You Are Not an Island
October 31, 2011 @ 10:05 AM | By Eric Vidal

I’ve been talking for the last several weeks about how virtual environments can help organizations expand their reach while maintaining a budget. Last week, there was an announcement that is the perfect example of this, making an island (literally) more connected.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2011 Hawaii Host Committee and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii recently launched the Hawaii Virtual Business Marketplace, an online space where local businesses can advertise their products and services and virtually engage with global audiences during APEC Leaders’ Week next month.

Island-beach-off-of-lizard

InterCall Virtual Environment was chosen to create the Hawaii Virtual Business Marketplace, which will serve as a virtual campus modeled to look like a regular physical convention or major meeting, including booths, exhibition space and a networking lounge. The best part is that it will help connect local Hawaiian businesses with the 21 APEC Economies and U.S. mainland companies. If this isn’t the epitome of using technology to eliminate any distance barriers, I don’t know what is.

The organizers of the event are setting it up so Hawaii companies can feature their products or services as well as other company images, videos and marketing materials in their “booths” — all of which will be featured at http://events.unisfair.com/rt/hvbm~hawaii. During the event, a showcase hall will highlight the state’s key industries and a resource center will be available to provide a knowledge bank of important and useful resources to help enable the easy exchange of information and promote seamless business transactions. And what event wouldn’t be complete without a networking lounge where attendees can chat with each other in real time.

Delegates will be able to log into the site from their own laptops or tablets available at the Hawaii Convention Center during Leaders’ Week. The event is expected to attract approximately 20,000 attendees including the leaders of the 21 APEC economies, ministers, business leaders and news media.

Have you tried to bring your ‘island’ closer to the mainland? I’d love to hear about examples of how you’re creating new business virtually.

Eric VidalEric Vidal is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

Can a Change in Mindset Make You Happier at Work?
October 26, 2011 @ 11:04 PM | By Anusha Karnad

We spend the majority of our day (at least the part when we're awake) at work. If so much time is consumed by what we do in the office (or on the go for our jobs), you want to get some sense of happiness from it.

I found a great article by Martin Addison on TrainingZone that talks about what you can do to train yourself to be happy. He says that when our brains are primed to be positive, we perform better than when we’re feeling negative, or neutral, about something. We can imprint our brains with positive patterns just by creating a series of habits and mindset changes. As managers, is this something we can do to help our employees be happier?

Studies at Harvard University show that people who are happy and have meaning in their lives are not only more productive and more resilient at work, they take less sick days, perform better in leadership roles and receive higher pay. For anyone who isn't a naturally happy or positive person, is there hope?

Change Habits
Below are four things Adison says you can do for yourself to change your mindset (or for your team if you want to help improve their happiness or morale).

  1. Create the habit of gratitude - Write down three new things each day that your are grateful for. Make these things specific. If you spend two minutes a day doing this, your brain becomes slightly happier. Try doing it for 21 consecutive days. The more you think of things you’re grateful for, the less time you have for thinking about hassles and complaints.
  2. Exercise - Many people know that exercise releases positive endorphins and that when you exercise you’re more likely to eat healthier. If you could exercise daily for 21 days in a row, the benefits would cascade into other areas of your life.
  3. Reduce multitasking - Our brains like to do one thing at a time. When we attempt to multitask, we decrease our success rate on those tasks. To be happier and more productive at work, try to do one thing at a time.
  4. Perform conscious acts of kindness - Altruism is a great way to feel good about yourself. Thinking of how you can help someone else changes how you see the world—from how is the world affecting me to how can I affect the world? It may seem a small change but this is very important. Train yourself to find positive things that you can do for, or say to, other people.

Create a Ripple Effect
Adison points out that when we see someone smile, we smile too. Likewise when we see someone yawn. The same thing happens with anxiety, uncertainty or stress in the workplace. Because both positivity and negativity can spread so easily, the key to a happy workplace is training managers and employees to change their mindsets.

As managers, Adison says, we should be expressive, both verbally and non-verbally. This means giving praise or positive feedback, smiling and making eye contact with others. These activities will spread a little happiness and ultimately create a lasting competitive advantage.

Anasha KarnadAnusha Karnad is a post call services lead at InterCall in Bangalore. She’s been with InterCall since 2009, working in customer service, training for new hires and account management where she helped customers with billing and service related questions. Anasha's background is in training voice, accent and soft skills for customer service agents.

Will Windows Mobile Phones Make a Comeback?
October 26, 2011 @ 03:07 AM | By Ashley Davies

Oct. 17, 2011 (Bloomberg) -- British consumers will spend 19.3 billion pounds ($30.5 billion) by 2021 on purchases using their mobile phones as technology advances and more people have smartphones, Barclays Corporate estimated.

Over the last five years, the UK has experienced a huge boom in the smartphone market. Consumers are now favouring the iPhone or Android-powered devices in favour of the more basic options out there.

Long gone are the days of the ‘smart’ Windows® CE-powered phone or the market share enjoyed by Nokia with their Symbian-powered devices (the Nokia N95 was a huge success in its day). Now consumers want fast 3G Internet access, streamed video and audio and push-email that can be accessed and edited from a variety of devices simultaneously (Bluetooth headsets, iPads, laptops, etc.).

Android™’s market share has risen significantly in the UK over the last 12 months, gaining 34% on 2010’s figure to a total share of 45% of the smartphone market.

Apple, interestingly, has experienced a decline in market share, down 12% to 18% share with Blackberry® increasing their share by 2%, up to 22.3%. Nokia’s Symbian platform has experienced the largest drop from any provider, down 22% to just 10% market share.

However, one of the largest companies in the world has one of the lowest market share of the smartphone market—and it’s dropping. Windows. Window’s market share has halved over the last 12 months, landing it with just 2.7% of the smartphone market in the UK.

Windows-7-Phone

Although you may think that it’s safe to assume that Windows is dead in the water (especially since the epic fail of its Facebook-ready phone which was on the market for less than two months!), it may be about to make a massive comeback into the smartphone space.

So what proof do I have that Windows-powered mobile’s aren’t about to go the way of the dinosaur? Well, here I sit with two phones on my desk. A Windows 7-powered HTC Pro™ and an Android-powered HTC Wildfire S™.

Both phones are built by HTC and have pretty similar features, in terms of touch-screens and cameras, but the Windows-powered phone seems to be in a league of its own.

Let’s take an example. Whilst on the road last week, my laptop battery died, so I had to rely on my phones for information. The Windows 7 mobile kept me up to date with my Outlook® email and enabled me to use Office365 on the handset to finish up a spreadsheet that I needed to email later that day. (On my Android device, I’m limited to using Google Apps, so I knew my colleagues would have problems editing the spreadsheet.) Not only that, I was able to talk to my colleague using the mobile version of Microsoft Lync™, meaning that although my laptop was dead, I could stay in touch with the team, send over the spreadsheet and stay productive.

Although Microsoft may be the underdog for another year, they have a lot of features set to launch which will be game-changers. The acquisition of Skype means that integration of Skype into Windows Mobile, Lync and Xbox will increase collaboration and communication between converged devices, making it even easier to stay in touch and collaborate with colleagues and family members all over the world.

Do you have a preferred platform? Have you tried using Lync to stay connected while on the road? If you haven’t, you can register for a free trial of our hosted version of Lync at www.lynctrial.com to test it out.

Ashley DaviesAshley Davies is the small and medium sized business (SMB) manager in InterCall’s UK and European (EMEA) division and is responsible for managing the suite of services InterCall offers that are specifically designed for SMB customers. Before joining InterCall, Ashley worked as the sales manager for a free publication and studied for a degree in entrepreneurship and small business. In his spare time, Ashley likes to surf and work on his house.

Improve Productivity with Record & Playback
October 20, 2011 @ 10:13 AM | By Christina Todisco

How often do you host a conference call and at least one person who needs to be there can’t make it. Or, maybe you have meetings that you need to be able to go back and listen to again. This happens to many of us, which is why one of the most popular features of our reservationless conferencing service is Record & Playback. Right from your phone conference, a simply command lets you archive a conference call. You can even start and stop the recording throughout the meeting if you want to create segment or only record certain portions.

Not only is the feature easy to use, but accessing the recording later is just as simple. You can listen over the Internet or by dialing a toll-free number. You may also purchase a CD, downloadable link or a transcription of your recording.

For those of you who haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once or who don’t have superpowers that allow you to recall everything you’ve ever heard, Record & Playback could be just what you needed. Below you’ll find instructions to use for your next audio conference call.

Phone-keypad

Starting a Recording

  1. Once your conference begins, press *2 on your telephone keypad to start a recording.
  2. When prompted, press 1 to confirm that you would like the recording to begin.
  3. our conference is being recorded once you hear, 'The conference is now being recorded.

Pausing/Resuming a Recording

  1. Press *2 to pause your recording.
  2. When prompted, press 2 to confirm you would like the recording to pause. You will hear a beep once the pause in the recording begins.
  3. To resume your recording, press *2.
  4. When prompted, press 2 to confirm you would like to resume the recording. You will hear a beep once the recording has resumed.

Ending a Recording

  1. Press *2 to end your recording.
  2. When prompted, press 1 to confirm that you would like the recording to end.
  3. Your recording will end once you hear, 'This conference is no longer being recorded.

Playback a Recording
Detailed playback instructions will be automatically emailed to you within one hour after the end of your conference. You can choose to playback your recording over the Internet or by telephone. Your recorded conference is available for playback for a period of 30 days.

Playback Keypad Commands

    3 Fast forward 30 seconds
    7 Rewind 30 seconds
    # Pause 30 seconds (or until any key is pressed)
    * Exit recording

Think this might be helpful for your meetings? Have you used this feature before? How do you increase productivity by making information more accessible?

Christina TodiscoChristina Todisco is a marketing manager at InterCall and has been in the conferencing industry since 2002. Christina currently provides product marketing support for InterCall’s audio services, reporting and invoice solutions and InterCall Online. When not working, Christina enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, family and friends.

A Virtual Look into Fortune’s Most Powerful Women
October 19, 2011 @ 09:20 AM | By Sara Steele

On October 5, the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit wrapped up in Laguna Niguel, CA. This world-premiere gathering brings together women leaders in business, government, academia, philanthropy and the arts. 

If you’re like me, you probably couldn’t make it to the live event. But, being a woman in the business world, I still wanted to see what it was all about and maybe gain some inspiration. Luckily, InterCall was chosen to host the event on our Virtual Environment platform. I was able to get an inside look into the event as all plenary sessions of the summit were streamed; I could network with other virtual participants and get questions answered by leading subject matter experts.

The event brought together some of the most prominent women leaders to share their personal stories in building businesses and making a difference in the world. Among those women who presented were:

  • Glenn Close, Actress and Producer
  • Arianna Huffington, President and CEO, AOL Huffington Post Media Group
  • Chelsea Handler, Author, Actress and Comedian
  • Ellen Kullman, Chair and CEO, DuPont
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, Pepsico

InterCall was honored to support Fortune in this exciting event by enabling greater visibility and reaching an additional 6200 participants through the virtual platform.

Did you miss the event? As of today, you can now watch the archived events free of charge. To register and view the world's premiere gathering of women leaders, visit the virtual event site to log in.

Sara SteeleSara Steele is an associate marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various corporate communication initiatives; including social media and channel marketing efforts. Sara began working with InterCall after graduating from the University of Colorado in 2006. In her free time, she enjoys running, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Improving Communication: 10 Tips to Turn Upset Customers into Happy Ones
October 14, 2011 @ 04:09 PM | By Anusha Karnad

It was a Friday in December last year and the day was going slow.

My agents were relaxed and completing their work for the day. Suddenly I heard my name called from someone on my team and I went to check.

I saw a question mark on my agent’s face and as expected he asked me, “I need to improve the way I communicate, and could you help me?” I felt delighted by his question and my mind started ticking like a clock’s needle for ideas to help him out.

It seems the many people could learn to improve their listening and communication. Did you know:

  • We are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful 75% of the time when we are listening.
  • We recall 50% of what a person says immediately after hearing it.
  • We listen at 125-250 words per minute and think at 1000- 3000 words per minute.

I gave him an assurance and went back to my cubicle to find some information for him. I thought I could send him some articles on effective communication or ask him to read some good books on the subject. As I was preparing to get back to him, like lightning in the clouds, my mind sparkled with a thought of InterCall’s learning management system.

We’re fortunate at InterCall because our company invests in employee training and development. Our learning management system allows us to sign up for several live, online employee training sessions and access archived versions for self-paced learning. For a global company like ours, this allows everyone in the company to take advantage of the courses our training department offers. Because of the availability of the classes, I decided I should also take a couple of classes to improve my own communication skills.

This training we offer not only helps a person improve communication with co-workers, but it helps agents to handle the calls with customers, particularly those with upset customers. Here’s a list of things to avoid when working with an unhappy customer:

  1. Interrupting the speaker
  2. Not looking at the speaker
  3. Showing interest in something else
  4. Rushing the speaking
  5. Setting ahead of the speaker and finishing his/her thoughts
  6. Not responding to the speaker’s request
  7. Saying, “Yes, but…”
  8. Topping the speaker’s story, “that’s nothing, let me tell you…”
  9. Forgetting what was previously discussed
  10. Asking too many questions about the details

I received positive feedback from my agent about our online training and have made it part of my team’s job responsibilities to regularly attend these types of training sessions. Not only does it help them develop personally, but it helps them to better serve our customers.

Is there any member in your team who needs some training and development? Have you tried online training to give them more access to a wider variety of topics?

Anasha KarnadAnusha Karnad is a post call services lead at InterCall in Bangalore. She’s been with InterCall since 2009, working in customer service, training for new hires and account management where she helped customers with billing and service related questions.

Convert Facebook Fans to Paying Customers in 3 Easy Steps
October 13, 2011 @ 09:20 AM | By InterCall Guest Blogger

If you're like most business owners, you're finding it difficult to start converting Facebook fans to paying customers. But getting this done is easier than you think. After a year of interviewing businesses who are generating leads and sales on Facebook, I found the common thread: Whether selling services or goods, these businesses are giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like.” Here's their trick: Using Facebook to generate questions that products or services give answers to. Top social sellers are focusing on solving customers problems. And you can, too.

Step 1: Solve Customers Problems
You've probably heard about the secret sauce: posting or updating Facebook a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key to unlocking success. But it's simply not true. Operational skills are essential to have, but making a sale demands focus on needs of customers, not “secret sauce best practices.” The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving customers’ problems.

For instance, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your business—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire or scratch a bothersome itch is powerful. Answering questions opens the door to discovery and to making suggestions. You can offer people a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of becoming a customer or starting a trial. But beware: sales don't just happen; you need to solve problems with a plan in mind.

Step 2: Be a Thought Provoker, not a Thought Leader
Solving customers' problems on Facebook works, but only if you plan ways to make yourself addictive to customers and let them share insights on purchase intent with you. Want to generate more inbound inquiries (leads)? Your job is to provoke immediate responses from customers with social media. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with customers on Facebook in exchange for understanding their purchase intent. In other words, give them something valuable and generate a lead.

Many B2B (business to business) companies I've been interviewing for my book are showing customers opportunities they've never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don't yet know they have. That's the candy. That's how you can become addictive and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your products and services. Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook scratch customers' itches.

“The key is to discover what you’re seeing that most people are not seeing right now,” says Gunnar Branson, CEO of marketing and innovation consultancy Branson Powers. “For instance, what might you know—right now—that’s relatively unknown and revealing? Think in terms of a risk or opportunity that your listener, watcher, reader will react strongly to,” he says.

“The formula is something like this,” says Branson, “and it can be applied in any selling scenario: ‘Most people think A, but it’s actually B. Here’s why I say that (so some sort of proof—an observation, trend, anecdote, a statistic). Therefore B.’”

“That’s it,” says Branson who says it works in B2C (business to consumer) as well. “That’s the way to plan or ‘map out’ stories or insights that will draw people in.”

Step 3: Take Action
The final step is to align your behavior on Facebook in ways that help customers solve problems or aid them in getting something important done today.

Here are tips on getting started:

  • Change it up: Resist asking, “What should we be doing with Facebook?” Rather, ask “How can Facebook make what we already do for customers better?”
  • Talk to me: Give customers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in a powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you... so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.
  • Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for customers to qualify themselves as leads.
  • Re-purpose content: Are you already helping customers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt customers within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.


Molander-bust-small

About the Author
Jeff Molander is author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell, adjunct professor of marketing at Loyola University Business School and a social media keynote speaker.

Recently, Jeff spoke in an InterCall webinar that is related to this article and his book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You. He blogs at www.offthehookblog.com and can be reached at [email protected].





The InterCall Guest Blogger is a subject matter expert who contributes relevant articles to The InterCall Blog. Topics can range from unified communications, conferencing and collaboration or virtual events to general business communications and process improvement. If you are interested in submitting an article for The InterCall Blog, please email [email protected].

The business world is notoriously perceived as combative, dominated by an aggressive conflict model of negotiation. Power and leverage are often the name of the game. Using the revolutionary strategies articulated in his New York Times bestselling book, Getting More, Professor Stuart Diamond shows how straying from this combative model provides a massive advantage. Counter-intuitive to its core, his process focuses on collaboration and the perceptions and emotions of the other party over facts and logic.

In our free webinar on Wednesday, October 19 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Stuart will talk about how to ask questions of the other party, glean the “pictures in their heads” and, ultimately, persuade them. Armed with new persuasive power, you and your business will be more competitive than ever before.

During this session, you will learn:

  • How to persuade people by discovering their perceptions
  • Discover why “power” and “leverage” don’t work
  • Learn the 12, secret, “invisible” strategies for a competitive edge
  • Improve personal relationships
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Register now>>

About Our Speaker
Professor Stuart Diamond has taught and advised on negotiation to corporate and government leaders in over 45 countries. He has an MBA with distinction from Wharton, a law degree from Harvard and a BA from Rutgers. He has consulted extensively for the United Nations and has taught professionals from more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. In a previous career, he was a journalist for the New York Times, where he won the Pulitzer Prize as a part of the team investigating the crash of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for direct response marketing programs. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and spending summer days at the beach.

Organizations have been providing virtual human resource services for several years, and now some leading organizations are taking virtual HR to another level. Organizations often leverage virtual technologies to outsource payroll, benefits administration and even human capitol management.

So what are the ways to make your HR efforts virtual so you can do more with fewer resources and less budget?

  • Virtual Recruiting: A virtual job fair featuring webcasts, webinars and video interviews is an accessible and effective way to conduct a vital business event online. Interact with students, job candidates and employee prospects around the world via a digital expo.
  • Virtual On‐boarding: The days of the traditional orientation in a room with other new hires are fading. When most of your talent is virtual, on‐boarding must be virtual and engaging, while connecting people to the critical information and resources they need.
  • Virtual Training and Education: With online tools, you drastically reduce cost per attendee, provide easy access to content, subject matter experts and peers and blend formal and informal learning. Not only that, but by using the right tools, you increase productivity by reducing time away from a desk and you still energize audiences through online engagement.

In a new whitepaper, we explore some of the newer, more complex HR functions that are going virtual and go into detail on how three organizations, KPMG, CareerBuilder.com and ACS (a Xerox company), leveraged virtual environments to recruit, on‐board, train and help truly change the way their organization manage strategic HR functions.

Download the whitepaper>>

What do you think? Has your HR organization tried to make any of these activities virtual? What has been the result? If you aren’t doing it, what are your challenges or obstacles?

Eric VidalEric Vidal is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

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