Should You Run Your Company from Smartphones?

With an estimated 45 percent of Americans now using smartphones (66 percent for those under 30), it smartphones are starting to bleed into the enterprise. And now some businesses are beginning to evaluate whether they can manage their phone system needs directly from a smartphone.

But before jumping directly into managing your business via smartphone, you need to ask yourself a few questions. For instance, what if you want more than one employee to be responsible for responding to your company number? Or, how should you handle call recording, phone routing and other services you traditionally associate with landline service?

In this article, I’ll summarize research from Software Advice contributor Kelly Lindner. She recently shared her insights on strategies for deploying smartphones for business, as well as pros and cons for transitioning to this type of business phone system.

To PBX, or Not to PBX?
Companies with three or fewer employees can usually get by just using their smartphone network to run operations. But larger organizations might instead opt for a “virtual” private branch exchange (PBX) – a call routing and management service – to unite their mobile-device empowered workforce. In this model, one employee’s number is designated as the main line, and other individuals provide their numbers to customers as needed.

Or, companies can leverage products such RingCentral or Google Voice to provide a main line, that routes callers to individual smartphones using business extensions. As an added bonus, when an employee calls from their mobile phone, these PBX systems will show the main line on recipient’s caller ID. Some of these Cloud-based services also offer call recording, voice transcription and other business-focused services.

The Pros of a Smartphone-Run Business
The first and most obvious benefit is customer accessibility. If employees are reachable anywhere – in or out the office – customers are less likely to have to wait on hold, or for their messages to be returned.

“Having a landline tied us to a specific location and was presenting a barrier to connecting with clients. … Now we don’t have to run back to the office to check messages,” said Stuart Randell, a virtual PBX user and head of business strategy at Code & Company Inc.

A smartphone-run business also has advantages for employees. They get to use the device they are most comfortable with. Also, business owners realize savings (though sometimes small) compared with traditional VoIP-based systems.

The Cons of this Telephony Model
There’s nothing worse than hearing that dooming beep indicating your phone is about to lose power. Loss of battery life is a huge negative to using smartphones only for your business. You depend on workers to keep their phones charged, and chargers close by. But we all know it can be easy to forget to plug and recharge your phone.

Additionally, cell networks are not always dependable in certain locations. This connection is particularly at risk during a natural disaster. And, generally speaking, voice quality in any condition can be fickle.

What advantages and disadvantages do you see with using PBX-enabled smartphones over traditional VoIP? Join the conversation by commenting here.

UCCX Scripting – “Get Statistics” and manage your call flow dynamically!

Have you ever call into a customer service function, been answered with “all of our Agents are currently busy with other customers, please wait and the next available customer service representative will be right with you” and then waited and waited and waited.   It probably crossed your mind that maybe they all went home!   Is it possible that a call center could queue a caller for service when nobody is actually logged in to handle the call?   Well, the answer is absolutely yes!   A bit of careless script writing and you will find that customers are queueing for Agents that went home hours ago!

Influencing the call flow within your Contact Center, based on the dynamics of your environment,  is an essential part of call center management.   The dynamics of your call center are changing by the minute.  More callers are entering the queue; call holding time is increasing; the position of callers within the queue is changing and the priority of the caller is also changing.   We have Platinum,  Gold, Silver and Bronze (Yes Virginia, all customers are not create equal) and we handle them differently!  How do we estimate holding time?   Do we even know if someone is logged in?   That is the stuff of call flow scripting using real time reporting data!

ShoreTel has an entity in their ECC Scripting tool called a “service”.  One of the elements of the service is “Agents Logged Out” call handling.   It is a great solution, but it is an all or nothing binary solution.  (There are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don’t).   If anyone is logged in, the service continues to define the call handling strategy.    What happens if I want to handle callers base don the absolute number of agents logged in?  Maybe it is not a smart idea to handle callers the same way given that there is only one Agent logged in rather than an army of 20 Agents.    We are going to need a more sophisticated filter to handle callers based on this dynamic.

The CISCO UCCX Script Editor has an amazing library of Java Beans that can be used to find out not only if an Agent is logged in, but how many are logged in!   Now that is a level of flexibility that can make your call flow really intelligent.   In this video clip we take a look at the very powerful “get statistics” icon within the CISCO UCCX scripting error.   We can use this icon to participate in the real time data stream that defines the dynamics of our call center.  We can tap the number of callers in queue, the number of agents available, the average call holding time and even handle a caller based on the fact that they have become the oldest call in queue.   The UCCX Scripting editor in the hands of a talented programmer can add a “knowledge” based routing component to your call flow!   Intelligent Call Management indeed!