About Prashant Kancherla

Prashanth is VP, International Business at Ozonetel Communications. He is focused on delivering impactful business benefits through our contact center solutions.

Everything call centers should know about HIPAA

Does your healthcare practice use a VOIP a cloud telephony system to communicate with patients, forward or answer calls? Or does your call center cater to the healthcare vertical? In either case, HIPAA awareness is critical for you. We’ve compiled an exhaustive blog on everything you need to know about HIPAA compliance for your call center or phone communications. What is HIPAA? HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a United States legislation. It offers data privacy and security for the safe upkeep of the medical information. This act came into being after a series of health data breaches that were caused by ransomware attacks and cyberattacks on various healthcare providers and insurers.  What does HIPAA do? HIPAA safeguards patients’ medical records and other personal information.  It protects patients’ privacy and gives them more control over their health information. It holds violators accountable. With civil and criminal penalties if they violate patients’ privacy rights. It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records. Establishes safeguards for the confidential handling of health information Who needs to be HIPAA compliant? If you are a US-based healthcare provider, healthcare clearinghouse or health plan, your business, and everyone who handles your data, needs to be HIPAA compliant. This includes your call centers too—wherever they may be located. HIPAA & Patient Telephone Calls HIPAA changes the way you answer customer calls, store their information, and communicate key data. Your call center needs to encrypt and secure all customer data.  HIPAA & Outbound Calls If the patient has given you their telephone number as contact detail,  then as per FCC, this can be considered express consent for telephone calls to be made. But you can make these outbound calls only for the following reasons:  Provision of treatment. Health checkup. Appointments and reminders. Test reports. Pre-operative instructions. Post-discharge follow-up calls. Intimations on prescriptions. Home healthcare instructions. Hospital pre-registration instructions. During these calls, you need to ensure that: Your call center agent should provide their name and contact details to the customer.  Every call should be short and precise.  Test messages should not exceed more than 160. Call Centers cannot call patients more than two to three times a week. Text messages can be sent just once in a day The calls and text messages cannot be charged to the client. The calls and messages must adhere to the plan limits. When you leave messages on answering machines, provide patients with a toll-free number to contact again. HIPAA & Automated calls You will need written consent from the patient to make outbound calls to them via an auto-dialing device.  HIPAA & SMS Physicians and pharmacists can continue to remind patients about appointments or medicine refills via SMS. Texts that fall under minimum necessary standards” are allowed. You need to follow some technical safeguards:  The text must not contain any personal identifiers.  Patient health information should be accessible only to authorized users. Ensure that whatever software you use to send SMS can only [...]

Everything call centers should know about HIPAA 2019-09-13T08:24:28+00:00

How to implement GDPR in your Call Center

If customers cannot trust you with their data, they won’t do business with you. GDPR compliance is good for your call center, and not that complicated to implement. This blog breaks it down for you: When GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation came into force May 2018, there may have been a collective groan from administrative staff across the globe. In today’s hyperconnected world, what affects Europe will affect businesses everywhere. But even if you are one hundred percent sure that you’ll never be privy to a European citizen’s data, ensuring GDPR compliance may be good for your call center. Because GDPR compliance allows customers to trust you—and for call centers that’s always a good thing. Besides, it’s not difficult to implement. When we had to get our contact center GDPR compliant, I distilled the complicated document into 8 basic steps. I am sharing them with you here in the hope you’ll find it easier than you expected. What is GDPR? GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is legislation initiated by the European Union (EU). that includes a list of rules and regulations for the handling of customer data. It replaces the Data Protection Directive (DPD) and the UK Data Protection Act and other similar acts throughout Europe. The GDPR aims to strengthen data protection across the EU and other countries. Quite simply, it gives the citizens control over how organizations may use their personal data. The GDPR is applicable to any company based in any part of the world that processes and st Save ores any personal data of EU citizens. What’s the penalty for failing to comply with GDPR? If a company fails to comply with the GDPR regulations, then they can face fines up to 4% of their annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. Also, the fine amount will vary based on the severity of the violation. What does this mean for your call center? The GDPR is applicable to all types of information pertaining to a customer including call recordings. This includes: GDPR Is applicable to any personal data of the consumer. Any personal data or information that can be used to identify a person like a name, address, number, date of birth, or social security number is protected under GDPR. Also, web-based data like user location, cookies, or IP address is also protected under the GDPR legislation. GDPR is applicable to all your call recordings. The GDPR also extends to call recordings. In most call centers, the customer consent needs to be recorded before the call commences and cannot be assumed. Now it’s not enough to play the line: ‘this call may be recorded for training purpose’. How to ensure GDPR compliance in your call center? Record Caller Consent Record caller consent as oral acceptance during the call, as a message, or as part of a customer agreement. Justify Call Recordings Ensure that your business can justify the call recording for any of the following purposes: to fulfill a contract to [...]

How to implement GDPR in your Call Center 2019-06-23T11:59:51+00:00

5 things we look forward to at Zoholics 2019

Zoho’s annual global conference, Zoholics descends upon us on April 9, 2019: And we’re really looking forward to it. With the technology advances in AI and automation, this year’s user-conference at Austin, TX promises to be enlightening and exciting at the same time! Last year’s Zoholics gave us an opportunity to present our KIA (Voice + Chat) widget to the world. In fact, that’s where we launched it! We got lucky with a direct interaction with the awe-inspiring Sridhar Vembu (who gave us some great advice).We also got fantastic exposure to the Zoho partner ecosystem. And a wonderful opportunity to meet Zoho customers, and understand their ZOHO phonebridge requirements.  Plus, the presentations were awesome. If you’re attending, here are 5 things you should look forward to this year: Great speakers This goes without saying! The line-up of speakers at Zoholics is usually impressive. This year be prepared to attend talks by the “Godfather of CRM” - Paul Greenberg; Zoho’s top brass, founder Sridhar Vembu and its chief strategist, Vijay Sundaram; along with other longtime industry pundits like Constellation Research’s Ray Wang, Small Business Trends Media’s founder Anita Campbell and ATARA’s Go Sugihara, among others. What an opportunity to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth and engage in an insightful Q&A session with these illustrious speakers themselves! Get the skinny on new features Zoho’s announcement of new features would certainly be a highlight. Get the skinny on Zoho’s soon-to-be-launched apps and capabilities that promise to take cross-platform collaboration and productivity to a whole new level. For conference attendees, this means more “break-out sessions” and unique hands-on experience playing with the latest version of Zia (Zoho’s AI-powered assistant) enhanced Zoho Office Suite.1 All under the expert guidance of the creators and experts themselves! Business networking opportunity Zoholics offers a valuable opportunity for likeminded business owners to connect and network with one other. It’s a chance for participants to interact and mingle with other Zoho users and learn how they are harnessing the power of Zoho to meet their business needs. So, make sure you have your stack of business cards ready. Leverage this time to exchange ideas and generate those business leads!    One-on-one troubleshooting With a bit of advance planning, conference attendees can look forward to getting more out of this 3-day conference. Once registered, participants can receive 25 minutes of one-on-one time with a Zoho product expert to resolve implementation problems, receive support, learn best practices, and get answers to other questions they may have. To make it all even more efficient and streamlined, it’s a good idea for participants to inform the organizing team of their product and provide a brief summary of the issue they would like addressed. And of course, pre-select the date and time of the session they’d like. That way, the team would be prepared to optimally meet their needs in-person at the conference. Get hands-on training with specialists Zoholics also affords attendees a rare opportunity to chat with experts in general about [...]

5 things we look forward to at Zoholics 2019 2019-03-28T04:04:50+00:00

How 10 Latam companies create great customer interactions.

When you are a customer-centric business, it shows. Learn what these 10 South American countries are doing right and explore the tools to make it happen for you. You can’t buy customer loyalty. You need to build it one experience at a time. The best businesses know how to evoke positive emotions on every customer interaction—whether in-store, online, on social media, via your app, email, or during phone calls. Blake Morgan’s article on “The 10 Most Customer-Focused Companies In South America” inspired us to explore what they were getting right: #1. Arcos Dorados - Lesson learned: Empowered employees deliver the best customer experiences A report by Business Wire stated that this Mc Donald's franchise has been on a mission to deliver the best experiences for employees and customers, since both go hand in hand. Recognized as one of the best companies to work for in Brazil for the 19th year in a row, the brand likes to focus on what they call the "service culture". This means that employees are motivated to provide personalized services for the customers. The workforce is trained in unconventional ways and is driven to deliver creative service and experience for the customers. ALSO READ: Read the case study on how one of our biggest Indian clients, created a customer-centric workflow for their customer support. #2. Santander - Lesson learned: Add a fun element A household name in South America and one of the biggest banks, Santander caters to over 44 million customers from over 6000 branches. But that doesn't stop them from striving to create the best experiences for their customers. Always attentive to feedback, the bank in Chile introduced Work Cafes, which are a combination of bank and cafe services. This made something as mundane and stressful as banking just a little fun! It also helps customers save time because they can wrap up their caffeine break and banking work in one stop. It's also a positive motivator since people may find banking stressful with the long queues and what not, a cup of delicious coffee is always a great incentive. #3. Farmacorp - Lesson learned: Data can deliver more than just insights One of Bolivia's largest pharma companies leverages data to create personalized experiences with amazing loyalty programs that win the hearts of customers! While most companies use data to analyze consumer behavior to predict future trends and stay ahead of the competition, Farmacorp studies the customer trends so as to provide the best prices based on these trends, adding immense value to the everyday lives of their customers. ALSO READ: Are you capturing and using the data in your contact centers well enough?  Learn how speech analytics can help. #4. Concentrix - Lesson learned: People can never be replaced Yes, technology is one of the best ways to enhance the lives of people. It's the most efficient way to handle certain tasks and problems, but it will always be in the shadow of the human experience. After working hours, it's best [...]

How 10 Latam companies create great customer interactions. 2019-03-26T04:25:14+00:00

Workforce Management in the Call Center

Call volumes constantly fluctuate. Staff doesn’t always turn up for work. But your customer doesn’t know that: They still want the phone answered fast! You need to keep the show running smoothly. You need to predict and plan—sometimes on the fly—for using your staff efficiently. You don’t want staff idling away time, nor do you want them to be overworked. You juggle shifts, skills, overtimes, and breaks to ensure customer experience never suffers. This is workforce management.What are the basics of call center workforce management?Workforce Management for your call center means four things:Planning how many agents you need per shift. Your call center doesn’t need the same number of agents throughout the day or the week. You need to plan your agents’ shifts based on expected call volumes.Ensuring you meet your service level targets. Your service level is a goal you define for yourself. It states what percentage of calls you will answer within a stipulated time. E.g. 80% calls will be answered within 20 seconds. Meeting this service level means meeting those goals. In other words, it means ensuring you don’t keep your callers waiting.Optimizing your workforce as per adherence. Every day, depending on how many staff actually turn up for work, you need to plan breaks and/or reschedule agents from other skills and shifts—to meet your target service levels. Rescheduling as per actual call volumes. Sometimes call volumes don’t match expectations. You need to reschedule your forecasts based on real-time data and reorganize your workforce accordingly.Your contact center software has many tools to help you manage your workforce better. But when complexity increases, you may need to purchase a workforce management tool. We explore inbuilt contact center tools, customized tools you can build on your contact center platform, and integrations with workforce management software like Calabrio or Monet. 3 call center reports for managing workforce betterUse call volume reports to plan and forecast. When call volumes are high, you need more agents. When call volumes are low, you need fewer agents. Workforce management software uses your contact center data to forecast call volumes and plan shifts accordingly. If you don’t have a workforce management software, use your contact center reports. Go to the reports section, and view your call volumes per day, per week and per month. Use this data to recognize trends of higher call volumes during certain hours, and certain days. And then plan the number of agents per shift accordingly.Use real-time dashboards to ensure roster adherence.Now you have created your agent rosters based on call volume, how will you know about adherence? When agents are absent or late, it can spoil your plans to meet expected call volumes.  Real-time dashboards are the key. These dashboards give you a real-time view of how many agents are logged in, how many are busy with calls or After-Call Work, and how many are on breaks. This doesn’t just help you “mark attendance”, it also gives you a head start on preparing to meet call volumes.Image credits: Monet softwareA [...]

Workforce Management in the Call Center 2019-03-01T05:00:49+00:00