UC Today: How to Update Your Communication Endpoints for Video

Endpoints are a crucial part of the communication stack. When you’re keen to try out the latest software, with virtual backgrounds and smart assistants, it’s easy to forget that communication can’t happen without the right hardware.

In a world where the communication and collaboration journey is rapidly evolving, companies need to ensure that they’re not just investing in the right software to make collaborative experiences happen – they’re also buying the right endpoint solutions too. More importantly, updating your communication endpoints for video also means thinking about how you’re going to link the software your team uses every day, to the hardware investments your business has already made. Bridging the gap is how companies prepare for a real video-ready future.

Embracing the Video-First Culture

One of the biggest trends in the current communication landscape is the growing demand for video. Conferencing marketing is predicted to reach a value of $11.56 billion by 2027, with more companies opting to use video all the time.

To address the growing need for immersive collaborative experiences in 2020, some leading providers began announcing that companies could access their technology for free, boosting adoption rates around the world.

For instance, Google Meet is free to access at the time of writing this article. Unfortunately, while accessing technology for free addresses one barrier to entry, there are other roadblocks that need to be addressed too. Google Meet doesn’t support open-standard video conferencing endpoints from vendors like Cisco and Poly. That means if you don’t have pre-approved hardware in place, your journey to video is instantly put on hold.

How do you ensure that your teams have the right microphones, conferencing equipment, and webcams to stay connected at a distance? More importantly, how do you avoid replacing the technology your team already relies on?

Connecting the Dots in the New Communication World

As the necessity for remote work and video collaboration continues, both the hardware and the software that companies need to thrive already exists on the market. Unfortunately, business leaders also need to find the link that connects those two worlds.

To prepare for the switch to video, teams need all of the right endpoint equipment already established, either in the traditional workplace, or their home office. Unfortunately, it’s rarely possible for teams to use any phone or webcam to dial into a video meeting. The key to success at a time when video conferencing software providers aren’t always device agnostic is the right middle-man. Companies need to ensure that they’re thinking about more than just webcams and phones – they need to consider connectors too.

A cloud bridge can help to bypass some of the gaps in the journey to the new video collaboration landscape, by ensuring that team members can connect various platforms, and link up the hardware systems that they’re already using. With connectors, companies keen to evolve at an agile pace can protect their initial investment by enabling their existing SIP and H.323 endpoints to call into popular services like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

One simple piece of technology is all it takes to bring the often fragmented areas of hardware and software together in a new era of communication.

The Future of Video Communication

The rising demand for video in the workplace is providing business leaders with new ways to strengthen connections between team members and accomplish new goals.

Unfortunately, equipping your team members with your existing hardware, and a new software solution for collaboration, might not be the way forward. As we look towards the future of video, there are countless trends on the horizon that can change the way we communicate, such as:

  • Augmented and virtual reality: Updated camera technology with facial recognition and intelligent algorithms can create unique digital experiences for the modern employee. If you have the right headsets in place, you could create a landscape where your team members can communicate in digital spaces just as smoothly as they would connect face-to-face
  • Voice recognition: Voice recognition technology in the microphone and headset endpoints means that business users can communicate with machines like never before. Virtual assistants can make notes on behalf of a team member with nothing but a verbal direction. Additionally, team members can use the same technology to schedule new meetings with team members, track down important information, and more. Some companies are experimenting with voice recognition tools that can provide instant transcription and translation
  • Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence built into the video collaboration landscape means that businesses can collect valuable information about how their team members communicate. An end-to-end view of the conversations that employees have makes it easier for companies to support their team members in increasing productivity and efficiency. AI can also help with mapping the customer journey

However, as exciting as all of these new opportunities might be, they’re impossible to access without the right foundations in place. Business leaders need to ensure that whatever the future might hold in communication, they have the right system in place to keep all of their technology connected.

Make the Most of Your Endpoints

No matter the size of your business, or the industry that you operate in, it’s safe to say that the communication landscape is changing. Unfortunately, before you can become a part of the evolution, you need to open your business up to the future. This means not only investing in the right software but ensuring you have the systems in place to continue using the high-performing endpoints in your communication stack.

A connector that links your existing communication technology with the future of collaboration and customer experience is the key to preparing for the next stage of the communication landscape. Being ready for what’s to come doesn’t have to mean re-designing your entire communication experience from the ground up. You can continue to access the tools that your employees already know and love while opening the door to future technology too.

UC Today: Amazing Analytics Start with Noise Cancelling Tech

Call analytics has been a crucial component of business growth for years now. Businesses are now turning call conversation into valuable data from identifying the caller’s identity with voice signature to lie detection by studying patterns of the voice similar to a Polygraph. In any industry, the ability to evaluate the quality of calls, the state of business interactions, and even the emotions of the customer is vital. However, in recent years, the way that we look at call analytics has changed.

The rapidly increasing demand for sensational customer experience means that businesses can no longer afford to take chances with their voice technology. Without the right analytical tools in place, your company could be missing opportunities to repair dips in call performance, overcome poor customer experience trends, and more.

I believe that analytics can form the heart of an effective customer experience strategy. However, just like any transformative technology, an analytical framework needs to start with the right foundations.

Noise Cancellation Empowers Call Analytics

We all know that customer experience is a significant driving force behind the revenue potential of any business. It’s also the driving force behind everything from customer retention to acquisition and brand identity. Noise cancellation plays an important role in the CX landscape, reducing the distractions present in a discussion between a customer and brand. When customers don’t have to repeat themselves for an agent to understand them, problems are solved faster.

However, there’s more to the benefits of noise cancellation than just improving the quality of calls. To help drive positive business outcomes, many organisations are beginning to rely on the benefits of capturing and analysing the voice of the customer. Taking phone calls and the data from those conversations from all business departments can make a massive difference to your operations.

Some call centres and larger enterprise brands have thousands of hours of voice data to unlock and explore. The information and trends that a company can glean from these enormous amounts of data are incredible. Unfortunately, just having the data isn’t enough.

Most companies learn too late that call data is only useful when the data available is high quality. If there’s background noise interference getting in the way, then your artificial intelligence and machine learning systems struggle to interpret and collect critical insights.

The unfortunate truth is that when background noise interferes with the quality of the data collected, valuable information is often left unused and untapped.

Leveraging the Power of Voice

In the modern landscape, there are many different types of information available to access. Instant chat systems on a website mean that it’s easy to collect real text-based information for bots and machine learning algorithms. However, while the popularity of these environments is growing, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever truly replace voice.

Voice is still the primary choice for communication among businesses and customers. Although omni-channel communication mediums have increased the number of platforms available, voice still leads the way when it comes to critical and empathetic connections between people.

Unfortunately, changes in the way that we work and operate each day are also reducing the quality of voice data available to businesses.

Even if you’re in a B2B business that often deals with managers and administrators from other companies, you’re not guaranteed to have a completely quiet phone call. More people than ever before are making calls on the subway, or when sitting on the bus on the way home. Now, remote and home working even mean that background noise like vacuum cleaner, TV, music, and range hoods, is a constant concern.

This constant background noise is a common, yet often overlooked plague to the business landscape, particularly when it comes to unlocking the benefits of call analytics. Any background noise could embed useless information into the data that you feed to your analytics dashboard, reducing the quality of your insights. That’s where noise cancellation filters come in.

What is a Noise Cancellation Gateway?

A Noise Cancellation Gateway helps companies to solve their problems with background noise in voice conversations. The gateway acts like a filter, identifying and removing all non-human voices. This ensures that you can maintain crystal clear audio over any business phone line.

A noise cancellation gateway means that during conversations, there’s no annoying background disruption distracting the customer or agent. Additionally, because the conversations between customers and companies are clearer, this also leads to more high-quality voice data for artificial intelligence and voice analytics systems.

Think of it like interacting with a voice assistant at home. Using AI capabilities like Alexa and Siri in the house can be much more difficult if there’s a lot of background noise. The system doesn’t know which noise to listen to. With the gateway, the external noise that confuses the AI is removed. The noise is cleaned up before the intelligent device needs to interpret a person’s request or command. This means that there’s a higher probability that the response from the assistant will be correct

The process is very similar for IVRs that use artificial intelligence. Think about someone trying to get a refill on their prescription over the phone with an automated system. They might keep hearing “I didn’t understand that” because the background noise has made it difficult for the system to pinpoint crucial keywords.

Clean Voice Data Supports More Than Just Analytics

For any business that’s thinking of adopting artificial intelligence or call analytics to improve their customer experience strategy, it’s crucial to get the foundations right first. A noise cancellation gateway ensures that the audio is clean and easy to recognise before it’s fed into the AI engine.

Many companies in the current landscape are beginning to use AI and machine learning systems in their interactive voice response systems too. In the contact centre, to help reduce the amount of work divided between human agents, companies are embedding IVRs with smart assistant technology into the customer journey. Unfortunately, it’s very common for customers to come across an IVR that can’t interpret their voice commands.

Although many issues can prevent an IVR from working properly, the most common problem is usually background noise. If there’s noise getting in the way of what your agent can understand, then customers need to constantly repeat themselves. I’ve had many no fun experiences repeating my credit card number or tracking number numerous times to the IVR without success and the frustrations escalate. Customers tend to pop the question in the head, is it me or them?

As well as helping you to access cleaner and more accurate data for your analytics, a noise cancellation gateway can also support your AI initiatives too. The noise cancellation technology filters out background noise so that customer requests can be interpreted correctly, either by a human or a robot.

As voice-based assistants become a more natural part of life for many people in the modern landscape, the ability to deliver excellent experiences through these bots will be a crucial differentiator. Adding noise cancellation to the customer journey means that you can reduce the risk of the wrong answer being given to a customer.

Everything Starts with Better Voice

In today’s digital-first landscape, it’s easy to get carried away, focusing on the fantastic benefits that interactive assistants, chatbots, and call analytics can bring to your business. All of these solutions have the potential to improve customer experience significantly, and therefore help your business to thrive. However, the latest disruptive tools only work at their best when they have the right foundations in place.

Voice and the quality of that voice will make a massive difference to any business, whether they’re investing in call analytics, interpreting voice commands with your IVR, or just aiming for clearer conversations that impress the customers.

UC Today: The New “C” in UC

Communication is not about just having the connection anymore…

The digital age has taken a new turn. For years much of the focus was put on information; how easy and fast we could access it and how we could secure our own data that we didn’t want others to see. Now we are in the midst of the communication era. With more people than ever working remotely, effective communications technology is crucial to business success.

In an age where people walk around with supercomputers in their pockets, and with video conferencing becoming just as common as in-person meetings, there’s more to “staying connected” in the workplace than there was only a few years ago. Even the definition of “unified communications” is changing.

When unified communications or “UC” first emerged on the market, it was a way of connecting people in various unique forms, from instant messaging, to Voice over IP (digital calls), and video conferencing. People wanted more channels for their conversations, and UC could deliver that. However, as the age of communication continues to evolve, we’re beginning to discover that it’s not just the range of connectivity options that matters, but the quality of those connections too.

UC Demands Quality, Not Just Quantity

The global unified communications market size was valued, by Grand View Research, at USD 56.33 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 16.8% from 2019 to 2025. We are definitely in the new age of communications. The key change being conversational versatility and workflow integration. We’ve learned that in today’s diverse environment, we don’t have to stick with audio calls alone when it comes to sharing information. Instead, we can unlock new layers of context within our discussions, through file and content sharing, video conferencing, instant messaging, and more.

However, if businesses want to take advantage of the latest UC trends, there needs to be an increased focus on the quality of the conversations, not just the quantity of channels available. For instance, consider how the protocol for HD voice, G.722 only became popular as a standard protocol in 2008, despite initially being created in 1988.

For communication to be truly unified, agents and customers need to get the same high-quality conversational experience whether they’re dialling into a video call, connecting through an instant messaging platform, or an audio call. If you claim to have a UC strategy, but you can only access clear, consistent call quality through audio, then people will only want to connect with you through audio. That means that your other channels become redundant until you can upgrade their quality.

Poor Quality Communications Harm Productivity

Unified Communications offers businesses the opportunity to connect everyone in your team, wherever they might be. An employee stuck in traffic can still tune into a meeting taking place in the office half an hour away, because they still have access to the same collaboration and communication platforms as everyone else. Used correctly, UC can ensure that no-one in your team ever feels isolated or removed from the rest of the group. When you’re genuinely unified, collaboration can begin to take place.

However, there are challenges to bringing this environment of genuine unified communication to life. Every day, people in a range of roles, from front office workers to executives, have to collaborate remotely with other people around the world in order to do their jobs. Unfortunately, many workers say that the quality of the communication vehicles is the biggest issue facing their teams. While UC depends on more than just audio and conference calls to keep people connected, something as simple as bad audio quality can ruin your entire UC strategy.

In a face-to-face conversation, the human brain has the potential to filter out background noises like rustling paper and air conditioning, and we compensate for noise during an interview or meeting by speaking louder. To be effective, communication tools also need to adapt to changing conditions/situations. Unified communication platforms can’t just provide multiple connection points between two parties; they must be smart enough to adapt to changes in the environment, filter out background noise, and update according to user needs.

With other modes of communication like video conferencing on the rise, it’s more important than ever for businesses to get the foundation of their UC strategy right. For instance, poor audio quality will turn even great video conferencing into a bad experience. Limited mobile connectivity means that people on a subway or working remotely will still struggle to stay linked to their team. The quality of the conversation needs to be at the heart of every UC strategy.

The Benefits of UC Done Correctly

In a world where workforces are becoming increasingly dispersed and disjointed, quality communication ensures that your team members can remain engaged and connected. Whether you’re hiring remote employees to help you expand your workforce without extra overhead, or you’re building a global environment with experts from all around the world, collaboration tools ensure that everyone can work seamlessly together.

Build your UC strategy on a foundation of quality, and you’ll benefit from:

1.    Better Collaboration

With unified communications, you can bring your team members together wherever they are, whether they work in different buildings, cities, or continents. A unified communication solution provides your team members with multiple accessible ways to stay connected with their team, based on their individual needs. For instance, if someone needs to brainstorm with the entire sales team, they can start group chats with file sharing and video built-in.

With cloud-based sharing solutions, multiple members of a team can also work together on the same project at the same time, without worrying about miscommunications. When there are no gaps in the connections between your employees, you’ll soon see the benefits in the form of employee engagement and productivity.

2.    Simplified Operations

Unified communications bring all of your business communication solutions together into the same place. That means that team members can waste less time trying to track down the information that they need. You can log call data and email information together to create comprehensive customer profiles and keep better track of meaningful conversations. This has an impact on your productivity levels too, by ensuring that your team members can find the data that they need when they need it most.

According to IDC, the costs of being unable to find the right information instantly can cost approximately $3,300 per employee. With UC bringing all of your disparate conversations together in the same environment, it’s much easier to keep everyone on the same page. You may even find that your business becomes more compliant, as you can track down critical records when you need them most.

3.    Enhanced Customer Service

The right communication tools aren’t just useful at helping team members to work more productively together; these solutions can also help employees to deliver better end-results to customers too. When your employees have the power to request assistance from their colleagues as soon as they need it, or access background knowledge to solve a problem, they can solve problems faster. This leads to better outcomes for today’s highly-demanding consumers.

With collaboration tools, your team members will be able to work together with experts from around the world to solve issues for customers instantly, leading to a better reputation for your company and reduced waiting times for your clients. For instance, if a customer contacts an agent because they’re trying to troubleshoot a set-up process or assemble equipment, and you have quality communication tools in place, your agents can set up a video conference with the customer. This means that an adviser can see exactly what a customer needs to do to streamline their setup or provide visual guidance to make the process easier.

Put Quality at the Heart of your Unified Communication Strategy

Currently, at Deltapath we’re using in-depth algorithms and intelligent tools to combine the quality communication and collaboration world. At present, our algorithm is focused on distinguishing between human and non-human voices. We want to help parents working from home to sound just as professional as their colleagues in the office. In the future, we are looking to integrate with AI engines to learn and understand the context of these human voices and selectively eliminate unrelated conversations such that the person on the phone is protected by an acoustic bubble.

UC Today: Measuring CX – Greater Brand Loyalty and Increased Spending

Measuring customer experience (CX) simply seems like the best course of action and the “right thing to do” as a follow-up with valued customers. Everyone wants to know what pleases customers and what drives them to remain loyal to a brand.

Consider the fact that customers who had the best experience went on to spend 140 percent more than those who had a bad or not-so-great experience, and it’s easy to see that CX has quickly become a driving revenue force.

Recently we had the pleasure to work with Air Asia, a leading low-cost carrier (LCC) in Asia to improve its contact centre operations with the use of our enterprise technology. Being in the LCC business, increasing efficiency is key to success. The airline wanted to set itself apart by going beyond what customers typically expect from most LCC’s. It was imperative that no time is spent looking up customer information so agents could immediately greet customers with a personalised greeting, along with call history and any other applicable information at the agents finger-tips.

The matrix is evident when considering Air Asia receives about 2,000 calls per day at their hotlines. By integrating our system with their Salesforce.com solution, we helped to reduce its average duration per call significantly by at least 1 minute per call which translates to 33 man hours per day, allowing them to serve more customers with the same human resources and reduce customer waiting time in queue.

A High CX Score

Having a high CX score not only helps with improved revenue but if driven by the right communication technology, it also means your bottom line improves as a result.

Businesses that are ready to take a more revenue-focused approach to measure CX will find a bounty of crucial information that ultimately results in the quantifiable and highly informational Forrester CX Index score.

Once the CX Index is calculated on an individual basis, it is then used to analyze its relationship to revenue throughout the entire range of CX Index scores. Organisations can then use the results to develop models to indicate the subtleties of how CX drives revenue in their respective industry.

Following are the core components of the CX Index:

CX Quality

  • The degree to which a customer finds value, in terms of on-time delivery of the right product in the expected condition
  • The experience should not cause the customer any difficulty—the transaction should go according to expectations
  • Customers feel good about their experience with their experience and the brand

Customer Loyalty

  • The probability of keeping existing business with satisfied customers
  • Customers become more intrigued by the brand and are likely to buy additional products and services offered
  • Good CX translates into recommendations of a brand to friends and family via word-of-mouth and public reviews

Each CX Index Takes on a Shape of Its Own

There are a variety of models used to discover data uncovered in the CX Index in relation to revenue potential–the three primary models are as follows:

  1. Linear. Revenue and CX move in tandem. No matter what you do, or do not do, revenue is likely to stay the same
  2. Diminishing Returns. Once poor CX factors improve, revenue potential increases immensely. However, it will begin to taper off once CX levels reach a certain point, meaning that correcting poor experiences has a bigger impact than improving good experiences
  3. Exponential. Revenue potential stays fairly unaffected when businesses improve poor experiences, but revenue increases drastically at higher levels of CX

For each of these models, naturally, it would make sense to eliminate bad CX as much as possible. Brands whose CX Index result in a linear relationship between revenue and CX, for example, may focus on improving the experiences influencing the largest number of customers. An exponential shape may indicate the need to provide as many exceptional experiences possible for customers.

The Two Top Factors That Improve CX for Top Brands

Business leaders looking for practical ways to improve CX may take a look at the following factors:

  • Thanks to the collection and storage of customer data, you have access to all types of information to help you personalise service. Combine your data with UX analysis criteria to better understand your customer’s needs, preferences and buying patterns
  • Digitalisation and Cloud Adaptations. Adopting the latest technologies to streamline processes and communications such as collecting data, video conferencing, multiple party telephone calls and processing transactions is vital to improving CX. Unified Communication-as-a-Service (UCaaS) is a powerful tool in improving CX, allowing for seamless communications with customers on their terms and through a variety of methods

1% Improvement in CX Can Result in $15-$175 Million in Annual Revenue

It should come at no surprise that efforts to improve CX result in reduced costs in customer service and increased revenue. However, many organisational leaders still worry that the cost of improving customer care may become prohibitive. Contrary to that idea, business leaders continue to report that delivering great experiences reduce costs. Sprint Mobile has gone on record to share that its focus on improving CX has reduced its customer care costs by as much as 33 percent.