How cloud communications supports the new hybrid hub-and-spoke model for tech companies

How cloud communications supports the new hybrid hub-and-spoke model for tech companies

Much has been made over the last year about the death of the traditional office. For technology companies, the future is not so simple. Though purely remote work may have advantages—among them, cost savings and productivity gains for some types of tasks—not all of the work of tech companies can be done from employees’ homes. From hardware and software production to sales presentations, many critical functions still tether workers to physical plants and offices.

But instead of considering remote work as an all-or-nothing proposition, many technology businesses are looking at a more nuanced model: hybrid hub and spoke workplaces. The concept is a hybrid work model built around regional hubs, creating a distributed network of physical office locations to anchor in-person tasks, while also maintaining the flexibility of remote work when possible.

As we examined in a recent in-depth dive into hybrid hub-and-spoke workplaces, there can be quite a few advantages to adopting such a model. But the complexity of connecting the full office network creates risks and challenges that must be addressed in order for the adoption of hybrid hub-and-spoke models to pay off.

Why UCaaS is necessary for hybrid hub and spoke to succeed

During the earliest coronavirus lockdowns, when most non-essential workers had to do their jobs from home, many reported challenges performing tasks that require communication and collaboration with colleagues. According to the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey, conducted by the Global Workplace Analytics, workers reported a 26% decrease in satisfaction with such tasks when working from home compared to the office.

Hybrid hub-and-spoke has the potential to erode communication satisfaction and efficiency even further because the resulting workplace structures will be even more disjointed than in the days when everyone was forced to work from home.

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The need to enable communications for geographically distributed plants and offices and to provision portable tools for work-from-anywhere employees has the potential to result in a patchwork of systems and processes that can make connecting complicated and costly—two enemies of streamlining.

But RingCentral’s cloud-based UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) platform supports the requirements of hybrid hub-and-spoke companies in ways on-premises and standalone solutions simply can’t.

Supporting expanded workplace networks

For organizations looking to build in the flexibility and resiliency of hybrid hub and spoke, the immediate challenge is enabling communications across their new networks. These are growing pains Mobica, a software services firm based in the U.K., had to overcome as it provisioned sites in the U.K., Poland, and the U.S.

“Due to the phenomenal rate at which Mobica has grown, the communications infrastructure at each of its sites tended to be localized, rather than centralized, so we had different communications hardware at each of our locations and lacked integration across the various solutions,” said Tony Healy, Mobica’s Chief Information Officer.

Relying on individual local solutions can slow the process of bringing new locations on board—due to the need to reinvent the wheel with each new provider—and also make hub and spoke more costly. But switching to RingCentral allowed Mobica to sidestep these pitfalls.

“Where we used to have to do the best we could with a variety of different platforms across our sites, with RingCentral, we now have the total package in a single solution,” said Healy. “The benefits we’re already seeing are enormous.” – Read more

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5 ways to ensure a happy customer stays loyal to your brand

What is a brand without a customer? While a woman might need a man like a fish needs a bicycle, a brand needs a customer like a fish needs water. 

Happy customers staying loyal is the core of any good business. A brand without customers has no money and no future. 

Seeing as the profitability of your business lies in your loyal customers’ hands, it’s important to keep customers happy. A happy customer stays loyal to your brand and chooses you over other companies. Sure, it’s impressive when a customer buys your product; but it’s much more impressive when the same customer buys your products time and time again. 

Ensuring a happy customer stays loyal to your brand isn’t easy. Customer satisfaction and retention relies on hard work, research, and longevity. It also relies on a contact center with motivated agents and effective software, like the contact center solution from RingCentral.

The following article looks at the meaning of brand loyalty, provides tips to keep your customers coming back for more, and shows how RingCentral can help:

What is brand loyalty? 

Businesses lose $1.6 trillion every year when customers leave them. So, keeping happy customers that stay loyal to your brand is important. But what exactly is brand loyalty?

Put simply, brand loyalty is when a customer makes repeated purchases from your brand. Not only does this mean that they’re giving you money, but it also means they’re picking you over your competitors. Losing a customer is a double blow. Not only do you lose, but your competitor gains. It’s likely that your unhappy customer will take their custom to one of your leading rivals, after all. 

The best customers appreciate the service you give them and want to continue supporting small businesses. The customer relationship becomes like this when you provide an excellent customer experience and go the extra mile for your customers. 

So, brand loyalty is on you. It’s your responsibility to create a customer service experience for any customer that’s too good to turn down. But how do you do it? 

1. Boost response times 

One of the best ways to ensure happy customers and customer loyalty is to have great communication. This means creating an efficient customer service team that customers can ask questions to, raise complaints with, or give feedback. 

But it’s not enough to simply have a customer service team. Your customer support specialists need to respond to queries quickly and effectively. If a customer is left waiting too long they’ll take their custom elsewhere. 

Many companies use contact centers, where customers can easily contact agents and raise any issues. A contact center is a great way to communicate with customers and ensure that cases are resolved quickly and efficiently. 

RingCentral’s contact center solution helps boost response times. With skills based routing, CRM integration, and agent management, you can connect the right customers with the right agents and prevent long hold times. This enables you to learn more about your customers and solve their problems the first time. Plus, real-time insights mean that business owners can keep an eye on every agents’ response time.   

RingCentral’s contact center solution also allows for omnichannel flexibility, meaning that customers can choose which channels they contact you on. While some prefer to speak directly with an agent over the phone, others will opt for direct messaging or social media. 

Customer happiness occurs when customers are listened to. Simple. – Read more

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When gender inequality in the workplace goes remote: 4 challenges women face in the WFH 2.0 era

When gender inequality in the workplace goes remote: 4 challenges women face in the WFH 2.0 era

Experts haven’t been shy about how they think COVID-19 will impact gender inequality in the workplace. Some claim remote work is better for women, optimistic the pandemic’s end will usher in a work from home (WFH) 2.0 era where inclusive, equitable workplaces become the norm. Others caution WFH 2.0 won’t help gender inequality in the workplace and might make it worse.

But forget the experts for a moment. What do workers have to say about their experience with working remotely during COVID-19? And what can business leaders learn about building inclusive cultures for their hybrid or even fully remote workplaces?

We asked 4,000 professionals about their experience working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results, published in our “Is remote work sustainable?” report, shed some light on how gender inequality in the workplace plays out when working remotely. The study found:

  • Fewer women (48%) reported good or better mental health than men (58%).
  • More women (46%) reported struggling with group work than men (37%).

Business and team leaders need to keep these findings in mind as they build hybrid remote workplaces. The WFH 2.0 era complicates some of the challenges women already face, but when leaders proactively address these issues, they build cultures that support all employees’ health and well-being.

1. Gender inequality in the workplace starts at home

For many women, coming home from work is not the end of the day but the start of a second shift, specifically, one where they carry the highest mental load and do the most emotional labor of anyone else in their households. Without the transition between office and home, boundaries blur, making women feel like they’re always on the clock.

“The escape of getting out of the place where, no matter what you do for a living, you’re the CEO 24/7… was a reprieve,” said Tara Furiani, CEO of people strategy consultancy Not the HR Lady. “But now, the screaming, banging, and otherwise lack of acceptance that you’re actually still working is unavoidable.”

A mom of seven, Furiani is among the approximately 66% of the United States’ 23.5 million women who work full-time while raising children younger than 18 years old. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that when women work from home while their children also learn from home, their workload expands rapidly.

The escape of getting out of the place where, no matter what you do for a living, you’re the CEO of 24/7, was a reprieve.

“Women working remotely face the added challenge of having to be constantly interrupted by their demanding and impatient ‘mini-bosses,’ aka children,” said Marissa Haddad, vice president of customer success as 321 Ignition, a website platform for car dealerships.

Those like Haddad have lots to juggle. “[Computer] technical difficulties, homework help, breakfast time, bathroom wipes, sibling fights, lunchtime, loads of laundry … all while preparing for meetings and remaining engaged and composed on calls,” she said.

But it’s not just women with children who face gender inequality in the workplace, whether at home or at the office. Gallup shows the distribution of household tasks has improved in the last 25 years, but day-to-day chores like laundry, meals, and cleaning still disproportionately fall on women. Men, meanwhile, largely take on duties with gaps between them, like yard work and auto maintenance.

This uneven distribution of labor continues to drive gender inequality. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that American women average 5.7 hours of unpaid household and care work per day. That’s 2.1 more hours than men, who average 3.6 hours per day. – Read more

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