About Prashant Kancherla

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

5 Steps to switch your legacy call center to work-from-home

The current outbreak of coronavirus has spurred South East Asia to work from home. It is no longer a privilege, but a necessity. Organizations are closing offices, mandating remote working and reviewing corporate travel policies. What does this mean for call centers? As outlined in a previous blog, for those who use Cloud telephony, switching to work from home is instant and easy. However, in this blog, I outline the steps a legacy call center needs to take to work-from-home. How can you switch a Legacy Call Center to a work-from-home model? For large call center who still use legacy call systems, switching to a work-from-home model cannot be done instantly. Here are the steps they need to follow: Inspection Good voice quality is critical for call center communications. To ensure this, a product vendor must inspect each site, that is, the employees’ homes, to confirm that network infrastructure (Wifi or LAN) is ok for QOS. Stable Internet Connection The employee has to set up a stable internet connection and power backup to ensure high-quality voice and to prevent outages. Secure CRM Access To access CRM systems securely, each employee must be set up on a virtual private network (VPN) from their home. This is a huge IT services project in itself as each setup takes one hour at least Chat Groups It is a good idea to set up chat groups for fast and efficient communication between agent groups. If the existing product does not offer chat groups between admin and agents, they should opt for Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or other video conferencing tools. Login & Monitoring Of course, ensuring adherence is a challenge when it comes to working from home. It is imperative that the team lead monitors the Employee Login Schedule remotely. The Cloud Telephony Option Apart from coronavirus, natural calamities, riots, curfew, snow days and other issues get in the way of agents and employees coming to work. Flexibility in the workplace is essential and tools like cloud telephony are ideal for addressing this. ALSO READ: How call centers can quickly switch to work from home during emergencies. 6 Productivity tips for your work-from-home sales team

5 Steps to switch your legacy call center to work-from-home 2020-02-24T09:18:16+00:00

Handling holiday rush in the call center

Holidays are all about putting up your feet and relaxing, right? Not if you work in a call center! Businesses work hard to capitalize on the holiday sales peak. That means sales calls, customer care, and food delivery call centers need to go into overdrive. Take, for instance, Valentine’s Day. Love is blooming. And so are food delivery orders. Our call center statistics for a single food & delivery call center reveal a 5X spike in call orders on this day. This meant 25,000+ calls on a single day. Handling the Call Spike: Efficiency is key But there is more to the story. These 25000+ calls were handled by just 80 agents. That means 220 calls per agent. In other words, a remarkable 98% agent utilization. (1) We asked the call center managers how they managed? Here are some tips they shared: Punctual logins. Absenteeism or late arrivals are difficult to manage on most days. (Also read: Call Center Workforce Management) But on festivals like Valentine’s Day, Diwali, Christmas, Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it’s unacceptable. The key is to prep your crew into battle mode and to make certain that absolutely nobody logs in late that day. Scattered Break Times. Your agents will need sufficient breaks to ensure peak performance. But our managers suggest shuffling things a bit. Instead of fixed break times, juggle them through the day. As a result, you should not have more than three agents on break at any given time. A Robust Call Center Solution. Nobody likes a show-off, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: having a robust call center solution is critical for handling all the spikes. (Also read: How to select a Call Center)  Ultimately it boils down to hard work Eventually, it was impossible for managers to pull off the v-day rush without a driven, hardworking team. With an average handle time (1) of about 3 minutes, 220 calls per agent meant that most agents put in an eleven-hour workday in order to answer all the incoming requests. Now, that’s some grit! So how do you create a team this motivated? In work (as in personal life) it’s not about the one day you celebrate (or push your staff to work), it about the 364 days you work on building the relationship. Happy Holidays!

Handling holiday rush in the call center 2020-02-17T13:46:11+00:00

What are DID numbers? And how do businesses use them?

Learn how DID  numbers  help connect customers to the right employee at the right time, while letting you measure and track all interactions. What are DID or virtual numbers? DID numbers are Direct inward dialing numbers, also known as virtual numbers. It is a system of routing two or more telephone numbers to a single telephone line. The DID or virtual number masks your existing phone number. Using this system you can assign a direct number to each of your employees or agents without needing multiple telephone lines.  The DID numbers can simultaneously route to their existing desk phone, computer system or cellphone.  5 important ways businesses use virtual numbers Calling a restaurant via Zomato? Or giving a delivery agent instructions to reach your house? Maybe you're talking to a carpenter you’ve hired via an online app. Or speaking to your Uber cab driver.  Here are five ways businesses use DID or virtual numbers to track, measure, and improve their customer communications: 1. Establish Local Presence Local numbers see improved pickup rates during outbound sales campaigns.  You can use virtual numbers to match the geographic region and improve the call pickup rates. This feature helps you establish a local presence no matter where your call center agents are located.   2. Centrally manage calls from across geographies Sharing local numbers with your customers or prospects it makes it easier for them to reach out as well. So whether it's for customer support centers or inbound sales campaigns, you can share local (virtual) numbers and route them to a centralized call center. 3. Track Leads Use virtual numbers to track returns on your marketing investment. For this, assign a separate virtual number for each campaign. For example, publish a separate number on your OOH advertising, another one on your online ads, and a third number on your print ads. You may route the calls to the same or different set of agents, but either way, the marketing manager can clearly see how many leads have come in per campaign by accessing your call center reports.  4. Manage direct employee-customer connections Many businesses need to offer customers one on one conversations with their employees. For example, customers need one-on-one conversations with consultants from their financial services firm. Or they may need to speak to on-the-move service engineers who are coming in to repair an electrical appliance. Virtual numbers allow you to route calls directly to the staff member without sharing their personal numbers. 5. Enable anywhere, anytime conversations Since the numbers are not assigned to one specific phone, your team can function from anywhere and not miss customer calls. This means that the agents can answer the calls on their smartphones even when they are out of office. Conclusion Using virtual or DID numbers help you manage operations from a centralized call center or via remote employees. It helps customers associate a single number to your business. It enables your staff to manage their business and personal calls on the same phone number [...]

What are DID numbers? And how do businesses use them? 2020-01-15T06:07:52+00:00

Everything call centers should know about HIPAA

Does your healthcare practice use a cloud telephony software solution 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 160 characters. 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 be accessed [...]

Everything call centers should know about HIPAA 2020-02-06T07:37:24+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