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Top Reasons Why International Medical Tourists Prefer Calling Toll-Free

It goes without saying that Asia is slowly turning into a major hub for medical tourism. Over the last decade, certain locations such as India, Singapore, the UAE, South Korea, and Thailand have emerged as the leading countries to promote medical tourism.

Moreover, most hospitals and medical clinics in the aforementioned countries have launched their own websites and also offer toll-free numbers for foreigners to call in order to begin learning about the options they offer in regards to medical tourism. Offering a toll-free number particularly has numerous notable advantages for foreigners because of the following:

It is accessible for free

Customers don’t need to pay for the call, no matter from which country they make the call. This helps them save substantially on international call costs which can be high. Thus your toll-free number becomes an effective marketing tool to engage customers and makes it easier for them to connect overall. This is an immensely powerful business tool!

Positive branding

Since perception certainly matters, a toll-free number gives prospective patients a suitable initial impression. You may even flip the switch for a vanity number that spells out a special word or name to enhance brand recall. Some hospitals build entire brands from their toll-free numbers, such as 1-800-MEDICARE, or 1-800-HEART. The phone number becomes the principal marketing strategy.

Enhances customer service

An easy to remember toll-free number makes it very easy for prospective patients to reach your hospital when they have urgent queries. Most people still seek instant gratification, and a toll-free number is often the best way to satisfy them because it provides the human touch, a voice on the other line, and is a salient tool for providing personalized and convenient customer service.

Flexibility

Toll-free numbers may be forwarded to any cell phone, IP phone, or landline number. Moreover, they are portable, no contracts are required, and the number is transferrable to a different service provider anytime. Moreover, the forwarding calls feature comes for free and enables you to take your business anywhere, whether in the hospital or on the road.

Ensures international presence: Your international presence definitely grows with a toll free number. With newer mobile apps being launched almost every day to help consumers reach out, it’s getting easier for hospitals and medical centers to sell to international customers. The number makes you more accessible to your international customers by providing them with an easy, cost-free way to reach you when they have questions about visiting your facility for treatment.

Affordability

Toll-free numbers, these days, are easy to setup and affordable even for startup hospitals and small medical centers. This is more so as cloud-based call forwarding phone systems make it all the more convenient and cheaper for them. Most major providers offer convenient monthly plans with all-inclusive rates or pay-as-you-go options that don’t require contracts or deposits.

Single point of contact

The number also serves as a single point of contact for the hospital where an international patient can call with any query pertaining to his treatment, services offered and costs, etc. The number is also the sole point for sales and information regarding surgical and medical packages; discounts offered, auxiliary facilities such as foreign exchange, interpreters, local transportation, board & lodging available for those accompanying the patient. Once someone from abroad gets this information readily, it becomes easier for them to decide on the hospital more quickly.

Customer care & support

A vital function of a toll-free number is to provide customer service to its customer base. This particular feature is usable by hospitals to resourcefully and better handle consumer needs and resolve doubts.

Removes obstacles

Research shows that the average customer usually hesitates to dial a hospital’s landline number directly. On the other hand, this doesn’t happen with toll-free numbers which are known to eliminate any uncertainty in the caller’s mind. This ‘free’ aspect encourages an increased number of inquiries and actual visits to foreign hospitals for treatment. Of course, this, in turn, translates into higher profit margins for hospitals. Moreover, additional advantages such as voicemail also help solve routine questions and concerns.

24/7 customer support

A fantastic advantage of toll-free numbers is ’round the clock customer support’ that eliminates time constraints. Those seeking treatment can dial anytime throughout the day or night and not have to be concerned about time differences at all, at their own convenience. This certainly helps to establish long-term relationships with patients.

Cost reduction

Subscription rates for toll-free numbers are comparatively lower than regular telephone devices. A phone line is sufficient enough for using the number. Moreover, installation charges are also minimal, and service providers are also offering additional services such as voice mail, unwanted call elimination, and message centers. This greatly helps in reducing operational costs through restriction of the workforce.

Thus, medical tourism, which is slowly gaining popularity for its cost efficiency, quality services, professional treatment, use of state-of-the-art medical technology, and the opportunity it offers for traveling abroad, has everything to gain and nothing to lose from a toll-free number.

How to Get Ahead of the Competition in Developed Asian Markets

Developed Markets in Asia

Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan are major developed markets in Asia. Developed markets in Asia are soaring, and in 2017, analysts are more bullish on developed markets than emerging markets. China’s markets, including Hong Kong, maintain their steady growth, which is expected continue. Xi Jingping, who championed global trade at the Davos Conference in January 2017, is a positive factor in the economic growth. Projections are that Hong Kong’s economy will grow 1.8% in 2017 with GDP accelerating to 2.2% in 2018.

Experts project that Japan’s economy will grow in 2017, but there may be a mid-year market correction. That notwithstanding, Japan’s growth will continue through 2018.

Economists, reporting in FocusEconomics, project that Australia’s GDP growth will remain stable, aided by growth in the non-mining sector of the economy. Singapore’s economy rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2016 but may slow to 1.6% growth in 2017. Then it will increase to 1.8% growth in 2018.

Methods to Get Ahead of Competition

Considering the bullish predictions for developed markets in Asia, companies serving the Asian-Pacific sector need to be creative to stay ahead of the competition. The following paragraphs give insights on actions the will help you to get an edge over your competition.

Establish Virtual Offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan

Companies can establish virtual offices in target markets by subscribing to an international call forwarding service, like Global Call Forwarding, which provides local phone numbers and toll free numbers to its customers. The virtual office is a simulated presence. Incoming calls are forwarded seamlessly across borders to your headquarters, call centers, mobile phones, or computers using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Callers have no fees or roaming charges and are unaware of the destination locales. Callers think your office is local.

Global Call Forwarding provides the largest selection of local phone numbers and toll free numbers worldwide. Its international call forwarding service covers over 150 countries and thousands of cities around the world. Using a virtual office will enhance your company’s telecommunication to markets in the Asia-Pacific region and will stimulate the growth of your sales and services in that area.

Look to the Future

Many businesses dwell on the past. Yes, it is important to review history to identify missed opportunities and mistakes. However, it is prudent to look to the future to identify market shifts, new scenarios and competition trends.

Understand Your Competitors

Try to get a complete understanding of the actions, strategies and tactics of your competitors who cause many of your problems. With a full understanding of the competition, you will improve the way that you service your customers, and your business will prosper.

Prepare for Upstart Rivals

Upstarts frequently operate using new business models. They approach the marketplace differently. They may have new solutions to problems, and they may use new technologies to support their operations. Remember, there are many bankrupt newspapers that ignored the power and distribution of social media.

Refine Your Methods

When your staffs repeat their behaviors, your competition can begin to anticipate your actions. Be less predictable by changing your operational methods. You may find that different approaches can accelerate growth opportunities.

Customer Feedback

Customers usually tell you they want better, faster, cheaper. They will not tell you what your competitors are doing. Nor will they tell you when they are evaluating new solutions to problems that you may have created. In short, do not ask customers for advice but provide what they want, i.e., better, faster and cheaper.

However, outsiders, who are familiar with your business, can provide valuable advice on market desires. Listening to outsiders can help you become a stronger competitor.

Exercise Care When Cost Cutting

Do not allow cost cutting-steps to degrade your products and services. When that happens, your competition will take advantage and possibly steal business from you.

Learn from Product Testing

Planning and forecasting are necessary, but they may not predict the market impact of product or service changes. Rely on testing, either in-house or in the marketplace, to get insight into the market acceptance of changes. Testing allows you to make changes as needed prior to full market release.

Target Your Competitors

Identify the locked-in traits of your competitors. If those traits are weaknesses, attack them.

Reacting to Fierce Competition

Compete on experience instead of price

Customers are often willing to pay more for excellence in products and services. Strive to provide unrivaled products and customer service by doing the following:

  • Make it easy to do business with you.
  • Humanize your brand through effective marketing and communications.
  • Provide customer support even when sales are not pending.

Find your niche

Find new opportunity in market segments that your competitors do not service well. Conduct market research to find underdeveloped or under-served market areas. Identify customer needs in those areas and take steps to satisfy those needs.

Track your competitors’ moves

Follow industry developments, regulatory changes, market trends and competitors’ new product announcements. Buy your competitors’ products to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Try to visualize how competitors will respond to your business strategies.

Invest in talent

To do this, it is important to consider competitive salaries, benefits and perks, company culture, and opportunities for career growth. Engage prospective employees by searching social media like LinkedIn or Facebook. Advertise openings on your websites. When you make an offer, be willing to negotiate.

Things to Add to Your Marketing Strategy for the Hotel and Hospitality Industry

Industry Overview

There has been record-breaking growth in the travel and hospitality industry in recent years. In 2015, business travel grossed $1.2 trillion, five percent more than in 2014. In the US, the growth rate of leisure bookings was significantly better than that of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This was due to renewed consumer confidence and a shift in household spending from goods to services. Deloitte projects travel and hotel industry growth to continue through 2017.

Factors that are helping to reshape the travel landscape include global economic shifts, innovation, geopolitical turmoil, pandemics, and rising consumer demands. In 2016, major hotel groups, including Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental, reported steady earnings. However, online purveyors, such as Airbnb, will present significant challenges to sectors of the industry sustaining growth in 2017.

Cyber attacks and data breaches are expected to increase. Food safety incidents in hotel restaurants, will also be more common due to the demand for locally sourced, organic foods. Hotel personnel should expect consumers to have increased expectations in the coming year. Non-travel brands like Amazon, Starbucks and Seamless feature innovation and speedy services to consumers, and they will be expecting the same from their travel hosts.

Hotels need to harness the power of mobile for their guests to remove pain points and improve their travel experience. Streamlining business processes will help in that regard and result in reduced operating costs. In addition, hotels should shift to enabling technologies to benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the internetworking of connected and mobile devices, smart devices, sensors, electronics, computers, machines, etc.

Stay Connected to Your Markets

Stay connected to your markets using virtual phone numbers. Virtual phone numbers are local phone numbers and toll free numbers. Your customers call these numbers, and international call forwarding services connect those calls to your virtual call center or virtual phone number.

Global Call Forwarding provides its core service to various luxury hotel brands. One particular subscriber has two toll free numbers in North America and six local phone numbers servicing the following areas around the world.

  • Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America
  • Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • Asia Pacific
  • China
  • India
  • Japan

When club members call local phone numbers or toll free numbers, they feel they are dealing locally. However, they may be connecting to virtual call centers or virtual phone systems halfway around the globe, through the “magic” of international call forwarding.

Global Hotel Rankings by Rooms

In 2016, Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels giving Marriott the largest number of rooms in the world. The following table shows the top 10 hotel groups worldwide at the end of 2016 and their respective number of rooms.

Hotel Group Number of Rooms
Marriott + Starwood 1,108,852
Hilton Worldwide 751,350
IHG 744,368
Wyndham Hotel Group 678,042
Jin Jiang + Plateno + Vienna Hotel Group 572,340
Accor Hotels + & FRHI 554,517
Choice 507,483
Home Inns 321,802
Best Western 311,870
Huazhu 278,843

2017 Tourism Outlook for Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States

Here are the latest projections for these hot tourism areas.

Philippines

Business Mirror projects an upward trend of the hospitality industry in the Philippines until 2018. A vibrant influx of foreign investment is partially fueling this trend. According to the Department of Tourism, foreign tourist arrivals have been rising since 2015. Much of the increase is due to Korean and American travelers.

Business and domestic market travel are also increasing. The business portion is due to meetings, conventions and exhibitions. The gaming industry is also generating growth. For example, Entertainment City in Parañaque City by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is helping to make the Philippines a top tourist destination in the world.

Foreign hotel brands are moving into the country to capitalize on this business increase. The aggregate supply of rooms may reach 18,000 in 2017 and 20,000 by 2018.

Indonesia

Indonesia has 12 major hotel markets: Bali, Bandung, Bintan, Bogor, Jakarta, Lombok, Makassar, Medan, Palembang, Semarang, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Market performance varies from market to market. However, from 2015 to 2016, Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) had been declining because room supply was outpacing demand.

However, HVS Indonesia Hotel Watch 2016 predicts that demand will surpass incoming room supply in the leisure and upscale market segments. For Jakarta and Bali market segments, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in RevPAR was 5.1% and 5.8%, respectively. Secondary markets (Bogor, Makassar and Surabaya) will suffer a RevPAR performance dip due to the addition of branded midscale and budget rooms. Bandung, Lombok and Palembang will become hot markets due to their short-term demand outlook. Considering all Indonesian markets, room supply in 2015 was 71,970 rooms. In 2018, there will be 93,930 available rooms. That is a 14.2% increase in CAGR.

Thailand

According to the US News and World Report, Thailand ranks high in the following categories: Business Opportunities, Heritage, Best Country for Investment, Adventure, and Rising Economy. Thailand is Southeast Asia’s second largest economy because of tourist spending mainly from China. The six major airports in Thailand are handling a record number of travelers. Furthermore, for newcomers to Bangkok, Ritz Carlton Residence Bangkok, Waldorf Astoria, and Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 will be adding 5,500 additional rooms to the city.

United States

STR Hospitality Net sees slower growth for the US hotel industry through 2017. Projections suggest a drop in occupancy but increases in demand, supply, RevPAR, and Average Daily Rate (ADR) for rooms.

Have you had good experiences traveling to these countries? Any travel plans for 2017? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Small Business Marketing Trends for 2017

The year 2017 promises to be an exciting year for small businesses, and small business owners will need to prepare for changing marketing trends. This article discusses some marketing strategies that companies will use this year. Some of these may be perfect for your business.

Mobile Friendly Websites

In recent years, more people search and use websites on mobile devices than on desktops. Therefore, your websites should be mobile-centric, i.e. optimized for mobile use. Better yet, get a mobile app for your business. There are many available DIY app builders. Take a look at this list of the Best App Makers of 2017.With them, you can build an inexpensive mobile app. A Gallup poll reported that 75% of Americans check their mobiles hourly and use apps 90% of the time.

Consumers are becoming comfortable making mobile payments using mobile pay services. You may want to advertise and offer this service.

New marketing channels that are available to small businesses are mobile-only, downloaded apps such as Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat. These apps are not available on desktops, but they are very popular and have a wide audience.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not a new trend. However, it continues to be one of the most effective techniques for getting and retaining customers. In a March 2016 survey of US SMB Retail Professionals, over 80% of respondents rated email over other marketing methods for acquisition and retention of customers. Furthermore, a 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census found that 68% of respondent companies rated email marketing over SEO (organic search), content marketing, paid search, offline direct marketing, social media, affiliate marketing, mobile marketing, and online display advertising.

Video Content

Consumers prefer to watch videos than to read text. Videos increase the reach and duration of marketing content, drive leads and sales and, as a result, contribute to the bottom line. In fact, predictions are that global mobile video traffic will increase exponentially from 3.6 million terabytes per month in 2016 to 23 million terabytes per month in 2019. Small business owners should consider increasing the video content on their web pages as well as adding videos to their social media.

Improvement of Blogs

SEO practices affect blog writing. However, if a blog is not useful or informative, readers are likely to leave the website. Therefore, this year is a good time to improve the content of your blogs. Use industry experts or professionals for writing and make sure the content is topical and on point. Your business will benefit from the changes.

International Call Forwarding Service

Global Call Forwarding (GCF) provides an international call forwarding service used by many successful global businesses, both big and small. We provide toll free numbers and local phone numbers to clients in over 150 countries and thousands of cities. We have an advanced network structure and provide customers with 24/7 technical support.

Using either local phone numbers or toll free numbers, your business will have a virtual office in your global marketplaces. The local phone numbers and toll free numbers portray a local presence to your customers. GCF forwards calls made to those numbers to specified destinations. It is a toll free call.

In addition to the many standard features that one expects, such as voice mail, customized greetings, and rollover minutes, GCF’s international call forwarding service provides service features that help small businesses manage call flows. These specialized features are Advanced Call Forwarding, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and Auto-Attendant.

Advanced Call Forwarding

Incoming calls can be directed to standard landlines, mobile phones, or computers using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The destination can be anywhere in the world. Subscribers to the international call forwarding service can customize receiving phones based on time of day, day of the week, holiday schedules, etc. The combinations are unlimited. Calls from non-English speakers (such as Thai, Tagalog, Cantonese or Mandarin) can be routed to agents that speak those languages. Advanced call forwarding is a very useful tool for small businesses.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

The IVR is a computerized system that greets incoming callers and transfers their calls to the proper department or extension. You can program the IVR to meet your specific business needs. Customization includes greetings, announcements, prompts, extensions, and email destinations. A free PBX service is part of the IVR. This is what allows customers to establish a private telephone network, which connects incoming calls to the appropriate extension.

Auto-Attendant

The auto-attendant answers incoming calls and gives a pre-recorded message. Users can program it based on their needs. Often, an auto-attendant gives the following options:

  • If you know the extension, dial it.
  • A list of departments and a number to dial to reach that department
  • Dial “0” for operator.
  • An option to repeat the above menu

Global Expansion

Through the use international call forwarding services and by subscribing to local phone numbers or toll free numbers, even a small business can maintain a global posture. Consider the possibilities of being able to tap into markets in Singapore, Hong Kong, or Thailand. If you own a business in those countries, provide local phone numbers or toll free number to your customers or prospects in North America, South America or Europe and then reap the benefits.

Perhaps 2017 will continue to be a year of growth for small businesses around the world. The Dow has already eclipsed 20,000 for the first time in history. Why not try some of the above marketing trends and supercharge your business.

8 Customer Service Tips for Companies in the Travel Industry

Great customer service tips can be the difference between retaining clients and losing them. It means understanding clients’ needs and fulfilling them in a timely manner, even when you are in different time zones and countries apart.

 

call center lady at office

Travel agencies, tourism businesses, airline and railway companies, and especially hotel chains need a customer service routine. Excellent customer service, especially on an international level, is imperative to your success. Global Call Forwarding personally engages with firms in the tourism and travel industry. This means more than just providing toll free numbers for your company. We want to help you provide personalized and intuitive service to your clients with ease.

We reach into countries as far as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Whether you are based in the United States and want local phone numbers in these areas, or you are an independent travel agent who needs a way to filter phone calls while they are on the road, Global Call Forwarding can assist you in creating memorable customer service.

It is time to foster loyalty and stand out from your competitors through engaging with clients in a convenient manner. For this reason we have provided 8 customer service tips for the tourism industry:

  1. Communication. Always.

This seems like a given, but you would be surprised how many companies forget this simple concept. Inconveniences will happen and delays are inevitable. However, it just makes sense to tell your clients what is happening with their travel plans. Do not leave them in the dark during a delay. Tell them in person, on the phone, through speakers, with an email, over social media – whichever medium makes the most sense so that you are always communicating with them.

  1. Don’t Allow For Unnecessary Disruptions or Waiting Time

Scheduling and reservation issues, lost baggage, gate changes, and ticket purchases can already make a customer feel on edge. Imagine these types of conversations in an unknown or unfamiliar country, such as Thailand or Singapore, and how time zone differences can make matters even more complex.

When an individual calls your customer service representatives, try as much as possible not to place them on hold. Instead, international call forwarding and the integration of local phone numbers into your systems gives you the ability to lessen their wait time so they can get back on the road.

  1. Keep Your Internal Teams Informed and Organized

Consider that you run an airline based in the United States that books clients with flights into the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Your customer service agents and hospitality connections are based in Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. With all of these countries working together inside of one company, internal communications can easily go off the rails. You do not want to accidentally give conflicting information about a client’s travel itineraries.

Internal teams must stay up to date on the latest travel news and notices. Bosses and managers must stay connected as well, even in the busiest airports. Make sure that everyone is able to stay connected with each other.

  1. Set up Different Lines for Different Needs

How does your current customer service team navigate hospitality services, purchasing airline tickets, making reservations, confirming itineraries, and contacting tour and cruise packages with new destinations? These are just a few but common essentials tourism faces on an hourly basis. However, if one client calls in asking about their travel reservations and is met with a confusing phone system, they are less likely to return to you for their future needs.

Instead, international call forwarding and other helpful phone features allows you to direct people to different lines. If possible, set up different lines for sales, lead generation, telemarketing, welcoming phone calls, inquiries and billing issues, as well as customer service. This is better for customer retention and loyalty.

  1. Make Certain Calls a Priority

Every company receives spam numbers, including companies based in the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. However, you should not let this get in the way of excellent customer service. Utilizing black and white lists means that you can filter out unwelcome calls and give preference to callers who are considered top priority. This is especially useful in the hospitality industry, where it is imperative to reach the right people at the right time.

  1. It’s Okay to be Automated

Many will suggest that automated systems are impersonal, and depending on how you use this type of system, they can be. However, having a reliable automated system can also be a functional customer service tool for your company.

Imagine calling a company over and over only to have a call dropped, or only to find that you keep dialing in the wrong line. Having an international call forwarding system done the right way will prevent this issue in the future. An automated system may even help them address the right information much faster than with a person.

When you address their needs right away, your team can move on with their day – and so can your caller. This simplifies the transition between calls as well.

  1. Stay Friendly

Unfortunately, hospitality representatives can bring out the worst in people. Frustrated clients usually result in tension on both sides. However, even if a client has a terrible travel experience, they should remember your excellent customer service. So, be sure to alleviate the key frustrations of your clients and stay friendly with them.

  1. Be Local

Finally, customers appreciate seeing companies as local. Customers are more likely to call your company if they do not have to pay a fee to do so. This immediately makes you more accessible than your competitors. So, using local phone numbers and tll free numbers based in their city is a great way for them to feel like they are staying with a business that cares.

Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality

Get ready for takeoff! Whether you are an individual agent who needs help filtering incoming calls or you are an executive at an internationally recognized airline, Global Call Forwarding makes the running of your business much smoother.

Global Call Forwarding can be extremely beneficial to the customer service of your company, whether you have roots in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, or the UAE.

Top Call Center Key Performance Indicators to Monitor and Watch for Success

International Call Forwarding Facilitates the Use of Call Centers around the Globe

Many businesses utilize call centers to minimize their customer service expenses. When their customers call a local or toll free number for questions, these calls are frequently forwarded to inbound call centers in other countries. This is accomplished via international call forwarding. Telemarketing, solicitations, and other customer contacts utilize outbound call centers for their calls. These outbound call centers may or may not rely on international call forwarding.

In 1998, Pramod Bhasin opened the first India call center. Since then, business outsourcing services—such as call centers—account for much of India’s economic growth by employing many of India’s educated, English speaking citizens. The India call centers employ several hundred thousand workers.

In recent years, the number of Philippines based call centers has been increasing to the extent that Philippines call centers employ more people than Indian call centers. This is because Filipinos have lightly accented English speech compared to the speech of Indians. Furthermore, many Filipinos are more familiar with American culture since the Philippines was a former US colony. Bangladesh and the West Indies are also active in the call center industry.

International call forwarding has driven the global expansion of the call center industry to countries with English speaking population and low wage structure.

Key Performance Indicators Are Business Specific

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are business specific. Select them wisely by considering the strategic interests of your business. There are four basic areas to consider:

  • Affordability and sustainability of the call center,
  • Maximizing your customers’ experience,
  • Improved business outcomes, and
  • Efficient use of your human resources.

Keep these in mind when selecting the KPIs that you monitor.

Call Center Standard KPIs

The following is a list of call center standard KPIs. The listing order is arbitrary and is not indicative of priority or importance. Your business goal should determine the priority and importance of the KPIs that you track.

Percentage of Calls Blocked

This is the percentage of incoming calls not connected to an agent. Either the agents were busy, or the call center software could not handle the call volume. Blocked calls lead to customer dissatisfaction and possible loss of future business.

Average Time in Queue

This KPI represents the total time callers wait to speak to an agent divided by the total number of calls fielded by the agents. Since customer frustration increases with increasing queue time, this gives the impression that your business has poor customer service.

Average Abandonment Rate

The call abandonment rate is a measure of customer hang-ups before reaching an agent. This has happened to all of us. Customers gravitate to companies that are easy to reach in a timely fashion.

Service Level or Response Time

Service level is the percentage of calls answered within a specified period. Call center managers often set a service level goal such as 90/30 (i.e., 90% of the calls are answered within 30 seconds). Some consider service level to be the most important KPI since customer service and service level are closely related.

Average Speed of Answer

This metric measures the sum of time in the queue and time waiting for the agent to answer their ring. It does not include the time the caller spends working with the interactive voice response system. The metric measures the efficiency and accessibility of the call center team.

Average Handle Time

The average handle time is calculated by adding the agents talk and hold time to the after call work time and dividing this sum by the number of calls handled by the agent. Managers trying to reduce the handle time must be careful in their approach as customer satisfaction could be affected. There are several steps to improve the average handle time:

  • Thorough training of agents,
  • Continuous monitoring of agents’ performance,
  • Recording of calls,
  • Effective coaching of agents,
  • Streamline agent workflow and processes,
  • Optimize call routing,
  • Use a knowledge base,
  • Utilize an internal communication system, and
  • Ensure customer information is current.

Average after Call Work Time

After a call is completed, agents complete tasks such as emails, updating databases, and contacting call center teammates. After call work time encompasses these tasks.

First Call Resolution

First call resolution occurs when a customer’s query is satisfied during their initial call, and follow-up is not necessary. Research suggests that this metric has a greater positive impact on customer satisfaction than any other KPI.

Customer Satisfaction

Companies use customer surveys to measure customer satisfaction.

Occupancy Rate

Occupancy rate measures the total time agents are on calls or completing other work related tasks divided by the total work time.

Agent Absenteeism

Human resource personnel routinely track the days lost from work for all call center employees. Effective call center operations minimize absenteeism.

Agent Turnover Rate

Agent turnover rate is the percentage of agents the quit their employment. Human resource personnel also track this KPI.

 

5 Call Center Features You Need for an Inbound Sales Team

Inbound call center agents handle incoming calls for your company, usually in large volumes. Traditionally, call centers take on product orders or provide customer service during hours when your office is not available.

 

call center lady world map

Call centers will typically use virtual toll free numbers when the call center is located outside the country. They are especially beneficial in areas where labor is less expensive. For example, you may have a few call centers setup in the Philippines or India. Depending on your industry, you may even have call centers specified just for bringing in new sales opportunities.

International call forwarding services are imperative to sales teams. Whether you are the owner of a call center in the Philippines or India, a toll free call forwarding service provider can get your enterprise set up with a call center phone system so you can increase sales at your company. We highlighted 5 key features that can increase the effectiveness of your inbound call center.

Your Inbound Sales Team

Inbound sales, by definition, is the budding relationship between a potential client that reaches out to your company and a salesperson from your organization. Because the digital realm has transformed the way companies interact with consumers and make sales, enterprises have now included digital phone numbers, or virtual phone numbers, to streamline the process.

When these features are integrated into your processes, your inbound call center can be more effective than ever. Global Call Forwarding is able to help you attract the revenue you want with new and more modern techniques than ever before.

Below you can read about 5 of the top call center phone system features that can improve the performance of your inbound sales team.

  1. Call Recording

Call recording is a feature that allows you to record any inbound calls automatically. Simply select the number you want to record and enable or disable the feature as needed. With this in place, you can monitor your international call center’s conversations and understand how to improve the sales process. As a manager or business owner, you may find that after listening in on a few calls, you will have just the right knowledge to help out your employees. You can also use these recordings to train new sales staff.

When you keep and store these calls from your personalized Control Panel, you can also recover lost information from previous calls in case that you need to remember important details about your prospects. Let’s say, for example, a prospective client has spoken to a salesman in your India call center. However, when the same client calls back a week later, your salesman is either out of town, on vacation, or no longer working for your company. To find out information about this specific client, you can access your Control Panel and pull important information from their previous conversations. Now you will be able to hand off the inbound client to another member of your call center in India without worry. This can be a useful add-on to your current plan with Global Call Forwarding.

  1. Call Transfer

This feature is just like having an auto-attendant or virtual assistant! Call transfer allows you to make a transition immediately or place a person on hold while you brief the individual on the other line. This can be done even if all three parties are in different countries or area codes.

How does this help your inbound sales? If a potential client contacts your call center in the Philippines and has reached your virtual assistant, your assistant can place that person on hold while they brief the salesman. This allows your salesman the opportunity to quickly research the client’s needs or requirements. This is especially useful if a salesman would like to offer unique products or services that are even better than the competition.

  1. Simultaneous Ringing

There are many reasons to have simultaneous ringing in a call center. With this feature, you can forward calls from your line to two or more numbers through your inbound call center. Even though they will ring at the same time, the call will only be connected to the first salesman to answer it.

This is useful if you have a sales team that is not always in the office or at their desk. Perhaps they frequently travel and meet with different business partners. With simultaneous ringing, they could get calls transferred to their personal cell phones if this is a more convenient option for them. This ensures your team does not miss out on important communication while they are away.

  1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) gives your callers a computer greeting and directs them to the appropriate line for their needs. All of this is automated for their convenience as well as yours. All they have to do is navigate through the menu system through their voice and keypad. Best of all, this system is customized to your needs. Within your IVR, you can include company announcements and new deals. This even gives you another opportunity to sell!

IVR also saves your employees time and effort if there are individuals who tend to call your company for a simple, specific reason. For example, if a customer contacts your India call center because they only need to receive their account information, your Interactive Voice Response can do it for them!

  1. Black and white lists

Filtering calls is now easier than ever. Reject numbers coming in from specific area codes to maximize your efficiency. No more unwanted or unsolicited calls!

If your call center in the Philippines is getting hounded by spam, for example, you can integrate black and white lists with toll free call forwarding services. Your “Black List” blocks unwanted callers while a “White List” places preferences on those you want to hear from.

Improve Your Inbound Sales Team

These are just a few of the call center phone system features that can improve the performance of an inbound call center sales team. It is incredibly important, now more than ever, that your sales teams remain consistent in the way you provide service.

5 Reasons to Change Your Virtual Number Provider

2017 is right around the corner, and for an entrepreneur, the start of a new year can be a great time to take a step back and evaluate your business. Not only do we encourage business owners to review their financials, they should determine what their necessary business expenses are.

 

office buildings

Each business has different expenses that are vital to their operations. For example, most firms need to rent an office, pay their employees, and pay for the products and services they sell. Technological advances have also changed the way many organizations operate, making services like internet and phone a requirement.

Virtual Phone Numbers Can Help Your Business Succeed

Virtual phone numbers are practically required for most small, medium and large enterprises to succeed. A virtual phone number is a local or toll free number that is not directly associated with a telephone line. Local and toll free numbers make a business more accessible to call, which will translate to more inbound sales calls and greater customer satisfaction. It is a worthy, almost necessary expense, in today’s business environment.

Although setting up a call forwarding service might be a requirement, businesses have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the best international call forwarding service provider.  Many providers offer new users a free trial of their call forwarding service. However, you might already have a virtual number provider.

For those with an existing service provider, we created a list of 5 reasons you might want to change your virtual number provider:

One: Poor call quality

There is no excuse for poor call quality today. When virtual phone numbers were first created, call quality was inconsistent in certain regions. However, technological innovations have enabled providers to offer crystal clear phone calls in any part of the world. The best call forwarding service providers will use Tier1 networks to deliver excellent call quality. We recommend changing providers if you have trouble hearing what callers are saying.

Two: Not enough features

A call forwarding service without features is like computer without software. Depending on the needs of your business, a good call forwarding service provider will have useful features. For example, a virtual number for the purpose of a call center phone system will benefit from features like simultaneous ring and call recording. On the other hand, solo entrepreneurs or small business owners can benefit from Integrated Voice Response, voicemail, time-of-day routing, etc.

Three: Exorbitant rates

Advances in technology have reduced international calling rates a great deal over the past 2 decades. Has your service provider passed these savings along to you? Or does paying your monthly bill cause you a lot of financial stress? Virtual phone numbers are relatively inexpensive and they typically offer a pretty good return on investment, but you need to be forwarding phone calls with the right service provider.

Four: Unfair contracts

A good call forwarding service provider will not require you to sign any contracts. As a business owner, you should be able to add or remove virtual numbers as you please. Some providers force users to sign long term contracts that will lock the user into a rate or require termination fees. Look for a provider that doesn’t charge setup fees, nor require you to sign a contract.

Five: Too much required equipment

Virtual phone numbers are just that – virtual; the call forwarding service, along with the advanced features, can be configured and customized from the cloud. The only thing you should need is an internet connection and phone service.

Virtual Numbers – Is it Time to Switch Providers?

Are you satisfied with your call forwarding service? If not, now could be an opportune time to switch your virtual number provider. The beginning of a New Year is a great time to make a change to ensure that your business will hit the ground running in 2017.

Do you use virtual phone numbers for your business? What qualities do you look for in a call forwarding service provider? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

4 Reasons to Get a Virtual Phone Number for Your Business

Entrepreneurs should leverage every possible tool in order to get their new business up and running in the best way possible. In today’s business environment, telephone communication is vital to the success of a business. Potential clients will typically call a business with inquiries, to sign up for a service, or to place a large order. In addition, existing customers prefer to be able to reach out to a business with their concerns.

 

young businessman cellphone

With the rise of e-commerce, businesses have started to originate from all over the world. Companies based in the United States are able to transact with customers in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Australia, etc. thanks to the internet. However, increased trade across countries boundaries created some communication issues.

In the past, it was expensive and difficult for a customer in one country to call a business in a different foreign country. First, international calling charges from one country to another can be expensive, depending on the country. Second, the process of dialing an international number can be difficult. Have you ever seen a Hong Kong phone number? It begins with +852, followed by a string of digits.

International calling costs coupled with unfamiliar phone numbers can discourage a customer from reaching out to a business. A missed opportunity can mean less revenue for a business. Don’t miss out on potential business because your phone lines are inaccessible to customers in a remote location.

To solve this issue, virtual phone numbers enable businesses to source customers from any country they desire, no matter where the business is headquartered. In fact, some businesses that use virtual phone numbers have reported greater than 50% increases in call volume. Here are some valuable benefits that a company can realize with a virtual phone number.

  1. Become more accessible

Virtual phone numbers are convenient and free to dial from their corresponding country. In other words, it costs nothing for somebody in the United States to dial a US 1-800 number. When a business advertises a toll free number, customers know that they can access that business over the phone with relative ease.

A business that is accessible to potential clients will do better than its inaccessible counterpart.

  1. Improve customer service

Customers don’t want to pay money to call any business. That much is simple. If a customer has questions or concerns, and they can’t contact a business, they will not be satisfied. They might develop an unfavorable opinion of the business, or worse, move to a competitor.

It is important for businesses to provide great customer service. Also, a negative review can be pretty damaging.

  1. Project a professional image

Consider any successful multinational corporation – they all use local and toll free virtual numbers. Toll free numbers establish an air of professionalism with clients, while local phone numbers allow customers to perceive the business as a local and familiar operation. Prominent businesses use virtual phone numbers, and so should you.

In addition, a one-person operation can really benefit from a virtual phone number. Instead of relying on his or her personal cell phone to take calls, the entrepreneur can advertise a toll free business phone number. Virtual phone numbers also include a suite of advanced features to help scale a business.

  1. Run your business from the cloud

‘Virtual’ phone numbers are just like they sound – virtual. This means that they aren’t tied down to any phone line. Rather, they can be managed from an online control panel. Entrepreneurs are able to run their businesses no matter where they are in the world.

Bottom Line

Businesses these days are able to transact with customers from all over the globe. For a business with customers in foreign countries, it is important to provide a free and convenient point of contact. Virtual phone numbers are free and easy to dial and a toll free number can have a tremendous impact on sales and a company’s bottom line. Smart businesses around the world are getting virtual phone numbers and reaping the benefits.

Do you have experience using virtual phone numbers for your business? We would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

 

How a Coworking Office Space Can Improve Your Startup

The past few years have been remarkable for the technology industry. It seems like every week that another tech startup is valued in the billions of dollars. With private market valuations of technology companies continuing to grow, more and more entrepreneurs are looking to get in the startup business. How many entrepreneurs would rather have a monotonous desk job than own their sure-fire startup?

A “Unicorn” is a startup company with a valuation exceeding $1 billion. In the past decade, unicorn startups like Airbnb (Founded: 2008, valuation: $25.5B), Uber (2009, $68B), and Snapchat (2011, $17.8B), have all seen a massive inflow of funds from private tech investors.

California is home to numerous technology corporations, and Silicon Valley is probably the first place that comes to mind when you think about startups. Venture Beat pointed out that almost half of the startup “unicorns” are in California. They also show, however, that unicorns are scattered across the globe, with headquarters in China, Germany, India and Canada.

These days, an entrepreneur can open his own startup anywhere. Email and phone forwarding enables you to run a business effectively from anywhere in the world. As a result, coworking spaces have popped up in major cities around the world.

Where Can Entrepreneurs Find Cheap Alternatives to Office Space?

Deskmag gives a great definition of a coworking office: “Every workspace with flexible structures that is designed for and by people with atypical, new types of work – that is not exclusively for people from one certain company.”

Before the rise of coworking spaces, entrepreneurs had very few options apart from leasing office space. Sure, you could set up shop in a (cramped?) home office, but every business needs an address. Nowadays, entrepreneurs can occupy coworking spaces on a membership basis.

The major economic reason why an entrepreneur will use a coworking space is to save time and money. Coworking space operators will usually offer flexible terms that allow renters to move in and out and upgrade or downgrade their pre-furnished offices as the renters please. But a coworking space has value that extends beyond what a business can save on rent.

Coworking spaces deliver value-added benefits that are difficult to quantify in dollar terms. The first benefit is the networking opportunities. The second benefit is helping your business project a more professional appearance.

The first major benefit of a coworking space is the opportunity to network with like-minded people. In the entrepreneurial world, who you know can be equally important as what you know. A great coworking space is a congregation of minds who share similar aspirations. Every person who walks in the door is a professional, and a coworking space is an ideal place to bounce ideas off your peers and create long-lasting business relationships

In addition to networking, a coworking space can help entrepreneurs project a more professional image for their business. Just like a toll-free number is more effective as a branding tool than a personal phone number, a coworking space will make a business look more established than a home office. A business address and phone number will show clients and investors that an enterprise is well-established.

Coworking Trends

These days, it is the small customer, or small group, that supplies the highest amount of demand for office space. There are more small groups looking for office solutions than there are large groups looking to lease an entire building or entire floor.

We look for this trend to continue as large corporations downsize. In addition, we expect coworking operators to modify their approach in order to attract more clients.

We expect four themes to emerge during 2017 with regards to coworking: niche communities, corporate partnerships, around-the-clock renting and added services. First, operators will appeal to specific groups and professional sectors to create a stronger community. Second, coworking providers have started to form partnerships with corporations. Third, the shared-space concept will be extended into living arrangements. Finally, look for some operators to experiment with concierge services, travel offerings, etc. in order to entice renters.

How to Choose the Right Coworking Space

The coworking market currently has thousands of players. Locations have sprung up in huge numbers in cities like New York, Hong Kong and Singapore while operators are designing new service offerings and rental models. Entrepreneurs, especially those with web-based businesses, are able to work in whatever country they choose thanks to virtual phone numbers and offices. No matter which country you reside in, there are several important factors to focus on when choosing a coworking space.

  • Focus on community

Networking is one of the greatest benefits that come with a shared office space. We advise you to consider the types of businesses that occupy the space and decide if these peers will help your business grow

  • Focus on function

What goals does your business have for the future? Some coworking providers have programs to accelerate the growth of occupants. For example, StartHub in Miami offers an incubator for global ventures launching in US markets, along with other great programs. You want a coworking space that will support your business.

  • Focus on location

If your virtual office is far away from where you live, chances are you won’t spend much time there. We recommend choosing an office that is close to your home.

  • Focus on utilities

High-speed internet is a requirement for doing business in today’s internet environment. The facility should come equipped with Wi-Fi, a fax machine and conference rooms. Some locations have a kitchen and free coffee and snacks. Others offers 24/7 access to the office. The utilities you want to look for will depend on the needs of your business.

 

Do you have experience with coworking? How did your business benefit from joining a coworking space? Do you recommend any particular locations? Share your comments below.