customers some new and novel ways to use the products. Use this opportunity to invite the users to show other ways they use your product. Post the best ones on Instagram. You could also reward the best product use innovators.

Take your Instagram followers with you
Are you having an event or a trade-show? Use Instagram to take your Instagram followers with you wherever you are going. Followers love being part of your business life, especially details that you do not give to the mainstream media. Invite your followers where possible. If you are doing a charitable event, invite them to play a part by sponsorship or support. As you engage your followers more, you keep the name of your brand in their minds. Therefore you are likely to be considered when they have a need.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Facebook's Workplace is a Serious SaaS Contender

For years, Microsoft has been the market leader in Enterprise collaboration software services. This has led to their crowning as Enterprise SaaS leaders. However, Facebook is set to challenge its dominance after releasing its Workplace cloud-based Enterprise Collaboration service. Facebook Workplace is the final name decided on after long being referred to as Facebook at Work.

The Microsoft Enterprise Software as a Service previously only had a rival in Salesforce. However, it unseated Salesforce’s dominance with its ambitious Office 365 product. Salesforce later bought Quip, a word processing software, to help it compete with Microsoft. However, the product has been slow to catch up given the high adoption of the Microsoft Office 365 among many enterprises.

The real long-term threat to Microsoft is Facebook. Its Workplace enterprise collaboration service could end up being a serious threat to Microsoft online productivity tools such as Sharepoint and Office 365.

Facebook may entice the customers away with its cheap pricing. While the Office 365/ Sharepoint has user subscription monthly plans of $5/$10/$20, Facebook Workplace offers its software at monthly plans of $1/$2/$3. With as low as $1 every month, you receive an unlimited photo, file and video storage. The closest equivalent of this service is Google’s Alphabet at $10/ month per user.

The only thing that is deficient with Facebook is the lack of as many apps as those found on Microsoft Office 365. Currently, it integrates the Google’s G Suite (Google integrated services) to assist in the productivity.

Facebook may be working on an app that works similarly to Quip so that it can get rid of the G Suite in the future. In the past, it dropped Google Adsense from all its developer partners.

There is a lot that is in the future of Microsoft SaaS future. The combination of its cloud-based services such as Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, and Azure have contributed tremendously to the annual revenue figures. It will take notice of the Facebook.

According to Synergy Research ERP Q2 2016 report, Collaboration software is the fastest growing department in Enterprise SaaS from ERP. Collaboration has grown by 37 percent while ERP has grown at 49 percent. Microsoft leads in Collaboration Software, but soon we may find Facebook coming in strong in the area.

The popularity of the ad blocking software has made Facebook diversify into other areas of revenue to boost its revenues. Soon we may find it engaging in CRM. It has a global network of data centers that can service any requirement for SaaS services by any size of the organization.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Third of Time Online Spent on Social Media

According to a global report, social media takes up more than a quarter of the total time spent online. According to the report, most people have up to five social media accounts and spend more than one hour per day on these accounts. Typically, one in every three minutes an individual is online is spent on a social media site.

Facebook is the site estimated to have the most active users daily and report shows that a massive amount of the world’s population has Facebook accounts. A large percentage of people worldwide continually check their Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media accounts for updates and messages throughout the day.

The introduction of social media apps for mobile phones has also contributed to people spending more time on these sites. This is mostly common among the young people who have their phones in their hand a majority of the time. The time spent online has also overtaken the time that is spent watching TV. Many people are spending more time socializing online than watching TV. Studies show they would rather browse through their social media pages and connect with friends on Facebook or Twitter rather than watch television. Others who do watch TV will keep pausing what they’re watching to check their social pages.

Social media usage has grown significantly over the years as these sites have continued to grasp ahold of the population. Marketers have taken advantage of the wide usage of social sites to advertise their products and keep in touch with their customers. Many companies have taken their business to social sites, and this has become a key marketing channel in the world today. Companies are even hiring social media experts to run campaigns and promotions for them on these sites and many have been successful in getting new customers and reconnecting with old ones, all thanks to social media. Especially now knowing that roughly a third of time spent online is spent on social media, businesses can now realize the importance of marketing, advertising, and having a presence for customers on social media. As it becomes more integral in their customers' daily lives they must follow suit. 

People, however, are advised to watch their usage as excessive usage has the potential to lead to an addiction, and this may negatively affect their lives. Cases of reckless driving, walking into obstacles, and other accidents have been reported as a result of using social media inappropriately while engaged in other activities. For the young ones, it could be a big cause of antisocial behavior.

However, social media has so many advantages and can be a benefit if used appropriately. The sites are good channels, to chat, stay entertained, and even get goods and services. If you are a business owner, you can take advantage of that opportunity to grow your business. Just don’t spend too much time on it!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Apple and Deloitte Partner Up

Deloitte and Apple recently announced a strategic partnership which will see the two companies reap the benefits of each other’s strengths going forward. Apple is a leading tech company with innovative devices being used by professionals world over. Deloitte is the 4th largest professional services provider in the world with an army of 244,000 professionals. In an interview, Mike Brinker, the Global Digital Leader for Deloitte Digital, explained the wisdom behind this partnership and its strategic goals.

Brinker said that since the establishment of Deloitte’s mobile agency in 2010, they have helped 10,000 clients better serve their customers using mobile technology with a cumulative 1 billion Apple devices involved. The potential of iOS in transforming business processes makes Apple a natural partner for Deloitte, whose customers are interested in streamlining business operations. Deloitte is already using 100,000 Apple devices with 75 custom apps for its own staff.

Apple, on the other hand, has been leading in hardware innovation but lagging behind in enterprise solutions. There are no Apple servers or professional enterprise solution, and they are also lagging behind in cloud solutions. The partnership with Deloitte promises deeper market penetration with Deloitte as an entry point for Apple devices.

This partnership involved training of 5,000 Deloitte professionals by Apple on its products’ usage. These consultants will help craft solutions for customer businesses using Apple devices and iOS. The consultants are also tasked with overseeing the digital transformation of their customers’ workforce.

Brinker said that digital transformation involves having the workforce improve their productivity using everyday digital devices. Many people are on their devices first in the morning and right before going to bed. However, the digital element is largely lacking in the workplace. Digital transformation involves the integration of digital lifestyles with workplace productivity. The two companies have come up with a platform called Enterprise Next that will:

  • Create value maps for Deloitte customers that will help identify the best areas for deploying Apple devices, align mobile opportunities and look at digital resources.
  • Create workshops where iOS can use established prototypes to make custom built solutions for Deloitte customers
  • Have iOS architects, designers, and engineers housed in Deloitte offices worldwide where they can be deployed to make iOS native apps that will integrate into Deloitte’s enterprise solutions in CRM, HR, and analytics.



Brinker said that the world is at a great turn just as it was in 2002 when the internet grew rapidly. Digital transformation where the line between the workplace and lifestyle becomes blurred is the next frontier.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Twitter Up For Sale

After 10 years on the web, experts say that Twitter shows all the signs of a need for a buyout: stagnated revenue, inability to innovate, and departing executives. Despite giving the world the concept of microblogging, Twitter has found it difficult to continue growing like its competitor, Facebook. The time has come to sell but there is no shortage of suitors.

Names that have been thrown around include Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, Verizon, Apple, and even Disney with an estimated sale value of $71 billion. Who would have the motive and the money to buy?

Google
This tech giant has both the will and the wherewithal for such a buy. Google has been wildly successful as a search engine and with ads and smartphones. However, Google has failed to stake a substantial claim in social networking compared to other platforms. Google+ has been a sore disappointment and YouTube has failed to bring in core members.

Twitter would give Google an additional platform to grow its search engine functions and perfect its artificial intelligence for Android and Chrome OS. Twitter has 313 million followers who are constantly tweeting, making it a rich mine for data.

Salesforce
There is the will but the money is not there. Salesforce has been a leader in software vending and cloud computing. Salesforce wants Twitter for its increased use as a customer service tool and marketing campaign platform. This is a revenue stream that can be optimized. Salesforce also hopes to perfect its cloud artificial intelligence with data from Twitter.

Salesforce’s founder, Marc Benioff, is a man known to take risks. He has been on a buying spree recently and even offered to buy LinkedIn before Microsoft gave a bigger offer. But at a $45 billion market cap, Salesforce does not have the money and would be forced to get into a merge-like arrangement, something the shareholders are resisting.

Microsoft
After buying LinkedIn, Microsoft may be eyeing the numbers in Twitter and the well-developed ad platform to enrich its consumer media. With a pivot to enterprise solutions provision, this would be part of the Microsoft’s reinvigoration strategy. The $71 billion sale money would be small change for Microsoft.

Verizon
The telecom giant recently acquired Yahoo and rumors are associating it with Twitter’s buy as a way of spreading its web footprint even wider. Twitter and Yahoo could give Verizon an ad platform that could rival Facebook and Google.
Twitter’s market cap went over $20 billion for the first time since its IPO in 2014. The names in this saga continue to be bandied around with the tech industry eagerly watching the developments.

500 Million Yahoo! Accounts Hacked


Yahoo! recently launched a press release announcing there was a massive breach in 2014 on 500 million of its users’ accounts. From the scale of the Yahoo hack, it is suspected by the company to be a state-sponsored attack. This was a cause for worry as over 1 billion people use Yahoo for finance, shopping, betting, and so on. Yahoo mail has over 225 million users monthly.

Stolen data
Yahoo says the attack stole user names, email addresses, hashed passwords, birth dates, phone numbers, security questions and answers. Curiously, Yahoo says the attack did not steal unprotected passwords, credit card data and bank account data. This data is not stored in the same servers that were attacked.

Cyber security experts say Yahoo may have been prompted into doing an internal probe after a hacker by the name ‘Peace’ claimed a Yahoo leak and offered 1 million Yahoo usernames and passwords on the dark web markets. Yahoo found this was untrue, but in its place found out this bigger breach.

Deeper impact
With so many sites to log in to, many people find it easier using the same email address and passwords for multiple accounts. Hackers know this, and will try using the email address and passwords on other sites like Facebook, PayPal, and anywhere else the email has been used. This can be easily done with footprinting applications like Maltego.

An attack like this ultimately leads to identity theft is the user has used the same email and password for critical systems like online banking. Data from an account leak is used in credential stuffing on applications like PayPal. With a success rate even as low as 1% that would be access to funds of 5 million users, which is a massive return for the criminals.

Passwords
Yahoo advised users who had not changed passwords since 2014, to do so. Indeed, all Yahoo users should change their passwords. Users are advised to make passwords that contain numbers, letters and special characters.

Users are further advised not to use the same password for multiple websites. Password managers like KeePassX can help users generate long passwords for separate accounts and keep them safe.

Two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication, also known as 2-way verification, is becoming a standard for all website logins. The system works by asking the user to confirm of a login attempt on another trusted device like a mobile phone before access is allowed.

Vigilance
Hackers carry out identity thefts successfully by acting like a real user. If a user does $200 of transactions on PayPal they will stay in this range to avoid suspicion. Users are advised to stay vigilant and go through items like bank and credit card statements for suspicious entries. Yahoo! recently launched a press release announcing there was a massive breach in 2014 on 500 million of its users’ accounts. From the scale of the Yahoo hack, it is suspected by the company to be a state-sponsored attack. This was a cause for worry as over 1 billion people use Yahoo for finance, shopping, betting, and so on. Yahoo mail has over 225 million users monthly.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Amazon Announces Plans for Texas Wind Farm


Amazon has developed a plan to build a 100-turbine wind farm in West Texas. The company, whose offices are located in Seattle, announced that the 253-megawatt wind farm will be located in Scurry County and will be the biggest renewable energy project that Amazon has created. The project is expected to bring about over 250 construction jobs to the county.

Lincoln Clean Energy, based in Chicago, has been contracted for the job and is expected to construct, own, and operate the farm. The project supposed to be completed by the end of the year 2017.

According executive director of Development Corp of Snyder, the wind farm has been in the works for the last two years. Amazon plans to buy over 90 percent of the power generated from the farm to power its Web services Cloud data centers. The farm is expected to produce 1 million megawatt-hours each year.

According to the Lavers, the county has never had one client buying so much power from the region and that the deal was a shot in the arm for the community given that there was a downturn in oil. The Amazon spokesman said that the wind firm will be on east sides of US 84 highway, and another wind farm, Fluvanna, is planned for the western side of the highway, but the price of the project is not yet disclosed. It is estimated that both wind farms will bring a total of over $400 million in investment to the county.

Members of the community that have been affected by oil downturn have started making plans for the jobs that are coming up in the areas. Some have started preparing groceries and other services for the workers who will be stationed at the farm.

Amazon has three other wind farms located in North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana and a solar farm in Virginia. Declan Flanagan CEO of Lincoln Clean Energy applauded Amazon for purchasing renewable energy. He also added that long term thinking from clients like Amazon would be a major driver in transition to getting others purchase renewable energy around the USA.

Amazon has been in the forefront in taking in renewable energy as it expands across the country. Texas is best placed for wind farming owing to it climate, space and availability of strong wind. Other big companies such as HP, Proctor and Gamble, and Google are investing Texas wind farms as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wells Fargo Fined $185 Million for Creating 2 Million Fake Accounts

Since 2011 Wells Fargo employees opened over 2 million fake accounts using data from existing customers. This state of affairs has led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to punish Wells Fargo with a $185 million fine.

Sales figures
This massive scandal was perpetrated by employees to drive up their sales figures. The employees opened multiple bank accounts for unsuspecting customers then proceeded to fund the accounts by making unauthorized withdrawals. They opened about 1.5 million deposit accounts and another 565,000 credit card accounts.

The scandal was widely executed with the employees going as far as applying for debit cards with PINs for these accounts. They also created fake email addresses to apply for online banking to go with these accounts.

The Wells Fargo scandal enabled the bank to reach its sales objectives, and the employees earn unwarranted rewards. The losers were the existing customers whose accounts were raided to fund the new accounts. Many of these accounts incurred overdraft charges and insufficient funds penalties. The bank is estimated to have collected $400,000 in fees from 14,000 accounts.

Massive fines
A third party consulting firm discovered the Wells Fargo fake accounts after noting that consent for account creation was lacking. Further investigation lead to the discovery that the new accounts were funded with unauthorized withdrawals. An internal investigation by the bank unearthed the full extent of the scandal.

The bank acted by firing over 5,300 employees involved in the scandal, totaling about 1% of the employees on its payroll. The CFPB moved in to slap Wells Fargo with a $100 million fine, the largest it has ever imposed. The bank avoided massive lawsuits by consenting to the CFPB order without denying or agreeing to the charges. In addition, Wells Fargo will also pay a penalty of $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. The bank will also pay $50 million to the County and the City of Los Angeles. Another $5 million will be spent on customer remediation. Customer reimbursements averaged $25 per account.

To calm the market, Wells Fargo put out a statement claiming, “Wells Fargo is committed to putting our customers’ interests first 100% of the time, and we regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request.”

Disgruntled
Affected employees have blamed the Well Fargo scandal on the massive pressure to make sales. As one of them told the LA Times they were always reminded that they could always resort to working McDonald’s if their performance did not impress.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Spotify, Apple, and the Future of Exclusive Music

Music has been a part of the human life for decades and most people cannot simply do without listening to it. The days are long gone when you have to drive to the nearest store just to buy your favourite music album, which you sometimes have to return if it doesn’t play properly on your music player. The innovation in Information Technology has made it possible to buy virtually anything online and musicians have never had more options for distributing their songs to fans once the album is ready, from music libraries like iTunes to streaming services such as Pandora. With Spotify offering free music on the Internet, Apple’s iTunes is gradually losing users since most iTunes songs are not free.

It is obvious that over the past decade we have seen music streaming services in the industry rise tremendously, with new players coming up. The idea of music streaming services is to bring you millions of songs, of all types of genres, and you will find that you never lack something to listen to. In the past when music streaming was not very common, you had to pay a fixed price for a single song on iTunes and then upload it to your device. It is clear that streaming services are taking over in today's age with iTunes even developing its own. Regardless of whether it’s movies or music, streaming online comes with much more convenience, and more music lovers are turning to it as the best option.

Spotify has millions of free songs for streaming from most major music labels, and the company’s compensation plan has been endorsed by many music studios, hence the popularity it is enjoying around the world today. Spotify offers more flexibility by allowing users to share their songs and playlists with friends and also create social playlists in which users work on collaborative playlists. You can pretty much say it’s a social media platform for songs.

The two companies that have been in the news lately are Spotify and Apple, with some allegations that Spotify is retaliating against artists who produce new songs and release them exclusively to Apple Music. A recent report by Bloomberg says people alleged that artists who have given Apple some form of exclusive access to new music were told they wouldn’t get their tracks on featured Spotify playlists, as soon as the tracks become available on the service. The allegations further claim that the artists involved found their songs buried in Spotify’s search ranking. However, when asked about the allegations, Spotify says it doesn’t modify search rankings in any way.

The alleged rivalry between the two music streaming companies has been around for a while now, although Spotify has denied doing such to any artist, a good number of people are yet to be convinced that the company is completely telling the truth about the allegations. This provides an interesting look into what could be the future of exclusively-released music. What do you think this means for the future of music?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Race for Autonomy Speeds Up


The goal of a fully autonomous self-driving car is being achieved with mixed results. Google has been leading the autonomy project with Tesla as their biggest competitor. Google has been developing its car for seven years and has logged over 1.5 million miles while Tesla cars have accumulated 130 million miles.

Singapore first
The news that a fully autonomous taxi service has been launched in Singapore came as a surprise as the name behind the cars is relatively unknown. nuTonomy has beaten taxi giants Uber and Lyft to become the first service to offer autonomous driving to the public.

nuTonomy is still in the testing stage where riders have to be invited to ride as part of the ongoing research. Nevertheless, this is a bold move seeing as it is that Google has been reluctant to put roll out its driverless car on a mass scale despite having seven years of research.

Other players
Uber and Lyft have been racing to provide driverless cabs with a goal of major cost cutting. Uber has planned to introduce the driverless car service by end of August 2016. Not to be left behind is Ford. The car maker plans to provide driverless cars on a mass scale with an eye on the demand by these taxi services. Ford has said this could be a reality by 2021.

Reluctance
The concept of a driverless car is yet to be fully comprehensible to the market. Fears of fatal accidents are yet to be fully allayed. This is more so after a fatal crash by a Tesla autonomous vehicle in 2015. Tesla said the technology was still in beta testing which raised the question on whether driverless car makers can make a car that is fully able to replace human judgment. Other fears have been on the malfunction of the car software. Given that computers crash frequently, what makes a car computer better? The prospect of getting the blue screen of death while doing 60 mph is a scary thought.

Hackers showed that it is possible to hack into car computers after a Jeep model was hacked into wirelessly in 2015. How safe would be a driverless car from a hacker with malicious intent?

The future
14 car makers have submitted 111 cars for approval to drive on Californian roads. There are also serious efforts in Europe by car makers such as Volvo. Singapore and Japan lead the push in Asia. Experts say driverless cars could be seen on the roads as early as 2020. Like any other idea, it is a development whose time has come.

References
1. http://www.extremetech.com/tag/self-driving-cars
2. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/self-driving-cars
3. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/615568b7668b452bbc8d2e2f3e5148e6/worlds-first-self-driving-taxis-debut-singapore

Google Punishing Intrusive Mobile Ads


Today, spam and popup ads are put in the same category by most people: both are seen as a disturbance when using applications on their devices. Popup ads have been used as a marketing tool by several business owners with ads targeted at particular customers, where marketers use them as an effective tool for gaining more subscribers and expanding their customer base. With all this said, popup ads are also considered one of the most hated entities today on the Internet, put in the same category along with adware and spam. This is because pop-up ads are intrusive of the online experience, and often they pull the user into a continuous vicious cycle of further advertisement.

Google recently announced that they will soon crack down on mobile sites with intrusive pop-up ads. This is not the first time a major Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Google is trying to stop sites with intrusive pop-up ads. The company announced its plans to punish mobile sites sending advertisements that are not proper or targeted at a particular set of users or take up too much of the screen without a clear exit option. When using a mobile device, users have a much smaller space they are using, and while they work on the larger real estate of a computer screen, having popup ads on such a small display makes them even more obstructive and usually gives the user a difficult time navigating the web on their handheld device.

Although some popup ads can provide useful information to users, they have to occur in a non-intrusive manner. This can be achieved by ensuring that you are providing your users with the type of information you know they need or would be interested in and not merely some paid ads pushed at the user on a random basis. Using invasive ads on your website or mobile app often reduces the number of repeat visitors. The innovation in IT has brought about the use of popup blockers which many people install on their devices to block these ads. In addition to ad blocking software use by individuals, major ISPs such as Yahoo and Google provide users with software they can install on their devices to block ads or with filters to determine the number of ads they see and the sources they derive from.

A good way to find out what ads are working for your company is to use a good call tracking software. I have found that Caller Insight is a really good company to use for tracking across all of your ad buying campaigns. You can even use it to track your sales calls with their sales call tracking options.

There are popup advertisements that are considered unnecessarily obstructive by Google; these are ads that cover the entire content of a page and, where a user is forced to close the ad before they can view the content of the web page. Because most search results using the Google search engine now meet the “mobile-friendly” criteria, the company also announced its decision to remove the mobile-friendly label on search results. Popup ads have been used by many business owners for various reasons and although some follow the proper guidelines for using the ads, most people just push the ads to mobile users without their consent. The move by Google is aimed at bringing some form of sanity to the mobile sites that insist on using intrusive advertising.

Monday, August 15, 2016

What Facebook Bypassing Ad Blockers Means For Your Company

Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Facebook is now blocking ad blockers! So, if you were one of the thousands of companies who began to pull back on your Facebook advertisements due to user ad blockers, then this is for you. I know this sounds a little confusing, but bear with me- I will try to help you understand how why Facebook is doing this and what it means for you.

For the last decade, the world of paid advertising has turned into a thriving enterprise. Companies all over the world have boosted their sales by paying for advertising spaces on websites that offer “free services” in order to boost their sales and keep the platforms free to use.  There has been minimal push back, until the past two or three years when users have decided that the ads they continue to see are annoying and they force their internet to block all the ads.

While they have been successful for the most part, they have also ushered in a new question for companies like Facebook, Google, Wordpress, and any other platform that depends on its click bait ads to keep their platform free. Unfortunately, while users of these sites believe that they are trying to give themselves a more “pleasant experience” by blocking these ads, what they are really doing is showing that they feel entitled to use the work of others for free. That is totally unfair! By blocking the ads they see, users have forced companies to pull their ads due to loss of sales that they depended on, which in turn causes those very platforms they love so much, like Facebook, to lose out on the resources they need to offer a pleasant user experience and to keep up with the changing times. 

Thankfully, with you in mind, Facebook has decided to reduce click bait ads and instead develop ad-blocking blocking capabilities. That’s right, you read that correctly. They have put into play software that will block any ad-blockers out there so that your company can resume advertising on their site without having to compete with silly headlines that read, “I opened a bottle of hot sauce and you will not believe what happened!” This gives your company a fighting chance to get the word out about your product or service, which really is a win-win for Facebook users, for your company, and for Facebook. Users may not realize it, but ads customized to their unique tastes actually leads them to new products and new experiences that enrich their lives, receiving information about products and experiences that they may have otherwise never heard about.

So, what does this mean for your company? Essentially, this new ad-blocking blocking software means that, once again, you will be able to generate revenue for your company by advertising on Facebook. This also means that now, more than ever, it is important for your marketing team to be on point in delivering ads that are tasteful, eye-catching, relevant, and most of all, ads that people will remember. So get back out there and tell the people who you are and what you’re all about! They now have no choice but to listen! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Achieve Your Goals

The bed feels cold and as you open your eyes you take a moment to try and figure out where you are. Just last night you were sitting around the dinner table with your family enjoying a hot meal made by the love of your life. You spent 4 extra hours in the office trying to stay on top of the mounds of paperwork, and you kept thinking to yourself that you could not, for the life of you, understand how you have managed to keep your job until now. On the left side of your desk, you left an application for your dream job- completely blank. You plan every day about getting out of your 9-5 and pursuing your passion, but it has always felt so uncertain that you keep procrastinating. The TV was on in the background and you felt frustrated that the dog was scratching at the back door. You keep thinking about that application and a sinking feeling forms in the pit of your stomach. After dinner, your significant other cleared the table and asked you to take the dog for a walk. Everything after that is fuzzy.

Your eyes take a moment to adjust to the bright light coming in through the window and you blink a couple of time to try and help the fuzziness disappear. Once your eyes clear, you see some faces come into focus that you had not noticed upon first glance. All of your loved ones are scattered throughout the room. A couple of them are asleep and one is answering work emails in the corner. How long have they been there? It is then that you notice that someone is holding your hand. You look up and see the love of your life with tear soaked, tired eyes sitting in a chair next to you as you lay in the bed. A hospital bed. Your eyes lock on one another but before you can speak the doctor comes in the door to give an update. Everybody in the room listens attentively. 


“I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you have 3 broken ribs, a sprained ankle, and some severe bruising from the accident- all expected to heal completely. Unfortunately, that leaves the bad news: there was some pretty severe damage to your lower spine, and while we are confident that in time you will be able to sit up on your own… we are not confident that you will ever walk again. I am so sorry. There is one option, however. We can perform an extremely risky surgery that will give you a 20% chance of recovery. I will give you some time to talk this over with your family.”

Now stop and think for a moment- with that in mind do you instantly feel regret for not pursuing your goals? Do you feel confident that you have given 100% to living the life you have dreamed of? What if you never get another chance? The reality is that none of us are promised tomorrow and something like this can happen to any one of us at any time. So, ask yourself… is procrastinating on your goals really worth it? If you had to live forever knowing you could never achieve your passion, could you find peace with that? If you are not already living your dream, what are you waiting for? This life gives us one shot. Make it count! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Compliant Dialing Using a Predictive Dialer

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act has created a bit of a hitch for anyone working in a call center these days, as the rule was made back in the day when landlines were the primary method of reaching somebody via phone. Access to cell phones was restricted within the act because of their pay-per-call nature back in the day, and the regulation was intended to prevent using consumers’ minutes with unwanted incoming calls. But today, according to marketingresearch.org, more than 48% of American households do not have a landline. Because cell phones whose users have not given direct consent cannot be automatically dialed, but must be manually dialed, it becomes much harder to make large volumes of calls, and nearly impossible to automate them within the law. As such, there are a few things that can be done to avoid violation of the Protection Act in order to protect oneself from lawsuits.

Rather than using a manual dialing list, a predictive dialer, combined with a do not call list, that algorithmically creates an efficient use of time for the caller and maximizes the number of calls that are connected. Because so many people in America cannot be reached today by landline, and the TCPA prevents calling them on their cellphones, the predictive dialer is a necessity to anyone who hopes to make a large number of calls and do so within the shortest amount of time possible. In order to generate this much contact, a predictive dialer determines the average rate of attempted calls converted to connections. The predictive dialer can then determine approximately how many lines to dial per operator in order to have a customer ready to speak to each operator as he becomes available. In addition, a predictive dialer determines the average rate of time that it take for an attempted call to be answered, in order to determine how long into an operator’s previous call to begin dialing new numbers. For example, if the predictive dialer determines that that average time an operator is speaking with a customer is two minutes, and it take on average eight seconds for an initiated call to be picked up, the dialer will dial out at one minute and 52 seconds in the current call. This is the best way for a company to connect with and speak to the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

 

There are different programs that can be used for different needs. A company that creates dialing products to fit the needs of different types of companies, while complying with the TCPA is CallTools.com. They have call management programs to handle both outgoing and incoming calls, and increasing the overall efficiency of any call center. Check the site out if you are looking for solutions to research or sales communication logistics, and they will serve you well.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Maintaining a Creative Office Environment


Creativity is not something that is inherent in just anybody. Though it is a skill that comes naturally, it is also one that must be fostered through appropriate means. People who are creative cannot display their talents quite as easily as those who are adept at math, for example. Mathematicians can prove their expertise via a problem that has a provable solution. Creative types do not have that particular luxury, so the need for an environment to stoke artistic flames is necessary. Thankfully, there are ways in which offices that are in the creative business can maintain an atmosphere suitable to getting the best results.
Office Design
Environment, at a very basic level, starts with your surroundings, and that includes the way your offices are set up. Atmosphere matters in places like restaurants, right? The same thing applies to work spaces. A lifeless color scheme and rows of fluorescent ceiling lights do not scream creative inspiration. A sense that the office is a unique and interesting space to come to will make it seem less like an office and more like a place that allows creativity to flourish.
Collaboration and Trust
In order to get the most creative ideas possible, two essential elements must come be present. The first is trust, because unless employees believe that their ideas will be taken seriously, there is no way for them to truly have that “ah-ha” moment. In step with that is collaboration, which is necessary because creativity often happens when ideas are fed off of one another. This could go in tandem with office design, as long as the workspace’s flow is set up in the right manner.
Encourage Taking a Risk
Many truly creative people feel the most comfortable when they are not only engaged with other creative types, but also when they know they do not have absolute boundaries when it comes to taking a risk. To be clear, taking a risk does not mean throwing offensive ideas around each and every day; it means going against the grain of what may be widely accepted, popular at the time, or considered the norm. Finding new and different ways to accomplish a goal is something creative people strive for.
Positivity, Fun, and Humor
When it comes to attitude in a creative environment, there is no substitute for displaying positivity, laughing, and having fun. Does this mean the office is a playpen eight hours a day? Of course not, but it will likely mean that most people are at ease with one another, which will spark creativity and have employees wanting to be around one another. In contrast, a serious tone in which there is an attitude of “get the job done or else” will only apply pressure and suppress creative ideas.


A creative workspace design has a very positive effect on the productivity. A creative office environment can truly help solve problems and effectively create ideas and a lot of that has to do with being collaborative. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How Voice Broadcasting Has Changed the World

Usually when people think of voice broadcasting they immediately think of those phone calls that start off with:

“Hello, (insert your name here), you have just won our prize drawing for a free cruise! Please press 1 to be connected to one of our prize and commissions consultants...”

When you get these calls I'm willing to bet $1000 you didn’t win a cruise. This is a tactic to get your information and create a lead to sell to another company.

Voice broadcasting is not just being used to spam you.

Many industries across the spectrum have turned to voice broadcasting to handle a variety of tasks from scheduling preventative dental work, to reminding you to pay your light bill, to schools that use it to dial all of the parents of students to leave special announcements on their voice mails. Voice broadcasting is an essential part not only to our way of life, but the way we do business. Just think 20 years ago, the schools had to have people on staff whose sole purpose was to dial parents’ phone numbers to give them news and information about PTA meetings, or even upcoming Boy Scout meetings on the premises. That is a lot of payroll for a repetitive job that no human should have to endure. Even campaigns and elections gain popularity through the use of voice broadcasting.

Do you have people on the phone too much throughout the day dialing, dialing, and dialing some more?

This is where I think there is so much room for growth in the voice broadcasting and predictive dialing industry. Due to the automation you have all of your secretaries/support agents/sales agents spending more time talking to customers, instead of dialing repeatedly and hoping one of them answers. That’s the kind of thing that makes people hate their job. Even though this could drastically increase your sales with a sales agent team, this could also help if you had announcements that had to be made to all of your clients; you could use voice broadcasting instead of spending all night making phone calls. After all, we should all work smarter and not harder. Not everything should be automatic, but it sure helps take care of the stuff that CAN be automated.

No on-site equipment required! This isn’t 1998 anymore.

The biggest misconception about getting something like voice broadcasting or a predictive dialing campaign going is that it costs serious bucks. This is simply no longer the case. Thanks to cloud computing and huge innovations in CPU auto-scaling and virtualization, companies are now allowing you to have everything on the cloud, and it's even integrated with a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), so that while you are on the phone and online with the customer you can leave notes and remove them off the lists temporarily.

Something else worth noting is that if you have an existing CRM you are using to manage your business contacts, this will integrate with all of them out of the box and, because its cloud based, there is no box. Everything is online; you just need a browser, and you can even manage your team from Costa Rica if you wanted.

If you are a small business I recommend you check out a cloud based solution like CallTools.com They are a great company and have a great free trial right now. In my opinion they are a serious game changer, compared to their competitors.

Let me know what you think about predictive dialing, and voice broadcasting in the comments. Do you think it's a scourge of humanity like spam? Or do you think it's an essential driving force to your business? Leave your success stories here, I am sure we would all love the motivation!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Resume Do's and Don'ts

Resume Do's and Don'ts

When crafting your resume take a moment to consider your audience. Is this resume going to be for coding, the food industry, or for another specialized field? We’ve all had our series of odd jobs and over time we acquire skills here and there that may not apply to certain jobs but fit perfectly with others. Always hand-tailor your resume for whom you’re presenting it to. If their job posting mentions that they want someone that knows how you use InDesign and you have experience with that particular program, you better make sure you add that to your resume!

The Do’s and Don’ts:

· Do keep your sentences short and to the point.

· Don’t put your oldest job first.

· Do add numbers or other attention-grabbing statistics when available.

· Don’t let it go over two pages.

· Do avoid irregular fonts (Times New Roman will work just fine).

· Don’t clump the entire thing together. It’s more than encouraged to have sections.

· Do include any honors or awards, but avoid things that align you with any political or religious affiliation.

· Do keep your language formal.

· Don’t add any unnecessary decorations.

If all else fails sometimes going the professional route is the best option and you can find writers who will spruce up your resume for a couple of bucks.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Job Searching in 2016

Before the internet boom, applying for a job was relatively straight forward: you walked into the building and asked if they were hiring, or you spent most of your day highlighting ads in the newspaper. That isn’t to say getting a job was easier per se, but it wasn’t quite so complicated to even get your foot in the door. Nowadays job seekers are getting extremely competitive and creative.

What do you need?

An Excellent Resume
You may have climbed Mt. Everest but nobody will ever know unless you put it on your resume.

Not only are potential employers looking at your qualifications, but they’re also getting an insight into your personality with what words you chose to describe yourself or to determine how professional you really are.

People have begun to recognize the importance of a strong resume and gone as far as to pay others to write their resumes. While that does sound like a good splurge, you don’t really have to go that. There are several websites that offer you help with crafting the perfect resume.

A Website

If you do anything that you can visually show, there’s no reason not to go ahead and showcase it! Graphic designers, writers, and artists are starting to realize the importance of having an up to date website. Keeping it current and relevant is an absolute must.

LinkedIn

This website has experienced monumental growth in recent years because it connects you to other professionals in your field and even has job seeking options built in. This is networking in the Internet age at it’s finest.

The Rise of Social Media and Your Business

If you’re a business owner you’ve probably felt like you’re being pushed further and further into the social media rabbit hole. Whether or not you agree with the changes that social media is influencing in our society, your business needs to learn how to turn this into an asset if it hopes to survive.

The average consumer isn’t as clueless as they were twenty or thirty years ago. Today’s consumer is savvier; they want to know they’re purchasing something has “value.” If you’ve started researching marketing techniques, you’ll see the word “value” popping up left and right.

With the rise of social media, it’s now become increasingly harder for businesses to hide their poor reviews or performances; people are demanding transparency and quality.

What does this have to do with social media?

Through social media you can create your company’s own personal narrative. You have an opportunity to allow your customer base to understand the driving force behind your company.


Establishing a relationship with your customer allows you to also show them what your company offers in terms of value (that pesky word, again).