The difference between excellence and mediocrity is commitment. The path that runs from the dream to the achievement is paved with commitment, every inch of the way. Those who make the commitment, those who give their dreams the power of focused action, are the ones who will achieve their dreams. No matter what the goal may be, it takes commitment and action to make it a reality. Anyone can express their commitment in words. True commitment is shown by actions, by persistence, by the willingness to do whatever it takes.
Being successful means being committed to the entire process of success. That includes setting the goals, making the plans, putting forth the effort, and persistently working through the challenges until the desired results are a reality. Whatever you’re fully committed to, will happen. Make the commitment to live out the exciting possibilities available to you, today and every day. Commitment is a decision you can make for yourself, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of whose idea it was originally. Commitment is the act of sincerely putting your heart into what you’re doing. You’re going to get knocked down. With enough commitment you’ll get back up. You’re going to become sidetracked and blown off course. With enough commitment you’ll quickly get back on track.
Great accomplishments most often result not from exceptional ability, but from ordinary ability followed through with exceptional commitment. Commitment can elevate even the most ordinary, tedious efforts into truly incredible levels of achievement. Whatever is your level of ability, it will take you wherever you desire to go when energized with passion and commitment. Remember, commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals!
Guest Blogger ~ Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager
Although attitude is an essential component in providing noteworthy customer service, it’s the likeability factor that makes a service experience enjoyable. If you want to stand out from your peers and receive many more positive letters and comments from customers, ensure that you enjoy helping them.
We’ve all seen how employees who possess the likeability factor tend to attract others. Co-workers appreciate having an opportunity to work with them and customers enjoy speaking to them. To get ahead in your relationships with others, look at the likeability skill sets you possess.
You must first and foremost care about people. And, the caring must be genuine. You can only fake it for so long before the real you will come through. How many times have you watched a TV or movie star who seemed to be very caring, friendly and personable on camera, but when you see them in another venue, they were arrogant, condescending and disingenuous? Which one was the real person?
At Avatel Technologies, we’ve mastered the likeability factor and here is how we do it:
- We listen more than we speak;
- We are courteous and respectful;
- We cultivate being friendly and we smile;
- We place others wants before our own; and,
- We compliment, encourage and affirm others.
The above could be defined by one word – friendliness. From experience, when you are genuinely friendly, you come across as more competent, confident and interested. You project that you like your job, that you care about other people and that you’re a good communicator. Some employees say, “We’re professional. We don’t need to be friendly!” That’s arrogance! I’m not downplaying the importance of competence and knowledge, but imagine if every person in your company were friendly and worked at getting along well with each other. Would it not improve morale? Would it not improve attitudes? Would it not improve teamwork, respect, cooperation and customer satisfaction while making work more enjoyable?
Competence, a good attitude and knowledge are all important, but if I could instill just one attribute, more than any other, I would want you to be friendly and work at getting along with others because it affects and impacts virtually everything you do. Friendly people are just more enjoyable to be around.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain…and most fools do.” –Dale Carnegie
Guest Blogger ~ Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager
Many organizations are stuck in the fog of complexity as they move towards the promise of communications in the cloud. Over time it has become clear that the glitter is wearing off the rosy predictions of cloud/hosted based services supporting all aspects of hosted voice; including features, quality, serviceability, dependability and price. Though every cloud has a silver lining, these cloud services aren’t all dreamy.
So, that brings us to the question – Which is better for your business: a premises-based solution, in which the hardware appliance is kept on-site in your server closet, or a cloud phone system, where your phones connect through your Internet connection to a provider that maintains the equipment at an off-site cloud hosted data center? Educating yourself on the potential challenges that come with using a hosted/cloud solution can help you make a good decision to ensure your business needs are met.
There are 5 basic concerns with a Hosted/Cloud based solution. They are:
- Available Features – The first and most important aspect to consider is understanding which features are offered. Hosted/cloud PBX providers are popping up everywhere! They are all trying to prove that their monthly rentals of cloud services are better and more cost effective than Premise Based PBX solutions. However, in reality many cloud/hosted PBX providers don’t offer the same features in their hosted product as they do for their premises-based solution. Premise-based PBX’s have the edge in features and flexibility over the hosted solutions. They are designed with a high level of customization available. If critical business communications features like queues, IVRs and conferencing are missing, or cost extra, then the product may not be a viable solution.
- Dependability – Hosted phone systems rely on a connection either to the public Internet or to the vendor’s datacenter. For customers using a public Internet connection, this means that if the ISP is down, the phones are also down. Basically, you are at the mercy of the provider, and if they suffer an outage, so do you. On a premised based system, when you transfer a call from one extension to another extension in the office, the phone switch in the closet on premise makes that happen. All the signaling occurs locally just feet away instead of miles. With a hosted system, a transfer from one extension to another takes place at the hosted provider’s switch which would usually reside many states away. This increased distance causes latency and also increases the need for a constant robust Internet connection.
- Voice Quality – Cloud-based phone systems that rely solely on the public Internet for voice transmission can make voice quality unpredictable, which may compromise businesses that rely on the phone for customer transactions and interactions. Premise based phones use actual physical wires to transmit their calls and therefore there is much less chance of any external variables affecting the call quality. Cloud based phones use internet and therefore the company’s internet needs to be robust in order to ensure that it maintains the necessary speed to make the calls sound professional. If too many people are online at once, then the call quality will drop.
- Security – The security risks extend beyond toll fraud, voicemail hacks, and eavesdropping. A hosted/cloud solution may be the entry point into your business network. Calls and voicemail messages are data, susceptible to data network attacks. Voice mail messages, call records, chat conversations, or any other form of communication that you typically save are kept in the cloud with a hosted solution. Many businesses may not be comfortable leaving their important info in the hands of another business.
- Cost – If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Typically, hosted PBX providers charge a contracted monthly rate per user, plus additional charges for added features. In a cloud based hosted solution, when opting for more than the basic feature set “per user,” monthly recurring costs can increase dramatically. The costs for advanced features are often handled via a la carte creating a situation where your original per user pricing ends up costing double or triple per user.
So, back to the question – Which is better for your business: a premises-based solution or an off-site hosted/cloud based solution?
Before you answer, there is also a third option. A hybrid model that offers the best of both worlds through a unified integration approach between on-premises and cloud applications. Avatel is excited to announce the availability of an Avaya hybrid solution that links a secure premise based system like the Avaya IP Office with cloud-based applications through the Esna-enabled Avaya Communicator for Web. This cloud does have a silver lining, as the Avaya Communicator for Web, enables users to access Avaya IP Office collaboration capabilities – such as voice and video calling, presence and IM – with just one click from within Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365, or any web page. This seamless integration can safely drive major customer benefits:
- Enhance employee productivity and customer engagement by providing fast, one-click access to voice, video, presence/IM, conferencing, messaging (and other modes) from within a cloud-based application.
- Reduce costs, business disruption and burden on IT budgets through simple integration and an open approach that leverages existing multi-vendor technologies.
- Optimize and extend investment in Avaya on premise solutions with cloud applications.
- Access real-time communication tools for a rich communications experience from within cloud business applications.
With the Avaya IP Office hybrid on-premise solution you get the traditional, comfortable and secure feeling of being in control of all aspects of your business information. I think control is a good word to sum up the biggest benefit of an on premise solution. We believe that even the smallest businesses can see benefits from having their phone system residing in their closet, rather than 2000 miles away. The IP Office provides your business more flexibility (features, functions, dependability, security, custom tailored implementation and support model). It also offers an overall lower cost of total ownership, as the IP Office can be financed with 0% down and low monthly payments.
The Avaya IP Office platform represents the ideal, most versatile office telephone system for small and medium business that money can buy. Our customers love it and industry analysts love it. With the IP Office you can have the most basic level of telephony without IP or applications in the smallest of offices. However, if your requirements are more robust, the latest release of the IP Office can now scale to 2,500 endpoints across 150 sites, with communications tools to establish a competitive edge – through intelligent call routing, sophisticated messaging, call handling and now cloud-based application integration.
Avaya Communicator for Web supports Avaya IP Office Preferred Edition, IP Office Server Edition, and IP Office Select release 9.1.2 or later. Avaya one-X Portal is required, along with one of the following licenses – Mobile Worker, Office Worker, Teleworker, Power User. Salesforce integration requires Salesforce Open CTI and works with Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited editions.
Contact an Avatel representative today at 866.835.2661 to learn more about the unified integration approach between on-premises and cloud applications with the IP Office.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
I love this Bell Telephone System ad, “The Spirit of Service that Keeps on Growing” from 1956. With Customer Service Week 2015 right around the corner, I had to share.
Copied from ad – There is a heritage of service that is passed on from one generation of telephone people to another. It had its beginning far back in 1875 when Alexander Graham Bell gave the world the first telephone. It has grown as the business has grown. Many times each day and night this spirit of service is expressed in some friendly, helpful act for someone in need. The courtesy, loyalty and teamwork that telephone people put in their daily jobs are a part of it. Out of it have come the courage and inspiration that have surmounted fire and storm.
We, the telephone people of today, are vested with the duty of carrying on this trust. We will make mistakes, for it is human to err. But in the long run, how we do our individual responsibility will determine how we fulfill our trust. For our business is above all a business of people…of men and women who live and work and serve countless communities throughout the land.
I have been in the Telecommunications industry for over 25 years, and I just have to say, a lot has changed since the 1950’s. However, one thing that has not changed is the importance of caring for your customers. Of course we don’t call our Customer Service Representatives Telephone People any longer, but we should all be aware that a warm, helpful, professional and friendly voice on the phone is just as important today as it was more than 60 years ago.
Having the “Spirit of Service” in today’s marketplace can build customer loyalty, or if missing, drive them to a competitor. If we extend the basic common courtesies to our callers and create a reputation of legendary service, we will keep our customers coming back.
Telephone techniques are built from a few basic rules and principles. In fact, telephone etiquette can be summarized in one word: COURTESY. Unfortunately, courtesy is not something people are used to being shown routinely in the business world today. If the caller is a potential customer and you are courteous to him, you have an excellent chance of gaining a new customer.
Remember, the image the customer has of the person who is answering your company’s phone is the image the customer has of YOUR COMPANY. When you put a smile on your face, the smile comes through in your voice.
Providing exceptional telephone service is nothing more than following “the Golden Rule” what we all learned as a child. You’ve heard the expression; “It’s the little things that matter”? Going the extra mile is often simply doing the little things, and occasionally pulling out the stops to service your customer.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
Over the years, our holiday toy drives have helped families with children rediscover the magic of the season. However, what happens the rest of the year?
What do children living in shelters or transitional housing receive on their birthdays? This was a question asked by our very own Kim Whisman. She suggested that we collect toys year-round as birthday donations for the children living at Metropolitan Ministries.
I agree with Kim, while the holiday season is a favorite time to donate toys to charity, toy donations are needed year-round. For children, holidays are times of excitement and fun. But if you ask most kids, there is probably one other day that trumps every holiday: their birthday. For the children who live in shelters, the day is not a fun-filled experience but rather just another day of doing the best you can under some very tough circumstances.
We recognize the importance of a birthday in a child’s life and believe that a birthday gift provides joy and hope in these children’s otherwise unsettled lives. Every child, regardless of their living situation, should have their birthday recognized and celebrated.
So, with that said, as part of our Avatel Giving Back initiative, we started our Avatel “Toys for Joy” program. Each month, Metropolitan Ministries sends us a list of the children at the housing facility that have birthdays in the following month. Throughout the month, the Avatel team collects the gifts and donates the presents at the end of the month for all the children at Metropolitan Ministries who have birthdays in the following month.
Any child at the shelter who has a birthday that month gets a few presents, and every child is made to feel special! Regardless of life’s circumstances, the day you are born is a day worth celebrating. Everyone deserves a happy birthday.
Together we can help restore the magic of this special day for these special children!
We live in a world in which individuals are becoming more and more empowered. Technical innovations are regularly altering the way jobs get done. New and powerful options are opening up for people and businesses. We’re living in a world that’s more interconnected than ever before. More than ever, people are working across and beyond their own organizations – with customers, colleagues, and business partners. The lives of people around the planet are becoming increasingly connected, through a worldwide network of easily accessible telecommunication solutions.
A new world order has emerged in the old world of communications. The continuous evolution of technology is changing the way do business, the dynamics of the workplace and what we perceive is possible. The new generation of communications technologies is addressing the new way to work, which is permeating workplaces worldwide.
Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platforms, the internet and mobile devices have enabled much of this evolution. Whether it’s moving from a deskphone to a mobile phone or moving seamlessly from basic audio to highly interactive video conferencing, communication and collaboration solutions continue to evolve in ways we couldn’t even imagine a few years ago.
What’s next? Beyond communication. Beyond collaboration. Into an era of engagement. Engagement is about better customer experience. It’s about increased productivity and profitability. It’s about effortless mobility. As the popularity of mobile devices continues to rise, the demand for application portability increases with it.
As an Avaya Business Partner, Avatel is very excited that Avaya is leading the way to a new era of engagement. Today’s customer relationships are ongoing conversations that unfold across time and channels. Phone, video, email, chat, social: It’s all one integrated Omni-channel now. With Avaya communication solutions, the office and mobile environments mesh more seamlessly than ever before, so you can work virtually anytime, anywhere and on nearly any device.
As business communication goes beyond the desktop, the Avaya IP Office creates an engaging experience for voice, video, and mobility on virtually any device. And it does it all with flexibility, simplicity, and reliability. The Avaya IP Office is a modern engagement solution that provides an enhanced user experience with easy-to-use, feature rich options. Seamless integration with Avaya networking, security, video, multichannel contact center solutions, support services, and third-party applications delivers a complete solution—all from a single source.
With the Avaya IP Office Engagement Solution and Avatel’s seamless execution , barriers disappear and productivity rises. Contact Avatel at 866-835-2661 to engage your workforce, improve customer experiences and interact like never before.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
There are many amazing and rewarding aspects to running a business, but it is also hard work. There are countless tasks you need to complete every week just to stay on top of things. You have so many varying roles within your business that it can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to be clear on priorities. It’s all too easy to get distracted by ‘emergencies’ that make you lose sight of what you really should be working on, in order to achieve your goals. Most business leaders find it difficult to get unburied enough to step back from daily activities to be the transformational leader that they want to be.
Keith Clemente from Avaya Client Services used a term that I love in a recent article – “Transforming while running an ongoing business is a lot like aligning wheels on a car while it is moving”. Keith also said – “Transformations take time and are evolutionary. There is not a single finish line. Transformations require continuous investment in technologies, tools and process. Success will only come to those that keep forever focused forward”.
When you outline the biggest challenges facing your business today, having the right technology for communications is probably not the top item on your list. However, choosing the right technology really should be a top priority. An organization that does not effectively communicate to its customers, prospects, employees, partners and vendors, will likely not survive.
When was the last time you looked around to find out what new technologies are out there that you might implement in your business? What about replacing old and outdated communication technology that may be costly to maintain and less powerful than what is in the marketplace today?
The smart use of communications technology can literally transform the way a business goes to market, cares for its customers, attracts new customers or enables previously unimaginable levels of employee productivity. In a fast-paced market, companies need to take advantage of the tools available today and need to start deploying them within their work place or risk falling behind competitively.
Avatel and Avaya deliver Communication/Collaboration Solutions that help companies transform their businesses to achieve marketplace advantage. Avaya’s solutions can help you improve customer service by enabling your employees to connect to each other and to your customers, no matter what device they’re using or where they’re located. With an Avaya solution, you can transform your business into a more empowered and effective organization, armed with all the tools you need.
The Avaya IP Office is incredibly sophisticated, yet remarkably simple to use. It is an integrated communications solution that works across different devices, departments, and locations – across your entire business. It’s a great way to manage communications across all your locations. The IP Office delivers a comprehensive collaboration solution from a single source, combining robust networking, security, video and support.
Your office telephone system, cell phone, e-mail, texting, instant messaging and even your home telephone are all essential to the way you work today. Unlike other solutions, Avaya IP Office uses built-in intelligence to simplify your use of wired, wireless and Internet communications. Instead of keeping your communications separate, Avaya IP Office brings them together so you can easily turn a home or mobile phone into an office extension, collaborate with dozens of customers or staff members on a conference call and get detailed reports that show how well your company is responding to customers.
With rich functionality, Avaya IP Office naturally creates new ways of thinking about the role communications can play in your business. The Avaya IP Office will help give your business a competitive edge. Let you do more, with less. Drive profitable growth, without driving up costs. Perform better now and in the future.
Organizations are looking today for a trusted and knowledgeable business partner to transform their business communications, implement industry leading technology and be supported by a professional and knowledgeable service partner. Avatel has one overarching objective – to help you transform your business and achieve competitive advantage.
Every day, Avatel is helping business transform with the support of our Design Engineers, Application Specialists, Technical Engineers, Systems Integration Experts and Customer Support Teams. Contact an Avatel Specialist at 866.835.2661 and find out how we can help you transform your business today!
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
We probably don’t want to admit it to ourselves, but we love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, we get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls us in another direction. Why do you think we check our email and social media accounts as often as we do?
If we want to be more productive and get our focus back there really are not any secret tricks here. We just need to do one thing at a time and stop multitasking – which is frankly just another form of distraction. Easier said than done, I know.
The following tips came from an article in Inc. Magazine and are credited to Tony Wong, a project management black belt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task.
Here are his tips for staying productive:
- WORK BACKWARDS FROM GOALS TO MILESTONES TO TASKS. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
- STOP MULTITASKING. No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking then women).
- BE MILITANT ABOUT ELIMINATING DISTRACTIONS. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn-off your phone, texts, email and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
- SCHEDULE YOUR EMAIL. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
- USE THE PHONE. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead.
- WORK ON YOUR OWN AGENDA. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.
- WORK IN 60 TO 90 MINUTE INTERVALS. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.
Don’t underestimate the value of a to-do list and follow it as much as you possibly can. You will inevitably hit a few speed bumps but you can avoid headaches if you take time to plan out your day, week, month and year. Remember, set goals for yourself and celebrate your achievements.
Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager and Brand Ambassador
The true definition of “Optics” is the scientific study of light and vision. “Optics” is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light. However, a different use of the word optics has been used in politics for many years, meaning “appearance” or “perception”.
Unfortunately, I am hearing this term used more and more frequently as a business buzzword. It’s really sad that the meaning of a simple technical term like “optics” – denoting light, vision or clarity is used to mean the opposite qualities of deception and insincerity.
The appeal of using the word optics is obvious, unlike fuzzy constructs such as “appearances,” it has an aura of scientific precision that lends weight. The word optics is perfectly fine, when used in science or mechanics. However, the word optics should not be used to mean “appearance” through the viewing lens of public perception.
Politicians often say what voters want to hear. Should business leaders do the same thing or are they better off to remain authentic, sticking to their true beliefs?
When business leaders talk about “optics,” instead of reality, red flags should immediately go up. Deception and dishonesty are running rampant practically everywhere you go. Companies that say one thing and do something else risk alienating their customers as well as their staff members.
I believe one of the main reasons that many businesses fail is they’re just not willing to be transparent, clear and honest. People can get away with deceptive business practices and shady dealings for a while. But eventually customers won’t come back and employees will leave because they don’t want to be part of the untruths.
Organizations that are built to deceive are not proud of their missions. They are unwilling or unable to sell their mission on it merits and they resort to deceit because they don’t believe they can appeal to the truth. They recognize that their missions are not in the best interests of their clients, they are embarrassed by the techniques they need to use to get customers to buy, and they think they can only get customers if they pretend to be what they are not.
Being true to yourself and your business and being upfront and honest with your customers relieves anxiety and frees up energy that would normally be consumed by maintaining a facade. That energy boost, stress relief and liberation can have a huge impact on a business as a whole and makes it a real power to be reckoned with.
It is absolutely critical to have both an authentic and transparent business. The level of authenticity, honesty and transparency associated with a corporation impacts the very livelihood of the business and can affect relationships beyond the internal infrastructure of the company.
Transparency and honesty enables sincerity and trust. Trust is the lubricant that enables organizations to function, grow and prosper. Trust enables success. Lack of transparency causes doubt, introduces fear and destroys trust.
To be successful in business, we all must create an atmosphere of honest and ethical behavior within the workplace. You need to be open. You need to be honest. You need to come from truth and you need to come from integrity. And by all means, stay away from the need to use the word “optics” in your business conversations.
On a personal level, I feel blessed to be a part of a company that is overflowing with people who have made it their mission to build an honest business through hard work and dedication. At Avatel, we summon the courage, strength, will and steadfastness to speak “our truth” and not be concerned or caught up in what others think or believe about us.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP
Is there morality in business? Sure, whether it’s called business ethics, business integrity or a moral compass. Organizations that operate with honesty and integrity do so intentionally, and make it part of everyday practice so that it becomes part of the culture.
Over 4 years ago, I wrote a post regarding integrity and ethical decision making in business, entitled “Leading your Business with a Strong Moral Compass”. As I said then, and still agree with today – When business integrity and moral ethics are present throughout the deepest layers of a company and not just at its surface, it becomes the heart and soul of the company’s culture. The business advantages of moral intelligence may be hard to quantify, but the business costs of moral ignorance are undeniable.
An honest business model can be a successful business model. An honest work ethic can achieve far greater things than a dishonest one. You must first accept the basic moral principle that fair and honest business practices are the best options simply because they are the right things to do.
Businesses should strive to do not only ethical things, but to do these things ethically. There is a big difference between the two. An organization may engage in socially responsible initiatives, but their day-to-day business processes should also be ethical if integrity, honesty, openness and transparency are to be achieved. There is no grey area in ethics – we are either ethical or we are not.
Companies have a moral responsibility to treat customers fairly. One of the quickest ways to alienate a customer is to promise something that can’t be delivered or by lying to them, which can have many negative repercussions. One bad customer experience is enough to cause a business to get a bad reputation. The first line of morality you can develop to ensure customer satisfaction is to treat your clients with respect, honesty and fairness.
Customers who believe they are being treated fairly, honestly, and justly, will come back. Customers who think they have been cheated, lied to or abused will never come back. Worse, they will tell others to avoid your business. The best customer service policy is the simplest and easiest to implement: honesty. Be honest with your customers and you will win their respect, their trust, and more importantly their business.
No one can take your integrity away from you. And with a strong moral compass, even if you falter to some degree, eventually you will find the strength to do the right thing.
Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP