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.

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

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


Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Over the years VoIP or Voice over Internet protocol has only become more efficient and user-friendly. VoIP or IP telephony is the real time transmission of voice data over the internet using the internet protocol or IP.

The Settings Behind This Technology

Three inventions primarily spurred the evolution of VoIP. First telephone, next internet and the third and most crucial invention is the internet protocol. Something that was started by Graham Bell in 1870, gained popularity over the years and turned into an indispensible part of modern communication.

During mid-1960s, internet was first time used by U.S defense, not what we use today. It was originally started by advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). During 1980s this technology gained widespread usage.

In 1972 Dr. Vint Cerf invented internet protocol or how data transfers between two computers. Thus, the foundation for VoIP was laid until further progress took place.

Beginning of Cloud Based Phones

In 1973, again ARPANET contributed to the beginning of VoIP. It was during that period that ARPANET conducted experimental transmission. However, it was during 1995 VocalTec, an Israeli company that patented the internet phone. VocalTec developed software for transmitting the voice over internet compressed the voice signals, converted them into digital packets and distributed over internet.

As long as both the receiver and caller have same software and hardware the technology worked well. The sound quality then was nothing near the conventional phone sound, but this effort was the first step towards IP telephony that you enjoy today.

Adoption Of The Technology

The early adopters of this technology were comprised of the hobbyist who had understood the potential of this technology. They preferred transferring voice data packets over the web instead on depending upon the traditional phone system.

The software that VocalTec developed used a PC that was integrated with a sound cards and speakers and microphones. Then the system was leveraged on H.323 protocol instead of SIP protocol used today. It allowed PC users to make long distance calls. However, during 1995 the broadband internet connection was not as good as it is today. Thus, IP telephony evolved with time as there was advancement in broadband.

Development Of IP Telephony

During 1996 Intel also introduced software for internet telephone. Gradually the use of IP cloud based phones started evolving and by 1998 almost 1% of the total users of voice traffic used VoIP. Entrepreneurs started creating new hardware to support the system and software to make the system run. All this enabled phone to phone and computer to phone connections.

Even networking managers like Cisco, Lucent, 3Com started introducing hardware that will route the VoIP traffic efficiently. By 2000 the total usage increased to 3% of the voice traffic all over USA.

During the 90s for marketing VoIP costs were subsidized. However, as the broadband technology advanced, the quality of VoIP services also enhanced, there was more call clarity and reduction in latency. Cisco and other networking giants started making hardware that made this technology easier to use. It was during 1999 that session Internet protocol or SIP was released. The first open source private branch exchange software asterisk was developed by Mark Spencer.

Until 2004, mass marketing of IP telephony was not in progress. It was in 2004 when calling plans were introduced that made subscribers make calls in the same way they make call with their traditional PSTN system. Different offers were made that allowed national as well as international calling through IP telephony and with development in broadband the call quality has also developed.

Author

Michelle Paterson

What’s Next For Digital Finance?

 

The last few years have seen unprecedented changes in the way we handle our money. While on the face of it little has changed in the banking system, advances in digital technology are slowly but surely spearheading a revolution not only in the way we use our money, but the way in which we think about it. The most recent innovation to hit the market – contactless payment – may herald a new dawn in money interfacing. What could be next for digital finance?

Why Does It Matter?

Does it really matter how, precisely, we transfer our money from customer to vendor? So long as it gets from one to the other effectively, what’s the big deal? Actually, the format of your transaction – particularly the format in which you pay – does in fact have quite a large psychological impact. We’re far more likely to make big purchases using cards than we are with cash – and that’s not just because people don’t tend to carry large wads of cash around! Cash is our physical money. When we pay with cash, we can physically see our money decreasing. This is not the case with cards. It feels less like ‘real money’ when we pay for things with cards. For the same reason, payday loans and the like which can be approved over the internet frequently feel like less of a responsibility than those which you have to meet a lender face to face for – leading to a surge in irresponsible borrowing (and lending!) not so very long ago. Unsurprisingly, this psychological spending quirk is used to advantage by retailers and bankers, who want to keep us spending. However, now that we’re getting wise to the fact that card payments involve just as much ‘actual’ money as cash payments, banks and other authorities are sniffing around for new ways to make parting with money seem less painful. Contactless payment is just one way in which they’re doing this. The digital world is likely to see more and more financial innovations in the very near future.

Goodbye To Cheques, Hello To Cyber-Transfers

It’s not just the capitalist machine which requires novel ways of paying. Digital finance has made life a lot easier for many independent entrepreneurs to reach faraway customers and be paid by them very quickly indeed. Platforms like PayPal became ubiquitous extremely quickly  once their potential was realized – and as the world becomes increasingly digitized, they’re likely to go from strength to strength. If the banks don’t take them over, that is. Banks are well aware of the missed financial opportunities inherent in all of these cyber-transfers. While the money may ultimately end up in a bank account, PayPal are taking a substantial cut along the way. Banks currently remain invested in the outmoded cheque-clearing system (which gains them plentiful interest) – but this won’t be the case for long. Cheques  are being phased out in the UK in 2018 and other nations are likely to follow suit. It’s likely that the intervening years will see banks making big, PayPal-esque changes to their digital money transfer systems. Not everyone can use BACs systems to digitally transfer money, but everyone can use PayPal. Expect to see banks muscling in on PayPal’s territory by making their digital money transfer systems simpler and easier – potentially through apps and the like.

Wearable Technology

Everyone’s talking about wearable technology right now. It’s supposed to be the innovation of the future, keeping track of everything from our state of health to our social lives. We all know that a lot of confidently made future predictions get kyboshed by something completely innovative sweeping in from the left field. However, at the moment, wearable technology looks to be a reasonably safe bet so far as future digital development is concerned. The advance of contactless payment means that one need no longer be confined to a card in order to pay. Indeed, one can attach a ‘digital wallet’ interface to almost anything. Barclays are already using a ‘bPay’ system in the UK, whereby one can have one’s ‘digital wallet’ in a wristband, a fob, or a sticker which can be attached to whatever the owner pleases. Some ultimately see such interfaces being integrated into our bodies via chips etc which could be scanned. Whatever the ultimate destination of this technology, it seems pretty clear that the way in which we pay for things is about to change rather drastically!

Author

Helen Young

 

Amazon Files Third Lawsuit to Avoid Fraudulent Reviews

One of the best marketing techniques any business can have, is to receive and publish glowing reviews from purchasers. Amazon, selling everything from books, technology and even fashion and health related items, clearly has plenty to win or lose if doubts are cast with respect to the veracity of its customer reviews. In an effort to crack down on allegedly fake reviews the online company recently filed its third lawsuit against the owners of five new sites promising positive customer reviews.

One of the sites was Paid Book Reviews offering customers 100 reviews for $2,200. This site states that it comprises “a team of writers who understand the effect of positive customer reviews on your book’s sales.” Two types of book reviews are covered: unverified (the writers read the sample pages of a book on Amazon.com and post positive comments) and verified (the company buys the client’s book, reads it on Kindle and posts positive comments on Amazon). Purchasers can opt for as few as five book reviews, for only $125. Thanks to Kindle, tablets and other mobile technology the reviews can clearly be lucrative for the company offering them, since there is no need to purchase a physical copy of the books. Kindle books, which can be read on mobile devices regardless of the reader’s location in the world, cost less than physical books and can be reviewed by writers and critics form anywhere in the world.

Amazon began filing lawsuits in April 2015; so far, over 1,000 reviewers have been targeted. Some of these sites have already closed, and the information obtained has enabled Amazon to also ban specific sellers and reviewers from using their site. In its official statement,   Amazon claims that legal action has been taken to stop sellers and manufacturers who create the demand for fake reviews, but also to put an end to the larger ecosystem of individuals and businesses that support inauthentic reviews in return for money.

Savvy Amazon users take note; it is possible to spot fake reviews thanks to free website, Fakespot. Just copy and paste the link to the product page, and click Analyze. If you use Chrome,   add the Fakespot extension and simply click the Fakespot icon in your toolbar –   you will instantly be told if the reviews you are reading are considered low quality .  If Fakespot deems a review ‘low quality’, the likelihood is that those reviewing the product are likely to have reviewed other items by the same company, that they have written only extremely positive reviews, or that they have reviews products they have not purchased. These are pretty good indicators that reviews given are not based on one’s real experience or opinion.

Research indicates that up to 90 per cent of customers make purchasing decisions influenced by positive online reviews, while around 86 per cent are influenced by negative reviews. Around two thirds of online buyers read reviews, since brands can sell similar products and lack of awareness of differences in quality and features of online items makes reviews an invaluable source of information.

Research has also shown that B2B companies stand most to gain from customers who have had a good experience with them and who review their products and services online. Over 60 per cent of purchasers claim to have purchased products or services from a B2B company after reading positive reviews. The key to receiving a good review does not only lie in the product itself, but also customer service, which is ranked as a primary factor in influencing the degree to which customers trust companies.

Because customer service is so important,  marketing managers should work closely alongside customer service personnel , so that customer concerns expressed on social networking sites are attended to promptly and efficiently. Equally important is the practice of answering negative comments and reviews online, for others to see. Often, the percentage of negative comments can be reduced simply by attending speedily to complaints and problems, offering solutions and bonuses to clients who chose to remain loyal despite a glitch or two. Social media platforms should also be used to announce changes made to service policy or products, based on comments by customers. Ultimately, reviews, even negative ones, should be seen as an opportunity for companies to grow and adapt to the changing demands of the market and their target client.

Author

Author is Helen Young