Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dealing with spam in your inbox

Spam is a problem that all companies face. You deal with it by having server spam filters and firewalls, personal computer filters and firewalls, and someone checking any filtered spam mail for good mail. The amount we get in our inbox will always fluctuate until spammers are identified, added to spam definitions, or they stop spamming. As long as there is money to be made, you can forget about them stopping.

You can also make sure to use personal email addresses when registering for online products, demos, and other stuff. Also make sure your work email address is not published (linkable) on any web pages or it will be scraped and sold to spammers.

One alternative method of dealing with spam is to use an online authentication method - where everyone needs to authenticate themselves before they can send mail to you. You could add a list of accepted names (whitelist) first so as not to annoy people who already mail you. You can also write a nice personal message explaining the service to anyone who is asked to confirm their identity. One provider of this is SpamArrest. The service isn't free, and your mail has to filter through a third party step. It's always been my belief that the more places your mail has to go through, the bigger the threat of losing good mail, but many companies use the service. A similar service was Mailblocks, which was then bought by AOL (a big spammer itself!) who then shut it down, no suprise, so you also face the threat that your 3rd party service may be sold or shut down.

Most small to medium sized business will outsource their email hosting to third party web hosting vendors. Most web hosts will have their own server side spam filters. However, you lose some of your control because changes to the filter's weight can only be made globally for all customers - not just your domain.

If you have your own in house mail server, you can install a server app such as Barracuda to police the spam before it hits your inbox.

Friday, May 25, 2007

5 most popular Virtual Observer Add-Ons

5 - VO Surveys: This allows you to gain insight on customer interactions from your customers themselves and allows for calibration of your evaluation metrics by balancing survey results against supervisor evaluations.

4 - Auto-Archiving: This module allows companies to automatically archive their logged recordings to a network drive or DVD. When you are recording all of your incoming and outgoing calls, it is possible to archive your call history based on specific parameters.

3 - SMDR Integration: For T1 loggers, it's a necessity - it's the only way you'll be able to match up calls with agents and phone extensions. SMDR feeds can provide you with ANI/DNIS call detail. For extensive data capture, we can also provide CTI integration.

2 - Media Encryption: Using our Media Encryption module, companies that process credit card transactions over the phone or record confidential customer information are be able to encrypt their recordings, and it's a requirement for anyone trying to meet Visa's Payment Card Industry standard compliance.

1 - E-Learning: This functionality typically blows people away when they see it for the first time. It provides a user-friendly method of automatically delivering targeted training materials to agents after an evaluation is complete. Supervisors can also easily create cds or webpages with a "Best Of" call list for training purposes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It was only a matter of time...

...before call centers became service providers to the fast food industry. Read the article on USAtoday.

Now when you order your burger, fries, and large diet coke, or a #3 meal, your call may be routed through a call center located virtually anywhere.

This can only point to a trend I've noticed: the rapid emergence of the specialized call center outsource service industry. I've seen a surging number of new call center service providers crop up, not only internationally but also domestically. Latin America has also become a major player in this area.

In a mostly unrelated topic, I've just returned from my honeymoon in Mexico. We were in the Cancun region. Everyone in that hundred mile region seemed to be involved in the tourism industry (I discovered, thanks to our tour guide, that Cancun was only 20 or so years old). Everybody was extremely friendly and everyone seemed to take customer service to the next level. If Mexico ever wanted to diversify their regions' marketscape, I would highly recommend the outsourced call center business model.

Who wouldn't want to answer customer service phone calls when they had an office view of the Mayan Riviera?

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