Making Online Customer Service Information Safer

People tend to trust search engines. The concept seems simple, actually. When you have a question, click over to your favorite search engine, ask your question, and browse through the results offering a bevy of information that usually – hopefully – answers your question.

However, phishers, scammers and anyone with the intention of stealing information and personal data are now leveraging search engines for their own use. One recent story suggests these harmful users are taking advantage of unknowing people who attempt to find customer service contact information for mega-sized companies such as Facebook and Google. After all, do you know Facebook’s customer service 800-number? Why not “Google” it?

When a person types in “Facebook customer service”, there are results that appear that look to be official web pages offering up contact numbers for the company’s customer service department.

Upon further review, these numbers lead people directly to harmful scammers who are quick to use tactics that obtain personal information and security details.

We shouldn’t be quick to sound the alarm. This article isn’t designed to deter people from using their favorite search engine, which still serve a monumentally helpful purpose in research and obtaining information.

However, when it comes to engaging and communicating with a certain company or brand, such as contacting the customer service team at a specific company, there may be a better, safer, way.

Customer service is moving toward more digital support and for many brands a self-support environment, where consumers log onto a brand’s website or social channels, type in their query and access a variety of digital support materials available to help answer their question. And since those channels and the website are controlled by the brand, the information is more trusted and reliable than what may be found in general search engine results.

The upside here, besides the increased security of the data, is the fact that people of all age groups are now used to searching online for answers to their own queries. Favorite things to do in Key West? Best minivan for my family? Cooking instructions for a turkey at Thanksgiving? These are all questions we ask a search engine, and the results help get answers to what we’re looking for.

Customers call on service departments all the time, or even walk into their local store to get help. Consider a new smartphone purchase; often times after the purchase, customers will have a variety of questions regarding their account, or the functionality of the mobile device itself. Rather than waiting on hold for thirty minutes to speak with a customer service agent at their mobile carrier to ask questions, this same customer service information is now pre-loaded onto the carrier’s website and digital properties like Facebook, accessible to any customer, anytime, anywhere, for a more convenient way of handling customer queries and concerns.

With today’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, the more customers utilize this type of channel with a positive outcome, the “smarter” the process becomes for future customer interactions.

For example, the way to optimize search for self-service is to implement a metric that allows the best results to match a user’s satisfaction rating. The best measure of quality for search results is content effectiveness. Content effectiveness combines the frequency with which a customer selects a piece of content based on the search terms and the quality of the interaction with content as measured by positive feedback, time spent on content and deflection of calls to customer service.

As more customers rely on branded websites and self-service digital support materials, the more convenient and safer the customer support process will become in the future.

Editor’s Note: James Ramey is CEO of DeviceBits, a software company that services clients through a predictive and personalized understanding of interactive tutorials, adaptive FAQs, Interactive Guides, and Videos designed to for self-serving consumers. For more info visit Device Bits.

How Your Customer Service Strategy Will Change Beginning in 2017

smartphone weight training

The way brands and retailers have operated their businesses has changed significantly over the years, due to technology such as the Internet, online shopping and mobile devices. However, the way we handle customer questions, complaints and queries has not changed all that much. By and large, your customers still approach brands and retailers by seeking out the customer service desk in-store, or by calling an 800-number to try and resolve an issue.

This is about to change in a radical way.

The consumers of today are tech-savvy, do-it-yourself people. According to a recent survey, 36 percent of consumers now prefer using self-service customer service tools rather than traditional customer service agents. The way consumers shop is changing and brands should be aware of the new tools and trends at hand.

The Changing Shopping Path

It used to be that if a customer had questions while shopping, or a problem after they made their purchase, they would ask a sales associate in the store or call the customer service phone number. Now, customers are seeking alternate ways to get their answers. Customers can simply look up the answers to their questions, compare prices and get other useful information from their mobile devices or laptop computers. This growing trend of consumer self-sufficiency is why brands are looking at revamping their customer service departments and overall customer experience strategies in 2017.

A More DIY Approach To Customer Service

This change in consumer behavior is a natural progression. As technology becomes more readily available in the shoppers’ everyday lives, the need for one-on-one communication with customer service and sales personnel will evolve into different formats. Digital customer service options are more efficient, easier to access and provide a faster response time for customers.

New Tools To Consider

There are a few different tools that are behind this growth in popularity of self-service customer service techniques. Perhaps some of the most popular are artificial intelligence (AI) and self-discovery methods.

AI, in the form of chatbots and other tools, is helping bridge the gap in customer-brand communications. By allowing customers to engage with a brand via SMS messaging, social media messaging and live chat options on a brand’s website, customers can quickly and easily get their questions answered without the complications of sending emails and waiting on hold on a customer care hotline.

Self-service is another rapidly growing customer care trend among shoppers. Self-discovery tools such as interactive tutorials, adaptive FAQ’s, interactive guides and videos contain the simple, DIY answers that customers are looking for. These tools allow the customer to solve most of their problems themselves, putting the power back into the customer’s hands.

The Role of Self-Discovery Applications

Putting these trendy tools to work can be as simple or complex as a brand or retailer wants. The easiest way to get the ball rolling would be to make interactive guides and adaptive FAQ’s for common customer problems and questions. These tools can help customers by providing answer to questions that other customers have previously asked and showing users step-by-step how they can reach a common goal. Other tools such as interactive tutorials and videos can also aid customers in their customer car journey by visually showing them how to resolve a problem.

These tools and technologies are the next big things in the world of customer service. Help your customers help themselves by leveraging the power of the self-service customer care.

Editor’s Note: James Ramey is CEO of DeviceBits, a software company that services clients through a predictive and personalized understanding of interactive tutorials, adaptive FAQs, Interactive Guides, and Videos designed to for self-serving consumers. For more info visit Device Bits.

How to Evaluate Voice Quality in VOIP Network

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is one of the most popular and effective communication services. VoIP transform voice signals into data packets and transmit them over the internet from one point to another. The use of IP phone has gained immense popularity among small, medium and large businesses. This is largely because it reduces the expense of call transmission.

VOIP-Network

Quality of calls in VoIP has always been a contentious issue. New VoIP or IP phone users are often doubt the quality of calls. Usually people fail to realize that faulty network and low bandwidth results in call quality issues. VoIP implementation has some basic prerequisites. Users will be able to get rid of quality issues forever once these perquisites are fulfilled.

Quality evaluation is needed to grade the call quality of IP phone calls. It helps in evaluating the technical and commercial viability of a communication technology. Similar techniques are used for both improving quality of VoIP call and quality evaluation. This generally involves subjective as well objective voice quality measurement.

he need to evaluate voice quality in VoIP (Voice over IP) applications is an important

requirement for technical and commercial reasons. This may involve subjective and/or

objective voice quality measurements, but existing methods may not always be appropriate

for VoIP applications.

he need to evaluate voice quality in VoIP (Voice over IP) applications is an important

requirement for technical and commercial reasons. This may involve subjective and/or

objective voice quality measurements, but existing methods may not always be appropriate

for VoIP applications.

The need to evaluate voice quality in VoIP (Voice over IP) applications is an important

requirement for technical and commercial reasons. This may involve subjective and/or

objective voice quality measurements, but existing methods may not always be appropriate

The neefor VoIP applications.

Internet-Based MOS Test

MOS test methodology is an extremely popular test to assess the quality of the VoIP network. The test involves quality assessment of the codecs and it can be difficult due to subtle differences in the codecs. Besides this packet loss instances and various limitations of IP phone VoIP applications also need to be taken into account. It has been proven that packet loss is far more fatal than the faulty codecs.

Evaluation of the Voice Quality

This evaluation method uses a PC-based software system. The software simulates key processes of the VoIP technology used by an IP phone. At the same time quality of the speech is also evaluated. It measures the objective voice quality by using ITU PESQ and E-Model evaluation. Comparison between internet-based MOS assessments and more conventional MOS evaluation can also be drawn.

Measurement of Intrusive Conversational Speech Quality

Intrusive Conversational Speech Quality is a great method of predicting one-way speech quality. However, it does not take into account the impact of the end-to-end delay; a vital component of interactivity in communication. This particular test is a conversational method of quality measurement. It truly and properly exploits the accuracy of the Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality (PESQ) algorithm.

Non-Intrusive Objective Measurement

There has been an extension of the elementary E-model in multiple directions. This has been coupled with the non-intrusive monitoring of quality for VoIP applications. However, the equation of equipment impairment in case of this assessment is based on the subjective tests. These are conducted to obtain the model parameters for each codec, application as well as the condition prevailing within the network. Naturally, this is pretty time consuming as well as impractical method. It may even prevent the development of a cognitive E-model for designing the future IP phone applications.

Author – Michelle Patterson

Time to turn the attention on structured cabling


A structured cabling system can be defined as a comprehensive system or network of cables and associated hardware devices that collectively offer a holistic telecommunication infrastructure and a platform on which an overall hierarchy or system of information is established.
Structured cabling is the foundation of today’s business houses, government organization, and so on. It is also the base of today’s IT network including data voice, alarms or videos. It also defines the transmission patter of the signals through the communication network.

Structured-Cabling

Structured cables are set up and maintained by the contractors who are specialized in this area networking technology. Now, this ensures that the structured cabling system that they set up is absolutely seamless and is best fitted to meet the needs of the businesses. However, the methodology of setting up a structured cabling system is a generic one and is standardized. The standardization the procedure is imperative as it is imperative for the businesses to ensure a universally accepted system performance rather than a complex arrangement, which might put the companies in tight fix.

Even though the methodology of setting up structured cabling system is a generic and standardized one, each and every system develops s a unique identity after it is set up. This ensures that it is absolutely safe and there is no chance of any data pilferage, which is the last thing that a business organization would want to happen. Here are the factors that make each and every structured cabling system is unique.

  • The cables and the connection products used

  • The structure of the architecture of the business premises or the building, where the system is being set up

  • The functionalities of the cabling installation

  • The types of the apparatus and the equipment that the cabling system is expected or intended to support – at present and in the short as well as long term future

  • The configuration of the system that is already installed (if any)

  • Requirements of the customers and the warranties of the manufacturers

Here are the benefits of having a structured cabling system:

  • The communication becomes fast, cost effective as well as reliable. Most importantly, the cabling system is suitable and effective for any type of infrastructure

  • In case the business wants to relocate, the system is flexible enough to be taken down and refitted at the new location with hardly any hassle

  • The system is adaptable o future improvements as well as additions

  • This type of system ensure better and more authentic data encryption, and offers more safety and better and safer storage facilities

Data as well as voice management

Structured cabling helps in simultaneous data as well as voice management and this helps the business to put in the two aspects of communication under one umbrella, thereby reducing the cost and the botheration by a significant aspect.

Talking about them separately, data cabling can defined as setting up of a network of cables that relay or transmit data from one point or place to another. Data cabling helps to set up communication between an effective communication between multiple users and helps analyze the exchanged data at a centralized point.

Voice cabling, on the other hand is the network of cables that helps in setting up of the basic communication, which also includes the land based telephone system, modems and the analog lines.

Structured cables put these separate genres of functionalities within one bracket, thereby setting up a unique data transfer system that indulges in data as well as voice management simultaneously and that too in a seamless and effective way.

This unique feature of this system compels the companies to more and more shift towards structured cabling.

Author – Michelle Patterson

200 Words to Use Instead of Good

Reprinted from http://custom-writing.org/blog with permission.

200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good” [Infographic]

Self-Medication and Mental Illness: Know the Signs

Mental illness is notorious for causing sufferers to self-medicate. Most often, self-medication is very harmful, sometimes resulting in overdose or other physical consequences. Here are a few common forms of self-medication and how to recognize them as substance abuse.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Addiction

Image via Pixabay by jarmoluk

Alcohol is one of the most common ways that people self-medicate in order to cope with various mental illnesses, from  bipolar disorder to depression, schizophrenia, and more. It is, for the most part, socially acceptable to drink regularly and is very easy to acquire. Alcohol quiets the mind, forcing it to slow down and relax. For many mental illness sufferers, this is all they want to experience, even if it is only for a few hours.

Some signs of alcohol abuse might be shirking responsibilities at home or work in favor of drinking, drinking as a response to stress, or frequently drinking with a seeming inability to go without alcohol. A person who is abusing alcohol may also attempt to hide their drinking while a self-medicating person may also combine alcohol with medications despite dangerous results.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco is known for soothing nerves, limiting anxiety, and reducing stress, which is why many people in high-stress jobs can be seen smoking on their breaks. As a form of self-medication, tobacco can ease anxiety and panic on top of potentially treating some symptoms of  schizophrenia. A surprising number of people with schizophrenia become hooked on tobacco with studies showing that smoking can genuinely reducing symptoms such as sensory and cognitive deficits.

Signs of  tobacco abuse include withdrawal, planning days around smoke breaks, irritability without a certain amount of nicotine, and continued smoking despite any emerging health concerns.

Marijuana Consumption

Marijuana is likely the least detrimental form of self-medication. Though smoking marijuana has been shown to have some negative side effects, including short-term memory loss, marijuana is the lesser of many evils when compared to most other addictive substances. Marijuana permits the person to relax and can combat the effects of anxiety and depression. However, a dependence on any substance is never beneficial.

Signs of marijuana abuse can include withdrawal, problems sleeping without using the substance, a distinct smell, and regular use.

Prescription Medication Abuse

Prescription medication addiction often occurs accidentally. Since these treatments are prescribed by doctors, patients may fail to realize the dangers of overdosing. Overuse of these medications may be an attempt to treat worsening symptoms or to simply up the dosage if the prescribed dosage is not helping enough.

It is fairly easy to recognize prescription drug misuse. The prescribed dosage will be available on the container. If the person is exceeding the dose having not consulted their doctor, they may be at risk of addiction. They may also experience severe withdrawal without the substance or may notice that their usual dosage has become ineffective.

Intentional abuse can be harder to spot as the user will be concealing their actions. A sudden change in moods, behaviors, or temperament is often cause for concern if you are aware that the person is taking prescription medications.

Self-medication is all too common in a society where mental illness is rampant and medical care is difficult to obtain. Some people are able to cope with mental illness simply by cultivating positive coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet. For others, medication is necessary. It is always best to consult a doctor for approved treatments and to seek help from a counselor for non-medical recommendations.

Jasmine Dyoco is a fan of crossword puzzles, gardening, books on tape, learning (anything!) and fencing. She truly enjoys the work she does with Educator Labs and hopes you’ll stop by the site to learn more!

 

Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

No one can deny the impact of social media on the global population and the way it has affected business across the world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms are continually using new ideas to connect individuals. How can VoIP or Voice over IP be left behind? VoIP too has been affected by the social media revolution and its integration is becoming more and more obvious.

Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

Innovations in social media with VoIP being the focal point

Almost all the popular social media platforms were initiated in the form of desktop websites. However, with mobile devices gaining prominence, the social media platform too evolved. Though initially these sites were not meant to be mobile but they changed for the better. Nowadays, the social media innovations are built around VoIP and all innovations keep VoIP as the focal point.

If we take a closer look at mobile apps like WhatsApp, and Viber, we can see that here the users are able to share text, images and video with one another. Though these sites are not as big as Facebook but their very existence is based on VoIP. Making calls and messages are sent over the internet. Well, the days of social media built around the VoIP has already started and things are getting better and better with every passing day.

Facebook Too Is Making Its Move

Zuckerberg has created the best ever social media platform for the modern world. This can be judged from its growing user base, which has already crossed the 1 billion mark. Every time there is some innovation or news of some new move from the company it garners huge interest among users.

A couple of years back, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for whopping sum of $22 billion. The app was originally a part of the growing social media but immediately after the acquisition, VoIP calling feature was added. Thus, instead of slamming the door on its competitor, Facebook used the opportunity to expand its services.


The messenger app even has internet calling facility besides the VoIP calling feature. Now, there are many other companies that would follow suit. They are going to replicate the Facebook model to enhance their businesses as well.


Businesses Are Already Using VoIP And Social Media

All leading businesses are using social media to reach out to their customers. Customers too expect quick response to their queries. All this is done with the help of social media. This gives a head-start to  IP-PBX based VoIP integration with social media.

Companies often make it mandatory to fill up a form before making their content available to customers. Now this data automatically goes into the company’s CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. Executives in the company can use the VoIP integrated with the CRM to call up new prospects or follow up with existing customers.


What Does The Future Hold For Social Media And VoIP?

According to industry data, 79% of the businesses in the US have already started to use VoIP services. Another report reveals that an equal percentage of users are using social media as well. Features like messaging will soon be integrated with VoIP. VoIP and Social Media are made for each other. The day is not far when probably we will not even be aware where and how we are using them.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson