How IT Can Support Remote Customer Service Teams

With so many companies moving to remote working as business-as-usual, it can be a daunting prospect for some leadership teams. Will productivity suffer? Will customer satisfaction drop? Well, there’s plenty of research to suggest, that’s just not the case for remote customer service teams.

One thing you CAN do to improve your rate of success is to arm your remote customer service teams with the best tools to do their job effectively and efficiently from home. From ticket systems to culture-boosting tools, we’re going to uncover some of the software you might want to consider. Read on to chart your path to high-performing remote customer service operations.

Case & Contact Management

Start with the bones of the operation. How will the incoming requests be processed and stored? How will this link into your existing CRM? You need a robust solution with flags for priority, timeliness, assignment and reporting. There are loads of options on the market like FreshDesk and Zendesk. Your exact business requirements and scale may be determining factors in what you ultimately choose.

Mobile Call Handling

Without a physical desk, you’ll need to consider how calls will be answered (unless you skip phone support altogether). There are plenty of providers that offer VoIP solutions or forward to mobile support for your inbound phone contacts like Vonage and RingCentral. Weigh the cost with your quantity of calls to determine what’s right for your business.

Collaborative Working

Cloud storage can be a great way to enable collaborative working as multiple users can interact with a single document at the same time, boosting productivity. There are several dominant players in this space including Google and Microsoft, but your organisation’s size and data storage requirements will often determine what is best for your company.

Knowledge Base

Providing a place for both customers and agents to quickly find answers to common questions is a no-brainer. Many solutions exist like Intercom and Zendesk, but more important than the platform is that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and accessible. Ensure when you roll out a knowledge base project, there is clear and defined ownership of updates post-execution.

Virtual Meetings

While not the same as a face to face in person, virtual meeting and conference software is the next best thing. You’ll want a provider that can scale with your requirements and offers at least the basic functionality of video, voice, screen share and recording options. Popular options include Zoom, GoToMeeting and Skype for Business.

Team Chat

Don’t forget the value of chatter to build an inclusive culture. Popular platforms like Slack, Basecamp and Teams can offer outlets for users to share personal stories, brainstorm and grow together as a team. Great for quick questions and sharing ideas, a great team chat tool will help bring people together.

While some might feel perfectly comfortable navigating these various procurement and integration challenges on their own; if you do need a hand picking the right providers, chat to our helpful team. We can help you negotiate contacts, manage the installation and onboard your team with the tricks and tips they need to get the most out of their new software.

5 Remote Working Security Concerns to Look Out For

In the near-panic of recent months bringing with it sweeping changes to our working lives, it’s quite possible many businesses threw the handbook out of the window as they tried to rapidly adjust to changing market conditions. But sadly, the rules never changed along with you. As the dust settles, we’re all starting to notice the cracks in the security armour of many businesses large and small. Remote working security concerns are real and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Legislation and regulations around data security, privacy and remote access are still very much in effect. So, perhaps you’ll find this refresher on remote working security a helpful reminder of the risks and your legal requirements. If you need help with implementing any changes to bring your organisation back into compliance, we’re just a click away.

Data Leakage

With an increased possibility of unrestricted printing and USB access, there’s a greater risk of your valuable customer data and IP walking away. It might be unintentional, but an unlocked device just invites lax IT security issues. Ensure all of your devices have the same security features both on and offsite.

Open Access

Just because someone is an employee, doesn’t mean they need unrestricted access to your entire infrastructure. Evaluate the access levels of all employees, especially during this time of scope creep, to ensure you have matched their level of responsibility to the partitions they can access.

Remote Access

Your infrastructure may just fall over with too many people trying to access the network at the same time. This can be especially troubling in a cloud-based organisation where some frustrated workers may result in downloading and working on local copies of documents; increasing the security risks.

Confidentiality Concerns

You can never be certain just who is around any remote PC. From family members to the general public, data protection measures such a dual authentication, privacy screens and lock screen can’t be overlooked. Equip your teams with the right tools and training to keep your confidential data safe and adhere to GDPR guidelines.

Personal Devices

With less oversight or poor planning, many remote workers may be using personal devices to access company documents. This could be their personal laptops or mobile phones. Personal devices are far less secure than their corporate counterparts, making this situation a hacker’s dream.

Addressing Concerns

We highly recommend companies audit their existing remote working policies and procedures as soon as possible. If you don’t have any, don’t delay. Have a disaster recovery plan and practice it! Know what you will do if the worst happens and how much downtime to expect. 

Contact a trusted provider like IT Assist to advise you on the steps you need to take to regain control of your data. Keep a close eye on IT behaviours and data traffic and take quick action to address any worrying trends when it comes to your security. Lastly, train your team to take IT Security seriously by making them accountable for their IT habits.

Do these things and you’ll soon be back to smooth running in no time.

How to Fix Poor Video Call Connections

As part of the ‘new normal’ many people will be working from home for the foreseeable future, even as many parts of our economy return to usual runnings. With that, comes the challenge of making IT work for you outside of the office. Many people have struggled with poor video call connections since lockdown began.

Without access to the usual high-speed corporate internet connections, even simple video calls can become challenging. However, there are a few simple things you can do to troubleshoot your connectivity and make video calls better overall.

Overloaded Bandwidth

In a multi-occupancy household, it’s easy to lose track of how many devices you have connected to the home network at once. With most routers able to handle around 250 devices connected at a time, you’d think there’d be no issue with having two Amazon Echo’s, 3 computers, 2 gaming consoles and half dozen smartphones connected at the same time. 

What you’re probably forgetting is some of these devices will be constantly using data. They do this when trying to retrieve notifications, update themselves and push usage stats through your connection. They will be splitting your available bandwidth amongst themselves with some taking the lion’s share. Consider setting all your devices to update out-of-hours. And turn off any devices you don’t need during your workday. That will save more of the shared connection for your primary working use.

Poor Internet Connection

Do not put your WiFi router in the back of the house, in a cupboard. You’ll have the worst reception imaginable. The WiFi signal will struggle to penetrate all the hard surfaces, resulting in severe degradation as you move away from the source. If you notice you always have less than 3 bars of WiFi available, consider moving your router to a more central location in your home.

If your router is central and you’re still having issues, consider investing in signal boosters. Alternatively, talk to your internet provider about upgrading your connection. Where possible, use a wired connection for the best internet speed possible from your router as a fix for poor video call connections.

Out-of-date Software

One of the most commonly forgotten troubleshooting measures is simply to check for updates. Not only does your operating system need to stay up to date but the drivers may not always be updated along with it. So, you may need to download some updates manually. This can be true for your audio drivers (if you are having sound issues) to your graphics drivers (if you’re struggling with the video display).

Additionally, you’ll need to make sure the video calling/conferencing software you’re using is up to date overall. Software providers send out regular updates (even more so, not that there are heavy volumes) so be sure to install these each and every time you get a notification. You can also check for updates manually within the conference app or website.

Provider Issues

Often one of the last things you’d check, but oftentimes the problem isn’t you. The video calling/conferencing platform could be experiencing outages or high volumes and be temporarily offline for repairs. Your own ISP could be restricting usage at peak times to keep the lights on for everyone, so to speak.

Checking if your providers have any issues is really quick. All you usually need to do is visit the service status page on their website. Alternatively, you could visit their twitter page for updates as well or see if others are experiencing issues.

If none of these tips helps and you’re still having issues, why not reach out to one of our helpful IT Assist team members to discuss how we could improve your remote working connectivity.

Don’t Be The Business That Loses Your Clients Data

Do you use a vulnerable password? Something easy to “crack” such as your birthday or name? If you do, then unfortunately, you are a hackers ideal victim. You are what is commonly referred to as the “low hanging fruit” meaning you are the victim that is the easiest to reach (and compromise).

Fear not though, we’ve wrote this blog to help you fight back and keep yourself safe and secure.

We recommend everyone uses strong, secure passwords. This means that they should be made up of a series of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and preferably a minimum of 8 characters long.

There are many tools online to help you create a secure password, such as the password generator found here. password generator

Another point is not to use the same password for everything, if someone was able to find out your password, even if it is strong, they will have access to all of your accounts and possibly sensitive information.

So you may be wondering how you are going to remember a long and entirely randomised password for each and every one of your accounts?

Glad you asked! A password manager is designed for exactly this – a piece of software which stores all your passwords in a secure and usually encrypted location, meaning you only have to remember the password for the manager itself.

There are many options when it comes to password managers, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, but the one we recommend is called KeePass.

This is a locally installed password manager, meaning that is installed and saved on your physical PC or memory stick. We like this one as your information is kept with you and not stored on any someone else’s hardware.

It is simple to use, but still comprehensive and feature rich, allowing you to generate passwords, store passwords, website addresses, usernames, add notes and even sort into different groups.

Is your business using strong, secure passwords? If not you might be at risk. Contact us to find out how we can help.

What Is Net Neutrality And Is It Going To Be Changing The Way You Use The Internet?

Lately the news has been focusing on Net Neutrality due to the recent debates in the United States blowing up.

Net Neutrality comes under a law which was implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that everyone who has access to the internet, also has the rights to access the same content as everyone else, regardless of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) they use.

The demand to remove the law is led by the leading internet providers in the states, including the likes of AT&T and Comcast who both agree that the law isn’t beneficial to their companies as it is reducing the need for improvement and development in the sector, I agree with the statements made, as if there isn’t any need to be better because it will get you no further than your competition in most cases, where is the initiative coming from? Most industries would just flop if all their products had to be created using the same style, materials and colors, take shoes for example, how many different brands would be in competition if every pair had to be the same?

The argument isn’t just strong against the law, the pro Net Neutrality side has proved able to compete with arguments stating that if the law was to be withdrawn, it would lean companies in the direction of “Pay-To-Play” instead of providing the full web experience under one price, meaning that to use certain sites you will be charged or even sold different categories of sites under a package such as Social, Communication etc. which could cause some businesses to take huge hits with the amount of traffic and activity occurring on their site.

Even though the issue hasn’t arisen in the UK at this moment in time due to our protection thanks to Open Internet Access rights which comes under EU law, but as soon as we prepare to leave the EU and we are no longer covered, will Net Neutrality be scrapped and replaced with “Pay-To-Play” technology or will the internet big dogs such as SKY , BT & Plus Net allow us to continue using the internet freely.

Do you think this could be a successful idea, or do you think it is just another corporate method of extorting more money out of the everyday internet users pocket?

Is The New Firefox Quantum Web Browser As Good As People Say?

Tuesday saw the release of a product which has been getting hyped up for around a year, this is the Firefox Quantum Web Browser. Firefox hasn’t gone through an update on as large a scale in over 13 years of web browsers, but now, get ready to try the new browser on all Operating Systems, this being Android, iOS, Linux, Mac and Windows.

Quantum which is also known as Firefox 57, has been gifted with a friendlier user interface which not only makes it look modern, but thanks to the new tools implemented, it also has a modern feel to the browser. During the 2000’s Firefox’s growth was rapid and it took one third of the market, but as Google Chrome upped its speed and usability, Firefox was quickly moved to one side while Chrome took control of 64% of the browser market, leaving Firefox with as little as 14%.

When the test version of the Quantum browser was released in September, it was widely acknowledged as a potential rival to Safari and Chrome and it then set out on the path to destroy all flaws with developers spending over 2 months examining all aspects of the browser to ensure that all bugs and security where discovered and acted upon before public release.
One head of the Mozilla’s Technology Organisation, David Bryant has said “Anyone who downloads this version, which is so advanced we have named it Firefox Quantum, you simply can’t help but notice the speed, performance improvements, and the responsive slick new user interface” and in my opinion, he is completely true, the speed and performance allows you to perform any action at a must faster rate than on previous browser, double that to be exact with 66 Runs per minute.

Not only is the speed tempting to potential switchers, but keep in mind that the memory usage by Quantum is 30% lower than that of Chrome. Remember when Chrome added data sync between Chrome on devices? Well Firefox have taken that up a notch with the new pocket app which allows you to save a page’s content on to the app for later visits.

After the small amount of time using Firefox Quantum, I can say that it’s a brilliant browser and I will now be setting it as my new default on both mobile and desktop, as well as encouraging customers to do so as well, but I guess it all comes down to personal preference. Who else is going to be giving Firefox’s newest creating a shot?

iPhone 8 Battery Bloating

In the past week, there has been numerous reports of the new iPhone’s (8 & 8s) batteries inflating and splitting the phone open and rendering it useless. Apple have not yet made a official statement on the issue, however sources have said that they are beginning very serious investigations in to these reports.

CNET and TechCrunch have conducted tests to identify what is causing the problem and how many devices are affected, the numbers came back very low – less than 10 occurrences throughout the 5 countries which the research was carried out.

Even though the phones are splitting open, it’s still not as dangerous as the Samsung explosion issues from a few years ago, with zero cases of the iPhone exploding. Will you still be purchasing one of the new iPhones?

You Can Now Find Your Car With Google Maps

Have you ever wandered around car parks looking for your car? Well you’re not alone, it’s something we all do. Fortunately, Google has our backs on this one.

The smart people at Google have realised that this problem is all too common. So the beta version of the latest Google maps can do all the hard work and remember where you left your car. Pretty nifty eh?

All you have to do is tap the blue dot and choose the ‘Save your parking’ option. The only catch is that you’ve got to be signed into Google maps for it to come up, and at the moment it’s only available on Android OS.

Google Maps

 

You can also add notes, like the floor you’re parked on, or the zone you’re parked in. You can even add photos. It may sound tedious, but if it saved you wandering around aimlessly then it might be worth the effort.

 

How To Get Microsoft Word For FREE

Are you strapped for cash? Maybe you just love a freebie? Sit tight and we’ll show you how you can get Word and other Microsoft apps at no cost on your PC, laptop, tablet and phone.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Windows 10 comes bundled with with Microsoft Office, sadly this isn’t the case. Don’t worry though, as we’re going to show you a legitimate ways to get MS Office, including Microsoft Word, on Windows 10 completely FREE.

Lets imagine you’ve just got a new PC or tablet computer and you want Microsoft Office. There are ways to get this at absolutely no cost and we’re going to show you how.

Office For FREE

Getting Microsoft Word FREE on Windows, iOS and Andriod

Microsoft are currently allowing users to download their mobile apps for free on a wide range of devices including Windows, Android and iOS.

These are readily available through the relevant app store and to save you the hassle of going looking, we’ve included the relevant links below:

iOS:

App Store – MS WordApp Store – MS ExcelApp Store – MS Powerpoint

Android:

Play Store – MS WordPlay Store – MS ExcelPlay Store – MS Powerpoint

Windows :

Windows Store – MS WordWindows Store – MS ExcelWindows Store – MS Powerpoint

Word-Excel-Powerpoint

So what’s the catch?

Well, whilst you can download and use these apps totally 100% free, not everyone is eligible to actually get full unrestricted access to the land of Microsoft Office.

If you’re using a computer or laptop you’ll be limited to read only and will need an Office 365 subscription to get access to the full features (typically available from as little as £5.99 per month), UNLESS your computer screen is smaller than 10 inches, in which case you get full unrestricted access to the apps.

Change The Default Save Location In Word 2016

You’ll probably find that whenever you try to save a new document in Microsoft Word it will ask you to either login or redirect you to a folder somewhere completely irrelevant.

Fortunately you can change the default location for this so that it will default to your preferred location.

To change the default save location in Microsoft Word 2016 do the following:

Go to File > Options.

step-1
step-1

From the left hand menu in the popup, select “Save”

step-2
step-2

Uncheck “Show addition places for saving, even if sign-in may be required”

Check “Save to computer by default”

Where it says “Default local file location” change this to your desired location.

step-3
step-3

Click “OK”