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The U.S. is Moving Closer to Making Smart Cities a Widespread Reality

The idea behind the smart city is as revolutionary as it is easy to grasp.

In simple terms, a “smart city” is a development idea in which information systems from public safety, libraries, schools, transportation, hospitals, energy suppliers, waste management, law enforcement and beyond are integrated, allowing the officials of a city not only to make sure that services are carried out efficiently, but that they can remain in constant contact with their citizens.

Ideally, a smart city system would not only function effectively in the present, but be able to adapt to the city’s growth and evolution, thus constantly improving its residents way of life.

It’s an exciting concept, but one that will obviously take a great deal of work to achieve. And part of that work must be done through governmental means on both the state and federal level.

A recent Tech Republic article indicated that 90% of the companies that might be involved in a smart city project agreed that legislation is the key to the smart city concept being implemented effectively.

And on a federal level, the government has anticipated that need. Last year, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Suzan DelBene began piecing together the laws and regulations ecessary to ensure that the smart city concept doesn’t simply remain on the urban development drawing board.

Rather than forcing the states to figure out the complexities of creating smart cities within their own borders, the legislation that the House is spearheading would be designed to take a look at the challenges that these cities could potentially be up against when implementing the smart city plan.

The most important of these are budgetary concerns – however, another major concern is the hiring of a workforce qualified to create and manage the technology required for this type of project.

These efforts are designed to help cities eliminate the obstacles standing in the way of creating and implementing a smart city plan and help officials revamp their services to fit the requirements of the projects.

Drafts of this legislation emphasize the importance of prototypical pilot projects to get preliminary results the cities need, and also ideas for drawing in public and private investors to offset the budgetary concerns.

The House has expanded their work to include members of the Senate, and both houses of Congress are […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

August 22nd, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

Contact Centers and Cloud Technology

Cloud-based technology is one of the most exciting, and in some ways the least understood, innovations in the contact center industry today.

It’s understandable why this is. On the one hand, cloud technology allows for an easier storage and portability of massive amounts of data and software, which makes establishing a fully functional contact center with customer data a much easier process, even without a physical location.

On the other hand, there’s a sense of amorphousness about the cloud, something that people might find hard to define. But it’s important to come to grips with cloud technology, because it’s almost certainly a harbinger of a future that mixes both virtual and physical call centers. Here are some ways that the cloud is changing call centers today and in the years to come.

Just to make our topic a little clearer before we start off, cloud-based contact center technology allows businesses to their operate their software systems online, without needing on-site servers.

The contact center’s data storage is all in the cloud, and the servers typically either belong to the service provider, or are operated through a third party.

Hardware and infrastructure could be becoming a thing of the past

Other than a healthy, high-bandwidth internet connection, cloud-based customer service systems don’t require any costly infrastructure or hardware.

So that connection is the only real expense a business needs to take into account when it comes to expenses. It’s important to remember, however, that without that crucial bandwidth, your cloud-based call center can’t operate.

But while that monthly subscription fee (the most typical way to purchase access) will be a more frequent expense, it won’t be as costly as running an entire physical server. It’s difficult to imagine the modern-day or future call center not taking these revolutionary cost-cutting measures.

Customization and upgrades are easier than ever

Contact center software that’s based in cloud technology, like the Verint Media Recorder Workforce Management solution, is getting faster and faster, and customization is easier than ever.

Contact centers can scale their system to their own size or best practices, and removing users is an incredibly simple process. If you’re a call center that changes staffing levels seasonally, cloud technology can allow you to add and remove members of your staff based on the level of demand.

This allows the call center to expand or contract their workforce as needed.

Less hardware […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

August 17th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

Why 911 Dispatching is So Different Today

There was a time when public safety dispatchers would work simple phone lines, typically with one computer to help them sort through the available information to make sure that a 911 caller got the help they needed. It’s incredible to think how different the job was just 10 or 20 years ago, given the technology that a dispatcher uses in 2017.

So what has changed over the last decade or so? What kind of knowledge and experience does a dispatcher have to have in the new public safety world to be effective at their job? We’ve taken a look at the landscape and listed some new job requirements below.

911 dispatchers must be able to both multi-task and focus intensely to be successful

Instead of one computer screen, the modern-day dispatcher could conceivably be looking at four or five at once, working on three different keyboards, and using multiple mice to work on several PCs simultaneously.

And the days of picking up a phone are long gone. Dispatchers have been wearing headsets to take calls for years, leaving their hands free for other tasks.

That means they could be working on any number of things at one time: monitoring phone lines, keeping an eye on frequencies, or looking at maps of their assigned cities or counties. It takes a lot of quick thinking and organizational skills to keep up with all that.

911 dispatchers must be technologically savvy

Public safety technology is evolving so quickly that it’s impossible to imagine training someone on it from scratch. The modern-day dispatcher must have some sort of proficiency in tech before they come aboard, whether it’s through retail, contact center work, or even just through their own daily interactions with computers, mobile technology, and software systems.

Anyone who becomes a dispatcher in 2017 has to be highly comfortable with today’s technology – otherwise, they could become overwhelmed.

911 dispatchers need emergency response training

A modern-day dispatcher is no longer someone who simply relays the emergency calls to the proper place. Oftentimes they must be able to give out some form of medical or firefighting instructions to the caller while help is on the way.

That takes a lot of study, and given the typical hectic pace of a dispatcher’s shift, it has to be recalled quickly. If someone considering […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

August 2nd, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

States Deciding Whether to Opt Out of FirstNet, Dedicated Public Safety Broadband Network

As a public safety official, you’ve probably already heard of the First Responder Network Authority (typically referred to as FirstNet). It’s a high-speed broadband network specifically for first responders and public safety workers that was established by the federal government in 2012.

What you might not know is that its implementation in every state is imminent. Governors all over the country have begun preparing for it with various deployment plans, or plans to opt out.

The rapid-deployment plans, which include the framework of FirstNet’s coverage, the features it provides and its mission-critical abilities, initially became available to the governors through an online portal that launched on June 19, 2017.

After that release, the governors were given 45 days to look over the plans and give their suggestions on them, at which point a three-month period begins in which the governors can opt in or out, which would require them to choose their own deployment plan.

The deployment plan was released only three months after AT&T was chosen to be the provider for FirstNet. AT&T was given a 25-year contract which included 20mhz of 700Mhz band radio spectrum in order to operate this public-safety centered network, with the added bonus that when it’s not in use for emergencies, AT&T can still make use of it for commercial and other business purposes.

The main purpose of FirstNet is to do away with the delays and congestion that cellphone and Internet services often experience during times of heavy use, and to give emergency workers and PSAPs priority which it comes to communication.

As an example, Bill Schrier, a senior advisor for FirstNet and a former member of the Seattle police department, points out that in 2014, when the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl and had a victory parade through Seattle’s downtown area, the nearby cell networks became overloaded during the parade. The Firstnet system was designed as a solution to issues like that one.

The states that choose to opt in to the FirstNet deployment plan will have access to its priority network, which will, whenever possible, including broadband coverage.

In the event that that coverage is not available, AT&T is required to provide 3-4G service until they are able to upgrade the broadband service completely. Eventually, AT&T will be able to provide that broadband service […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 25th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

Where is Public Safety Software Headed?

New technological advancements take hold so quickly these days, that we soon forget what we ever did without them. And that holds true whether it’s a technological innovation in cars, computers or in PSAPs.

There have been so many changes in the way PSAP technology works over the past few decades that it’s difficult to comprehend them all.

But that’s as it should be, because emergency dispatchers’ quick responses are vital to managing emergency situations. If you factor in the continued interconnection of different centers and the growth in population around the United States, the dispatcher position takes on more importance than ever before, and it becomes more complicated. Technology plays a vital part in helping to improve the tools that they have at their disposal.

Not that these changes always go smoothly. If you consider the amount of equipment that might need to be added to a PSAP work space to keep it up to date, you might imagine a dispatcher being inundated with several different screens and keyboards, with bulky computer towers all around them.

Streamlining public safety software systems

One of the biggest developments in PSAP tech lately has been the creation of software systems that streamline this process, making workflow less complex and allowing a more efficient flow of information between different departments.

Software companies like Verint have made huge advancements over the last decade in PSAP technology, creating systems that organize and optimize 911 dispatch services, taking up less space and more importantly, making response times quicker.

Dispatcher feedback

Many of the new innovations in PSAP technology have originated with the dispatchers themselves, simply because they are the most likely to spot potential areas for improvements and relay that firsthand knowledge to their supervisors.

For example, dispatchers all over the country have given feedback about the durability of their equipment, noting that their consoles need to be able to work at high levels for extended periods of time.

They also want platforms that have been “future-proofed,” allowing new upgrades in call-receiving and Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) to be easily installed, and allowing for the combination of broad- and narrow-band capability. All of these innovations, once incorporated, will allow more flexibility in the way dispatchers are able to do their jobs.

Physical and technical improvements

But it’s not just changes in technology that have […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 24th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

What’s the Difference Between a Call Center and a Contact Center?

The terms “call center” and “contact center” are often used in the same context, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable. Both provide ways to communicate with customers, business partners and sometimes vendors, but they aren’t the same thing.

So, what exactly are the differences between a call center and a contact center? We’ve put together a description of each that discusses the differences and similarities.

Defining a call center

As you might guess from the name, a call center focuses mainly on voice-based communications, usually telephone calls.

A typical call center allows both inbound and outbound call services. As a basic example, incoming calls might be from customers reaching out in response to an advertising campaign, or maybe to ask some questions about a new service or product.

Conversely, outgoing calls might involve calling potential customers to give a survey or to get in touch with sales leads created by a new marketing campaign.

Occasionally, there are other services offered by a call center, including a voicemail system, an automated menu (which typically offers a series of choices to a caller to hone in on what they need or what might best serve them), and perhaps an answering service if the calls come in after a center’s hours.

Sometimes call centers are created and run by the companies themselves, but businesses often outsource these needs due to potential expenses from equipment to personnel.

This might sound like a basic explanation of what a call center is, and something you might already have known. But it’s important to understand the fundamentals so we can show how contact centers are different.

Defining a contact center

There was a time when the majority of callers who couldn’t get through to a live agent were frustrated by their experience. And while that frustration might still exist, it’s to a much smaller degree in an era where automated interfaces are common.

And that’s the main difference between a call center and a contact center. Much like call centers, contact centers do offer voice communications and handle inbound and outgoing calls. But in most cases, they also offer online chat services, email communication, instant messaging and other sorts of digital interfaces.

This array of services makes it possible for consumers, vendors and other people to reach out in the way they are most comfortable […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 20th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

The Real Cost of 911 Abuse

We’ve taken a look at some of the silliest, most misguided instances of people calling 911 for the wrong reasons. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes every now and then to sit back and enjoy a funny story..

But the truth is, there’s a downside to those abuses of the 911 system that isn’t nearly as visible. The fact of the matter is, when you look at the time and money that these nuisance calls can waste, it’s not that funny at all.

A recent extensive study of 911 abuse by the U.S. Dept. Of Justice came upon some disturbing information, made perhaps more surprising because there typically hasn’t been a great deal of data collection on 911 abuse.

But what they discovered was truly an eye-opener. The study, written by Rana Simpson, differentiated between “misuse” and “abuse” of 911, categorizing accidental dialing or multiple reports of the same accident differently than those calls that were intentional.

Looking at data from different cities around the country, they found a startlingly high rate of 911 abuse in many places. For example, in Jefferson County, KY, they discovered that a whopping 40% of the calls that came into 911 for a calendar year were intentional abuse calls – either prank calls, people reporting non-emergencies, or asking non-911 related questions like football game-times.

40% is a staggering number, and though that statistic certainly doesn’t apply to every city or county, it’s a sign that a lot of time and money are being wasted by 911 abuse.

In terms of money, it’s hard to tally a total, but we may have some clues. In 2014, a Memphis TV station did a news report about 911 abuse and estimated that each unnecessary dispatch of a police officer cost the city around $90.

That might not seem like much until you consider that the city of Memphis estimated they answered around 230,000 abusive 911 calls each year. If police were dispatched to just half of those calls, the cost is around $10 million.

And you can rest assured that a great deal of that expense is often passed on to the taxpayers – the people who need help from 911 in the first place.

And that’s to say nothing of incidents where the Memphis fire department was […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 18th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

4 Expert Tips for Improving Your Contact Center Customer Feedback

Honest, open feedback is one of the most important elements of a strong relationship between a contact center manager and employee. A back-and-forth dialogue between a manager and his or her workforce is crucial to the success and efficiency of any good center.

But there’s another kind of feedback that is even more important: The feedback of the customers who call, email, or text to your contact center. There’s no better barometer of how well or poorly a call center is performing than the comments and suggestions you receive from your callers.

So how do you ensure effective caller feedback, and how do you properly parse and organize the data you’re receiving – whether it’s from surveys, follow-up emails, or the caller conversations themselves? Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your customer feedback.

Ask for feedback as soon after the caller’s experience as possible

If you want to truly find out what a caller’s experience was with your center, it’s best to do so quickly. Otherwise the information won’t be fresh in the caller’s mind.

Sometimes, call centers do this while the caller is still on the phone, with an agent asking towards the end of the call if the customer would be willing to answer some questions about their experience, and if they feel their issue was addressed.

Sometimes customers will be irate or irritated by the lack of a satisfactory solution, so the results might be a bit skewed. Overall, however, this is still an important method of gathering feedback.

Keep surveys brief

People lead busy lives, and they’re often not in the mood to stay on the line or push through a long email survey.

Hone your surveys to be as brief, but informative, as possible. Make sure not to take up too much of the caller’s time, or that could negatively affect the way they answer your questions. It won’t do any good to get feedback from a caller who’s annoyed or impatient with the way you get it.

Make sure questions are relevant to your KPIs

You can ask customers an endless variety of questions, but if the answers you receive don’t help you reach your KPI goals, they won’t mean much.

Don’t get wrapped up in questions that might seem useful, but don’t actually provide […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 14th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

5 Ridiculous 911 Call Stories

It’s incredible, really, that there are still people out there who don’t seem to know when it is and isn’t appropriate to call 9-1-1.

On another level, chronicling the mystifying, often hilarious, usually misguided world of funny 911 calls makes us feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part III: Every time we think we’re out, these silly, ridiculous and just plain wrong calls pull us back in.

We’ve found another batch of funny stories about people who need a refresher course in what the word “emergency” means, so it’s time to share some more outrageous 911 call stories with you. Enjoy!

But I’m REALLY Hungry!

One night in December of 2011, a man in Miami named Terry Lynn Kimbell decided his craving for Taco Bell was too powerful to resist, and that he had to hit their drive-thru as quickly as possible. The only problem was the Kimbell was too drunk to drive, and he knew that the restaurant wouldn’t let him walk through the drive through; that’s against the rules.

So perhaps thinking it was worth a shot, and maybe even thinking he was being responsible about it, Kimbell called 911 and asked to be connected to police dispatch so he could request a special favor: No, he didn’t need a ride; he wanted the police to call the manager of Taco Bell and ask if they could make an exception.

Rather than getting his snack fix, Kimbell got arrested for misusing 911.

It’s Hard To Find A Man

Back in 2010, a 57-year-old Ohio woman called 911 with what she obviously considered a serious emergency: She was having trouble finding a husband.

And she was persistent about it as well; she called three times before the exasperated operator finally told her that she was risking arrest for using 911 for non-emergency purposes, and that was apparently all she needed to hear. She happily asked the operator to send an officer, preferably a male one, right over.

Math Emergency

Let’s face it, there are some problems that are very difficult to solve, especially when you’re four years old. And for many children, no problem is more difficult than a math problem.

So what better way to get help with that kind of an issue than to call 911, where the little boy in question had […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 13th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments

7 Pro Tips for Contact Center Managers

Management can be a tricky job to do well, particularly when it comes to managing a call center or contact center. After all, a call center manager is dealing with both people and technology – two areas that can be challenging if you don’t have the best working for you.

But there are certain things that seem to be integral to being a superior supervisor, and we say that because these methods and strategies come up over and over again when we look at well-managed call centers.

Here are 7 pro tips that you can incorporate into your management style to help you become a better asset to your call center and your employees.

Do your employees know you, and what you stand for?

We’re not talking about occasional conversation or check-ins with the agents at your contact center; we’re talking about making sure your employees have a familiarity with both your personal and professional lives.

Have an informal meeting, either with each individual or your entire staff at once, and tell them about your life, your management philosophy, and what you expect from them and yourself.

The more your employees know about what kind of person you are, and the more you know about them, the better your connection will be. Even getting to know people in departments other than your own can be beneficial. Creating a familial atmosphere among those you work with can foster a stronger team within your call center.

Make sure you hear them

Even if you might disagree with what your employees are telling you, it’s important to listen to their concerns. Not only will you learn more about what each of them wants or needs in their position, but they will regard you more highly as a manager.

There are few things that make a person feel more secure and confident than feeling they are being listened to. Keep that in mind as your employees talk to you.

Be visible

How often are you around your employees? How often do you walk through the call center area and check in with them, or hop onto calls with them to see how things are going? How much do the people who work for you actually see you?

Making yourself a regular presence among your employees not only fosters the sense that you’re a […]

All content provided on this blog are mostly opinions of the author and is only intended for informational purposes. KOVA Corporation makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. This blog may contain external links to other sites. KOVA Corporation does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information of other websites, blogs, or these other links. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended, and do not necessarily imply an endorsement or recommendation of any views expressed, products or services offered within them.

July 6th, 2017|Workforce Management|0 Comments
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