In the last few weeks many cancelled events, from concerts to conferences, have been replaced by virtual ones. And in the process, many are realising that moving events online isn’t just about damage control; it actually brings benefits of its own
With more and more companies shifting resources to virtual events, we compiled this quick and handy guide on how to create a successful virtual event for your company.
Not only have I presented at more than 100 virtual events in the past twelve years, my team and I at Convince & Convert organize and produce more than a 30 online events and webinars every year. We know what works, what doesn’t, and we’re here to share that advice with you.
Let’s dive into some helpful tips in organizing a Virtual event;
1. Keep Session Lengths Short
A 60-minute keynote or breakout session at a face-to-face event is pretty standard and doesn’t usually feel like a slog.
But that’s partially because attendees have other stimuli and the ability to experience presentations in a three-dimensional environment.
It is FAR more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to an in-person conference.
We’re not suggesting that every session in your virtual event be just nine minutes long, but do consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes.
For example, a 60-minute breakout face-to-face should be 45 or 30 minutes when delivered online.
2. Sharpen Your Titles and Descriptions
When presented with multiple, simultaneous options for sessions to choose from in a physical event setting, attendees will often rely on word-of-mouth, asking other participants which breakout they are attending, and why.
Most virtual conferences lack this dynamic.
Further, many online events rely on emails, social media posts, and other tactics to inform attendees of what information will be presented (there is no written conference guide, or dedicated mobile app in most cases).
Thus, participants in your virtual event have less information when deciding what sessions to tune in for, and which to skip.
Consequently, it is even more important that the session titles and descriptions for your virtual conference programming are descriptive and compelling.
3. Use a Moderator
In a face-to-face event, the moderator helps contextualize the information presented throughout the conference, while also helping to keep energy up and deliver important housekeeping notes.
Many organizations moving to virtual events believe that since the programming is now delivered over the Internet, that this emcee role is no longer necessary.
The opposite is true.
Having a consistent face and voice that “stitches together” the virtual sessions for participants adds much-needed familiarity and helps alleviate the isolated feeling that online events can sometimes produce for attendees.
The best way to implement is to have the event moderator open up the conference online – just like a regular event – and then moderate questions for speakers and pop back online between sessions to chat with attendees (I have played this role many, many times for major online events).
4. Use Attendee Chat Early and Often
The networking component of face-to-face events are almost always cited as the best part of the conference.
While it is of course more difficult to deliver rich networking online, you can assist attendees in interacting amongst themselves and with presenters by making liberal use of the chat/Q&A function in your chosen virtual events platform.
The emcee/moderator should ask attendees questions at the beginning of the day to get participants used to the functionality, and also between sessions to facilitate networking.
Every presenter at your virtual event should be taking questions from the audience using the Chat/Q&A tool.
Further, one of the built-in advantages of online conferences is the ability to use the polling function of the software to ask questions of the audience and get instant, mathematical results.
You should train your presenters how to use this polling feature to make sessions more interesting and interactive.
5. Require Presenter Run-Throughs
Speaking of training presenters, you really should make it mandatory that each of them participate in a run-through of their material a week or so before your virtual event.
Of course, it is likely that your presenters have attended some sort of online event, and may have even delivered a program at some point.
But EVERY online event software platform is different, and presenters need to understand those nuances.
For example, some online conference software packages “hide” presenter notes when in presentation mode. A speaker accustomed to using presenter notes will be mightily surprised when they all of a sudden disappear once the session begins. (TIP: for online events, have all presenters print out their slides and notes)
Further, once presenters are clear on the different interactive elements of the software, and the inherently altered “feel” of a virtual presentation from the audience perspective, they should make changes to their content accordingly.
Let’s put this plainly: for maximum success you cannot just take your offline presentation slides and deliver them online.
6. Use Cameras
To make the virtual conference feel more similar to the face-to-face experience, you should require presenters to use their Web cam while presenting.
This allows audience to see the speaker during the presentation, which adds another layer of information such as non-verbal cues, etc.
Working remotely can be great. You don’t have to spend hours each week commuting or deal with annoying co-workers who won’t stop talking, and you don’t even have to change out of your pyjamas (although we’d recommend it).
You’re in full control of your work environment––meaning you’re able to set up a home office that makes you most productive.
But working outside the conventional office isn’t entirely beneficial. Remote teams experience unique challenges that can hurt their productivity too.
Luckily, these hurdles aren’t impossible to overcome––they just require a bit of extra attention. Let’s look at some of the biggest obstacles a remote worker faces and what you can do to overcome them:
- Home interruptions
- Communication challenges
- Prioritization struggles
1. Home interruptions
Interruptions are going to happen—wherever you’re working. In the office, chatty colleagues and noisy printers can hurt your focus. But at home, interruptions can seem even more powerful.
If you have kids who are at home during the day, they can be a big distraction from your work. Even if you have a babysitter, spouse, or other help in caring for the kids while you’re working, they can be noisy (or want to bust into your home office at the most inconvenient moment).
Even if you don’t have kids, there can still be potential interruptions. From unexpected guests to your cat crawling across your keyboard, knowing how to work from home productively means finding a way to get away from it all.
How to overcome home interruptions
Unless you work and live in a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods by yourself, you probably won’t be able to eliminate interruptions entirely. But here are some things you can do to get the space you need to focus:
- Find some alone space. Set up a desk in a secluded area of your home. This could be in a spare bedroom, a designated home office, or even just a corner of your kitchen or living room––just somewhere you can go that’s free from interruptions.
- Set up a busy signal. If there are other people home while you’re working, establish some kind of signal that lets them know you’re busy and not to be interrupted. This could be anything from closing your door or wearing your headphones.
- Establish working hours. If the busy signal won’t do the trick, establish specific working hours that your family should leave you alone so that you can work. Keep these same working hours for people outside your home, like family or friends who might call in the middle of the day to chat. You can always get back to them when your working hours are done.
- Get out of the house. If your home becomes too full of interruptions, it’s time to check out another space. Look into your local library, a coworking space, or even just the coffee shop down the street.
2. Communication challenges
If you’re working in an office and you need something from someone, you can just walk over to their desk and ask for it. With a remote team, that isn’t really possible—that’s why you need processes and apps to stay in communication with your team.
And when co-workers are scattered across time zones, connecting after the fact isn’t as easy as just pulling someone aside for more explanation. It’s always better to ask questions as they come up and think ahead about what you might need from a teammate.
How to overcome communication challenges
Communication problems typically arise when teams don’t have the right tools or processes for getting in touch. Here’s how you can avoid communication problems when working remotely:
- Provide different team communication options. Every conversation will have different needs and limitations. From quick chats to video calls, there’s a place for a range of communication channels when you’re working remotely. Don’t try to force your employees down just one path––email (definitely) isn’t always the best answer.
For example, Jamisi’s team messaging app also has HD video calls and traditional phone calls––making it easy for teams to connect in a variety of ways. You can even share documents and make comments directly on them, then share them with your team
You can even manage tasks for each team member so that you’re sure everyone will walk away from each meeting knowing what to do next.
- Schedule “intersection hours.” When half your team is in Asia and the other is on the East Coast, finding time to connect can feel impossible. You’ll have to require some overlapping hours across time zones in order to help your teammates connect that’s convenient for the greatest number of people.
If teams are too dispersed (say, Nigeria and Ghana), finding a time that overlaps can be challenging. Rather than requiring intersecting hours every day, try just having an all-hands or team meeting once or twice a week.
- Keep communication in one place. When your team relies on their digital communication to get work done, you don’t want them wasting time digging through old emails or text messages trying to find their next steps. Keeping communication integrated in one place makes it easy for team members to find just what they’re looking for right when they need it. Again, this is where having a communication tool comes in handy:
Jamisi Communications puts everything in one app so that you can access conversations and files from any device—you can find what you’re looking for whether you’re working from your home office or a coffee shop.
Many managers and business owners are worried that letting their teams work from home means nothing will ever get done. But working from home can actually make employees more productive:
In fact, knowing when to step away from work can be a problem for many remote workers.
Unlike in an office setting, you never really leave your desk. When your workstation is still lurking in the corner of your living room, not jumping back on to check emails or just do one last thing can be difficult.
Overworked employees can be stressed, struggle with work-life balance, and overall feel unhappy with their jobs.
How to overcome overworking
Setting boundaries that prevent you from overworking is crucial for long-term happiness in a remote job. Here are some ways you can stop yourself from working too hard or too long:
- Schedule your breaks. Put time on your calendar for taking a break from your desk. Maybe use this time to get a quick workout in, throw in a load of laundry, or just tidy up while listening to a favorite podcast. When the scheduled break is up, get back to work feeling refreshed.
- Set appointments at the end of your day. If you struggle to end your day at 5:00 p.m. (or even 6:00 or 7:00), schedule evening appointments, workout classes, dinner, or other events that force you to get away from your desk. Meet a friend for happy hour or offer to pick the kids up from practice––anything that gets you to clock out.
- “Close” your office for the day. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, but that also means it’s hard to completely disconnect. When the end of the day rolls around, power down your work computer, shut the door to your home office, and turn off your email notifications. Leave it for tomorrow.
4. Prioritization struggles
To be good at working remotely, you have to be good at working independently. While you might have video calls or chats with your team throughout the day, you’re usually left more or less on your own to make sure all your tasks get done on time.
Some team members might struggle with this freedom––especially if there are distractions, they haven’t been able to get rid of. When the sun is shining and your dog is begging for a long walk or your kid wants to show you their latest art project, you need to know how to prioritize your work.
Prioritizing work with team members in different time zones also means anticipating their needs. When someone’s “tomorrow” is still your “today,” you might need to plan ahead to make sure everyone gets what they need on time.
How to manage prioritizing to-do lists
Staying on track needs to be a team effort. While employees can have their own systems for getting their to-do lists done, proper task organization is key for keeping all projects moving forward. Here are some tips for managing to-do lists.
- Have a project management tool. Keeping all tasks and projects in a tool like Asana or Trello can give your entire team a big-picture view of what needs to get done. When you can see the path your project will take after your part is complete, you can better prioritize to make sure deadlines are still met.
- Create a priority communication system. With remote teams, it’s easy for an employee to not recognize something is a priority and put it off until the last minute. That’s why it’s important to have a communication system in place for discussing project priorities.
Caption: Asana lets you add priority fields to your projects, so everyone knows exactly what to focus on.
- Use breaks to take care of distractions. You can’t ignore your dog or kids all day, so use your pre-scheduled break time to tackle some of the things nagging at you while you’re trying to focus. Spend 20 minutes walking the dog or quickly tidying up the kitchen. Then get back to your to-do list when that break is over.
While working in your pyjamas might seem great for a day or two, it can get old fast. When you’re not leaving your house to go to the office, you might find that you barely leave the building at all.
Soon, working remotely can feel a bit lonely—the lack of human interaction that often comes with working in a traditional office can lead to isolation and take a toll on your mental health.
But working alone can also just get boring. Without close co-workers to share jokes with or talk about the latest news, you might miss those little breaks in the day that let you refresh or rest your eyes.
How to overcome loneliness
Depending on your living situation, loneliness can be easier to combat for some people. But if you don’t have kids home during the day or a partner or roommate who also works from home, here are some tips for combating loneliness in a remote job:
- Go outside. We’ve already mentioned this as a great way to eliminate distractions, but heading to a coworking space or coffee shop can also be a great way to fight loneliness. Even if you’re still working alone, just being around other busy workers can help lift your spirits.
- Catch up with a co-workers. Even if your coworkers are dispersed all over the world, schedule a catch-up call with someone on your team, a mentor, or even just a friend. At least one video chat a day can help you feel more connected to your team and help combat loneliness.
- Start some remote work clubs. You don’t need to meet in person to create clubs or groups within your team. A remote book club or virtual running club (just to name a few) can add to your company culture and encourage more communication and connection among your teams.
Set up separate networks in your team messaging platform (like Jamisi, which lets you create groups for different projects and clubs) where interested members can join. Then you can hold discussions, ask questions, or talk about non-work-related topics that can bring you closer.
- Network in your city. While it’s great to find ways to connect with your other remote team members, sometimes you just need to get out and meet people in real life. Finding a local networking group can help you feel more connected to your job while also helping you find other like-minded people in your town.
You can even take it one step further and create a group of other remote workers to meet up for lunch or even work together.
Solve remote working challenges with communication and organization
When it comes down to it, the problems that come with remote work tend to fall into two categories: communication or organization. But when you have the right communication and organization systems in place, you can thrive—even if everyone’s in a different country.
To overcome the common challenges that pop up when you’re working remotely, it’s better to over-communicate. Even if you feel like you’ve already said something once or that you’re over-planning a project or task, it’s better to do too much than not enough. After all, remote teams tend to have fewer opportunities to keep each other in the loop.
As you begin to adjust to working remotely, you might find that everyone struggles with different things—check in regularly to see how you can help support your teammates. You are each other’s biggest assets when it comes to remote work!
We believe there are many reasons to migrate your organisation’s applications to the cloud, not least of which are cost savings, streamlined operations, redeployment of resources, reskilling of your internal teams and talent retention.
In this blog, I answer some of the frequently asked questions about moving applications to the cloud, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right thing for your organisation.
1. Is it secure and where is my data?
“Is it secure?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about the cloud. But as the cloud has become universal in organisations, the nature of the question has changed.
Every year, major cloud providers spend billions to make their cloud services stable, robust and secure. Security measures and compliance certifications are available for all to see, and Jamisi’s cloud offering is as secure as it gets in terms of compliance, governance and physical security.
The result? Today, almost everyone accepts that the cloud is secure. The conversation now is less around how secure it is and more around data control. It’s essential that organisations understand where their data lives, where it may go and who can access it in order to feel comfortable with moving to the cloud.
A lack of understanding around how the cloud works is a barrier to adoption for many organisations. In the UK, law firms are amongst some of the most cautious adopters of cloud solutions, largely because of questions about where confidential client data will reside and who can access it.
There needs to be an understanding that, by its very nature, the cloud exists in multiple locations – and your data can too. The cloud gives customers choice here, different services having different options about where data is stored, but it’s important that well informed decisions are made in this regard.
Organisations need to know what they are letting themselves in for and understand how data will be stored and accessed which needs a complex, but not impossible, discussion about trust and understanding. In our experience, anyone who truly understands the options and how the cloud works has been confident in making an informed decision based on facts not fear.
2. Will all my IT staff be out of work/redundant?
Generally, there isn’t a direct correlation between adopting cloud services and IT staff being let go. We prefer to see this as freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks.
Whether they’re in retail, manufacturing, healthcare or any other sector, businesses are trying to be ‘the best’ and provide the best service to their customers. IT should enable them to do that. It should be a supporter and enabler for a business to do its job and operate at its highest level. And for organisations that are held back by inefficient, outdated IT systems, embracing the cloud is one way to make improvements.
Few organisations today choose to use physical servers; they are costly, require office space and need people to maintain and manage them. Solutions Exchange Online are making delivery of common IT services easier, better and lower cost, and like it or not, the requirement for on-premise skills will reduce as cloud adoption becomes the new norm. As IT evolves, the skillset of IT teams needs to evolve with it, or face being left behind.
Traditional Exchange Server and the move to Exchange Online is a perfect example of the cloud enabling organisations to be ‘always current’ and move away from the classic 3-4-year major upgrade cycle with on-premise systems. The problems associated with these upgrade cycles is a large factor in why some legacy systems are allowed to go stale and not keep pace with business requirements. In 2020, with so many cloud advantages, it’s hard to imagine an IT team not well versed in Cloud solutions.
Cloud migration, where it is delivering improved productivity and user experience also has the potential to assist an organisation to attract and retain talent. Employees are an organisation’s most valuable and expensive asset. Finding talent is expensive, and not all acquisitions work out. Give your people rubbish IT or fail to keep up with the pace of change, and they’ll quickly become frustrated. Giving your teams the tools to do their jobs effectively – whether cloud or otherwise – means they’ll be the best versions of themselves and deliver the best for your customers.
3. Scalability: how does cloud allow businesses to scale up or down as needed?
There’s no doubt that the cloud gives businesses options that they didn’t have before.
Before the cloud, businesses would buy a server upfront and pay not just for the server but all its associated costs: a datacentre, power, air-conditioning, admins and back-up tapes, and software to deploy onto the server. The bill can run into thousands before an organisation gets any value from it at all. With all this removed from the equation, the cloud lets businesses rescale their compute to meet demand and turn it down when it’s not needed in a ‘pay as you use, pay as you get value’ model.
At its simplest, if we take a start-up. The cloud lets you turn on business systems such for five users, for example, and pay for the service as they’re using; that’s it. No upfront hardware investment, no storage, air-con or licence costs, and reduced reliance on IT teams to look after the service. Agile companies that are scaling quickly can leverage the cloud to scale the business as far as they want and only pay for what they use – even if that’s 100 staff one week and 10 the next. The cost rises and falls with headcount giving flexibility that simply didn’t exist before.
4. Will I need to reconfigure or rebuild as part of a move to the cloud?
The cloud is fundamentally built on different principles, with different options and features available. While it’s possible to take an old system and stick it in the cloud, it will be a cloud-hosted, old system; not a flexible, cloud solution. To truly leverage cloud’s powerful capabilities, in many cases you will need to rebuild and reconfigure – not because this is the best way of doing it, but because it is the only way to fully take advantage of the cloud.
5. Which applications should I move to the cloud, avoiding the ‘lift and shift’?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding which applications to move to the cloud; this will be unique to each organisation. But when assessing and evaluating your applications, you might find some lend themselves to being delivered via the cloud more than others.
Some old systems and apps were expensive at the time of purchase and continue to be expensive to manage. Exchange on-premise is a good example. Exchange Online is infinitely cheaper and easier to run than on-premise, so it doesn’t make sense to keep this on-prem instead of in the cloud. And certain apps, such as major CRM systems, are so effective when cloud-delivered, that it makes complete sense to use them.
Even if you have a heavily customised or custom-built solution with no cloud equivalent, you can still move that system to the cloud. Take SaaS (Software as a Service); if there’s a cloud-based SaaS solution that is like-for-like for what you have on-premise, it makes sense to move and take advantage of licensing support that’s included in the cost. But if there isn’t a SaaS solution available, you can lift and shift your own. While this is the simplest and easiest way, organisations should remember that moving existing applications to the cloud often means moving the inherent challenges of the original application, too.
As a rule, if you have an application that is inefficient in terms of benefits and cost, and there’s a better way of doing it in the cloud, that’s one to move. If there isn’t a better cloud alternative, then don’t. No organisation should be forced to adopt the cloud, and not necessarily everything should move.
Every organisation can almost certainly gain advantage by leveraging cloud services, but that’s not to say that every system or application is necessarily right for the cloud.
People around the world are discovering the power of video conferencing and webcasting as an alternative to meeting in person. There are so many advantages: zero travel time, easy meeting recordings, the ability to jump into a meeting with anyone, anywhere, at literally a moment’s notice, and—of course—it’s a safe way to connect during the COVID-19 outbreak.
At the same time, many business owners are wondering, “Are there hidden costs to doing this? Am I running any risk by having meetings on video? Should I postpone the high-stakes ones until I can meet in person?”
Webcasting vs. In-Person Lectures
Many people feel unsure about replacing a large meeting or lecture with a webcast. The concerns are reasonable: it’s a real nightmare when a meeting with 100+ attendees suffers from technological difficulties.
That’s why having high-performance software is crucial. If you’re connecting with a group on video, you need to know what to expect. Specifically, considering the powerful tools that exist today, you should expect total reliability, a consistent video stream, and high audio quality. With good software, you can take those things for granted. That’s why universities and schools are judicious when choosing a platform for educational webcasts.
Trust Building on Video
Researchers have found that people come to trust each other more quickly via Video, compared to audio-only. On the other hand, it does take longer compared to meeting in person.
This is understandable—you’re not really there, in the room, with the person; in reality, you’re looking at a screen. However, that’s not a reason to stall meetings until a nebulous future time. Instead, you can use proven techniques to give yourself an edge while forging trust via Video.
- Making a point of talking about personal, non-work-related topics
- Avoiding multitasking
- Respecting the other person’s privacy by meeting without background noise and muting when necessary
- Always showing up to video meetings on time
Distinguish yourself as a reliable, trustworthy person by adopting these simple habits, even if you’re limited to virtual meetings.
The Meeting Must Go On
Come what may, virtual meetings are a reliable and effective substitute for meetings that can’t happen in an office or over lunch. When people are spread across the globe, homesick, or otherwise separated, video meetings are much more efficient than audio calls alone for communication and collaboration. That’s thanks to the full range of expression you can apply on video.
By thinking your in-person event, conference or trade show strategy, you can provide the content your attendees want to hear, but in a way that’s safe for everyone involved. A webcast allows you to stream video to thousands of attendees with global scalability. You might even see attendance increase in comparison to an in-person event thanks to removed barriers.
Rely on the Best Tools
It’s undeniable: new challenges do surface when you replace in-person meetings with virtual ones. However, if you have reliable technology, many of those challenges disappear and become non-issues.
Call centers compete for top agents and clients while also seeking to provide the very best customer experience. Virtual Call Center Solutions can help.
Call centers face many challenges. Agent attrition, tight budgets, and competition for market share are just the first few that come to mind. Yet, there are many ways virtual call center solutions can help keep your organization at the front of the pack.
Cloud-based contact center infrastructure is becoming increasingly common. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of seats “grew by a very strong 20.9%.” Further, this trend was “expected to continue for the next five years.” This trend reflects companies of all sizes embracing virtual call center solutions, which are today offering “increased reliability, flexibility, scalability and security.”
But what is driving this widespread embrace of cloud-based call center technology? In a general sense, businesses are adopting the new infrastructure to keep up with an ever-evolving industry. Yet, specifically, these forward-thinking call center managers are appreciating the several competitive differentiators virtual call center solutions offer. Let’s discuss four in more detail.
Competitive Advantage with Virtual Call Centers
1 Workforce Optimization Tools.
The top agents want to work when and where it is convenient for them. With virtual infrastructure, your contact center can have onsite staff as well as employees in different geographical areas — with virtual desktop capabilities, all your team members need is an Internet connection and a VoIP-enabled phone.
In addition to the ability to boost mobility, virtual call center software enables:
- Prioritizing calls
- Monitoring agents in real-time
- Call routing by time of day or IVR menu selection
- Queue callback.
Additionally, by deploying Jamisi Communications analyst-recognized contact center services with, your business can experience an average savings of 5-10% of your staffing hours.
More than 60% of call centers employ at-home agents — Customer Contact Strategies
2 Analytic Capabilities.
Dimension Data in 2015 suggested that analytics is the future of call centers, yet found that 40% of them have no analytics tools. The issues abound. For many call centers, disjointed data is often distributed across the enterprise. The addition of digital and social channels has only made the lack of integration more apparent.
With cloud technology today, the contact center can consolidate information from social media, calls, web chats, etc. in a single customer history, which is easily available to center agents to provide the best, personalized customer experience.
At the same time, virtual call centers are evolving, and it isn’t difficult to imagine a time when they will offer speech pattern analytics to help analyze customer emotional state and provide better support or reduce churn rates.
The Global CRM analytics market, which includes contact center analytics, is expected to grow from $4.18 billion in 2014 to 47.65 billion by 2019.
3 Outbound Enablement.
Proactive customer care and outbound capabilities are essential to meeting the customers’ needs at all steps of their journey. Among the many features offered with the virtual call center solution, many are well-suited to reaching out to customers for greater success. These functionalities include:
- Auto-dialing to expedite customer contact
- Post-call surveys to gauge customer experience
- Caller tracking to accurately measure ROI.
4 Business Continuity.
With virtual call center software, your organization gains a reliable data center with extensive backup management. Your solution provider will be responsible for securing, upgrading, and maintaining your sophisticated network.
At the same time, should something disastrous happen at your particular place of business (or even a simple outage), you can continue with business as usual. Virtual call center technology ensures that your communications are available regardless of onsite conditions and that key data and services are easily regained via multiple points of entry to the cloud. Queued calls can be sent to alternative locations, queues, or agents until you’re back up and running onsite.
It’s difficult to improve — let alone take the lead in a competitive market— without the full technological advantages offered by virtual call center solutions. Partner with Evolve IP today to foster better agent-customer relationships and drive greater profits and revenues.
When your business is still in its growth stages, every cent matters and excess expenses are not recommended. By turning to call center services outsourcing, it is possible to maintain expertly-run customer support services.
What’s more, businesses can comfortably procure call Center services outsourcing at a percentage of what they could have paid had they installed or implemented in-house call center services.
The good news for startups and young businesses is that the options regarding call center outsourcing are looking great. To shed more light on this issue, below are some well-explained benefits of why call center outsourcing is advisable for new businesses.
No Need for Additional Office Space
Office space can cost a pretty penny, especially if you are based in major cities where rent is astronomical. By outsourcing this service, you will remove the need for extra space because outsourced call services staff are usually off-site.
In contrast, establishing an entire call center will need acres of space for both the in-house staff and hardware. This will save the business substantial amounts of money while ensuring that they have access to world-class services.
Outsourced Call Centers Can Comfortably Deal with Overwhelming Inquiries from Clients
Sometimes there can be an overflow of customer queries to an extent that the business in-house call center staff is overwhelmed. This will lead to customer dissatisfaction and consequently translate to the loss of not only clients but also profits.
Through outsourcing the company’s customer service, you can rest assured that every client will receive expert customer support from seasoned professionals.
Business Will Have Access to Emergency Support
If you run an in-house call center for customer support, inevitably, disruptions such as power outages, ill weather, and natural disasters might at some point affect your operations and ultimately the ability to effectively serve clients.
By embracing outsourced call centers, you can be assured that matters are in capable hands. These service providers usually provide disaster recovery services so that even if your entire operations are down, they can take charge and deal with your clients.
Besides, outsourced call centers provide businesses with after-hours support services. This means that regardless of the time, your customers will always have someone to assist them.
Enhanced Quality of Services
Call centers go to great lengths to retain the services of a proficient, efficient, and technically-gifted workforce. This means that any business that outsources its call services to them will get services that are tested and proven to be top-notch.
Because calls are received immediately the clients call (the call waiting time is significantly less than using in-house staff), this will enhance the quality of customer service.
Finally, most business owners will agree that the pros of outsourcing call center services greatly outweigh relying on in-house call center employees. In today’s cut-throat business world, new businesses should take any opportunity to stay afloat and ensure that their growth trajectory is favorable.
The myriad of benefits to businesses-especially new businesses- that come with outsourcing call services is significant. Extra benefits include access to lead generation services and up-to-date sales techniques that will do wonders for businesses. By taking this road, businesses that are just starting, plus established ones, will see the positive effect that it brings to the company.
Today, organizations of all sizes are adopting cloud-based PBX systems. In fact, Research predicts the number of seats for hosted business VoIP and unified communications services is on track to more than double between 2012 and 2016. There are many benefits to a hosted system over a premise-based system, and companies are more educated on these features than they were when the technology first started to reach wide-acceptance.
However, there are still some common misconceptions that we service providers encounter when speaking with prospective customers.
As part of our ongoing educational efforts, we have rounded up explanations of five of the misconceptions we most commonly encounter:
1. You don’t have as much control over your PBX when it is hosted as you do when it is on premise.
It’s understandable that many people have the misconception that you lose administrative control of your PBX when it is not physically hosted in your own building. However, the reality is with an enterprise-grade PBX that is delivered from the cloud, you have remarkable control and greater flexibility. For example, if you want to make changes such as re-setting a voicemail password, or turning on your holiday schedule, you can do it with the click of a mouse.With a cloud-based IP phone system, customers enjoy unmatched control and point-and-click configuration over all services. Through the exclusive, award-winning web-based OSSmosis Portal, Evolve IP’s customers can control telephony features, moves/adds/ changes, conferencing, security, and email, plus they can get insight into network status, performance updates, and account/billing detail.
2. Sound quality is poor on hosted phone systems.
This is completely untrue. When properly architected, hosted voice for business on an enterprise-grade platform – such as the Broadsoft platform – has incredible quality. In fact, Evolve IP guarantees its SLAs. Through constant monitoring customers’ Mean Opinion Scores (MOS), Evolve IP is able to correct any potential issues before quality could ever be compromised. A decade ago poorly executed consumer-grade VoIP likely started this misconception.
3. Cloud is just a fad.That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, according to a recent study, the desire to share content and to access it on multiple devices will motivate consumers to start storing a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016. In a recent Microsoft surveys of businesses, 30 percent are already using paid cloud services and another 48 percent plans to move to the cloud model within the next 2-3 years.Although the term cloud is relatively new, the technology has been around and constantly advancing for many years, and more businesses adopt it each day.
4. Moving to the cloud means IT staff loses job security.
One fear that IT Directors have when moving to the cloud is that it will jeopardize their job security. In reality all companies will need professionals that understand evolving cloud and IaaS technologies. The best part of the equation is that the menial tasks that tie up too much of your time are eliminated and will allow you to engage in more strategic projects that provide opportunities to improve the business.
5. The cloud only benefits small businesses, not Enterprises.
Because of the per-user monthly fee and absence of expensive upfront equipment cost, cloud solutions have mistakenly been thought of as intended only for small business. It’s true that small businesses tend to adopt new technologies before Enterprises. But, cloud adoption is expanding rapidly across the Enterprise landscape, as Enterprises have begun to understand that the benefits are the same for organizations of all sizes
While working from home is not for everyone, working from everywhere soon will be. As digital innovation continues, the differences between working in the office, a coffeehouse, your own backyard or even at the beach will soon fade away. People won’t have to work remotely if they don’t want to, but the office is already becoming just one of many locations where work occurs.When you’re working with your team, even in different locations, what’s most important is a shared state of mind. That state of mind is much more important for productivity than shared office space.
Here’s what makes it possible:
Services first: The “cloud” is a new buzzword but the real revolution is not the fact that things are stored differently, but it is about making services universally available. While many workers still love their physical spaces, and there are good reasons for it, the digitization of all work services makes work more flexible.
Mobile only: The term ‘mobile first’ is another popular buzzword but the real breakthrough is going to come when we are ‘mobile only.’ Once every service is available for people on the road and those in the office, we can finally break the chain to the physical world. This change will not come without challenges, though. Not every job will be suitable for remote work. Some employees need to be physically near every aspect of their job; others simply need that stability to feel emotionally engaged with their organizations.
In any case, technology provides a unique opportunity to bring us closer together than ever before. We’ve come a long way from mandatory physical meetings — with real-time mobile connectivity, we can finally be “near” each other no matter where we are. We’ve come a long way from phones and intranets to real-time mobile connectivity.The key to this innovation will be optimizing how people work together. If you think the last five years were filled with change, just wait for the next five.
Research offers four strategies to make better use of digital technology and bring your office into the future:
Eliminate barriers. “Digital availability and workplace mobilization make it easier for us to access our work at any time — and to act on the information available. IT professionals too often have the urge to control, but the more effective strategy is to give employees the tools they need to take control themselves.”
Eliminate fear. “New technologies bring fear and apprehension: fear of change, fear of risks, and fear of control or competency. While it’s wise to not dive in headfirst without proper research, acting on fear could prevent your company from realizing its innovative potential. Today, mobilization is such a massive disruption to every industry that a failure to embrace the change would be a terrible mistake.”
Eliminate wastes of time. “Time is our most valuable resource, yet we allow so much to be wasted. Technology makes standard activities like processes, approvals, communication, and accessing information fast and simple, meaning people can spend less time on tedious administrative functions — and more time using the skills that make them valuable.”
Eliminate wastes of attention. “Humans have short attention spans, and the longer you waste their attention, the more disengaged they become. Mobile technology allows for continuous engagement, but that power can be wasted if the information provided is not valuable. Every action, process, or piece of information should be designed to maximize both engagement and productivity.”
Most schools have slogans that give their audience an idea of what they stand for and what they can offer potential students. In today’s virus-quarantined world, if you’re an educator, your slogan should read a bit like this:
It’s all happening, and it’s all online.
And yet not everyone is comfortable with the online classroom format. Even though there are thousands of schools where you can seek out an online education, there’s still something to be said for the interactiveness that a live classroom offers
It would be shortsighted to ignore the need for building engaging virtual classrooms. In a technologically advanced world, we don’t have to stop educating ourselves when geography (or even a global pandemic) stands in our way. In reality, the need to reimagine the classroom couldn’t be more necessary.
So now it’s time for educators to get creative and brush up on their digital classroom skills, because this format, while not yet a 100% replacement for the “real thing,” is not going anywhere. If you could offer an engaging classroom experience in the virtual world, why wouldn’t you?
And what if we told you that it really isn’t that difficult?
If you have a computer with a camera (which most people do), you’re already on the right track to teach others online.
In this post, we’re going to help you become more confident in your understanding of how to set up a virtual classroom.
Here’s what we’ll look at:
What exactly is a “virtual classroom?”
Virtual classrooms: techniques and class types
The key benefits of having a virtual classroom
5 virtual classroom tools that benefit both teacher and student
Setting up an interactive and engaging virtual classroom
What is a “virtual classroom?”
Like the name suggests, a virtual classroom is an online learning environment where experts can teach in their area of expertise to students hoping to learn a new skill.
These classrooms can be as formal as a collegiate professor teaching to doctoral students or as informal as a hobbyist taking a watercolor class. They can also include various technologies, like LED whiteboards or live video, that can contribute to the interactiveness and inclusivity of the class, depending on the goals of the teacher.
Virtual classrooms: techniques and class types
Now before we go deeper into creating a virtual classroom, let’s better understand what makes one truly interactive. (And a primer on virtual meeting etiquette probably wouldn’t hurt either.)
Look at Masterclass, the popular streaming service of classes taught by experts in their field. For a flat fee, you can learn photography from fashion photographers on YouTube.
These classes are fantastic resources, but because they are asynchronous (as in they’re not live, but prerecorded) they’ll still ultimately lack the intimacy and interactiveness of a true classroom. To create a more interactive class, try to run it live and not prerecorded—you can still do it online, but it gives you the opportunity to answer student questions in real time.
The flipped classroom style creates more independence for students and the opportunity for more one-on-one time with the teacher and students. Most of the learning is done independently by students, often through pre-recorded videos, presentations, and reading set up by the teacher.
The live classroom environment is then a time to ask questions and take a more Socratic approach.
Socratic approach: A style of teaching where the teacher is more of a supervisor who asks students how they came to their conclusions and guides them on how to process the information they consumed on their own time.
This is a great style for teachers who are instructing students on different levels of learning. More advanced students can be mixed in with beginner and intermediate students, and it allows the teacher to play more of a devil’s advocate role, allowing the discussions in the classroom to unveil the student’s overall needs and create a community of learning.
The key benefits of having a virtual classroom
The best part of the online classroom is, of course, the online part. There’s no need to find commercial real estate or desks, paying for utilities is a thing of the past, and there’s no commute. Most online classes have curriculum that’s software-based, so the need for physical books is often not necessary.
When there’s no overhead, that means more money in your pocket to make your course truly incredible, rather than fretting over heating a large building in the middle of winter. This way, your students are truly paying for you and your expertise (and not their parking spot).
More possibilities for distance learning
When you have an online course, the only thing students who aren’t in your time zone have to concern themselves with is showing up when the course starts. You could be teaching in Los Angeles but have students on the East Coast. Being able to learn from a particular teacher is now no longer limited due to geography.
Having students who are distance learners means that your classroom can also be larger and more diverse. Rather than catering directly to your region, you can open your course up to students from all over or even having two or more sessions where you might otherwise have only had one.
Equitability in the classroom
In a virtual classroom setting, it’ll be incredibly important to maintain equitability in each class, and when everything is online, that’s easier than ever. As long as the class starts and ends at the same time, the student can control where they learn best, making the classroom a place of maximum comfort and a place where they can best cater to their own learning styles.
Having a more controlled physical environment is helpful for younger students as well. The student’s guardian can help set their young learner up to succeed with physical requirements they may not have been given in a physical classroom. Being able to utilize a desk that allows a more hyperactive student to sit or stand, or a fidget spinner to quiet their hands will help keep their eyes on the screen but won’t be a distraction to their peers.
Students who are easily distracted can also change their video settings so that they can only see whoever is actively speaking. This helps with distractions that might have occurred in a live classroom—the student still gets the live classroom benefits without the distractions of what is going on around them.
Take away the physical distractions of the traditional classroom and what do you get? No gum popping, principal drop-ins, paper rustling, weird smell distractions and an environment where students (as well as the teacher) can get. things. done.
A psychologically safe learning environment yields better learning outcomes, higher performance, better focus, and the opportunity for the teacher to create a space that is truly equitable, where everyone’s voice is heard equally. Feedback can become very personalized, and through the use of classroom management software, the feedback students receive are tailored to them and not just the overall class.
5 virtual classroom tools that make life easier for both teachers and students
There are armloads of both hardware and software tools that make the virtual classroom more engaging for students and teachers.
1. Digital whiteboarding and annotations
The ability to make virtual annotations is great for teachers who want to create a more interactive online classroom. It allows you to mark up documents and record what was written so that the notes, once erased, can be recalled again for further study:
Understanding how to use all the features in live video conferencing is one of the greatest tools that a teacher can use. Rather than lecturing at a screen the entire time, teachers can send students into breakout rooms to work out problems and discuss questions that they can then share with the class as a whole.
2. Screen sharing
Screen sharing is another important feature when you’re teaching a virtual class. It makes it easier for students to follow along and see what’s happening on your screen as you’re scrolling, highlighting, and pointing details out
3. Chat box
If you have students who are shy or still building up the confidence to speak up in class (it can still be intimidating even if it’s online), a chat box can be a useful way to get them to come out of their shell.
For example, in Jamisi Video, you can write messages to your entire class—or privately to a specific student to give them feedback:
4. Integrations with other education software
Whatever virtual classroom software you choose, one of your considerations should be whether it integrates with other education software you’re using.
For instance, Jamisi also integrates with other learning management software, to let you schedule virtual office hours, see upcoming class meetings, and see which lessons have been covered.
5. Real-time messaging
Once your online class is over, what happens if a student has questions? Virtual meetings typically only last an hour or two, so make sure to have other options for students to get in touch with you.
Having a class team chat thread would be helpful here. It lets you and your students message each other in real time, share files with each other.
Things to consider when setting up an interactive and engaging virtual classroom
So. We now know what a virtual classroom is, the different types and styles of classrooms, advantages of teaching online, and tools that can benefit both the online teacher and student.
What’s the next step to creating your online classroom—and making it interactive and engaging? Here are some things to consider:
—What demographic of students will be taking the class?
If your target demographic is young and tech-savvy, rolling out the red carpet of integrative software we outlined above not only might be something that your students enjoy, it’s also likely something they’ve come to expect.
If your demographic is less tech-savvy, on the other hand, start slow and let them have a chance to pick up the software at a more manageable pace.
—What are you hoping to teach?
Some subjects are more suited to certain types of software integrations. Think about how hands-on your class is and cater your software tools to the subject matter. Just because you have whiteboard capabilities doesn’t mean you’ll always need to use them—but it’s good to know it’s there if you do need it.
—What’s the best way to reach and communicate with your students?
If you’re teaching a class, consider organizational and communication software integrations that’ll allow your students to feel connected to you even when your class isn’t meeting.
Whether you’re looking at video conferencing software, screen sharing apps, or communication tools that allow you to easily receive, critique, and resend student’s work back to them, find ways that allow for easy and efficient communication.
Ready to step into your virtual classroom?
There are so many tools out there that are designed for (or can be easily adapted to) what teachers need.
Understanding your student’s needs, your goals as a teacher, and what technology is available to you will help you create a learning environment that is creative, inclusive, and always ready to accept new ways to expand your knowledge of online learning.
Despite lockdown measures being relaxed, industries and businesses are still under considerable strain to try and cope with the added pressures: whether it be staff shortages, supply chain issues or working through the complications of remote working.
Staff shortages continue to be a particular challenge for contact centres, especially as this is a time when they are arguably at their busiest. Customers are seeking crucial information, looking to cancel contracts, save money, or even just find out where they stand on an issue. The last thing they want is the additional stress of not being able to speak to someone, waiting hours on hold, or not having their questions answered.
The importance of customer analytics to help find the pain points customers are experiencing and to address them quickly, cannot be overstated and needs to be used more widely. Over the last few months, customers have been at their most vulnerable and liable to look for alternative services if they are dissatisfied with their current service. As PWC found, 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand – even one they loved – after just one bad experience.
The importance of customer experience
Customer experience is, of course, a priority for contact centres. Agents are on the frontline, both being the first representation of business and having control of what that first interaction with the customer will be like.
Because of this, the pressure sits on their shoulders to ensure that customers have the best experience, their questions are answered and they leave the interaction more than satisfied. We just have to look at the impact of bad customer experience, which costs UK brands alone, £234 billion a year in lost sales, to understand just how important customer experience is.
Understanding what the customer wants, and just as importantly, what the customer does not want, is crucial. This can be achieved through effective evaluation of all forms of customer interactions: from email and SMS to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and customer calls.
Even combining omni-channel text platforms with voice data from customer calls can provide a rich data set for contact centres. It gives contact centres access to unfiltered data on the voice and tone of the customer and can help to improve the customer experience. However, improving customer experience is challenging to do efficiently. The need for analytics is the key here as this data can inform front line customer service agents to adjust their response to the customer in real-time.
The need for analytics
By using voice technology to transform call recordings into a rich text format makes it easier to search for specific information, to derive sentiment from the customer’s voice, and to make voice data immediately accessible. Transcripts from calls not only enable analytics but make this process possible at scale.
However, despite the clear advantages, contact centres still only analyse less than 3% of interactions. The reasons for this are two-fold: the cost and complexities of analysing so much data and the capacity to action the findings. But by only analysing such a small percentage, companies are missing out on a wealth of information provided by the voice of the customer.
To improve customer experiences and engagement, contact centres need to make the most of the data they have to make data-driven decisions. Analytics can help with that and also provides considerable efficiencies for contact centres, such as giving a 360 view of the customer, helping to speed up disputes, and improving customer satisfaction.
Voice analytics systems can even pick up spoken keywords to assess the topic being discussed and the emotional character of the conversation, and thus identify areas where the contact staff may need additional training, especially with handling difficult calls.
These systems can also isolate frequently used words and phrases within a given duration and pick up on changes in consumer behaviour during an interaction. This then helps organisations to better address where customer vulnerabilities lie and adjust interactions and outputs accordingly.
This automation could be transformative for contact centres. Besides speeding up interactions, the technology has the ability to understand exactly what someone is asking regardless of native language, dialect or context.
By analysing the voice of the customer to agents and internal processes, analytics empowers contact centres to improve customer experience. Analytics enable brands to transform bad experiences into good ones to improve the overall experience and crucially, retain customers.