Call recording

My Skype for Business Calls Need to be Recorded, Right?

Call recording

Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?

The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.

Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.

Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.

Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.

SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Find out more by visiting our website at www.audiocodes.com/smarttap.

Lifeline providers

Increasing Margins of US Lifeline Providers

How can US lifeline providers reduce their per-minute cost

Lifeline providers

Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called Lifeline, the financially disadvantaged in the US can receive a cell phone and anywhere from 500 minutes to an unlimited number of minutes and texts every month — at no charge! The Lifeline program ensures that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

As of December 2016, lifeline providers are required to provide a minimum of 500 minutes per month and 500 MB per month at 3G speeds. As of December 2017, lifeline providers will have to provide a minimum of 750 minutes and 1GB per month and as of December 2018, a minimum of 1000 minutes and 2 GB per month. The Lifeline program provides a discount (support) on monthly service of $9.25 per month for eligible low-income subscribers.

Increasing minimum service standards

The FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) are increasing the requirements of minimum voice minutes and MB data while reducing the discount on monthly services, meaning that lifeline providers will have to provide more voice minutes and mobile data while receiving less support funds (in US$) from the FCC program.

As of today, a Lifeline provider (MVNO) pays a high wholesale per-minute price (around 1.5 cents) and per 1 MB data price (around 1 cent) to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). As a result of the increasing minimum requirements and high wholesale prices, the lifeline wireless providers are expecting a decrease in margins and ARPU. In addition, the increasing number of lifeline operators offering smartphones instead of feature phones increases the competition even more since offering smartphones makes their service more attractive to eligible consumers.

Reducing per-minute cost

To increase their margins, lifeline providers can offer voice over WiFi and data cellular services as an alternative to MNO’s high cost GSM service. This way Lifeline providers need only buy wholesale data from MNOs without GSM minutes. The new service decreases the per-minute cost by more than 50%. This technology enables MVNOs to offer 4 voice minutes for every 1 MB. Assuming an MNO wholesale 1 MB price is 1 cent, then a 1-minute call will cost just 0.25 cents. Thus, the Lifeline MVNO reduces its per-minute costs from 1.5 cents to 0.25 cents (excluding termination cost).

For a lifeline provider serving 50,000 eligible consumers consuming 500 minutes per month each, having 50% of their calls over WiFi and paying 0.15 cents per-minute termination, the total monthly savings amount to around US$ 300,000.

Lifeline providers may offer the service through low-end, used or refurbished Android-based smartphones to their subscribers or provide it through an OTT app supporting BYOD for iOS and Android-based smartphone devices.

Wifi first does increase margins

AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, a WiFi First wireless solution, reduces the lifeline MVNO per-minute and message costs by over 50%. It enables voice and messaging services over WiFi and cellular data networks, providing seamless interconnections from WiFi to cellular networks and vice versa, a process that significantly extends coverage areas and potentially lowers costs for providers and end-users alike. MobilityPLUS is delivered from the cloud as a service (SaaS) ensuring minimal initial setup and monthly costs, and fast deployment. AudioCodes’ field-proven underlying voice technology assures crystal clear HD voice quality that boost the subscribers’ satisfaction.

Full line of service for mvnos

AudioCodes and its US partners have come up with a complete, cost-effective and innovative service that truly does provide MVNOs and other providers a real competitive advantage in the wireless marketplace

  • White-label voice and messaging over WiFi and data service
  • Customized and pre-loaded into Android OS as an integrated dialer
  • Full support for BYOD, supporting iOS and Android-based smartphones
  • Wholesale voice minutes and messages
  • Wholesale cellular data
  • Integration with billing and CRM
  • SMS-enabled DIDs
  • Long distance termination

To learn more about AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, please contact mobilityplus@audiocodes.com

Coexistence & Migration

Clouducation Episode #2

Coexistence & Migration

Coexistence & Migration

I know most people don’t want to hear it, but is it time to start thinking about removing legacy infrastructure and beginning the journey to rolling out a new telephony solution?  The old adage of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ might no longer fit with the rapid pace of change.   Perhaps you have already started the process of modernizing the work place and the voice communication and collaboration aspects that tag along.  Either way change is inevitable and this is really where a decision should be made of “how” that modernization should occur – not if.

In the old days, when moving from one PBX to another, the theory was much more of a “rip and replace” mentality where the users would leave work on Friday, then come back Monday morning to a new phone on their desk with a little cheat sheet on any new buttons or features that the new PBX has to offer.  But is this really the best way to make this type of change?  Is it fair to the users to be “forced” to immediately adopt the new platform?  Well, in many opinions, it is no longer the right way to go about this process and options now existing to smooth out this process.

Instead, companies are starting the concept of “migrating” to the new platform with some level of “coexistence” with the old and the new.  Let’s dive into a couple of things to keep in mind during this process as when done right, it is great but when done wrong…ouch…

A great example is in a larger organization, where many offices may exist in different geographical locations, and doing a complete cutover in a couple of days is usually impossible.  The IT teams do not have the manpower to make all the changes without a negative impact on the users – especially while focusing efforts to ensure successful deployment and functionality along the way.  This is where coexistence is key!

Coexistence allows IT managers to have both telephony platforms up and running, while meticulously identifying users and groups to migrate at a much more reasonable pace.  Users in one office can start the migration to the new platform, adopt the new technology, and continue working without interference.  At the same time, users in other offices will see no change in their daily activities, as they will continue to use the existing telephony infrastructure until they are selected and ready to migrate.

Now that is all well and good, but what about the IT department?  Having to manage two telephony environments, especially in cases where administrators may only have knowledge of one or the other but not both, can become very challenging.  This also could pose issues with the ability to manage and enforce dial plans to provide a similar experience across both platforms.  Many things to think about while beginning the journey but things that industry experts are able to assist with and reduce the pains that could come up along the way…

No need to despair and fret over the choices – there are solutions that can help in both scenarios.

We plan to cover all of the above (and much more) on our upcoming “Cloud”ucation Episode #2 – Coexistence & Migration, so please do join us to hear it from the experts.  If you have not already signed up, please do so at the following link: http://online.audiocodes.com/clouducation

CloudUcation

CloudUcation

Clouducation Episode #1

Devices and Endpoints

CloudUcation

In today’s fast paced and ever changing world, companies are quite often looking to the latest and greatest technology to get the elusive competitive edge.  This is true from the flashy ‘front door’ of their website / mobile app to the more pedestrian, but equally critical, voice infrastructure especially when deploying Skype for Business.  The latest in voice technology allows for users to ubiquitously connect to others using virtually any piece of technology they can get their hands on.  This often includes their PC, iPad, Surface, mobile phone, or tin can and string – it should not matter (except for that last one which is a stretch!).  Well, at least that what users want to think…

Allowing users to make their own unfettered decisions about what device to use is great in theory, right up until the point where they continually have quality issues and turn their attention to blaming the back end infrastructure, rather than realizing it is the device or connection they are on that is the culprit.  At the same time, it is important to realize that users are people, and for people their device choices are personal.

So how do organizations overcome this challenge?  Well, first and foremost is to properly train their users on how to utilize SfB properly.  Secondly, and arguable more important, is to provide the appropriate devices for the users to utilize at all times to ensure they have the best possible chance for a successful experience.  This is where it is extremely important to provide users with a couple of options, including certified IP phones and headsets.

So what are the key things to consider when placing an IPP on a user’s desk?  Let’s take a quick look at some of those topics briefly below, before we dive much deeper during Episode #1 of the “Cloud”ucation series:

  1. Connectivity – When it comes to IP phones, making sure the user always has a “constant” connection readily available at all times helps to alleviate those times where your PC has conveniently decided to install updates and require a reboot.  It seems like a small inconvenience, but we have all been there!!
  2. Ease of use – IP phones can also help to bridge the gap from user’s past experiences on other voice platforms, with the new ways SfB has to offer for communicating.  Why would anyone want to “relearn” how to use a phone?  It is a silly concept for sure and great options are available to alleviant this concern.
  3. Manageability – This might not be something the users think of, but who wouldn’t want to be on the latest software load and be able to report all statistics back to the IT manager automatically?  We have all been there as well, having a bad call experience, and calling the IT folks to get the old “send me more information” response.  Users should not have to concern themselves with this type of stuff, and that’s why the endpoints need to be the eyes and ears of IT.

Pretty interesting stuff to consider, especially in the BYOD world we live in!

On top of that, there is an interesting new term that I have just learned of from Mauro Caule over at Jabra called a “Confetti day”.  Think of it this way, we all work in different places and spaces, but how do we keep ourselves “on task” with the increasing number of distractions we have around us?  Mauro is going to touch on how headsets can help mitigate a lot of those distractions and keep users on task no matter what is going on around them (except the NFL playoffs, who can work during that?!?!).