5 Tips for Improved Productivity This Winter

Productivity doesn’t have to suffer when bad weather hits. Here are 5 tips to improve employee productivity this winter.

Winter may conjure up imagery suitable for a Norman Rockwell painting: gently falling snow, cozy indoor gatherings, and a parade of holidays. But the cold hard truth is that the business impact of winter weather is anything but idyllic.

Winter storms have a history of wreaking havoc on the economy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), winter storms in the U.S. resulted in $3.3 billion of damages and 33 deaths in 2018. But it’s not just companies in the path of those epic nor’easters that need to take heed. The Arctic blast that swept across the nation in November 2019 affected more than 200 million Americans as far as the state of Texas.

You can’t fix the weather, but you can prepare for it. Having a plan in place ensures that your employees from across the company, remote or onsite, know what to do when bad weather hits. Depending on how your organization is structured, you may have a skeleton crew who has one set of instructions to follow during the office shutdown, executives with a different checklist, and local employees with completely different expectations.

Picture of snow-covered road

Winter Weather Preparedness ChecklistDownload our checklist to assess your organization’s readiness for winter threats.DOWNLOAD NOW

5 Simple Tips To Improve Productivity This Winter

If you want to improve your productivity this winter, follow these tips. Your employees will thank you, and your administrators, managers, and business leaders will appreciate the forethought.

Tip 1: Keep contact information updated

We all know that when an emergency arises, we want information and we want it now. Companies should take the time to make sure they have up-to-date contact information. Relying on an outdated employee directory that can only be accessed from an office computer doesn’t help anyone stranded at home.

Instead, use an integrated communication system that can target important messaging to specific audiences. Notifications can be sent via multiple channels, including push notifications, texts, emails, voice calls, and even social media. No matter where your employees may be, you can be certain they receive the information and have a way to respond. They will be able to get back to work more quickly, putting less of a dent in that productivity stat.

Tip 2: Stay in the know

Weather can change in an instant. As an office administrator or safety director, it may be up to you to determine whether or not the road conditions are safe for your employees to use. Don’t assume your employees are watching the local news feeds. Don’t rely on hearsay, either. Your employees need to hear it directly from you.

Set up weather alerts to help you make real-time decisions about road conditions, then communicate your decision rapidly across multiple communication channels using an emergency communication system. Your employees will receive a text, push notification, email, and/or phone call notifying them of road conditions, modified business hours, and even a phone number they can call with any questions. As the weather conditions change, send updates to keep employees informed throughout the event.

Tip 3: Be ready to make decisions

Before and during a weather event, business leaders need to be in constant communication to be on the same page. It can be challenging to get every stakeholder on a phone call and emails are grossly inefficient. There’s no way to ensure everyone received and read the email, and tracking all the responses can be a challenge.

The first step is to develop a list of roles and responsibilities per person–who will be assigned as lead communicator, decision-maker(s), point person, etc. This list should be developed well ahead of any threat of bad weather. Once the storm hits, you want everyone to know what they need to do. Use a communication system to keep everyone connected to quickly collaborate on decisions. AlertMedia can even set up a conference call among key stakeholders with just a click of a button. This can be especially useful if you need to have a brief conversation to discuss whether to close the office. Compared to a back-and-forth email chain, this will save precious time when you need it most.

Tip 4: Have resources ready

Part of the planning process is to have the actual plan ready before the event occurs. Anticipate every potential scenario. What if the roads are impassable for one day? For three days? What if the power at the office is interrupted? Or what if some employees can make it to work and others can’t? What if employees can get to work but all of the schools are shut down?

Work through these different scenarios so you aren’t scrambling when the ice begins to form. This plan may change per season, so it’s a good idea to have different action plans for the different types of threats. Be sure to include possible alternate routes, specific point people employees can contact, and any opportunities to enable employees to work from home. You may also want to talk with your building supervisor to see what plans they have in place to keep the parking lot accessible and power and plumbing in working order.

Tip 5: Use technology to your advantage

Technology has come a long way, even in the past several years. Email may have been the technology of choice in the past, but today it won’t cut it. Instead, companies are opting to use a comprehensive communication system. Why? It offers infinitely more flexibility, functionality, scalability, and something email simply can’t provide – instant communications you know are getting through.

AlertMedia’s communication platform gives organizations the ultimate solution for internal communications. Our system allows users to send employees messages quickly and easily across multiple communication channels. Segment your population to send messages to precisely the employees who need to receive them. Then track open rates to make sure that every employee is in the know. – Read more

Learn More About AlertMedia

18 Products to Carry as Distance Learning Continues

Distance learning is upending everything we know about back-to-school shopping. School reopening plans are changing constantly, while students are learning remotely, outside, and in person. This year’s back-to-school shopping season won’t have a clear end date, creating an opportunity for many retailers.

With students learning in so many different ways, the back-to-school products you need to keep in stock will look different, too. We looked at Square sellers’ transactions* from August to September to see the items that sold well — and those that didn’t — during the beginning of this year’s back-to-school season.

Even if you don’t sell educational products, this list can help you rethink and repackage your product mix as distance learning stretches on and continues to evolve.

18 distance learning products to add to your catalog

We’ve grouped these items based on four educational scenarios that students, teachers, and parents are finding themselves in as a result of the pandemic.

In-home classroom setup

Whether students are in elementary school or college, a comfortable home classroom can ease some of the difficulties of remote learning. That means many people are purchasing basic office gear, like office chairs and desks. According to our data, sales have risen 115% and 45%, respectively, since last year.

Some folks are enhancing their setup with distance learning supplies like desk organizers, exercise balls, and desk pads to make the remote classroom setup more organized and ergonomic. So far this year, desk organizer sales have risen 4.4X, exercise ball sales have gone up 3.7X, and sales for desk pads climbed 29%, according to our research.

What to do next: Think about the items you sell that could make a remote classroom more comfortable. Whether it’s desk plants, organizers, or artwork, rebranding your inventory for home offices and remote classrooms can help you get your products in front of more students.

Remote learning support

Educational aids can also help students absorb new information more effectively. That’s why our data shows that printer sales have risen by 70% this year compared to last, dry erase board sales have grown by 53%, and flashcard sales have soared 5.5X.

Some unconventional products are also experiencing a spike in sales. Fidget spinners, which can help people with ADHD focus better, have seen sales rise by 61% compared to last year.

Remote learning also means many students are now on video calls. To help improve video quality, shoppers are stocking up on ring lights, which can make lighting more flattering. Ring light sales have ballooned 11X since last year, while sales of webcam covers, which help with privacy, have grown 6X. – Read more

Learn More About Square

Contact Center Technology that Pays for Itself

COVID-19 uncertainty has call center leaders adapting aggressively. 

Not only have they been forced to reinvent their processes to support work-from-home strategies, but they are being challenged to simultaneously increase revenue and call center ROI too.

It’s easy to argue for new technology boosting ROI, as most additions will tease out new channels and potential opportunities to improve customer experience. And with nearly $75 billion lost each year to poor customer experience, it’s easy to see how modest CX improvements can generate huge revenue results for call centers.

So, when you don’t have the luxury of working closely with your call center agents, how can you ensure that your contact center technology is putting more money back into your business?

Here are some of the call center technologies that make it easy to calculate ROI, so you don’t have to slow down  

Voice Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

Want to build robust customer relationships? Listen closely.

Voice analytics and speech AI tools have become one of the most powerful additions a call center can make in 2020.

Consider the insight gap between call center leaders capturing data from 100% of their agent’s calls versus contact centers that are deploying manual QA processes across less than 1%.

Modern voice analytics systems can measure customer sentiment, automatically remove sensitive information from transcripts and records, and highlight areas for agent coaching if they detect prolonged silences or excessive call times.

Simply put, agents serve customers more quickly and deliver more revenue.

Here are the easiest metrics to highlight the impact of voice analytics in your call center:

  • Reduce Average Handle Time for agents.
  • Improve First Call Resolution for customers.
  • Increase significant insights into the customer conversation.
  • Boost efficiency and reduce hiring needs.
  • Develop consistent coaching methods that are transparent to the agent.
  • Help improve your coaching effectiveness immediately

IVA and Bot Technology

Everyone knows the common adage: it’s easier to keep a customer than earn a new one. But what motivates consumers to engage with a brand?

For nearly 80% percent of American consumers, it’s speed, convenience, and exceptional customer service

That’s why IVAs (Intelligent Virtual Assistants) and chatbots have emerged as a huge technology boost for call centers. 

Your products and services will always be the main focus — but in highly competitive markets, with plenty of consumer choice, sophisticated conversational IVAs can deliver a huge ROI for your target customers. 

IVAs can quickly survey and extract useful data, ask questions, and rapidly resolve customer queries, without ever needing an agent. Better yet, IVAs can quickly accelerate customers to an in-person rep when personalized service IS required.

Contact centers that have applied advanced analytics technology to improve self-service applications have reduced their average handle time by as much as 40% while boosting call-to-conversion rates by nearly 50%, and increased customer satisfaction by 250%, boosting customer retention rates by nearly 90%.

For contact center leaders, there are three key ways IVAs pay for themselves:  

  • Higher YOY financial revenue growth.
  • Increased agent efficiency.
  • Improved CSAT and customer experience.


Robotic Process Automation

While IVAs and AI technologies often focus on driving ROI through customer experience, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools tend to pay off big for your agents, boosting their development, performance, and morale.  – Read more

Learn More About Cloud Call Center Search