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West Corporation

Posted on January 9, 2013 by West Corporation 


The Fifth-Game Jinx

Having a bucket list has become a popular thing to do in recent years. One of the things on my husband’s bucket list is to see his beloved St. Louis Cardinals win a World Series baseball game. He attempted to cross that off his list back in 2004 when they were in the World Series playing the Boston Red Sox. He had two tickets for Game 5, but the Red Sox swept the series — and, alas, Game 5 wasn’t played.

My husband is a little bit superstitious, so he believes he is a jinx. He has resigned himself to the fact that he had to adjust his bucket list and never ever plan to see a World Series game again. The next best thing, of course, was to go to opening day and watch the St. Louis Cardinals receive their 2011 World Series rings during the opening ceremony.

So, that’s what we did. It was a rainy April morning, but we were there, rain ponchos and all, with all of the other rabid fans. I have to admit it was pretty exciting watching the 2011 season players and former players, sans Pujols, of course. We also got to watch a few great games that weekend.

On the way back to Omaha, a big storm was brewing, so we decided it would be better stay in Kansas City for the night and not risk the drive in bad weather. Good thing we did, as there were a couple of tornadoes that night along I-29. While on the road home, I decided to use my trusty iPhone to book a hotel room right off the Interstate. Little did I know how frustrating and difficult that would be.

Disconnected Customer Experience

I tried to log into the Marriott website since I couldn’t find an app in the app store. That was the easy part. You would think it’s a pretty straightforward task to book a hotel room by providing the location, number of rooms and people, and credit card number. Oh, no — the website kept timing out. I had to repeatedly close the browser and start over again. Then, when I finally got to the area to fill out my information, the site was difficult to navigate and booking a room was a very, very lengthy process.

It was so frustrating (and I was getting carsick) that I decided to just call the hotel directly. I had to start all over providing information, of course. The agent at the desk had no idea that I had just filled in almost all of my information on the website. She had no context, other than I was on the phone with her now and she needed to book a room for us.

Not a good experience on many fronts. First, it was a lot of work to give Marriott my business. Why don’t companies think about the entire experience their customers have when trying to do business with them, including mobile apps and websites? Why couldn’t the information I had already entered on the website be accessible by the agent? Why was the website completely not user-friendly? It certainly left a bad taste in my mouth for Marriott.

Think of how much more revenue companies could make if they worked to streamline the customer’s experience. An investment in technology that would assist them with some of these things would be well worth the cost.

 

West Corporation

Posted on January 8, 2013 by West Corporation 


MyAssist, a Leading Provider of Personal Assistance Services, Selects 911 Enable as their E911 Partner

MyAssist911 Enable is pleased to announce a new partnership to provide quick and efficient E911 call routing services to MyAssist,  the world’s finest concierge, emergency travel, and medical assistance service provider.

 911 Enable’s PSAP Link service seamlessly integrates with MyAssist’s proprietary technology to facilitate the transfer of 911 calls and location information to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) with the click of a button, reducing emergency response times and improving subscriber safety. With connectivity to over 5,500 PSAPs across the US, PSAP Link ensures that MyAssist can connect their subscribers to the help they need, when they need it most.

 To learn  more about how 911 Enable and MyAssist have leveraged their partnership to provide comprehensive E911 services for added customer value, read the MyAssist Success Story or view the Press Release.

 To learn  more about 911 Enable’s innovative PSAP Link solution for Telematics, read the Solution Brief or visit the PSAP Link Webpage.

West Corporation

Posted on January 7, 2013 by West Corporation 


Are You In?

Senseless violence seemed to be compounded daily in 2012 – from the Newtown massacre to the shootings of our brethren firefighters as they responded to calls for help. Horrific events made national news. There was the Aurora, Colorado movie theater carnage and those lesser known incidents like the eerily similar shooting at a movie theater mid-December in San Antonio. These catastrophes rattled us to the core and called the question – what is happening to this world when people kill our innocent children and take aim at emergency responders who risk their own lives day in and day out to save another?

If you are like me, you wonder, “What can I do to help and support those who are suffering from the chaos?”  I felt at a loss. But then I noticed, like the mythical Phoenix rising, that the human spirit emerged with a simple suggestion made by NBC news correspondent Ann Curry. She challenged us to commit to 26 Acts of Kindness, in honor of the children lost in Newtown. The idea has gone viral! Since its introduction, the concept has further evolved to include and honor other losses across our great nation as well.

Within days, the hashtag “#26acts” was trending on Twitter. A Facebook page was created for “26 Acts of Kindness” and now has over 94,000 likes. Currently, there are 86 similar Facebook pages where people are sharing their own random acts, or thanking their anonymous benefactor for the kindness they received. I am amazed at the creativity – great ideas out there! and confess that I shed a few tears upon reading some of the stories of heartfelt generosity. The gestures range from dropping a few extra coins into a parking meter or delivering a bag of dog food to the rescue center to buying diapers for a struggling parent or paying off a layaway account.

So now we begin a new year. With my faith in humankind restored, I now know what I can do to help. I’m ready to join the Acts of Kindness campaign. And I challenge YOU to do the same. If we keep the movement going, maybe – just maybe – we can bring a smile and make a difference in someone’s life. If everyone pays-it-forward, we could see a dramatic change in our world.  Are you in?

Toni Dunne, ENP, is External Affairs Manager at Intrado.

West Corporation

Posted on January 4, 2013 by West Corporation 


Transforming a Contact Center Father

Having my kids away at college has been an adjustment in communication and keeping up with each other on our lives and activities. I find myself saying, “Why don’t they just call me? (You can ask my wife.) They know my number, they know Dad’s “hours of operation” are 24-by-7, they know they won’t wait in any queue to talk, my average speed to answer is instantaneous, and they don’t need to worry about the average length of call. I make it so easy for them to call, but do they? Noooooooooooo! So I have resorted to other ways to communicate out of necessity to keep up with them and impart my “fatherly” knowledge.

Over Thanksgiving, my 21-year-old-daughter and 18-year-old-son came home from college to spend time with my wife and youngest daughter, who is 14. What struck me when we were together was how many new ways and applications my kids are using to communicate with their friends and organizations they belong to. They use texts, posts, pictures, video, opinions, pinning and other new ways to communicate that I barely knew existed. Just as I was getting used to texting and social media, I realized that to communicate with them I would soon be getting more devices and downloading a bunch of new apps. These kids are driving and changing my behavior.

Then it hit me: I am like a contact center, and my kids are the customers. It used to be good enough to have a toll-free number for customer service and wait for the calls. But today that is not good enough anymore. Consumers, just like my kids, are moving to new devices, technologies and applications at a rapid pace. They have expectations that they will communicate when and how they want to. Now, my kids know that “contact center dad” will only change so fast, but they continually challenge me to adapt until I learn how to best communicate with them. This is the same challenge that businesses face today with their customers and potential consumers.

How do they transform their old contact center ways into new customer contact strategies? Just as with our kids, it starts with understanding your customers, how they want to communicate, and what the most effective channels are. My son is a “texter”, my youngest is a “poster”, and my oldest is a mix. Customers and consumers are changing the way they communicate not only with companies but also with each other. They’re changing the way that they buy services, and their expectations for service and care are no longer passive and latent.

Because of these changes, companies are struggling to effectively address how they create and manage those customer interactions to make them proactive, predictive and consistent from channel to channel and across an explosion of customer touch-points.

Just like dads, companies need help with their customer contact transformation journeys. You need someone who has been there and knows where to start. Your “kids” will appreciate the effort and communication will flow. In business, this means more opportunities, brand intimacy and happier customers. For dads, this means helping your kids navigate a difficult world even when they think they know it all.

Oh, there is one more similarity between the role of contact centers and dads: When there is trouble or money involved, you are sure to get a call.

West Corporation

Posted on January 3, 2013 by West Corporation 


Speech Recognition Success or Failure Is Not Always Black or White

Statistically successful speech recognition is not the only indicator of a successful self-service IVR application. If an overall speech success rate is not also accompanied by rising key performance indicators — such as containment rates, completion rates, and customer satisfaction scores — then a closer examination of what is working and what is not working needs to be examined.

In order to do this, organizations need to take an honest look at their customer care and realize that not all points of customer interaction are equally important. A good raw number or bottom line is not so important if the core customer needs are falling short.

For example: What is the real value to having a stellar rate of success on a “yes” or “no” confirmation type of prompt if more of the responses are “no,” indicating that customers are unable to successfully speak the correct information the first time? If the core functions of your IVR are underperforming but are statistically padded by confirmation-type prompts, then it’s time to focus less attention on the overall speech success rate and more on the most important drivers of true success. In short, it’s time to strive for a speech success rate that is weighted more heavily not only on higher volume prompts but also on importance. In doing this, you will recognize that not all prompts are created, or valued, equally.

Conversely, it is also important to recognize that just as is true with success, not all failures are the same. For example, in a non-speech-enabled application, a miskeyed entry is rejected. There is no chance that an invalid entry of say “4” can be misinterpreted as a “3” when using touch-tone.

In speech applications, this is handled the very same way. In this case, a spoken “4” will be rejected, as it is not a valid in-grammar response. Depending on a particular organization’s reporting, this properly rejected response is not viewed as a successful interaction even though it was treated properly. It is important to make the distinction between a phrase that was misunderstood and thus not recognized versus a phrase that was properly rejected.

How an organization wants to view and report the success of its speech application will not be the same for all, and that is fine. What is important is that those doing the reporting are looking beyond the raw numbers to the true picture of what speech is providing to the core business functions. Remember that a best practice is not so because a group of experts say that it is. A best practice is only so if it results in increased productivity, greater customer satisfaction and specific bottom-line results that are measurable and provide true value.

 

West Corporation

Posted on by West Corporation 


Can You Identify With Me?

The average U.S. household has 3.5 phone numbers.

If it’s confusing to you to keep all of those numbers straight, then you can imagine the complexity involved for big business to keep data current to identify customers. The number of phones per household continues to grow, and we now have the ability to port numbers from one person to another. Wouldn’t it be great if companies could tie all that data together and identify a customer based on any one of those household numbers?

When you call a company’s IVR from a mobile device or a new number, chances are those businesses, with which you may be a long-time customer, are having a hard time identifying who you are — and then you’re unable to quickly access the services that you need. When a business can’t identify you, it increases call time, drives up operating costs and in most cases, can reduce customer satisfaction.

Twenty-seven percent of U.S. households are now mobile-phone-only, up from 14 percent in 2007.

With the culture shifting to a mobile-driven world, these issues are creating a strain on companies that are trying to keep their consumer data updated and relevant. More and more companies are now accessing learning databases that can identify and verify callers no matter which family member’s phone you may be calling from.

Customers, like you and me, want a personalized experience. We can still have it if companies can keep up with all our phone numbers.

 

West Corporation

Posted on December 21, 2012 by West Corporation 


Automatic Location Discovery for Cisco Jabber Soft Phones

Cisco JabberCisco Jabber integrates unified communications (UC) capabilities for users, centralizing presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, desktop sharing, and conferencing in a user-friendly interface. The comprehensive UC functionality and highly mobile nature of the Jabber soft phone allows users to switch seamlessly from one mode of communication to another, with access to the complete suite of UC and collaboration tools from anywhere in the enterprise.

However, the high degree of mobility afforded by Jabber can create challenges when it comes to providing E911 support to users. Because it includes voice functionality, organizations that implement Jabber must ensure that users receive the same high-quality E911 support as they would from any other device accessing the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM). That means that when 911 is dialed, their accurate location information must be available to be delivered with the call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).

To help organizations support the Jabber soft phone and its inherent mobility, 911 Enable offers robust, reliable E911 management capabilities that ensure accurate location information is always available. 911 Enable’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) appliance can automatically track the locations of Jabber soft phones using layer 2 (switch-based), layer 3 (subnet-based), or wireless LAN discovery methods. An organization simply uploads a network map into the EGW that associates network elements to Emergency Response Locations (ERLs) to enable this functionality.

Support for Jabber is delivered in conjunction with 911 Enable’s E911 Softphone Locator (ESL) software. The ESL updates the EGW with a Jabber soft phone’s unique provisioning data (e.g. MAC, IP address, BSSID, extension) each time it is activated or moves on the network, and at pre-configured intervals. The EGW references this data to the layer 2, layer 3, or Wireless LAN network maps to determine the location of the Jabber soft phone. For added functionality, the ESL enables the EGW to successfully maintain unique identifiers for Jabber soft phones so regardless of the logged in user profile, it can be located based on the mapping between the layer 2/layer 3 address or wireless access point of the phone and the provisioned emergency location. This ensures that when 911 is dialed, the Jabber soft phone’s precise, accurate location is ready to be delivered to the appropriate PSAP.

For more information on 911 Enable and its support for Cisco soft phones, call 1-877-862-2835, email sales@911enable.com, or visit www.911enable.com/cisco.

West Corporation

Posted on December 13, 2012 by West Corporation 


911 Enable Solutions Complete Certification with Latest from Avaya

DevConnect Tested911 Enable is pleased to announce that it has successfully re-completed compliance testing with Avaya. Two of 911 Enable’s solutions were tested, the Emergency Gateway (EGW) and the Emergency Routing Service (ERS). Certification was completed with the following Avaya systems:

  • Avaya Aura Session Manager 6.2
  • Avaya Aura Communication Manager 6.2
  • Avaya IP Office 8.1

This recertification reflects 911 Enable’s commitment to remain up-to-date with Avaya’s latest technologies and innovations, and ensures that customers can deploy our solutions with ease, knowing they’ve achieved Avaya’s rigourous standards for interoperability and support.

911 Enable is a Technology Partner member of Avaya DevConnect. To learn more about 911 Enable’s solutions for Avaya, read the press release here, or visit our Avaya webpage.

West Corporation

Posted on December 12, 2012 by West Corporation 


History repeats, experience matters and doing the right thing

Hark! Do you hear what I hear – collective sounds in the 9-1-1 universe, from sighs of relief and cheers of happiness to groans of frustration and despair? I’m not talking about 9-1-1 callers. These sounds are coming from people in our industry.The FCC has responded to an agreement between APCO/NENA and the Big 4 wireless carriers with its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject of text-to-9-1-1 (see http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-next-generation-911-nprm). For those of us who have been watching and waiting to learn what will be done about SMS, and for those of us involved in moving toward equal access for all, this is a monumental decision!

After talking with regulatory gurus, colleagues in PSAPs, and several Deaf friends, I am reminded that our industry already has tremendous experience in rolling out new 9-1-1 technology. They say that history repeats, and it appears that text deployment challenges may be very similar to the challenges faced by PSAPs with wireless 9-1-1 implementation. Processes had to be put in place, equipment and networks had to be upgraded, and the PSAPs and carriers worked together toward the delivery of that call for help.

Today the challenge is delivering and receiving text. Similar to those earlier days with a consensus agreement, PSAPs and carriers have an opportunity to once again do the right thing! This time, however, we should be able to better manage the change and do so in a much faster timeframe.

We are fortunate to have had these experiences, as well as real-world experiences with text! From the delivery of the first text to 9-1-1 in Black Hawk County Iowa to other trials happening across the country, we understand what is required when we talk about PSAP readiness. For Black Hawk, there were 3 components: (1) an IP-based network connection to the PSAP;  (2) a method of delivery and display for text messages at the PSAP; and (3) training for call takers.

There is an inevitable passage of time required to implement text to 9-1-1 nationwide. However, with this agreement from the Big 4 and the FCC’s involvement, real progress continues to be made.

And as carriers move forward, it becomes critical for PSAPs to begin taking the necessary steps NOW. Time is of the essence.  Our citizens, family and friends are depending on us!  If we fail to do so expeditiously, the collective sounds in the universe are going to become much louder!

By Toni Dunne, ENP, External Affairs Manager, Safety Services – West

West Corporation

Posted on December 7, 2012 by West Corporation 


Better E911: Lync and the Emergency Gateway

EGWWhen Microsoft was first working on their follow-up to Office Communicator, their team reached out to us at 911 Enable to collaborate on how to provide E911 support for their new Lync platform. Out of this collaboration, Microsoft Lync included revolutionary E911 capabilities not found in other UC platforms. The Microsoft Lync clients were made to be location-aware. This meant that an E911 solution did not need to “find” the device when a call was made, because the device would send its location during a 911 call.

This location awareness is enabled by a proprietary location request made by the client to the Lync Location Information Service (LIS) at client sign-in. Since the client itself is making the request, they can be located at the device level regardless of the line appearance of the Lync client logged into that device. Locating clients at the device level is critical in the enterprise due to the use of shared lines, multiple concurrent logins, and the mobility of soft clients. This location request process enables administrators to pre-configure enterprise location data in the Lync LIS database. 911 Enable is one of the only certified Microsoft partner to interoperate with these features to provide real-time MSAG Address validation and SIP emergency call routing support for Microsoft Lync.

The native E911 support built in to Lync, combined with 911 Enable’s call routing solution, enables organizations to meet basic E911 regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, simply complying with basic E911 regulations may not be adequate to meet all the corporate E911 requirements in the Enterprise UC space. To enhance the native E911 support provided by Lync, many enterprises are choosing to install 911 Enable’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) appliance to meet all their requirements. There are many benefits to installing the Emergency Gateway appliance into the Lync environment and I have included some of the highlights below:

  • One pair of Emergency Gateway appliances can manage multiple UC vendor deployments at a time. Since Lync is still a new platform, it is very common to have a multi-vendor environment as users migrate to Lync. The EGW acts as a central E911 administration point for all your UC deployments, which greatly simplifies management and integration. It is not uncommon to have enterprise deployments that have been trying to replace their old legacy PBX for years, with many factors keeping the old beast in production much longer than expected or desired. Using the same pair of EGW appliance, both the Lync users and the old legacy users can be supported.
  • With the Emergency Gateway, administrators can easily manage E911 configuration using a simple web administration GUI instead of PowerShell applets.
  • The Emergency Gateway appliances can be automated to integrate into third-party systems using a variety of interfaces. This allows for further automation of E911 management.
  • The Emergency Gateway appliance has advanced security personnel notification capabilities. This includes enhancing the existing Lync capabilities with the ability to have security conferenced in during 911 calls, using the 911 Enable Desk Alert screen pop application, and integration into existing security CAD systems. A single pair of EGW appliances can provide the same notification capabilities across multiple UC vendor platforms, so onsite security personnel receive the same notifications regardless of which UC platform the call originated from.
  • The Emergency Gateway has advanced overlaid discovery methodologies compared to Lync, allowing administrators to customize location determination preferences to adjust to the uniqueness of their environment. This means administrators can control which network element is used to determine a location for a user. The administrator can choose any order of either MAC (switch/port), wireless BSSID, subnet, or other factors to locate the user. The Emergency Gateway also allows administrators to build “Safety Net” supernets to minimize errors in data entry, instead of Lync’s native E911 capabilities which require all device subnets to be entered one-by-one. For example, say you have one building with 10 floors and each floor has its own 10.45.xx.0/24 subnet. Each floor can be provisioned as 10.45.x.0/24 or you can provision the entire building as 10.45.0.0/16. Additionally, the Emergency Gateway does not need to rely on third party network discovery systems to obtain MAC/switch/port data.
  • The Emergency Gateway can use any combination of E911 destination routes. The native Lync E911 support routes all the emergency calls to a certified E911 routing service such as the 911 Enable Emergency Routing Service. This may not be appropriate if you have a large number of client devices all on the same campus, served by the same Public Safety Answering Point. In these cases, the Emergency Gateway can route the calls out local gateways to be used with legacy PS-ALI solutions while routing mobile or work at home users to the Emergency Routing Service. The Emergency Gateway has been designed to route to either a local gateway or through the Emergency Routing Service.

This is just a small subset of highlights of what the Emergency Gateway brings to the Lync environment. Due to the location awareness of the clients, the Emergency Gateway can locate Lync users at a device level and not just using line-appearance. The Emergency Gateway appliance is qualified in the Microsoft Unified Communications Open Interoperability Program (UCOIP) for Microsoft Lync, as is the Emergency Routing Service. 911 Enable continues to be an active partner with Microsoft to ensure that Lync continues to provide progressive E911 support. Microsoft has done an excellent job implementing innovative E911 support capabilities and the Emergency Gateway appliance extends this functionality to provide a robust, feature-rich E911 solution.

To learn more, visit www.911enable.com/lync or call 1-877-862-2835.


Intrado

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