Category Archives: 2013

Creation of a loyal client may take only 76 seconds


Creation of a loyal client may take only 76 seconds

Customers are a company's lifeblood, as failing to keep clients happy can result in sales losses and tarnished reputations. This has made the contact center and other outward-facing departments crucial teams in today's fast-paced society. After all, a new study revealed that brand loyalty can be determined in a mere 76 seconds.

This was one of the key findings in a new LivePerson survey of more than 6,000 online customers around the world, which revealed that individuals expect access to a live representative within 76 seconds. If employees do not interact with a prospective or existing client within that time frame, the consumer will either resort to using a slower form of contact or simply abandon the website altogether.

The study found that roughly 69 percent of respondents said they are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers live customer support. Another 82 percent of individuals said their feelings toward a company improve when live chat solutions are available.

"The digital era is massively de-personalizing, so anytime brands can engage their customers with a more personalized, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference," said Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer at LivePerson.

Now that ecommerce has turned into one of the primary ways people shop for products and services, having the ability to provide real-time collaboration tools between prospective clients and representatives is becoming a major contributor to brand awareness and loyalty.

The new way to sell
Business leaders must be sure that employees prioritize customer care if they want to give their organizations an edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Although selling a firm's particular products is still a major part of the equation, the actual good is not the only thing individuals are looking for. Growing enterprises must learn to sell themselves, as well as their offerings.

LivePerson revealed that people prioritize speed, as waiting for a representative on the other end of the phone line or chat is simply unacceptable. A separate Dimension Data survey highlighted similar findings, revealing that consumer expectations are increasing, especially among younger Generation Y individuals. Consumers are no longer content with having to give the same information multiple times and will often take their purchase elsewhere if a firm's contact center doesn't live up to its intentions.

"The pace of technology adoption by end users is driving contact centers to evolve and gather speed, which means the complexity of transactions has increased," said Andrew McNair, head of global benchmarking at Dimension Data.

As the business world grows increasingly competitive, executives must plan ahead and educate employees on best practices when handling incoming customer queries. Contact centers and other departments that either respond too slowly or do not provide real-time communication tools to clients will find it increasingly difficult to attract consumers and turn them into loyal customers. Because clients are the enterprise's lifeblood, failing to appeal to their needs will only introduce unnecessary challenges.

3 ways to keep positive brand reputations


3 ways to keep positive brand reputations

In the business world, reputation is everything. If a brand is known for having poor support and customer service, it will experience greater difficulties on the path to success. For this reason, decision-makers need to prioritize projects that enable employees and executives to optimize the way they interact with and manage prospective and existing clients.

While there are a number of methods that can improve brand awareness and trust, there are three tactics that often deliver particularly positive returns.

1. Stay available
Nobody knows when a technological project or solution will simply stop working. This means that companies must have employees who are available at all times, regardless of the way customers choose to interact with those representatives. This puts a lot of pressure on the contact center.

Fortunately, the outsourcing landscape has introduced cloud and other technologies that allow organizations to shift client care processes to another team. If businesses utilize these services effectively, they can maintain 24/7 contact with consumers, improving end-user experience and satisfaction.

2. Prioritize problem resolution
While the contact center is often considered to be among the most important customer-facing departments in the business world, many of these teams are inefficient. This is not necessarily because workers are incompetent or organizations do not care about their clients, but more often because executives emphasize the wrong metrics.

In the past, call time was often the most critical measurement in the contact center. The thought was that organizations that are able to burn through queries quicker would be able to deal with more clients, allowing for a happier customer base in general. However, this also meant that many firms did not fully resolve issues, which would backfire with the proliferation of second-time callers who were not happy with the way they were managed. This suggests that customer care teams need to focus more on resolving problems.

3. Don’t make empty promises
Nobody likes a liar. Unfortunately, many employees will often make false promises to clients in the effort to end the interaction on a positive note. This is a bad practice because when the client finds out that the company did not deliver on the guarantees that were made, corporate reputations can be tarnished and stained forever, impairing those businesses from expanding in the future.

Decision-makers need to emphasize the importance of providing the support and services needed to keep prospective and existing customers happy, as failing to do so will only invite new obstacles that may permanently tarnish a brand.

Outsourcing may alleviate customer care financial obstacles


Outsourcing may alleviate customer care financial obstacles

If businesses in North America want to stay competitive with the rest of the world, decision-makers need to drive home the importance of maintaining comprehensive and satisfactory customer support. This will take substantial effort from sales teams,  contact center agents and other management personnel but will be beneficial to enterprises in the long run, as developing a brand built on customer care will elevate firms to new heights.

For the most part, companies in the United States and Canada are pursuing the ability to keep prospective and existing clients happy, though doing so is not without challenges. According to a new Creative Virtual survey, 79 percent of North American businesses want to improve the customer experience. Meanwhile, 60 percent of companies said they have the desire to resolve client queries quicker and more efficiently.

“These sentiments provide insight as to how businesses are executing against their key goals as it relates to specific challenges within the customer support channel,” said Chris Ezekiel, founder and CEO of Creative Virtual. “The survey explores how companies are responding by revealing how increased contact volumes fuel the need for a multichannel strategy, budget allocations, and newer technologies such as virtual assistants to manage the customer experience.”

However, many organizations are still encountering obstacles, namely challenges regarding their budgets.

Taking down financial barriers
Creative Visual found that 58 percent of North American survey respondents said their primary obstacle when developing better customer service programs was the lack of financial resources. Because only 29 percent of U.S. and Canadian organizations intend to increase their budget next year, the remaining organizations need to find another way to build a better brand.

This is where outsourcing can come into play. In the past, decision-makers often thought outsourcing customer service programs meant sacrificing some level of quality, as third-party individuals were not as knowledgeable about a firm’s products. While this holds some degree of truth, the fact of the matter is that outsourcing customer care programs to a trusted vendor means companies will free up financial and operational resources to pursue other costly endeavors, without jeopardizing the level of care given to prospective and existing clients.

As Canadian and American businesses pursue new initiatives to improve customer and technical support strategies, executives should consider outsourcing these processes to a trained third-party organization, as doing so can result in significant cost reductions and quality of service improvements.




Enhanced My Media now available on Slingbox® 500

Sling Media also Announces SlingPlayer Mobile AirPlay Support

What
As part of a just-released firmware and software client update, Slingbox 500 customers will see enhanced My Media features including the ability to access personal photos and videos stored on a USB drive attached to the Slingbox 500 through the SlingPlayer client software-first on PC/Mac, iPhone and coming soon to iPad, Android tablets and smartphones. Therefore, customers who have videos and photos stored on a hard drive at home can access the files remotely wherever they happen to be.

SlingPlayer for Web has also been updated with the following features:

Support for Microsoft Windows 8.1 and IE 11
Support for Apple OS X Mavericks and Safari 7

In addition, Sling Media is pleased to formally announce AirPlay support for SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone and iPad. This feature gives Apple TV customers the ability to watch their home TV on a second TV inside the home (without needing an additional set top box) or on a remote TV. Slingbox 500, Slingbox 350, Slingbox PRO-HD and Slingbox SOLO customers can take advantage of this fully updated and supported feature.

Who
Pioneers of “TV Anywhere” technology, Sling Media provides video delivery products for retail customers and television service providers. Its retail products – the Slingbox 500 and Slingbox 350 – deliver live and on-demand access to all of your favorite TV shows, sporting events, recorded programming and premium content on your mobile device of choice in up to Full HD 1080p resolution, with no additional subscription fees required.

Why
The Slingbox is perfect for sports fans, technophiles, frequent travelers or anyone who wants to view their entire channel lineup via their PC/Mac, tablet, smartphone and now Apple TV. In addition, Slingbox 500 customers can access their personal photos and videos stored at home, anywhere using SlingPlayer software on their favorite devices.

Availability
The suggested retail price for the Slingbox 500 and Slingbox 350 is $299.99 and $179.99. Both can be purchased in the U.S. and Canada at slingbox.com as well as leading retailers including Best Buy, Amazon.com and other independent retailers.

About Sling Media
Sling Media, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation, is the leading provider of video delivery products and services for consumers and television service providers. For more information, visit slingbox.com or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest news and updates.

Contact centers are on front line of customer retention


Contact Centers are on front line of customer retention

The ability to attract and retain clients is one of the most important skills that a company can possess, as these capabilities will help differentiate firms from other agencies and give them competitive advantages in the long run. Contact centers are often at the forefront of client retention programs and are often considered ambassadors in the consumer landscape.

This was highlighted in a recent Call Centre Clinic report, which noted that contact center agents are constantly on the frontline in the battle to win over and engage customers. The introduction of mobile and social technologies has made the contact center even more important, as consumers now have the ability to reach out to corporate representatives at virtually any time, forcing enterprises to always be ready to manage client relations.

“We recognize the trend and appreciate the significant role of the contact center,” communications expert Andrew Doyle said, according to Call Centre Clinic. “We believe that contact center agents are major contributors in safeguarding brand perception and by making this value-add tangible, it will clearly demonstrate their role as brand ambassadors alongside their marketing colleagues.”

At the same time, companies cannot simply deploy a contact center team and hope for the best, as launching customer retention programs with no planning will not necessarily result in success.

Hitting key contact center metrics
In the past, reducing call handling time was often one of the most critical contact center objectives, as doing so would free up more agents and allow companies to manage more queries. While this metric is still important, decision-makers should not implement projects that cut down call time but sacrifice quality, Call Centre Clinic noted.

“What customers want right now is to be helped as fast and effectively as possible,” customer management expert Sarah Stealey Reed told the news source. “So the agent needs to be effective, efficient and proficient about it – it is not about how long it takes the customer service agent afterwards, but about helping the customer as soon as possible.”

Contact center leaders also need to consider increasing the number of channels they support, while keeping a focus on the platforms most used by their customers. A separate Aspect Software study of 2,500 American adults highlighted the importance of pursuing communication tools that are in demand, not necessarily solutions that are trending. Social media, for example, is often used inappropriately, as only 1 percent of respondents believe these technologies provide the best customer experience.

Aspect Software found that expanding channels in the contact center can improve operations, but it also increases customer expectations. If organizations are willing to implement new solutions, for example, most people think service representatives should be able to leverage those tools effectively to deliver the best possible experience for the end user.

Jim Freeze, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Aspect, said simply providing clients with access to multiple platforms is not enough, though a large number of consumers believe that doing so provides organizations with an edge over businesses that are not taking the same initiative.

“As the ‘multi-channel customer experience’ – where an interaction can start on one channel and seamlessly transition to another – becomes the new gold standard, contact centers are emerging as the new center of the customer experience,” Freeze asserted.

In the coming years, businesses of all sizes and industries will need to ensure their contact centers adapt to the evolving needs of their respective customers, not the consumer landscape as a whole. By building customized strategies, firms will be in a better position to optimize experience and retain more customers with less churn.




Signed Fluke Networks

Fluke Networks is a global provider of innovative network test and monitoring solutions. Fluke Networks provides innovative solutions for the installation and certification, testing, monitoring and analysis of copper, fiber and wireless networks used by enterprises and telecommunications carriers.




Fluke Networks announces strategic sales and marketing partnership with Keating Technologies

Markham, ON – Fluke Networks, a global provider of innovative network test and monitoring solutions, today announced a new sales partnership with Keating Technologies to drive continued growth of Fluke’s Canadian business, with an emphasis on the IT channel.

Fluke Networks, a subsidiary of Fluke Corporation, the world leader in the manufacture, distribution and service of electronic test tools and software, offers best of breed solutions that span network deployment, network performance management and troubleshooting, as well as security and performance monitoring. Fluke Networks solutions are trusted by network professionals to help them deploy, manage and troubleshoot business critical networks in agencies, enterprises and carriers around the world, and by 98 of the Fortune 100 Companies.

“With Keating’s more than 25 years of channel expertise and national presence, we are excited to work with them to expand the sales and reach of Fluke Networks’ suite of products through their distributor and reseller partners,” explained Eric Corej, National Sales Director for Fluke Networks Canada. “This national and exclusive agreement with Keating will allow us to integrate their channel expertise with our own sales team to drive additional growth and better serve our customers.”

The core customer segments for Fluke Networks include enterprises, Datacom Installers and Communication Service Providers. On the enterprise side Fluke Networks provides hardware and software for diagnostics, analysis, monitoring and reporting of network and application performance for both wired and wireless networks. Datacom Installers need the certification and test solutions that ensure copper and fibre cable meets standards, performs to specifications and supports business-critical applications. Communications Service Providers require solutions for the installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, network qualification, service assurance and customer care for telecommunications.

“Fluke Networks’ industry-leading network deployment, performance management, troubleshooting, as well as security and performance monitoring solutions are without question best in class. We see these as invaluable tools for organizations to ensure secure and reliable network performance,” said Larry J. Keating, President and CEO of Keating Technologies. “Our advanced IT solution providers will enhance their services value and increase their margins with these tools. We are very proud and excited to bring these solutions to our longstanding IT relationships.”

About Fluke Networks
Fluke Networks is a global provider of innovative network test and monitoring solutions. Leading enterprises and service providers trust Fluke Networks’ products and expertise to help solve today’s toughest issues and emerging challenges in data centers, mobility, unified communications and WLAN security. Fluke Networks provides innovative solutions for the installation and certification, testing, monitoring and analysis of copper, fiber and wireless networks used by enterprises and telecommunications carriers. The company’s award-winning solutions provide network installers, owners, and maintainers with visibility, combining speed, accuracy and ease of use to optimize network performance. Headquartered in Everett, Washington, Fluke Networks has over 600 employees worldwide and distributes its products in more than 50 countries and are used by 98 of the Fortune 100 companies.

About Keating Technologies
Keating Technologies, headquartered in Markham, Ontario is a three-time winner of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies Program. As Canada’s leading branch outsourcing service to the high technology industry, the company has been responsible for bringing more than $1.3 billion in technology products and services to Canadian businesses and consumers. Keating provides Total Market Management services, including sales, marketing, and customer support through its offices in Markham, Vancouver and Montreal. For more information, visit Keating’s web site at www.keating.com.




Adaptec enters HBA market with first encrypted solutions for secure data center storage

Low Profile, 16-Port, PCIe Gen3 HBA with Innovative Encryption Technology Provides Robust Cloud Computing Data Security

Markham, ON – PMC, Inc., (Nasdaq: PMCS), the semiconductor innovator transforming networks that connect, move and store big data, today announced further expansion of its Adaptec storage product line with the industry’s first high performance, high density, low profile encrypted PCIe Gen3 host bus adapter (HBA) family. This product line is capable of executing over one million input/output operations per second (IOPS) with 6.6 GB/sec sustained throughput, provides 256 bit AES encryption, and offers up to 16 ports.

The Adaptec Series 7H and 6H families of SAS/SATA HBAs provide customers with high-performance connectivity for hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), removable media and tape drives. The product family is ideally suited for high performance data center applications.

“This new Adaptec HBA family, with its embedded encryption technology, higher port-count and higher performance, provides our customers with a distinct competitive advantage over any other products currently in the market,” said Jared Peters, vice president of Server Storage Solutions at PMC. “Customers continually ask for flexible solutions to better manage the continued expansion of their own data storage demands, and these products provide a wide range of cost-efficient solutions to meet their growing storage and security requirements.”

Leading I/O Performance with Series 7H HBAs
Adaptec Series 7H HBAs, featuring PMC’s 16-port PM8018 6Gb/s I/O controller silicon and an x8 PCIe Gen3 interface, are the industry’s first to achieve more than 1 million IOPS with 512 byte blocks, and can also execute more than 800,000 IOPS with 4K blocks. Built-in support for MSI-X support allows the adapters to leverage multi-core host CPUs in order to boost application performance. This increased performance allows customers to harness the full potential of solid-state drives, enabling a host of low-latency applications.

The PCIe Gen3 interface also doubles bandwidth to the host compared to the previous generation. With 16 SAS/SATA ports, these HBA products are the first to take full advantage of the maximum bandwidth. The Adaptec Series 7H HBAs are also the first in the industry to use mini SAS HD connectors, offering up to 16 native SAS/SATA ports in a low-profile MD2 form factor that is ideal for high-density servers. The new connectors can be combined with a wide range of Adaptec high-density SAS cables.

Improved Data Security with Adaptec maxCrypto™ Encryption Technology
Data centers are experiencing explosive growth in data and storage capacity, and Adaptec Series 7He HBAs feature Adaptec maxCrypto™ security technology, a 256 bit AES, in-line encryption engine enabled with a unique hardware encryption key. This key allows customers to protect data on their storage media and if required dispose of their disk or tape drives without the risk of exposing confidential customer data.

Connectivity Options with Series 6H HBAs
Adaptec Series 6H HBAs utilize PMC’s 8-port PM8001 6Gb/s I/O controller silicon and x4 PCIe Gen2 interface to provide cost-efficient HBA solutions rated at more than 250,000 IOPS with 512 byteblocks and more than 200,000 IOPS with 4K blocks. Featuring a low-profile MD2 form factor, Series 6H HBAs fit into x4/x8/x16 PCIe slots and are available in 4- and 8-port (internal) options using standard mini SAS connectors.

Both the Adaptec 6H and 7H product lines share common drivers and management tools, including drivers for Windows®, VMWare®, and open-source Linux.

“Security, performance, and dense I/O connectivity now rank among the ‘must-haves,’ and with datacenter space at a premium, simply continuing to build up and out to scale is no longer a sustainable solution,” said Laura Dubois, Program Vice President of IDC Storage Systems Software and Solutions. “Datacenter operators seek out solutions such as these that offer optimal capacity and performance, now fundamental requirements with the continued explosion of big data within these critical environments.”

Availability
The complete family of Adaptec Series 7 and Adaptec Series 6 HBAs will be available through Adaptec’s Canadian Distributors and storage channel partners in Q2 2013. For complete product details visit www.adaptec.com.

About Adaptec by PMC
Adaptec by PMC storage solutions protect, accelerate, and condition data as it moves through the I/O path. We deliver high-performance, interoperable and reliable storage solutions combined with leading technical support. Our products enable customers to innovate storage networks for next-generation data centers, cloud services as well as the broader market segments served by our channel partners. For more information visit www.adaptec.com.

About Keating Technologies
Keating Technologies, headquartered in Markham, Ontario is a three-time winner of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies Program. As Canada’s leading branch outsourcing service to the high technology industry, the company has been responsible for bringing more than $1.3 billion in technology products and services to Canadian businesses and consumers. Keating provides Total Market Management services, including sales, marketing, and customer support through its offices in Markham, Vancouver and Montreal. For more information, visit Keating’s web site at www.keating.com.




Jillian Mansolf recognized as one of the Most Influential and Powerful Leaders in IT Channel

Markham, ON – Overland Storage (NASDAQ: OVRL), the trusted global provider of effortless data management and data protection solutions across the data lifecycle, today announced that Jillian Mansolf has been named one of CRN’s 2013 Channel Chiefs. This prestigious list of the most influential and powerful leaders in the IT channel recognizes those executives directly responsible for driving channel sales and growth within their organization, while evangelizing and defending the importance of the channel throughout the entire IT Industry. This is the third consecutive year that Mansolf has been recognized by CRN as a channel chief.

Since joining Overland Storage in 2009, Mansolf has been responsible for spearheading the company’s initiative to sell branded data management and data protection solutions exclusively through the worldwide channel. Under her leadership, Overland launched its first globally integrated channel program, the FastTrack Partner Program, which now has over 4,600 registered partners worldwide. Dedicated to boosting the success of its partners, the Overland FastTrack Partner Program offers integrated video training and in-person educational events to help partners stay on top of storage industry trends. To help partners increase sales and grow revenue, the program provides online sales and marketing tools, as well as automated deal registration and guaranteed margin protection. During the past year, Mansolf lead the launch of Overland’s SnapSAN products and Overland’s first clustered NAS product, SnapScale X2. In addition to launching these innovative enterprise solutions, Mansolf headed the development of lead generation and lead sharing programs, as well as an initiative to make global strategic end-user account sales teams available to premiere partners. This effort has opened up additional markets, totaling over $20 million in new opportunities for Overland partners in the second half of 2012.

“The 2013 Channel Chiefs list recognizes vendor executives dedicated to driving channel programs in the IT marketplace,” said Kelley Damore, Senior Vice President, Editorial Director, CRN. “Our annual Channel Chiefs issue is a must-read for IT solution providers evaluating new vendors or looking to expand solution offerings. These are the people, the products and the programs that any savvy solution provider needs to know. We congratulate this year’s Channel Chiefs for their stellar record of business innovation and applaud them for their continued dedication to the partner community.”

For over ten years, Channel Chiefs have been selected by the CRN editorial team based on channel experience, program innovations, channel-driven revenue, and public support for the importance of IT Channel Sales.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a CRN 2013 Channel Chief, among such an influential group of IT leaders, for the third year in a row,” said Jillian Mansolf, SVP Global Sales and Marketing. “This recognition highlights Overland’s continued dedication to providing partners with innovative solutions, as well as the best resources and out-of-the-box programs to help partners grow their business.”

Selected by CRN’s editorial staff, the 2013 Channel Chiefs list is featured in the 2/25/13 issue of CRN Magazine and will be featured online at www.crn.com.

About Overland Storage
Overland Storage is the trusted global provider of effortless data management and data protection solutions across the data lifecycle. By providing an integrated range of technologies and services for primary, nearline, offline, archival, and cloud data storage, Overland makes it easy and cost effective to manage different tiers of information over time. Whether distributed data is across the hall or across the globe, Overland enables companies to focus on building their business instead of worrying about data growth. Overland SnapScale, SnapServer, SnapSAN, NEO Series and REO Series solutions are available through a select network of value added resellers and system integrators. For more information, visit www.overlandstorage.com.

About Keating Technologies
Keating Technologies, headquartered in Markham, Ontario is a three-time winner of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies Program. As Canada’s leading branch outsourcing service to the high technology industry, the company has been responsible for bringing more than $1.3 billion in technology products and services to Canadian businesses and consumers. Keating provides Total Market Management services, including sales, marketing, and customer support through its offices in Markham, Vancouver and Montreal. For more information, visit Keating’s web site at www.keating.com.




NPC CEO Larry Keating awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Photo: Award ceremony at Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto Ontario, February 6, 2013 Left to right: Gee Keating (spouse); Larry Keating; The Honourable David C. Onley – Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong – Deputy Chief Aide de Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

Larry Keating was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Presented by His Honour David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, to Larry at a gala event at Roy Thompson Hall, Larry was cited for “his work as a pioneer in computer innovation, for working on projects in the public interest, and for his support of numerous charitable organizations.”

The medal, created to honour the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, honours Canadians who have made significant contributions and achievements to the country.

In addition to founding Keating Technologies in 1987 that still operates today, and No Panic Computing in 2008, Larry currently serves as a technical advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario for the Aboriginal Computer Literacy Program and has been recognized as an Ambassador for Privacy by Design by the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Larry was a member of the Chair’s Advisory Council on e-Government and served for eight years as the founding chairman of the Ministers’ Technology Advisory Group for the Province of Ontario.

Born and raised in Guelph Ontario and now a resident of Markham, Larry is an author and speaker on technology, security, privacy and business issues. He has served on a number of volunteer advisory boards and committees such as the Seneca College Campaign Cabinet, the Premier’s Technology Dinner, and the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation Campaign Cabinet. He and his companies support a variety of charitable organizations, and he is proudly a 14-time house league soccer coach for his son’s teams.

Read Larry Keating’s Executive Bio