An Honest Business Model is a Successful Business Model

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Avatel Technologies: Many Pieces, One Mission

Maintaining a service department that is reflective of our diverse customer base and community is vital to our mission.  At Avatel, we know that cultivating a workforce that is reflective of our customers, vendors and our community is vital to our charge.

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The telecommunications industry is one of the most diverse in this country and our ability to provide best-in-class service is directly connected to understanding the needs of our customers and providing innovative solutions.

Our strategy to meet that objective includes a wide array of people centric solutions, community outreach efforts and a variety of technology tools for attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce and sustaining an inclusive workplace.

Sharing Common Beliefs

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These include:

  • A commitment to true partnership and collaboration
  • A strong initiative to take on tasks and complete projects
  • An ability to prioritize and handle a multifaceted workload
  • The judgment to take prudent risks that will bring excellent results
  • A desire to cast a positive shadow in all encounters across our organization

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 more enjoyable to be around.

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Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain…and most fools do.” –Dale Carnegie

Not everyone, however, is good at helping customers and resolving complaints, but at Avatel, It just seems to come naturally!

Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager & Brand Ambassador

 

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude. – William James

The following excerpt is from the book written by Dr. Richard Carlson, Ph.D.  May it help provide you with dozens of stress-reducing strategies to live a calmer, happier life and enjoy deeper, more satisfying relationships with friends and loved ones.

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“Whenever we’re dealing with bad news, a difficult person or a disappointment of some kind, most of us get into certain habits, ways of reacting to life – particularly adversity – that don’t serve us very well.  We overreact, blow things out of proportion, hold on too tightly and focus on the negative aspects of life.  When we are immobilized by little things – when we are irritated, annoyed and easily bothered – our (over-) reactions not only make us frustrated but actually get in the way of getting what we want.  We lose sight of the bigger picture, focus on the negative and annoy other people who might otherwise help us.  In short, we live our lives as if they were one great big emergency!  We often rush around looking busy, trying to solve problems, but in reality, we are often compounding them.  Because everything seems like such a big deal, we end up spending our lives dealing with one drama after another.

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After a while, we begin to believe that everything really is a big deal.  We fail to recognize that the way we relate to our problems has a lot to do with how quickly and efficiently we solve them.  When you learn the habit of responding to life with more ease, problems that seems “insurmountable” will begin to seem more manageable.  And even the “biggies,” things that are truly stressful, won’t throw you off track as much as they once did.

Happily, there is another way to relate to life – a softer, more graceful path that makes life seem easier and the people in it more compatible.  This “other way” of living involves replacing old habits of “reaction” with new habits of perspective.  These new habits enable us to have richer, more satisfying lives.”

In his book, Dr. Carlson shares very specific strategies – things you can start doing today – that will help you respond to life more gracefully.  Each strategy is simple, yet powerful, and will act as a navigational guide to point you in the direction of greater perspective and more relaxed living.

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When you “don’t sweat the small stuff,” your life won’t be perfect, but you will learn to accept what life has to offer with far less resistance.  As we learn in the Zen philosophy, when you learn to “let go” of problems instead of resisting with all your might, your life will begin to flow.  You will, as the serenity prayer suggests, “Change the things that can be changed, accept those that cannot and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

If you give this book’s strategies a try, you too will learn the two rules of harmony.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and
  2. It’s all small stuff.

As you incorporate these ideas into your life you will begin to create a more peaceful and loving you.

Source: Dr. Richard Carlson

 

Lonnie Ledford

Avatel Project Manager and Avatel Brand Ambassador

At Avatel, Your Future is What You Make it

In no small measure, innovative thinking and risk taking are applauded at Avatel because it empowers our team to do great work.  Due to our internal structure as a private company, as our customers look to us to implement their telecommunication needs, we allow our employees to go beyond their expectations.  Our teams develop solution oriented technologies based on ideas, insights and passion, rather than shareholders’ demands.

OUR PEOPLE

At Avatel, one of our 2015 goals is to strengthen our business through our most valued assets – employees.  As our team’s talents grow, so does our company.  Our goal is to offer our talent the resources to explore every opportunity to grow.  This approach encourages career development and has the support of management.  At Avatel, your career and your future is what you make it.

WORK IS GREAT, BUT SO IS DOWNTIME

If you’ve followed our updates on Facebook, you know that we believe life isn’t just about work.  We are constantly planning and organizing activities that help to build team spirit.  Whether it’s a costume contest or driving to deliver donated items to a local charity, we ensure that the team makes the most of downtime.

WE MAKE LIFE EASIER

At Avatel, technology isn’t just for our customers.  We make full use of our technology to empower employees to stay on top of their work and personal lives.  For example, if an employee needs to run an errand, they simply transfer calls to their cell phone so that they can get on the road without missing a call.

Avatel is the place where passion can impact the day-to-day operations as well as our future.

 

Lonnie Ledford,

Avatel Project Manager and Brand Ambassador

 

 

Better Business with Avaya

avaya power of we engage

Today’s customers expect more from you every day.  In today’s competitive climate, it’s the customer who has choices when deciding on a new telephone vendor.  It’s imperative that we lead by example by informing our customer base how they can do better business with Avaya.  The newest edition of Avaya IP Office now delivers the most collaborative communication solution your business needs in order to meet and exceed customer demands for fast, efficient and coordinated service.

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The IP Office is Avaya’s flagship phone system.  It is a feature-rich solution capable of meeting the needs of small to medium sized organizations.  Launched in 2002, IP Office sales have grown steadily, with 360,000 IP Office systems deployed worldwide.  Further proof of Avaya’s commitment to developing their solution was the acquisition of Nortel in 2009, Sipera in 2011 and Radvision in 2012.  Investments in IP Office are future-proof thanks to Avaya’s focus and its scalability – one platform can cover 2 to 2,500 users; across a single site or up to 150.

With an Avaya IP Office in your company, you will:

  • Communicate like never before
  • Respond to customers immediately
  • Share information, anytime, anywhere, on any device
  • Enable auto attendants and record professional music-on-hold messaging

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You’ll also have the power of a unified communications platform that connects everyone – your people, your customers and your partners.  The IP Office is a phone system that’s incredibly sophisticated, yet remarkable simple to use.  Frankly, it lets you do more, with less, by driving profitable growth without increasing costs.

Isn’t it time to take your business communications suite to the next level?  The time is right to grow your future.  Begin the expansion by giving my friends at Avatel Technologies a call today.

Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager

The New Avaya Contact Center Solutions -The Growth Engines for the Midmarket

As the economy improves we’re seeing an increase of activity in domestic contact center growth. For three quarters in a row, the US Contact Center industry continues to grow. The sectors that will see the greatest growth are technology (44% growth), the public sector (29% growth) and healthcare (23% growth). These numbers suggest that companies spanning different industries are realizing the importance of providing top notch customer support and expanding their contact centers to better meet their customer’s needs.

A huge part of this growth is due to contact centers re-emerging as important instruments to create value for customers and shareholders in the Midmarket. Midmarket organizations are in a unique position. Customer expectations have risen dramatically, requiring companies to develop a far broader set of capabilities for their customer interactions.

To be successful today, midsize businesses must be capable of responding swiftly, efficiently and accurately to their customers no matter which channel of interaction, or combination of channels their customers choose.

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When we talk to midmarket businesses with contact center needs, the same things come up time and time again. They want to be assured of the ease of installation of the new contact center, they want to be assured that the new contact center will be reliable; they want better reporting than they currently have, and they want a reasonable price.

So with that in mind, how can midmarket businesses get the “just right” contact center?

The answer is to actually seek solutions that genuinely address the midmarket. It sounds simple, but many businesses do not do this. Unfortunately, most contact center technology is aimed at the large contact center operations, meaning the midmarket is largely ignored. The reality is that the “just right” solution does exist. Reasonable installations, reliability, and better reporting, all within budget, are possible for the midmarket.

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Avaya fills the gap in purpose-built midmarket contact center communications and collaboration solutions to enable both mid and large enterprises to equally address the needs of their most strategic assets: their customers.

As a trusted Avaya Partner, Avatel Technologies understands that midsize companies are often challenged to provide multichannel customer care with technologies typically built for larger enterprises. The new Avaya Contact Center solutions, offer the same robust functionality of its traditional contact center offerings but at a more affordable price point and with faster deployment times.

The new Avaya IP Office Contact Center (IPOCC) and the Avaya Contact Center Select (ACCS) offer sophisticated, multichannel contact center capabilities with the simplicity needed by a midsize organization. The new Avaya Contact Centers are true end-to-end solutions for businesses that want to differentiate their services from the competition, achieve better customer segmentation, and increase the value of each customer relationship – which can translate into more satisfied customers and a more profitable business.

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The Avaya IP Office Contact Center (IPOCC) and the Avaya Contact Center Select (ACCS) solutions that are both optimized for the midmarket and work with the Avaya IP Office Platform.

The new Avaya Contact Centers provide:

  • Flexible media distribution – optimizes business processes by distributing contacts to employees based on your pre-defined processes
  • Integrated multi-channel customer contact solution for voice, e-mail, and web chat – provides optimal accessibility on all communication channels – customers are free to choose which channel they prefer in order to do business with you
  • Customer prioritization – defines and prioritizes customers based on your business strategies
  • Skills-based routing – routes all customer inquiries to the employee who is best qualified to handle them, based on media type, expertise, and past experience with a particular customer or situation

With the IP Office Contact Center and Contact Center Select, businesses can integrate voice, e-mail, and web chat channels, and proactively manage the entire customer interaction lifecycle. Your business can begin at its own pace with one channel such as voice, for example, and add other channels such as e-mail as your objectives evolve.

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The IP Office Contact Center (IPOCC) offers multichannel capabilities for 5-100 agents and the Avaya Contact Center Select (ACCS) offers blended multichannel capabilities and provides scalability to 250 agents.

IPOCC ACCS
Supporting the midmarket business Key for the midmarket business
Typically for companies where 10% to 20% of employees are contact center agents Typically for companies where 30%+ of employees are contact center agents
Some IT communications knowledge is required, but the end customer will most likely rely on a trusted Avaya Partner like Avatel Technologies Will be typically managed by CIOs and tech savvy experts most likely familiar with contact center solutions and database integration with the help from a trusted partner like Avatel Technologies
Simplicity Feature richness
Voice centric with multichannel: voice, email, web chat Blended multichannel: voice, email, web chat, text, fax
English only G-14 languages

The implementation of a functional multi-channel contact center is a long-term, sustainable investment in the current and future growth of your company. However in the past, high implementation and maintenance costs excluded midsize businesses from taking advantage of next-generation contact center technology.

Smaller budgets and limited IT resources have challenged their ability to find true, multichannel contact center solutions that fit their needs for affordability and low-risk integration, as well as ease of deployment and management. The Avaya  Contact Center solutions immediately changes that old paradigm and provides midsize businesses with Avaya’s expertise in customer experience management in a solution that is flexible, easy to use, maintain and administer.

Although many midsize businesses realize that they must make the call center a part of their growth strategy, most are unsure of how to make that happen. The path to growing your midmarket business starts here. Contact an Avatel Midmarket Contact Center Specialist at 866-835-2661.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP

 

A Great Workplace Culture Can be Preserved as You Grow

I read an article recently that said; While treating your employees like family seems like the formula for a great place to work, it may in fact be counterproductive and keeping you from reaching the next level of growth.

I couldn’t disagree more!

Businesses that fail to grow successfully are a result of lack of trust and/or an inability to work together. Leaders who can successfully build a family environment in the workplace will not only achieve more in the short term, but will build a foundation for growth through trust, loyalty, determination and perseverance.

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Something that I believe gets overlooked in todays high-pressured, productivity-focused economy is the human element. Of course, we all have products and services for sale and a profit to make, but let us not forget that our culture must be nurtured so we do not abandon the very values and traditions that made us who we are.

Taking a family approach means establishing a foundation of trust and a cultural promise to unite as one; to perform with purpose and the healthier whole in mind. At Avatel, we believe that our family-oriented culture has transformed our organization into a caring group of family members, in a supportive environment, all working for a common good.

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We believe that our culture is the underlying soul and guiding force within Avatel. As our company grows, we must retain our shared values and our family-like culture that helped make us successful in the first place. Avatel has always been known for having a fun, family-oriented culture. It’s imperative that we keep our culture alive to maintain our fun, creative and passionate work environment.

As we expand beyond our core team, we must also share our culture with our new team members if we want to see it continued. A team work environment where camaraderie means having each other’s back and not judging one another. We must maintain our workplace culture that celebrates opportunities, transparency, and the opinions of all to enrich conversations and diversity of thought.

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I am incredibly proud to be associated with a company where employees are engaged, passionate, and dedicated to customer excellence. We believe that our family-like atmosphere allows for more productivity, creates warmth in the office, and enhances our overall service.

As we bring on new team members, the culture that they experience and learn can be consciously shaped by us all. Culture is completely scalable and we have total control over it.

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If you don’t agree that a great workplace culture can be preserved as you grow, remember that companies like Southwest Airlines, The Container Store, and Whole Foods have managed to do it with thousands of employees.

When I think about my company’s culture, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Our work culture is something that’s truly special, and we believe it is one of the reasons that our team members have nominated us as one of the Tampa Bay Business Journals “Best Places to Work” for 9 years.

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I think as business owners and leaders, we can all benefit from knowing and embracing our uniqueness and use it as an asset to help our businesses grow. Being named to the “Best Place to Work” list for the 9th year is obviously something that we are very proud of. As we continue to grow and attract top notch talent, we will strive to keep the family atmosphere that has made us successful for many years.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP

The Agility Factor

“Few small-to-medium sized companies in the telecommunications industry show consistently superior profitability relative to their peers, and they all have one thing in common: a highly developed capacity to adapt their business to change.” -Thomas Williams

Economic outlooks, indicators and forecasts are usually exercises in futility, much like meteorologists predicting a weekly weather report.  As a true skeptic of economic development models, I need convincing data that is not just another speculative forecast based on algorithms and guesswork.

During a recent company meeting at Avatel Technologies, we were introduced to this year’s theme:  “The Year for Growth”.  The data was presented with detailed clarity.  The new vision, as I perceive it, is one of productive action requiring infrastructure, resources, processes and know-how.  The presentation injected me with a renewed optimism for the year and beyond.

2015 pic for cake

As someone who values the efforts of American entrepreneurism, I know that every successful business must have a vision for growth and the capacity to see both the needs that must be met and the possibilities for the future.  Business leaders must break off limitations, confinements, restrictions and small thinking.  They must cultivate a culture that embraces growth.  They must see the vision set before them and make a decision to go up and meet the challenges.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP said, “an organization with high performing culture is unafraid of change.”  Said Wood, “Strengthening Avatel’s ability to change and adapt is imperative to our success.”  I couldn’t agree with her more.  Successful people adapt.  That’s what makes them consistently successful.  As we learn to adapt, and as those around us adapt, positive new possibilities emerge and take root.

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At Avatel, we’ll never reach the next level unless we take it there and rise to the challenge.  This is an exciting time to be at Avatel, as we “Think Big” and pull the trigger!  Now, as leaders, we must commit the organization to a new course of action, mobilize resources and implement changes.

Niccolo Machiavelli’s insight is as relevant today as it was in the 15th century: “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

As I see it, we must see the ability to change and adapt as the key to long-term success.  We must not fear or avoid change; we must embrace it because our ability to manage change well, is our primary advantage.

Guest Blogger – Lonnie Ledford

Avatel Project Manager and Brand Ambassador

What Does Your Brand Say About Your Level of Customer Service?

From a social media perspective, building a brand and distinguishing yourself from the competition is a critical challenge.  Executing a level of superior customer service is key.  It’s an achievable resource in the success of your online image.  Although this seems obvious, your perpetual presence with online social platforms can lose prioritization when other issues begin affecting operations.

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The following reminders that are often obvious but frequently forgotten:

  • Positive social media comments, referrals, satisfied customers and repeat customers are the best and least expensive marketing a business can have. There is no substitute for a satisfied customer!
  • In contrast, online complaints, poor response time, bad service and dissatisfied customers can often offset the best marketing efforts.
  • You can help yourself by selling quality products and backing the sale with memorable service.
  • In an age of instant communications, your response time can make the difference in providing excellent customer service, higher sales and greater profitability. It’s ignorant and wasteful to not promptly respond to customer requests.

At Avatel, we understand that providing superior customer service is more a function of a company’s values than specific corporate policies.  The following are good reminders you can use to improve your level of customer service:

  • Go above and beyond your customers’ expectations. Listen to your customers and go that extra mile. Remember: listen to understand instead of listening to reply.
  • Do you care about your customer? Are you excited when a customer has a great experience and are you frustrated when something goes wrong regardless of the cause? Good. You must give a damn in order to create the memory of a superior customer service experience.
  • Empower your team by trusting in them. This requires hiring and training good people, giving them the authority they need to do their jobs well and understanding they will, at times, make mistakes.
  • Lastly, using “please”, “thank you”, “how are you” and “I’m sorry” are frequently the least expensive and most productive customer service efforts.

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Remember, you only have one chance to make a good and lasting first impression!

 

Guest Blogger, Lonnie Ledford

Avatel Project Manager and Brand Ambassador

Technology from Avaya Powers the NORAD Santa Tracker Hotline

The NORAD Santa tracker powered by technology from Avaya Government Solutions, helps to connect kids with Santa’s helpers on Christmas Eve.

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avaya power of we engage

The NORAD Tracks Santa hotline is part of a sophisticated program to help Santa and his cargo make a safe and successful journey around the globe.  Experts from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) carefully monitor his travels and ensure his safety using data gathered from radar, satellites, jet pilots and even high-tech Santa Cams positioned in strategic locations worldwide.  As a result, curious children of all ages – naughty or nice – can get an insider’s view of his progress as he streaks through the night sky.

Each year, over 1,250 volunteer’s answer calls and emails from kids inquiring about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. Avaya Customer Engagement Solutions will route each caller to a volunteer who is poised to provide pressing details about Santa and his trip — from the dimensions of his sleigh to his climbing speed as he navigates the night sky.

“Children give new meaning to the idea of ‘precious customers.’ We know, though, that Santa is up to the task — especially with NORAD watching to make certain he has a safe journey. Children everywhere can sleep soundly, knowing the most capable people and the best technology are helping Santa on his way.” ~ William Laurie, VP, Department of Defense Programs, Avaya Government Solutions

Visit www.noradsanta.org or call 1 (877) HI-NORAD to track Santa on Christmas Eve. The Avatel family encourages you – our customers, friends and partners – to join us in our effort to make the most important connections a reality this season.

Lonnie Ledford, Avatel Project Manager