What Type of Desktop Virtualisation Should You Use?

By Lauren Fritsky

 

Who told you desktop virtualisation only comes by way of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)?  There is more than one flavour for delivering virtual desktops to your workforce, such as app streaming, operating system provisioning and Remote Desktop Services (RDS). While any delivery model can improve IT management, the method you choose has a lot of do with the main problem you’re trying to solve. Here are a few example scenarios to guide you.

Scenario 1

You need: To deliver entire desktop images to remote employees

Then choose: VDI

VDI enables IT to deploy an entire desktop image to workers no matter where they are. For companies with multiple offices or a lot of workers scattered across locations, VDI provides a more secure way to access data and applications through the data centre. A key benefit for the IT department is it no longer has to worry about repairing a computing device or troubleshooting a glitch for an employee far offsite. Users must be able to connect to the network – keep in mind this means the end user’s experience is affected by network latency and available bandwidth.

Scenario 2

You need: Business-critical applications available across operating systems and devices

Then choose: RDS

For this hosted type of virtualisation, users just need to connect to a network on any device to access their applications. The setup makes this delivery model ideal for enterprises embracing the Bring Your Own Device trend, as it enables users to access specific apps on different devices. IT management is improved, as the department can oversee the applications and switch user settings if need be without worrying about apps being compatible with the operating system.

Scenario 3

You need: Tight control over app management

Then choose: Application streaming

The IT department retains ultimate control over who can access which applications when with this model. If you hire a lot of contract workers, this client-based virtualisation model also allows you to schedule when the license expires on certain applications. Users can access applications, which are delivered on-demand, when off the network, and IT gets the benefit of being able to run legacy applications on newer operating systems.

Scenario 4

You need: Employee mobility

Then choose: Virtual containers

You can lock down certain applications and use them offline with this virtualisation delivery model, which adds big convenience for mobile employees who regularly travel, such as sales associates. There’s a security win here as threats can be contained and the OS and apps are delivered through the IT department.

Scenario 5

You need: Reliable uptime

Then choose: Operating system provisioning  

This client-based delivery model solves the uptime issue because only the OS and the applications are downloaded, which avoids burdening the network. Users can very easily access an operating system image by restarting their computer or moving to another desktop. This delivery method also, in effect, wipes the data from the device when the user powers it off, as everything is stored in the data centre. This delivery model works well for organisations with the same desktop image on a lot of different devices, such as contact centres and schools.

Have more questions on which desktop virtualisation delivery model to choose? A Datacom expert can discuss the options that best suit your business.

The Importance of Social Media Monitoring for Your Brand

By Andrew Peel

Australia is the biggest user of social media in the entire world, according to market research firm Nielsen. We spend more than seven hours a month on social media, and our activity is not just about stalking Facebook photos or following Justin Bieber on Twitter. Increasing numbers of customers are going online to research and review companies: more than 65 per cent of B2B businesses have received business through Facebook and more than 40 per cent interact with companies through social networking sites.

As the life blood of any business is its customers, their satisfaction levels have direct correlation with your brand, market share and profitability. It is, therefore, imperative for organisations to understand what subjects are trending in the social media space about their brand and then take proactive steps to address emerging issues. The way to do this is by enlisting the help of the right social media monitoring technology and analytics team.

There are a plethora of tools out there to track company sentiment and mentions, but some perform better than others. The right technology can provide deep insight into your customers, evangelists, employees, media and influential people in your industry. These tools track and nurture brand loyalty, further brand reach and respond to online discussions, comments or complaints related to your organisation. The best technology ensures no mention of your brand is missed online so timely responses can be delivered.

Radian6 has proven to be a high-performing social media monitoring tool for its scraping and filtering capabilities and the algorithms it uses to produce meaningful social media monitoring results. The software is programmed to search social media sites and forums using key words tailored to the individual programme or organisation. It then reports on those sites or forums which hold the key words. This is set up to report on activity over a period of time, usually a month, which then produces a data set and a set of reports. From here, the analytics team springs into action and takes the data through several stages of filtering and sampling to produce a meaningful and accurate set of results. We can also respond to customers or prospective customers on social media channels and integrate our social media solutions with contact centreservices and sales and tech support.

Any social media monitoring solution requires skilled staff to perform data analytics, to look at the data trends and make observations and recommendations. That’s why Datacom employs a highly experienced social analytics team in addition to Radian6 to gather deep insight into the customer base psyche and advocacy. The result of combining the right technology and right people is a social media solution that offers specialisation and scale. Clients get access to information about their customers that would have otherwise been out of reach. Using this data, the social analytics team then presents clients with a solution that flexes and retracts with their changing business needs.

This approach effectively enables an organisation to engage with its current and potential customers around the clock. Clients are able to be present and participate when and where it counts, no matter if a customer is chatting about you online at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m. It’s like growing and protecting your brand while you sleep – a must in this increasingly 24/7 online world.

Andrew Peel is General Manager of Datacom’s Business Solutions and Partnerships. He has over 15 years of global BPO and ITO experience, which has seen him manage operations across the Asia Pacific region and Europe.

During this time, Andrew has assisted a large and diverse set of clients in the design and implementation of their customer support, retention and acquisition strategies in both the public and commercial sectors. Andrew also serves as a board member of the Australian BPO Association.

Ensuring High Performance in the Contact Centre

By Andy Cranshaw

“High performance” could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It can also be measured in different ways: in the contact centre setting, is high performance the friendliness of the agent responding to a call, the accuracy of the answer provided or the resolution of a call involving a very disgruntled caller?

COPC standards, to which Datacom contact centres adhere, define high performance in the contact centre as the ability to deliver benchmark levels of quality and service whilst at the same time continually driving efficiencies to reduce cost. Service is directly related to speed, which involves answering an enquiry in an efficient period of time, but it doesn’t overlook the quality of the solution delivered in favour of quickness. Quality is usually measured in terms of the correctness of the answer provided and whether or not it was the best solution for the customer.

I’ve found in my experience in the contact centre industry and in taking the COPC registered coordinator training course that achieving high performance in this outsourced environment involves a multi-layered approach. All the different disciplines and knowledge sets you need to guarantee high performance in the contact centre are interlinked and part of the same engine. Like any engine, if one small part isn’t working to the peak of its performance, the whole engine may run badly or not at all.

For instance, proper coaching of contact centre staff is crucial, but it’s only half the story. Alton Martin, a mentor of mine and the CEO of SPOT Consulting, says, “There are no bad people, only bad processes”. Having the right people is necessary, but so is having the right systems in place so those staff members succeed. Good outsourcing companies operating call centres will also analyse the data they get from their telephony and CRM systems, from aggregating the results of their quality monitoring and from their customer satisfaction surveys and really use that to find the root cause of an issue.

For instance, Datacom consistently monitors quantified performance by investigating at the operational management level to ensure we meet our targets and go through a formal process for any missed metrics. We also regularly audit all program performance through our internal team of COPC-registered coordinators who conduct full reviews against the requirements of the COPC standard bi-annually. On top of that, we also have our external COPC audits.

Datacom has seen quantified performance increase everywhere and the impact is reinforced by the great end-user satisfaction scores that we see as a result of adopting the COPC practices. We’ve also been able to offer many of our clients real reductions in total cost of ownership as a result of our ability to drive costs down without compromising service and quality. As a reduction in TCO while maintaining or bolstering brand reputation is a chief aim of many organisations looking to outsource, guiding high performance through COPC remains the industry standard.

Andy Cranshaw is a senior contact centre operations manager and performance improvement consultant with nearly 30 years of experience in the customer contact industry. He serves as the GM of Professional Services for Datacom BPO in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he has resided since 1997.

Andy started his career in 1983 as a telemarketing representative and graduated through various roles in contact centre operations in the UK, including team leader, data analyst, ops manager and head of training, before moving to the client-facing side of the business in 1993. A well-respected educator in customer contact and CRM, Andy regularly speaks at South East Asian conferences and has delivered numerous training courses for contact centre managers in Asia, Australia, the US and the UK.

How the Contact Centre is Becoming Multi-channel

By Lauren Fritsky

You’re not the only one who has started making calls over the web, texting or using chat as your primary forms of communication. Nearly half of contact centres in Australia have now fully or partially implemented a multi-channel agent, which can come in the form of email, chat or video calls, according to Callcentres.net. We talked with Andy Cranshaw, Datacom’s General Manager of Professional Services for Southeast Asia, to learn what to expect with this multi-channel trend.

What are the emerging channels in this space?

“In technical support, it’s chat rather than email. Email is not a great medium for some types of technical support. Going through that process over email can be long: you send your problem, I send you a solution, you try the solution, and it doesn’t work, so you send me the result. Enquiries are best for email, when it’s nothing urgent.

We’re also starting to see social media used as a means of putting questions to a user community, and there are opportunities here for us to assist in providing answers. Regardless of the channel, Datacom guarantees its contact centre staff possesses the technical knowledge to answer everything from the most basic to the most complex enquiries.”

Are we seeing these technologies threatening to overtake phone?

“Not to the extent we thought we would. Ten or 15 years ago, people were predicting calls would diminish to nothing. The volume of phone calls that we take hasn’t really diminished significantly but volumes of email and web chat have increased.”

What do you see down the pike as far as emerging technologies?

“I think self-help options, online communities and forums and other forms of social media are increasingly going to be the first stop for people to find technical solutions. In that case, ‘click to chat’ options, which enable the user to connect directly with an engineer if they encounter problems, could really drive chat volumes.”

How are the skills required to handle a newer channel, such as chat, different from the skills needed to answer phone enquiries?

“In the world of tech support, the layers of technical understanding are obviously critical regardless of the medium.  But then there is the ability to be able to communicate your technical understanding to another person and articulate it in a way the customer understands that’s very different when you’re instant chatting rather than talking on the phone.  Most people use chat as a method of social communication – it’s informal, full of abbreviations and emoticons. In a business environment, you have to be able to type quickly, concisely and accurately. You also have to know what’s appropriate and what isn’t when it comes to chat.

At Datacom, we address this by recruiting the right people and adhering to the COPC standards of contact centre training so that all staff have the relevant skills to work in this evolving multi-channel environment.”

How long does it take to train staff on these channels?

“Training is not a big issue if you can recruit the right people in the first place. But when it comes to multi-channel environments, that’s not easy, particularly offshore where a person’s spoken English may be significantly better than their written or vice versa. In a two- to three-week training period, you can give staff a few tips and language skills to ensure culturally-sensitive and relevant communication, but the key is to recruit people who already speak and/or write well in the language they are going to communicate in. Datacom only hires contact centre staff with excellent language skills and cultural awareness, and we conduct quality assurance to guarantee a professional level of customer interaction.”

It seems there is a large challenge around workforce management with the multi-channel approach. How do you get around that?

“There are IT solutions such as multi-channel queuing. At the back end, the system will receive phone calls, emails, chat, and then it will distribute them to staff. So, if a tech support specialist puts down a phone call, the next thing that pops up could be an email.”

How does integrating a multi-channel approach affect the manager’s role?

“It changes how they schedule people and staff the centre. In the end, the ability to queue multi-channel interactions is one thing, but the implication is the centre must have someone sitting at the desk who can handle the call, chat or email. Regardless of how the changing multi-channel environment affects staffing and managerial roles, Datacom continues to ensure its contact centres decrease support costs, raise customer service levels and further brand perceptions.”

Taking the Fear Out of Offshoring: a Checklist

By Kirsty Hunter

Everyone from Fairfax Media to Telstra has offshored in an effort to cut costs and improve competitiveness. But for every company that embraces offshoring, another shuns it over fears of data security and perceived language barriers.

The reality is that choosing a provider that rigorously trains employees, helps you transition your business and keeps you in the loop of what is going on overseas can make offshoring one of the best things you can do for your business. Here’s a checklist to help address your concerns.

Staff recruitment

Look for a provider that conducts a rigorous recruitment programme, intensive training and quality assurance. Finding, training and retaining individuals that fill the skilled expert roles in a contact centre are challenging tasks.  As the ABPOA suggests, BPO is all about People, People and People!

Quality of customer interaction

Consider providers that select staff on the basis of language and cultural testing to ensure superior call quality. This can include local employees in addition to expats who have a firm grasp of the language and Western business culture.  A BPO provider with a good quality assurance programme will improve the overall operational efficiency of the business and reduce the cost of service.

Call centre location

Don’t let rumours or stereotypes cloud the reality of the world’s top contact centre locations. The Philippines, for instance, is now the world’s No.1 location for BPO, and part of its explosion onto the scene over the last decade comes thanks to the strong English-speaking skills and high literacy of its employees, plus the available infrastructure to support stable telecommunications.

Onshore employees

Offshoring doesn’t have to mean massive layoffs. Offshoring can allow you to create more highly-skilled, high-wage jobs for your remaining staff. For example, when customer service and product support operations are transferred, you can use your team to focus on activities that lead to new sources of revenue or reengage lost customers with new offers to win them back.

Transitioning

Select a BPO provider that has a clear transition programme in place to help you offshore. This will include the ability to set up your technology and infrastructure, handle knowledge transfer, manage your business processes and recruit the best team to take on the persona of your brand.

Business control

A common fear with offshoring is that companies will lose sight of what is happening to their data and their customer interaction. The right provider will update you regularly through video conferencing and phone calls and make live performance data available to you. If possible, select a partner with a local presence with whom you can meet to discuss the operations and plan for the future.

Data security

If you’re concerned about data security (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), find a dependable company that has a security team. This kind of provider will understand IT security services and apply them in their contact centres.

Business continuity

Companies worry about events like natural disasters disrupting offshore operations, but those situations happen in Australia as well, as any Queensland business affected by the 2011 floods and cyclone can tell you. A BPO provider with a proper Disaster Recovery approach and Business Continuance Plan will keep the work flowing despite a disruptive event.

Background checks

Treat your BPO provider like you’d treat a potential new hire. Call other companies the provider has done business with and conduct reference checks. Also make sure to meet the people who will be managing and providing the key support to the contact centre.

Getting back onshore

Even if bringing parts of your business back onshore is a distant thought, it helps to know your provider can do it. Look for companies that offer a transition programme, where all the technology is set up for you when you’re ready to transfer back to Australia.

Kirsty Hunter is a Managing Director of Datacom responsible for the BPO business in Australia and Asia. With two decades of experience in the technology industry, Kirsty is responsible for growing Datacom’s BPO business from 150 seats to over a 1,000 across the Asia Pacific region and she established Datacom’s Asia presence across Malaysia, the Philippines and China.

A recognised thought leader in her field, Kirsty has worked with leading technology and service organisations around the world to design and deploy service offerings and technology solutions that deliver enduring performance. Today, Kirsty is committed to moving organisations forward, through service solutions that are enabled by Datacom’s leading technology platforms and industry expertise.