063: SPECIAL COVID-19 RELEASE – Overcoming Communications Obstacles while Working Remotely with Charlotte Conroy Director of Marketing for Recent Communications, Inc.

Welcome to Episode 063, A COVID-19 Special Release, of the Self Made Strategies Podcast, with Charlotte Conroy, Director of Marketing for Recent Communications, Inc.
Here’s Charlotte’s background from Episode 045 of our Podcast, as well as information about Recent Communications:

Charlotte Conroy is a passionate and motivated business strategist and marketer with experience building billion dollar brands, including the SCOTT and KLEENEX brands. Taking that passion and determination which supported her success to grow with a global corporation, Charlotte has become an integral piece of her family’s growing telecom business (Recent Communications).

WHO IS RECENT COMMUNICATIONS?
Recent Communications, Inc. is a family-owned and operated full-service telecommunications partner with 100+ combined years of industry expertise. Since 2000, Recent has partnered with organizations across all industries, and across the United States, to understand those organizations’ operations, growth strategies, and overall business goals so that Recent could design, install, and support business phone systems, VoIP services, and Unified Communications solutions.

Recent Communications’ goal is to educate organizations on the communications options available whether the goal is to reduce overall spending, enhance client experiences, or elevate collaboration across multiple offices and remote team members.

With the knowledge, experiences, and partnerships of a large corporation, yet the size of an agile, customer-focused business, the team at Recent Communications collaborates with organizations to design, install, train, and support telecom and unified communications solutions including:

THEIR SOLUTIONS & SERVICES:
:: On-Premises PBX Phone Systems (AVAYA Channel Partner)
:: Hosted/Cloud-Based PBX Phone Systems (Polycom, Yealink, Grandstream)
:: VoIP Phone Service (SIP Trunking & Hosted VoIP)
:: Unified Communications (Web-Based Platform with Voice, Video, Chat/IM, & Screen Share)
:: Contact & Call Center Solutions (Voice-Only & Omni-Channel Tools)
:: Voice & Video Conferencing Solutions
:: Mobility Strategies & Solutions
:: Disaster Recovery Planning & Solutions
:: Building Infrastructure (Network Cabling & Wiring)
:: Network Closet Clean-Up
:: Office Relocation, Renovations, & Expansions

Show Agenda

On today’s episode we will:
• Get Charlotte’s advice about maintaining quality control with respect to your communications systems while working remotely, especially under the current COVID-19 Quarantine
• Bust some remote working myths
• Learn about best practices for remote work

After you’ve listened to the episode, make sure you visit RecentCom.com (), to check out their very informative blog, or to ask for help with your business’ communications systems.

PRODUCTION CREDITS:

This Self Made Strategies Podcast is a SoftStix Productions LLC jawn, made in collaboration with Recent Communications, Inc. (www.recentcom.com).  This episode was produced, edited, and hosted by Tony Lopes, REMOTELY (because we are in COVID-19 isolation) in Philadelphia.  The Self Made Strategies Podcast is sponsored by Lopes Law LLC (www.LopesLawLLC.com).

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HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 061 OF THE SELF MADE STRATEGIES PODCAST:

Tony Lopes: [00:00:20] Welcome to another Special Edition, COVID-19, Episode of the Self Made Strategies Podcast. I am your host Tony Lopes and with me today, is Charlotte Conroy, the Director of Marketing for Recent Communications. Hey, Charlotte,

Charlotte Conroy: [00:00:33] how are you?

Tony Lopes: [00:00:36] Yeah. Hanging in, maintaining our sanity as you, as everyone can hear, Charlotte is dialing in.

We are keeping our distance from each other we’re working remotely. Charlotte was our guest on Episode 45. Where she talked about communications solutions for business owners. Recent Communications specializes in providing business owners with great communications solutions, and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

So Charlotte, tell us about how you’re currently helping clients get through this COVID-19 quarantine, and how you’re maintaining the connectivity for businesses with communication solutions.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:01:16] Yeah, no, I think that’s great. I kind of giggled to myself cause I’m like, all right (will we have a quiet call) or one of my dogs bark, will my child wake up.

So, hopefully, yeah, that’s not a problem. Yeah. I mean, for us, being a regional telecom partner, we do this all the time. Obviously not to this extent, Ben, and this extreme of having every one of our clients and most forced to work remotely, but we have a ton of clients that. Every day their staff is across the U S and even internationally.

So, um, you know, we’re used to being able to seamlessly provide these communications solutions for teams to collaborate, not only internally, but with their customers and partners. So I think something that we. Continue to do a really good job at is, you know, when we bring on a new client or have existing clients, we proactively reach out to them, collaborate, and help them put together disaster recovery strategies, which include the phone solutions, right?

So that includes a power outage, Aaron outage, you know, the building’s closed, and here we are now. People aren’t even allowed to step foot in, in most of their offices. So we do a really good job at that proactively. But here we are now, again, forced to support all of our clients. In essence work from home.

So, you know, a couple of the things you know, we’re getting my support team is getting is, Hey, how do we quickly make sure that when our main phone numbers are called, clients know. And are able to reach our staff. So whether that’s, you know, simply changing an auto attendant message, which we’ve all heard, you know, you dial into a business and it’s introduces who they are, thanks for calling and kind of gives you some prompts to choose from.

Um, so we’ve been doing a lot of that. Mmm. Specific messaging saying, Hey, you know, our offices are closed, but our staff can still be reached. Here’s a dial by name directory, and you know, whether those prompt go to someone’s cell phone, whether they go to an actual mobile app or a computer based sauce phone that they’re working from home.

We kind of make sure that they have the tools. Yeah, that’d be reached. Um, I think another thing is making sure that, you know, we’re able to quickly provide them support. So if you can imagine, let’s do 150 person. You know, nonprofit law firm is one of our clients locally in the region. They now have every single person working from home.

Well, we make sure that not only there, I T staff can reach us, but even there, there. Uh, employees can reach out to our team and we can handle the volume of, Hey, you know, something’s not working. Is this set up correctly? Being able to quickly troubleshoot. Whereas, you know, the big guys, I always mentioned the big, huge telecomm providers.

Sure. They have people sitting in the support queue, but you’re waiting on, Oh, for 30 minutes and repeating yourself over and over again. Um, so I would say those are kind of the highlights of how we’re. Helping clients.

Tony Lopes: [00:04:29] Yeah, that’s great. And this is one of those occasions where having a supportive solutions partner like recent communications can really come in handy.

You’re not on your own. You’re not left to your own devices of having to figure out, okay, what solutions are we going to be using to get over the hump here and to maintain our connectivity with our clients? And also to your point, to maintain that quality assurance, right? That clients are still calling in, Hey, that the calls are even getting to the right person, but also be that they don’t feel like they’ve lost their communication with you’re your business.

Right. Which is so critical. If they, if they call and they don’t get through to you and, and they’re all stressing out as well. I mean, we’re all in this together. To your point. So if they’re calling in and they’re not getting through to you, you might lose a lot of business, which right now is super valuable.

So it’s awesome that you guys are doing that.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:05:24] Yeah, exactly. And you know, being in a sales marketing role, I have folks that, you know, they trust me, they reach out to me directly. Am I the one that’s actually making these programming and system changes? No, but I’m able to quickly say, Hey guys, here. You know, here’s one of our customers, they need help immediately.

And so, you know, it’s definitely a team effort more than ever. Um, our. Company in general is, you know, very lean, I want to say, but we have the expertise and capacity to help our clients. We’ve been working remotely pretty much since day one. Um, so, you know, we’re, we’re used to being able to handle all this.

Tony Lopes: [00:06:02] Right, exactly. And you’ve posted on recent communications blog as well, and a blog post called Corona virus work remotely with phone solutions that you posted on March 9th and it was updated on March 10th and it speaks to eight phone system features that will support remote working strategies. So let’s talk a little bit about those, if you don’t mind, how they, they each function and I’ll, I’ll basically, I’ll call out each one cause I have it in front of me on your blog.

And then you can provide us with the information and the best practices for using each one of those, if that’s okay.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:06:38] That sounds awesome. All right, cool.

Tony Lopes: [00:06:39] So let’s start with mobile apps. Mobile apps can allow your employees to make and take telephone calls coming to and from their business phone numbers and extensions while using personal or company provided cell phones.

So let’s talk about some of those mobile app solutions that you help your clients use and what the best practices for using those are.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:07:01] Roll out mobile apps, and a lot of our customers already had them up and running, especially if they have folks that are not sitting at their desks all day every day. Maybe they work remotely as it is or there sales or leadership and they’re traveling. Um, so mobile app, again, it allows seamless communication that if someone’s calling a business extension or a direct phone number, the call coming to the person’s cell phone and it’s actually appearing as their business.

So, whereas, you know, you know, using an iPhone or an Android device, if you’re simply forwarding. Phone numbers to a cell phone, you can still pick up that call, but you have no idea. Is it, you know, a friend? Is it a spam call or is it an actual customer trying to reach you? So I think that’s a really key for the mobile app because it allows.

In essence, true call handling as if you were using your desk phone. Um, so forwarding calls, dialing extensions, being able to conference in someone, I’m putting someone to voicemail. So that’s definitely a, a tool that many, many of our clients, even more than ever, obviously during this are using.

Tony Lopes: [00:08:13] Yeah, that’s great.

And yeah, in today’s world, fortunately, if we’re looking at the silver lining in all of this, we have the infrastructure and we have companies like recent communications. A quick transition, as you mentioned earlier, where you were able to, to really jump up and come to the aid of your clients in these situations.

So let’s talk about soft phones. What are PC-based soft phones and how do they work? And again, what are the best practices of using those?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:08:42] Absolutely. So it’s awesome. Really is popping open your laptop or even a desktop computer, opening up a browser. Logging into your phone system and you’re making and taking phone calls.

Again, like a mobile app. It’s like you’re sitting at your desk, you have your extension. If you have a direct phone number that’s all managed through your computer, we always will recommend having a nice headset, um, especially to drain out some of the background noise and have that  clear quality. Um, but we have folks that will just, you know, open up their laptop in their workspace, in their office at home, and, and be able to.

Again, connect to the internet. Login says their phone system, and there you are making a secret calls. Um, you know, I think again, with the mobile app, keeping it such seamless continuity and business operations versus just simply forwarding to even your landline phone or a cell phone, you’re able to use these cool as a true.

Yeah.

Tony Lopes: [00:09:41] Right. And that continues again, to maintain that quality assurance that your clients come to expect so that there’s no continuity issues, so to speak.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:09:51] Now, how

Tony Lopes: [00:09:51] about business phone numbers? Obviously business phone numbers are kind of intertwined with the last two with the usage of . VoIP dialing services or things of that nature.

But what types of services does recent comm use to make sure that businesses are using business appropriate phone numbers or, or specific business phone numbers and in times like these, what are the best practices with those?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:10:12] Yeah, for sure. So for us, being a full service telecom company, we’re able to actually acquire phone numbers.

So whether that’s a local, you know, six one zero number for this area here in Philadelphia, or it’s a DC. Number or even a toll free number. Uh, we even have a lot of customers that, you know, they’ll pop up what’s called a vanity toll free number. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Um, so I can name a couple, but it’s basically having a toll free number that may be spelled out a word that’s in the name of your company or something that’s it.

Marketing campaign that people are easily able to remember. So for us, being able to acquire those new numbers. But also maintain those phone numbers. I always tell folks like no one would ever change who their phone service provider is, no matter how, not supportive or not to, you know, quality their, their solutions are if they couldn’t move their phone numbers from one provider to another.

So that’s something that we make sure, you know, anytime we have an existing client or a new clients, we’re understanding, Hey, these phone numbers. Clients, vendors, partners, no, you can’t. You can’t just lose them. Um, so we’re trying to, even now during this, okay, a lot of companies will use just extension dialing, but now it’s like, Hey, how do I get clients and partners.

To reach my staff directly instead of having to go through, like we talked about, an automated attendance or receptionist. Yeah. We can pop up 10 digit phone numbers and assign them to staff.

Tony Lopes: [00:11:47] Yeah, that’s great. And that also adds to the value right now, and it’s extremely valuable right now to have human contact, to your point, right.

To be able to get to a human on the other ends of the . One where quarantine is almost of critical value of you’re talking to a computer. It’s almost like, why am I working with these people?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:12:05] Right. Even just for any human contact. Right. But I just need to talk to somebody. Right?

Tony Lopes: [00:12:13] Absolutely. Right. Yeah. I mean, right before we jumped on to this, so we had a little bit of a chat right before we started recording, and you and I were actually.

Jokingly calling it a therapy session. Right. Because we’re recording this remotely. Yeah. Nice to have some contact. Exactly. How about call routing? Call routing obviously seems like it would be a critical thing during these times to this whole point of getting to a human. Right. So what are some of the best practices and solutions that you use for call routing?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:12:45] Yeah, sure. So a lot of our clients, again, depending on what their industry is and how they operate, a lot of times they will. Either have a live receptionist or you know, administrator answering incoming phone calls, or they’ll have calls ring directly to, again, an automated attendance, which provides those clear prompts for people to , you know, navigate the phone tree or phone system.

So what we’re doing a lot with our clients now is either changing. What the messaging says are those automated attendance, um, or changing how the calls are being routed. So maybe, you know, how they’re set up now is coming into a specific phone number or extension are ringing, say a group of five phones, let’s just say in there, you know, part of the customer service team.

Well, maybe they have a couple of folks that. You know, whether they’re not able to work right now for whatever reason or aren’t working, we can redirect those calls to maybe just go to one person. And again, whether that’s. A business phone number simply forwarding to a cell phone, or they’re using a mobile app or a soft

Tony Lopes: [00:13:51] right.

That makes sense. Now, how about audio and video conferencing? This is a huge one right now. I mean, we’ve all seen the meetings where zoom is behind the quarantine

and there’s some other, on the negative side of things. There are some other things floating around about, you know, hacking issues now with . Audio and video conferencing. There are people doing what’s called bombing. Some of these video conferencing calls, sneaking into them, hacking into people’s systems.

So what are some of the solutions that you use at recent calm and again, what are the best practices for protecting the integrity of audio and video conferencing? And also just tangentially, maybe some tips for people who are doing video conferencing. We’ve all seen now the rooms as well that are going around about.

You know, seeing what people’s houses look like, jumping onto a zoom call with business attire on the top half and PJ’s, or even more casual attire on the bottom app. You know, maybe some of those best practices as well.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:14:53] For sure. For sure. So, yeah, so again, I continue to mention we’re a full service telecomm company, which really means that we don’t just offer one thing, like all of our, it’s kind of bigger cloud and telecom.

Companies that we compete against, they just offer one thing for us. We’re truly able to be agnostic to the platforms, the systems, and the solutions that we’re offering our clients. Um, so that makes us able to be more consultative. So we have a lot of folks that will say, Hey, you know. We’re a Microsoft.

We use office three 65. We’re going to start to use teams, um, and use their video or audio conferencing. Um, I’ve had folks say, Hey, you know, we’re going to use free conference calling.com these tools are great, and you know, we recommend those at sometimes, but we also offer, as part of our platforms, the ability to have audio and screen share, web chat conferences along with  Mmm.

Video conferences as well. And so something that we always . Kind of talk about even when, when we’re not going through all this mess, is the ability to have, say, a conference call bridge. So if you need more than three people to have a collaborative phone call, sure you’re able to, you know, dial in . Add people, send them an invite.

And you can have 2030 40 a hundred people calling into a conference bridge. So that’s a valuable service that we offer already to many our clients. And they use that today and they’re using it more than ever. So again, they’re trying to have a leadership meeting or a staff meeting that they usually have, you know, a couple of times a month.

Well, they need to still have those calls. So, you know, being able to provide that, it’s definitely not only part of some of the platforms that we offer. Okay. You know, we’ll be consultative and say, you know what? Hey, you need to have 20 or more people on a screen share webinar use, go to meeting, use zoom, use Microsoft teams.

Um, so that’s kind of from a solution standpoint, I think going to your kind of tips and best practices, I’m not gonna lie, I think I created a trending hashtag. Business up top, comfy on the bottom. Those I’ve been using, I, uh, yeah. You know, let’s keep the hashtag going during this time. Try to lighten it.

Mmm. Yeah. I actually had a call last week. Again, I try to schedule calls strategically with . My toddler nap time or having my husband help out, but I had a call and I was kind of rushing around. I literally, being completely candid, I had slept pants on, on, and then the top, I had a nice sweater. I did my hair and makeup.

You had never idea that I was sitting there pretty comfy cause you only saw the top half of my body. So I’m not going to say that’s a best practice, but we know it’s going on. So let’s all be honest with ourselves and just give ourselves some grace. Like I continue to read these tips. It’s like, you know what?

We’re all going through this. You know, you need to do what you have to do. But again, talking about sits and best practices, you know, making sure you’re in a quiet work, the making sure that you have, you know, the connectivity, everything we do, it’s all about the connectivity. So if you’re in an area that’s.

Doesn’t have very good internet, whether it’s wifi, whether it’s self service, you know, that’s going to be an issue. Right. And who’s challenge is that? It’s unfortunately, you know, the, the internet service providers that I’m sure they are busting their behind to try to make sure people are able just to stay connected.

Um. Well, you know, and then just making sure that you’re  giving yourself, you know, uh, inappropriate background. Um, I think Microsoft teams and zoom, they allow some of the, you know, kind of make your own background. Um, which is funny, but I know I’ve seen some of those videos that we were just laughing about, like, people didn’t know their camera was on, or are they inappropriate things in the background.

It’s like, okay, guys, let’s.

Tony Lopes: [00:18:56] Yeah. If nothing else, it’s adding to the comedic value of the stressful time that we’re under. Right. Um, yeah. That’s really funny. Another thing, another quick tip though, just coming from a, you know, production mindset perspective is to also have good lighting and to position your, whether it’s your cell phone or your, um, computer, your, your webcam.

On a stable surface that’s somewhere at or around your eye line or above. No one wants to look up your nose and, and it’s more flattering. Also, if you have better light on your face and if you have a better angle, sort of a downward trajectory. Not way up, obviously, but sort of eye line around forehead line around and  toward you slash a little bit down.

It actually makes you look a little bit more flattering and keeps your face in a normal human. Uh. Um, uh, sort of proportion and that that’s helpful as well. But yeah, I, I mean, we’ve all seen, you know, the, the sort of TV flicker light on your face or using the monitor as the only thing that light your face.

And then if you’re on your cell phone and you’re walking around, you tend to a, you tend to look around and look distracted, not great in a business environment. And then also be the phone movement around isn’t, you know, it can mess with people’s, um, you know, perception while, while things are moving around quicker in the background and stuff.

So, yeah, a couple, a couple of good ones there. Um,

Charlotte Conroy: [00:20:34] yeah,

Tony Lopes: [00:20:34] we’ve been adding, uh, we’ve been having, um, zoom calls with my family from Portugal and my family here, cause we’re all keeping our distance. So on Sundays, we started doing a family zoom call just to kind of get together and see each other’s faces and the hilarity of the stuff. People positioning stuff in a weird way, or like, you know, something happening in the background.

It’s just, it’s made for some good humor for sure. Um, you know, or the client conference call bingo.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:21:08] LinkedIn and social media,

Tony Lopes: [00:21:14] you’ll fill the boxes very quickly right now, for sure.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:21:19] Okay, so how about call recording

Tony Lopes: [00:21:21] and realtime coaching? First of all, what are the types of call recording solutions, and then what is real time coaching? What are the tools that you can use for real time coaching and how can they be beneficial?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:21:33] Um, a couple of years.

I know we have it kind of solutions here, but I want a group together call recording and even real time activity status, which is our East kind of solution lessons. And I group them together. Um, we are actually, I just kind of saw it come up. We were quoted in a HR daily, advisor.com. Which is a publication that you know, gets a lot of traffic, but it’s also words, you know, helping the HR folks and leaders.

And especially during this time. Um, I was actually quoted in there talking about some of these employee, I want to say monitoring and coaching tools, which do include call recording. So being able to app calls recorded, even if someone is working from home, you know, leadership and management can be able to either.

Real time, join that call and listen to what’s going on between the two parties. Again, we’re, we’re not a law firm. This is where you might be able to help Tony, but different States have different kind of rules to say, Hey, you know, you usually hear that message. Your call may be recorded for quality insurance

Tony Lopes: [00:22:41] in Pennsylvania, for example.

Each state, to your point, you’re, you’re correct that each state has its own laws with respect to call recording and generally speaking, when you hear that message, a lot of time it’s national organizations erring on the side of disclosing because. In Pennsylvania, for example, you have to have both parties consenting to a recording.

So in Pennsylvania, for example, we certainly would agree with you that we would not advise clients to record anything, whether it’s employees or whether it’s customer calls or anything like that, or coaching sessions or anything. Without the permission of the other person on the other end, and we would even recommend going a step beyond that and recording live.

Just to reiterate on this call and we’re recording it, you know, having it in your agreements and stuff. Yes, that’s helpful, but let’s be practical, right? In, in a real context, in the real world. Do you really want to have a dispute with someone that says, Hey, you recorded this without my knowledge. And you say, no, no, no.

You signed an employment agreement or a subcontractor agreement or whatever. Right? Exactly. So it’s, it’s much better to just disclose an air on the side of caution and just from a humanistic perspective, it’s better. Right? People appreciate that you’re being honest about that. So, yeah, go ahead. Continue.

Sorry about that.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:24:02] No, no. I think it’s definitely a good insight and good addition to it because again, like we, we provide the solutions and the technology tools. We’re here to provide enough guidance based on what we know per the law. But also we say, Hey, you know, really think for the strategy. If you’re going to record calls, whether it’s for quality assurance and customer experience to make sure that you’re, you know, you’re listening to how your staff is.

Talking to customers, but also we have folks that use it for coaching. So you know, you have a new hire the first few months. It’s critical to make sure that they have the support needed to basically be properly trained and coached. So some of this will be all for their, um, is making sure that, again, the staff.

Employee knows, Hey, my manager is able to help me and truly enter this phone call with me while I’m on the phone with a customer or a partner or whoever, and be able to listen and even provide like a one way feedback. So that person on the other end doesn’t even hear the manager or the leader talking to the staff, Hey, you know, I would mention this, this, and this, that at a certain time during the conversation.

So we’d be not extremely helpful. And again, ranging in industries, you know, a, a staffing firm or even a company that has a call center or. Support staff that, you know, they’re trying to learn as they go. And those tools are really, really important. Um, and it all fits into, I, I think I talked about on our episode 45 is making sure that when we talk about phone solutions and technology, that you’re getting cross functional leaderships away in.

So this kind of, you know, staff. Hiring training, supporting that goes into some broad operations, but it also falls into HR. So again, excitedly to share that we were recently quoted in HR daily, advisor.com and being able to provide the HR leadership community, Hey, people sometimes almost forget that this technology is available and can truly help them.

Not only. Better train their staff, but at the end of the day, provide the best customer experience and these tools are great for that.

Tony Lopes: [00:26:27] Yeah, great point. And just to kind of wrap up our legal discussion, I certainly don’t want to turn this into any particular legal discussion. Legal disclaimer, this isn’t legal advice.

If you need advice or help with any of this, give us a call at Lopes law LLC or email us at info at Lopes law, llc.com and we’re happy to help. But in Pennsylvania, as we said, it is a two party consent state. Which means generally that both parties to a private conversation need to be aware of and consent to the recording.

Now, not all States are two party States, as we said, some are one party States, one party consent States is what they’re called, but in Pennsylvania. PA actually has a wire tap act, which can make it illegal to intercept, disclose, or use any recordings of a wire, electronic or oral communication. So generally speaking, you want to be very careful because not only might you be.

Subjecting yourself to some civil liability, but you might also actually be committing an illegal act inadvertently. Now, you know, if you record an employee’s conversation, there may be some exceptions to that, but again, why not just disclose to make yourself very, very safe and intentional disclosure?

Generally speaking. Can even alleviate a lot of times criminal liability because if you intentionally disclose, and again, just record it, you’re, you’re going to be recording it anyways. So record the disclosure, right? That we’re going to be recording this and we’re going to use it for whatever purpose.

Do you consent? They say yes. And now, generally speaking, you’re safe. But you know, you just want to be careful that you’re not doing something. Um, that could cause some additional liability or risk. Especially right now.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:28:13] Yeah, for sure. No, I think those are great additions. And again, you know, going back to the idea of cross functional, when you get into technology and now, you know, employee behavior, HR, I mean you’re, you do need to make sure if I’m illegal standpoint, that you’re, you’re covered.

So I think those are a great addition for sure.

Tony Lopes: [00:28:30] Right. And the last thing of the eight, since we combined recording and real time activity status is called reporting. Call reporting essentially allows business owners or management to have accurate data on call volume, talk time, telephone numbers that were called and received, etc.

And then you can even get detailed call activity. And nowadays you can even probably get transcription. I’m, I’m kind of assuming that, but correct me if I’m wrong. So what are the useful things that you can do from a call reporting perspective and what are the best practices.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:29:05] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, call reporting is huge.

I mean, again, our clients range by industry and how they operate and support their clients. So, um, I always talk about how valuable this data is. Um, whether it’s. Real time being able to have a leader or a manager look up at a dashboard and say, okay, I had 10 of my  customer service agents, or support staff, or whatever department you’re running.

They’re actively on phone calls. They’ve been on a phone call for, you know, three minutes. Um, some of these statistics. Businesses actually have, you know, key performance indicators and metrics to say, Hey, we want to make sure that clients are not on hold more than say, 30 seconds. Right? So there’s specific statistics that can show on the call reports that say, okay.

Here’s how long someone was waiting in a queue or waiting on hold. Here’s how many people abandoned Nicole. Meaning they were like, you know what? This, I don’t have time for this. I’m hanging up. And whether that was an existing customer that’s not frustrated or a new potential new customer that was going to call in and maybe purchase a product or service, that’s, that’s something that we talk about all the time is.

Helping businesses and organizations is valuate their current customers experience their goals. Right? So call reporting is a huge one. Um, and whether that’s again, being able to see detailed activity. Okay. For bettering, uh, employment. Um, excuse me, employee productivity, but also bettering. Experiences of their customers and at the end of the day, hopefully increase their bottom line and can truly support growth in a business.

Tony Lopes: [00:30:47] Right, exactly. And a lot of times also, these tools now create more advanced opportunities because with all this data, you can then make some decisions. To your point about maybe we need to shift resources into. Um, being more efficient on calls, like you said, call, hold time, call wait time, all of those issues that could cause business interruption or cause issues down the line with your sales funnel, for lack of a better term.

And even just for client

Charlotte Conroy: [00:31:17] relations, right? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we have different, again, different companies that are. So critical to make decisions. To your point, are there peak times? They’re in a certain month, certain weeks or days where they’re like, you know what, we need to have, you know, 10 people answering incoming calls versus our typical five people, you know?

So being able to truly make decisions based off of that data is. It’s really critical.

Tony Lopes: [00:31:43] Right. And your communication system also, you’ve talked about this before, but we’ll touch on it now cause it’s also relevant can be a useful tool in terms of employee retention, quite frankly. Right? If you have efficient.

solutions in place. People are going to be willing to stay with you longer. They’re going to have a better work life balance anyways, but they’re going to be able to stay with you longer. They’re going to be happier, most likely, and your clients will be happier. So all around, you’re really affecting all of the stakeholders that are relevant to your organization.

In an effective and efficient way.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:32:16] So

Tony Lopes: [00:32:16] let’s talk about the HubSpot blog post that you posted on the recent communications blog as well that you link to called five remote work myths to leave behind. And we’ll go through each one of these five because I think they’re really relevant, especially now. Um, I’ve heard a lot of friends and, and colleagues and just people that, you know, I talk to on a regular basis saying, huh, finally, my employer can no longer say that we can’t work efficiently, remotely.

Right.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:32:46] Great.

Tony Lopes: [00:32:47] Because this is obviously proving that things can continue to exist, at least to some degree and in some specific areas. Right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly right. So the first one here is that remote employees are lazy and barely do work. So let’s talk about that myth and what’s some of the communications tools you can use to make sure that you’re, if you’re really one of these micromanagers that you can micromanage to your heart’s content even remotely.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:33:20] Yeah. Um, actually it wasn’t from HubSpot, it was from another publication and it was saying 70 cents. 77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home. And I kind of did have to laugh out loud cause I’m like, well are they talking about even now when you have toddler dolls? Yes.

Help them. Spouses, you know, I don’t know how it is. You know that that will remain, but I just thought it was kind of funny. But you know, when people say, Oh, you’re not really, or quote unquote working from home, you can envision me doing the air quotes, like, Oh yeah, I’m working from home this Friday. I’ve seen that a lot.

Even before I joined recently, I was at a . You know, fortune 500 corporation and my actual office was in Georgia, in Atlanta and Atlanta, Georgia. And I work remotely probably, you know, 50 to 60% of the time. And the other time I was flying down to Atlanta. So, you know, I was working from home even before, you know, we are supporting people working from home.

So I think that this is definitely a myth, but kind of bringing into the picture of. Actual technology and phone solutions that can, I don’t want to use the word monitor employees. I think that comes off as a little bit negative when you’re talking to the business. Oh yeah. When you’re talking to business owners and leaders that need to make sure that their folks are actually.

Truly, truly working from home. You know, there’s some tools that we, we mentioned a little bit, but you know, having someone log into there, mobile app or a soft phone, um, and being able to see, okay, they’ve been on the phone. I can look down at a dashboard and see that next to their name. There is a, a red or green light that means there are an active call or even in like on Microsoft teams where you can set your presence and status.

There’s some things that. No, our quick, simple tool is that, you know, you’re able to kind of just gauge, you know, the productivity of your people. You know, it’s a big thing that making sure that folks feel like they’re valued and, and feel like they’re being held accountable. But knowing that. Every now and again.

You do need to have those, those tools for checks and balances. So I think that’s a kind of a funny myth, but I think we’ll all learn pretty quickly if it’s a truth or a myth here with a lot of data points and a lot of people working from home.

Tony Lopes: [00:35:49] How about remote employees? As being lonely because remote employees don’t work on a floor filled with cubicles and other employees.

People often think that they don’t like to it, that they’re introverted or that they aren’t good team players, or that they’re not going to be a valuable addition to the team, that they’re not going to be able to work effectively. This is all in that HubSpot blog post, but. What are, what are the ways that you can combat that now?

And I know you talked about some of these solutions in your other blog posts, in the solutions that we talked about previously, but what are some of the effective solutions that people can use, business owners can use to ensure that their teams are still collaborating while working remotely.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:36:38] Yeah. No, I think that’s an interesting one because I mean, like we again joked about, we don’t want to feel lonely.

We want to be collaborative. We want to have contact, even if it’s over a, a video or a phone call. So I think something now more than ever are. Being able to join a video conference and whether it’s a strategic business topic or it’s, I’ve seen a lot of people do like virtual happy hours, you know, whether it’s with their colleagues or groups of friends and being able to use some of those tools like zoom or go to meeting or teams.

Um, and even some of our solutions that we offer to pop up and do a video conference. With colleagues or you know, external folks. But yeah, I mean, it’s making sure that people are still able to stay connected, but also shifting gears to business, be collaborative and you know, still be able to hold conversations with, with the clients and with prospects.

You know, we’re all trying to continue to build our businesses and help people even during this wild and crazy time. Actually just had a video conference earlier in the week. Someone, a business owner that we’re, we’re helping them actively say, Hey, you know, they don’t have the tools that they really need to even go another 30 days of their staff completely working remotely.

So how do we, you know, still provide them solutions, but I’m not able to go and sit down and, and build, you know, that face to face connection. So definitely video, audio conferencing and even, you know, web chatting and screen-share is. Two other solutions that I would say are pretty good in this climate.

Tony Lopes: [00:38:16] To your point, I mean, we have so much at our disposal from an infrastructure perspective nowadays, whether it’s software, whether it’s actual infrastructure, whether it’s the speed at which we connect to the internet nowadays. So really there are creative ways, like you said, you can do at work, happy hours that are limited to the individuals.

There are solutions, like you said, that you can use. To effectively ensure that people are still engaging, that people are still making some form of contact, and there are useful ways to do team building activities even via remote work software. Another myth is that you’ll have a way better work life balance.

I think this is one of those interesting dichotomies where employers and business owners versus their employees have two completely different views of this, right? And, and

Charlotte Conroy: [00:39:07] frequently they

don’t

Tony Lopes: [00:39:09] try to jump into each other’s shoes to really see what the real situation is like. So. What is your perspective, not picking aside of course, but what’s your perspective in terms of work life balance related to remote work?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:39:22] Yeah, I mean, you know, the work life balance ideas, pretty interesting. I mean, you know, I’m seeing tips and best practices all across, I mean, LinkedIn, you know, annually we do a lot of linking in, um, and a lot of article reading and things like that. And people will say, you know. A lot of times when people work from home, they’re working more.

Then if they’re going to their office, you know, a nine to five, eight to six, whatever your, your time is, because they’re competing, they’re there in their workspace consistently. So, I mean, example for me, even, you know, I, and working from my kitchen table now. My husband, my dog, and my toddler. I tried to say, okay, at the end of the day, whether that’s four o’clock, five o’clock, six o’clock I’m going to pretty much put away all of my, my work, no items.

I’m going to put away my laptop. Then I’ll put away my folders and things like that and tried to clear that space for the next day. Now. We would all be, be aligned to ourselves. So we say we don’t have our smart phones sitting on our lap 24, seven, that you’re checking your email feverously you’re, you’re checking your social media, your doing all these things to make sure that you’re  they’re always connected.

Um, again, there’s pros and cons and, and opinions to that. But you know, this myth is interesting because from my own experience, I, I can say that I think I work more, um, nowadays when we’re . Kind of forced to be at home. It’s all there at your disposal. You know what, I forgot to do this, or I’m going to do this tonight instead of tomorrow.

And you know, things kind of just never end. So yeah, it’s an interesting

Tony Lopes: [00:41:02] one. Right, exactly. Based on my experience. You know, occasionally working from home and I use a heavily remote format for my law practice and for the podcast, but I find that you’re right, you end up doing more, not less. You end up doing more, not less.

You really end up in a situation where. You, you almost can’t get away from the work in a weird way. Right. Sometimes it actually creates a worse work life balance because you can’t really leave work at work, for lack of a better term.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:41:39] Yeah. Right. Turning it off or disconnecting whatever word you want to use.

Tony Lopes: [00:41:44] Yeah, exactly. Right, and it’s always there. It’s in your laptop now or wherever it is, you know, even on your phone. It’s just in so many places that you can’t really disconnect. Like you said. The fourth one is you can’t be a people manager if you’re remote. Now this one kind of ties back to the first two that remote employees are lazy and barely do work, and that remote employees are generally.

Loners or introverts or whatever term you want to use. What are some of the solutions? I know we touched on them, so we can kind of just go through this one a little bit quicker, but. You know, in this blog post it says that actually a large chunk of more than 300 person remote workforces is sometimes made up of mid to high level managers and they find that they’re able to be successful.

And I’ve worked for organizations back in my corporate life that did a lot of remote work and it seemed to be very efficient. There are monitoring tools as we said, that you can use there. Ways to connect with people for meetings. There are ways to to document, share using either like a Google drive, a Dropbox, something along those lines where you can literally collaborate and work on a document at the same time, even, right.

Like Google drive, for example. Right. So what are some of the solutions that you use and how do you feel about this?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:43:01] Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting one because I mean, I disagree, so I think that’s a good myth. Call out. Again, this is from a HubSpot article. I’m, I’m a big fan of hub spot, so that’s why we kind of bringing it into this conversation.

But I think it’s important too, to use all the technology tools that you can, like we talk about, you know, video conferencing, audio conferencing, being able to truly connect. But you know, at the end of the day, like we’re all really feeling and will continue to feel. There’s nothing like that. That’s true in person contact.

So, you know, I’ve had managers and leaders and even myself managing remote teams where, you know, you still need to make sure that whether it’s no monthly, quarterly, whatever that looks like, be able to truly meet in person. But technology surely helps all that continue to  to stay in front of your team and have collaboration, even if you were

Tony Lopes: [00:43:55] Right. Exactly. That makes a lot of sense. Now, the last one is, you’ll have plenty of time for self care if you work remotely. This kind of ties into, came to that last one where, um, you know, if you’re working remotely, I don’t know that you’re actually gonna have a lot of time to get away. I, I do find it, and I think we generally agree that people are actually way more productive when they’re working remotely.

They do more work. And they’re more committed to their work and almost extend the work day in a very interesting way. And from a mental health perspective, generally speaking. Taking more breaks and just extending your Workday, presuming that you’re not dropping the ball on anything or anything like that is actually better.

Fricken is going to make for more productive work. But anyways, how do you feel about this one in particular?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:44:43] I think it’s an interesting mess. Again, a lot of these are pretty spot on. What other people have thought about that? I’ve talked to people and say, yeah, I guess I agree. Um, you know, the self care one is funny because, you know, I know that I worked out at lunchtime and then, you know, when I get back to my, you know, home office, I’m eating a salad or eating my lunch while I’m doing work.

So using that time. Or some self care, um, is, has definitely happened. But then on the flip side, I’ve, I’ve experienced that. Even my staff, my former corporate life, you know, sometimes you’re just, you’re getting up, you’re getting, you know, maybe you’re getting shower, maybe you’re putting on professional attire, or you’re just getting right to your laptop, getting right on the phone and starting your day and pretty much cranking out work and thank enacted.

So I’ve seen it definitely on both sides. Mmm. But it’s interesting even talking to our, our clients and customers that have folks that have an entire remote work staff, even before this, you know, COBIT, 19 crisis, you know, they’re able to run, truly seamlessly run their business. Yeah. All across the U S if not international D.

so, um, it makes me think of, uh, an office episode. You know, we have Dwight and Jim and he, the white claims that he doesn’t take any personal time as Jim kinda times them every yawn, every bathroom break. And he’s like, Hey, yes, you do. So that’s this kind of, no, a funny thing, but it’s an interesting myth and I think it all depends on how people are, you know.

Definitely during all of this, you know, you need to allow yourself,

maybe it’s working out or spending a few minutes with your child doing virtual schooling or what not.

Tony Lopes: [00:46:33] Yeah, exactly. Okay, well, thank you so much for coming onto the episode for giving us all of this advice and best practices in terms of how to operate efficiently remotely. Is there anything else that you want to add that maybe we haven’t covered yet?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:46:48] No, I think we’ve talked a lot about it, but I think, you know, we’re all trying to say super positive. Um, and we’re going to get through this together. And I just, you know, I talked to our team and I say, you know, even from a standpoint of bringing on new customers and new business, it’s more about providing folks.

No education and help and tips to say, Hey, you know, we’re here to help now and in the future, and it’s going to give businesses a lot to think of when they talk about disaster strategies and business continuity strategies. Do they have the right model? Do they have the right technologies in place for if and when something like this does happen again?

You know? So I think that’s going to be an important next step after we kind of all. Right.

Tony Lopes: [00:47:31] Exactly. Okay, Charlotte, thank you so much. Where can people reach out to you and to recent communications if they need additional help or have any questions?

Charlotte Conroy: [00:47:40] Yeah, absolutely. So definitely check out our website, www dot  dot com.

Send me an email.

I’m also on LinkedIn, so just be there to help.

Tony Lopes: [00:47:57] Awesome. Thank you very much, Charlotte. Continue to stay healthy, stay safe, and stay indoors. Most importantly, we can get through this together, but we’re glad that we have. People and organizations like you and recent communications to support us through this already trying time.

Charlotte Conroy: [00:48:12] Yeah, absolutely. Tony, thank you so much. Looking forward to

Tony Lopes: [00:48:18] in person. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Awesome. Thanks very much. You too. .