April 12 2017 Industry TrendsCall recording solutions can help improve training and customer service. “Your call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.” This statement has become part of the customer service lexicon. It’s as commonly heard as “Please hold,” “Thank you, come again,” and “Would you like fries with that?” What does quality assurance purposes actually mean, though? What else can companies do with those recordings? And how do call recording solutions benefit businesses? Business Reasons to Press ‘Record’ When you think about call recording, you might envision large companies with large call centers. However, businesses of all sizes and across multiple industries often need to capture and document conversations with customers. To do so, they often rely on two types of call recording solutions: company-wide and on-demand. Through company-wide recording, the system automatically records certain calls based on predetermined criteria. Users can’t access the recordings, but systems administrators can. With on-demand recording, the recording feature is available on an extension-by-extension basis. Users initiate the recordings and can access the files afterward. With cloud-based call recording, files are hosted online for easy, password-protected access and greater storage capacity. These recordings help businesses with the six following situations: 1. Clear Up Customer Disputes Occasional misunderstandings are inevitable in human communication. This is why there are so many great sitcoms, and it’s why there are so many call recording benefits for businesses. In the past, if an employee and customer disagreed about the details about a conversation, it was one person’s word against the other’s. And since the customer is always right (even if he’s not), companies typically erred on the side of the customer’s story. This was demoralizing for employees, who couldn’t prove they were right, and frustrating for managers, who had to make amends with unhappy customers by giving them discounts or free stuff. With call recording solutions, managers can listen to disputed conversations, back up employees when they’re right, and prove when customers are wrong (in the nicest way possible, of course). 2. Reduce Legal Liabilities More often than not, misunderstandings simply lead to a subpar customer experience, which is bad. However, in some cases, they can lead to lawsuits, which are way, way worse. Even when companies win those lawsuits, court costs can add up quickly. Call recording helps protect companies against false claims. Simply playing the recording for the customer might be enough to make the headache go away. If not, it can be powerful evidence in court. 3. Document Customer Authorizations Speaking of covering yourself from a legal standpoint, call recording solutions also enable companies to capture customer authorizations. This is particularly useful in healthcare, government, e-commerce, financial services, and other industries that handle sensitive data or have compliance regulations. In the past, customers would have to fax or email written approval in order to make certain financial transactions or request private information such as medical records. However, in some cases, a verbal contract can be as good as a signature, at least when it’s recorded. 4. Train Employees Even the most talented employees have room to grow. By listening to some calls, managers can provide specific feedback and coaching that helps their teams sell more effectively, provide better customer service, or use more appropriate business phone etiquette. Recorded calls also provide concrete examples that managers can use when training the whole team or onboarding new employees. Given real-life examples, teams can discuss what the employee did right or wrong, or how to handle scenarios that don’t often arise but require a lot of poise. 5. Get to Know Your Customers Most customers aren’t angry, inappropriate, or litigious. In fact, many have positive feedback, useful ideas, and great stories. By capturing these conversations, companies can use them to better understand customers, improve their processes and products, and strengthen their marketing. And when satisfied customers are particularly eloquent about why they love a company or product, marketers have ready-made testimonials and customer success stories they can use in advertising campaigns (with the customer’s approval, of course). 6. Listen More Actively With on-demand call recording, employees can capture important calls and review the details later. Of course, they could also just take notes during the conversation, but most people can’t type, talk, and listen at the same time (at least not well). Recording the call enables them to be more engaged in the conversation, to come up with insightful questions, to fully hear the responses, and to know that any critical details are just a “Play” button away. To record or not to record? That’s the question for your business. If any of these use cases would help you better serve customers or protect your company, it might be time to look into your options. To learn more about call recording solutions, speak to a Vonage Business representative. Taylor Mallory Holland Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing. Linkedin | Twitter January 11 2017 Industry TrendsAutomation technology can make sure your customers can reach the right people, whenever they call. You can set up your outside lights to go on every night at the same time, order laundry detergent to arrive every month, and do many other important tasks using automation technology. However, in many ways, that makes the human interactions in your personal and business life stand out even more. As much as technology can do for you and your customers, it can’t replace a sympathetic expression or knowing a real person cares about your problem. At the same time, the only way to keep your doors open is to keep costs low and service high, two things that seem to counteract each other. The answer? Strategically combining human and automation technology to provide the highest level of service possible. Here are three scenarios in which the human touch is especially important for a small business: 1. Potential New Customers Think about how you buy a new product or service. You most likely spend a considerable amount of time doing research online and getting recommendations. Then, you make a few calls, inevitably leave a bunch of voicemails, and wait to see who calls you back. The first company that returns your call and helps you solve your problem at an affordable price is often the one that gets your business. As a business owner, you don’t want prospects leaving voicemails in an inbox that may not be checked until Monday morning. By using a virtual receptionist to greet callers, potential customers can be routed to the specific employee who can best help that exact prospect’s needs. And, when your employees are out of the office, the call can be routed to their mobile devices using one business identity. The call gets answered, the customer is happy, and you maintain a consistent business presence and brand experience. Obviously, there are going to be times when no one is available. Maybe your team is putting together its own Mannequin Challenge attempt and everyone is frozen in place. Enter another automated technology: visual voicemail. With this voicemail transcription, all messages are transcribed to an email format and sent directly to the proper employee. Even when they’re off the clock, employees tend to obsessively check their phones, and they’ll likely see the email pretty quickly and be able to get right back to the prospective customer if it’s urgent. 2. Upset Customers No matter how fantastic your product or service is, a customer is eventually going to get upset with you at some point. When that happens, the last thing you want is for them to feel like no one cares about their problems. With a cloud-based phone system integrated with a CRM, your employees can access all of their files no matter where they are and get all the information they need to help unhappy customers from whatever devices they happen to be using. This allows employees to know the full story of a customer regardless of where they are taking the call or accessing the information. You’ll also want to know exactly how well your team handles each touchy call. By using a call recording feature either randomly, on specific associates, or on-demand by associates when a customer is upset, you’ll have a record of exactly what happened. Since delicate calls often escalate to management and the customer service rep and customer often have very different versions of how the call went down, having a record of the call allows you to hear exactly what happened. 3. Closing Sales It used to be that most deals were signed in person because contracts had to be in pen and ink. However, technological advancements have now made it possible for two parties to sign without ever seeing each other. If customers need to send your team a signed contract or other paperwork, paperless fax is a great option. It allows customers to send documents directly to your team’s email inbox without having to hunt for fax machines. Despite this, it’s sometimes nice to get some face time with the people you’re working with by using video calls. After all, when you can put a face to a name and see expressions, it creates a bond that just can’t be forged over email and voice. You can better communicate your passion for your customers and your products when they can see it in your eyes, and it’s a great way to get a hopefully long-lasting business relationship off to a great start. Automating processes helps you make the most of your time and resources so your team can focus on making great products and providing great services. For more information on business communications systems, contact a Vonage Business consultant. About Jennifer Goforth Gregory Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Linkedin | Twitter December 20 2016 Industry TrendsCall recording benefits your business because it can improve customer service training. Ever wish you knew exactly what happened during a controversial customer service call? Hate trying to find a pencil to write down information when taking calls on-the-go? Call recording benefits your small business by providing a higher level of service to customers. Here are four scenarios in which call recording benefits small businesses: 1. Training New Employees on Examples of Excellent Customer Service There is no substitution for learning on the job when it comes to handling customers. By using company-wide recording, you can set rules around which extensions you record, such as all of your customer service phone lines. Recordings are usually captured in the cloud and are available for you to access online anytime. Not only can you send a recording out to a whole team if you hear a great example of stellar customer service, but you can play back recordings as you coach new employees on what they did right and what they could have done better during real-life calls. Plus, your workers will always be on their toes because they’ll know there is a good chance you’re listening. 2. Needing to Take a Customer Call On-the-Go Say you are in the car and a potential customer you’ve been trying to track down for weeks finally calls you back. You pull over, and since you have call recording through a mobile app, you turn on the recorder and take the call. Then, when you get back to your desk, you can listen to the call with your user portal and transcribe all the important details about the customer’s needs. No more hunting for a pen on your floorboard, or ending up with chicken-scratch notes from writing against your steering wheel. 3. Handling an Upset Customer Customers get upset. It happens. When on the phone, employees often know that irate customers are going to call their boss immediately after they hang up. When you have a recording option on your phone system, employees can simply hit the on-demand recording option during the call so their supervisor can hear exactly what happened. This way, they’ll know how to handle the upset customer with the he-said, she-said game taken off the table. Plus, if necessary, the employee can be coached for future calls. 4. Running Late for a Team Meeting Say your team needs to have a gathering to figure out delivery dates for a big project and sets up a conference call. But, of course, someone is running late. Your team can simply record the conference call so the missing team member can listen later. You’re not spending extra time playing catch-up with the latecomer and everyone has the necessary information. By using call recording throughout your business processes, it can make a big difference to both your employees and customers. When in doubt, just record the call. Contact Vonage Business today for more information on call recording options. About Jennifer Goforth Gregory Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Linkedin | Twitter The cost of business VoIP service has always been a compelling reason for businesses to switch from using their old, analog system to a hosted phone system. Not only are monthly bills typically lowered by a minimum of 30%*, but being able to administer the entire system by yourself means eliminating costly maintenance fees. Finally, with so many affordable VoIP phones to choose from, making and receiving calls on an IP phone or mobile phone allows you to stay connected almost anywhere – without breaking the bank. The Upfront Cost of Business VoIP Service Let’s say that you’re a brand new business with nothing in the office but some empty desks and file cabinets. First, you’ll need to invest in a quality Internet connection which typically means a cable or T1 line – at least. You’ll need a quality router to deliver Internet to your different employees and you’ll also need IP phones that are compatible with VoIP technology. And honestly, that’s about it as far as an upfront cost. You don’t need a special in-house PBX to manage your phone system and you don’t need to hire a maintenance professional to set up or regulate the system. If you’re an established business with most of that equipment, you may only need IP phones, which begin as low as $50 for a business-class, entry-level phone. As long as you have an acceptable Internet connection and a way to have all of your employees connected, you’re good to go! The only additional cost from your business VoIP service is if you decide to add on additional features like Company Call Recording, Voicemail Transcription or maybe a Virtual Mailbox. Monthly Add Ons One way to boost your productivity with your business VoIP service is to select some add-on features that suit your office. Insurance agents, medical offices and legal specialists who may need to – or may be required to – record all calls can do so with a premium add-on feature like Company Call Recording or On-Demand Call Recording. With a no annual contract VoIP service, you can choose to cancel this feature at any time. So if you’re running tight on cash one month and you want to reduce the amount of features in your VoIP phone system, it’s as easy as calling the Customer Care department and temporarily cancelling those features. Cost-benefit of Off-Site Maintenance When thinking about the cost of business VoIP service, consider the savings that you’ll accrue month after month when you don’t have to continually hire a tech to come out and refresh the system, install new features, plug in someone’s phone or configure settings. Vonage Business hosted model means that we push features directly to provisioned phones. When we roll out a new service offering, you and your employees will automatically be able to use it – no maintenance or waiting necessary. Canceling an Old Contract Many prospective customers don’t think they can afford VoIP because breaking their current contract would cost them hundreds of dollars. Because everybody is different, why not contact Vonage’s Sales department for a no-hassle quote? Then, compare those monthly costs to what you’re currently paying. Chances are, even if your current provider charges you a few hundred dollars to cancel, you’ll still be saving money by switching to Vonage. So why not get a quote right now? A helpful VoIP rep can give you a quote that’s customized for your needs and it’ll help you get started in figuring out the cost of your business VoIP service. As all business owners know, making savings where you can is one of the most crucial things you can do. However, cutting costs at the expense of successfully managing your business can actually do more harm than good. Fortunately, saving on your office phone system these days isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. By taking a look at technology such as cloud-hosted or VoIP service for your business phone needs, you can grab onto significant savings for your company. So where do you start? Ditch That Copper-Wire Service. One of the most traditional types of phone service is through copper-wire, and chances are this is the type of system you are already most familiar with. While these systems are considered fairly reliable, they also come with a host of drawbacks such as expensive equipment to purchase, technician set-up and call out fees and even a contract that can tie you down for several years. Most small to mid-sized businesses who opt for a copper-wire office phone system will likely find themselves with an enormous financial outlay, and very little chance of getting the customization that they require to run and grow their businesses. Move to the Cloud. Though the name might make you think it’s in the sky somewhere, cloud-hosted and VoIP systems are actually run via your high-speed internet. Providers, such as Vonage Business, host your office phone’s nerve center. This provides your business unrivaled access to new customizable features and dramatically reduced pricing. Compare, Compare, Compare. There are many VoIP office phone providers in the marketplace, but the quality of their products, customer support systems and pricing structures can vary. When you’re looking at the competition, ask yourself the following: Q: What kind of contracts are required? A: Vonage Business has no annual contracts. Ever. Q: What features are included in the plan? A: There are over 40+ standard features to help manage your business and increase your productivity with Vonage Business. Q: What kind of international rates can be expected? A: Vonage’s international rates are up to 75% lower than traditional carriers. Take a look at our rate calculator to find out more. What about costs? Cost might seem like the most important thing when searching for an office phone plan. However, it’s also essential to think of value alongside price. If targeting the lowest price means having to sacrifice top-notch customer and technical service or a less reliable business phone system, it could actually end up being detrimental to your bottom line. If you’re ready to see how Vonage Business can help cut your business phone bills, simply fill out the form above and one of our friendly reps will call you. When our customers first hear about our “no annual contracts” policy for our top-of-the-line business VoIP systems, it’s usually met with surprise. This is particularly true among customers who have been dealing with traditional copper-wire business phone solutions, which often require contracts that last at least a year or more. Expensive, lengthy contracts are business as usual for wire-based legacy systems. However, the cloud revolution has made the shackles of long contracts, expensive equipment and service call-outs a thing of the past. In short, the cloud is a business phone revolution. Why No Annual Contracts? We believe in our service and products. When you sign up for your cloud-hosted service with Vonage Business, we know you’re going to love it. We want our customers to stick around because they’re delighted with what we provide, not because we’ve trapped them in a long-term contract. Our features are top of the line. We’ve built a second-to-none phone system that’s feature rich, making it easy for your company to grow and succeed. Even our most basic packages come with over 40+ mission-critical features. We’re always developing new and exciting features and plug-ins for our customers – all hosted in the Vonage Cloud. Reliability is our specialty. Keeping your business running and on target is a primary concern, particularly when it comes to your phone system. Vonage Business’ cloud-hosted business phone system is one of the most reliable in the industry. From bad weather to unexpected emergencies, not even an internet outage can keep you from fielding your customer’s calls quickly and efficiently. Our customers save 30% or more on their bills.* Many business phone service providers, at first glance, appear to offer great savings. However, oftentimes this is because they lock you into a lengthy, multi-year service contract. Wondering why Vonage Business offers business VoIP services with no contracts? If you’re not happy with us, we don’t want to trap you into a huge commitment. It’s true – we offer no annual contract business VoIP that our 36,000+ customers use and love every single day. These thousands of business owners are working hard to build a business and we want to be their partner in success. There are lots of reasons to select VoIP service for your office, but did you know that hosted phone systems for business are designed to not only compete with traditional, analog solution but actually give you more productivity enhancing features? Because VoIP service allows you to connect seamlessly to your computer, you’re able to utilize CRM plugins, take notes directly in your mail client with incoming phone calls, click phone numbers on your screen to dial out and much more. Business Phone System Core Features Click to Dial: Let’s say that you’re a casual phone user and you use your handset mostly for dialing out. Perhaps you’re in a sales department or you’re tasked with responding to callback requests in a service department. Instead of manually dialing each one of your several dozen calls every hour, Vonage Business Click to Dial solution allows you to actually just click a number from your computer screen to connect a call. Just download the free installation file and restart your computer. You can begin clicking to dial that same day! Multiple Devices on One Extension: Offices of all types select VoIP phone systems because business requires being able to answer calls from anywhere – the conference room, the warehouse, your home phone – wherever you may be at the moment. With Vonage, you’re able to set up multiple devices to use the same number and same voicemail. We consider it a productivity feature because so many of our customers say that it helps them stay on task and never miss a call. Call Screening: We’ve all been in the middle of an important project when a call comes in. We don’t know if it’s the big sale we needed to close or if it’s a vendor calling to check in on your satisfaction with a piece of new software. The vendor can wait – the sales call cannot. So you take the call – it turns out to be the vendor – and then you’re stuck on the phone and lose your train of thought. With Call Screening, you can have your phone announce the name of your caller to you, and then you decide whether to take the call or not. It’ll help you to stay on track and take calls on your own time. Advanced Features in Phone Systems for Business One of the things that sets VoIP phone systems for business apart from VoIP focused on residences is that it offers a full suite of features tailored to your office. With training, compliance and tracking tools, you’ll be able to do more than get a dial tone – and still at a much more affordable rate than analog service. Call Recording: One of Vonage’s sales executives listens to recorded employee calls to monitor for quality. He also has a long commute, so he exports his recordings and plays them back through his phone on his evening drive home. It helps him maximize his time and he doesn’t even need to be at his desk. With Vonage’s Company Call Recording, you can configure your system to record some or all inbound and outbound calls. Then, export the calls, listen to them from your desktop or forward them to sales manager or HR to help train employees and improve customer satisfaction. Conference Bridge: Tired of constantly rescheduling meetings because your employees are out of the office, or a vendor can’t make it in for an in-person meeting? Vonage’sConference Bridge service allows you to connect up to 30 people on a single call. You can get your collaborative work and meetings finished quickly and easily, no matter where participants happen to be. VoIP phone systems for business have come a long way in just the past few years. Vonage is constantly adding new included and add-on services to its business-class set of services. Visit our full list of VoIP features to look at all of the utilities avaliable to you with our no-contract service, or fill out the form on the left for a no-hassle consultation. Our VoIP rep will get in touch with you and can tell you all about more productivity tools that can help boost your business. Our Company-Wide Call Recording feature allows company management to set the recording parameters they choose across the account. Companies often use this feature to verify details of important conversations or to coach employees on how to improve interactions with customers. On-Demand Call Recording is also available for individual users on the phone system – but this company-wide feature is much more robust and can only be accessed by administrators. Recordings are captured on the Admin Portal for easy access and distribution, and the feature comes with 500 hours of online recording space. A hallmark of the feature is the ease of setting “rules” for recording within the Rule Wizard. For example, you might capture 70% of calls on Tuesday. Perhaps you wish to record call activity on just two of your extensions. Or, you might choose to record all call activity. It’s up to you. As you approach your 500-hour limit, the system automatically notifies you. To make room for more recordings, simply download and delete the recordings you don’t want to archive. Additional blocks of 250 hours may be purchased for $19.99. How It Works Administrators and Super Users on the system control the feature and set the rules for recording. Once rules are set, recording is automatic and resulting recordings are available on the Admin Portal for playback, downloading and even forwarding by email. As an added convenience, recordings can be clicked on and listened to within the system’s Call Log reports. Why You’ll Like It: Administrators and Super Users set recording parameters in the Admin Portal. Recordings can help management train employees and evaluate performance. Keeping important conversations on file can help protect the organization. Comes with 500 hours of storage; additional hours can be purchased. Files of recordings are easily accessed and can be shared via email. Free download utility allows fast download of all recordings if needed. Can be bundled with Call Monitoring feature for discounted pricing The feature also allows the addition of your own message acknowledging that the call is being recorded, if required by state or other regulations.* Get Started Administrators and Super Users can set up the feature on the Admin Portal, but we recommend letting one of our Customer Care representatives walk you through setting up rules for the first time. Pair this feature with Call Monitoring, and you’ll receive half off the $49.99 Call Monitoring feature. *It is the responsibility of the customer using this feature to ensure that it complies with all applicable laws including, where required, obtaining consent from all parties on the call. The On-Demand Call Recording feature lets employees decide when to record important calls. It’s particularly useful when you need to verify the details of a conversation – such as pricing and delivery dates – or when it’s essential that you capture accurate notes. Plus, since the recording is conveniently accessible on your User Portal, you can play recordings back any time or forward the recording file by email. On-Demand Call Recording is available on an extension-by-extension basis and gives employees exclusive access to the recordings they capture. Need more options and recording time? Take a look at our Company-Wide Call Recording feature, which is managed by the company’s administrator on the Admin Portal. How it Works Users with this feature on their extension can quickly start and stop a recording by clicking two keys on their phone – or they can set it to record all calls. Once the recording is captured, it’s accessible on the employee’s password-protected User Portal. The feature also works with our Mobile App. Why You’ll Like It Allows calls to be recorded at will on the employee’s extension. Enables users to verify facts and details discussed within the recorded call. Provides 15 hours of online storage; user is notified when limit approaches. Lets users organize, manage and delete recordings on their User Portal. Works with our Mobile App for call recording convenience on the go. Allows addition of your own message acknowledging that the call is being recording (if required by state or local regulations). Get Started This feature can easily be added to as many extensions as you like through the Admin Portal. Or, you can call a Customer Care representative to assist. Your IP phones will automatically work with the feature as soon as it’s added.