Can you Change the Customer Experience with Technology?

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit the YMCA of Greater Louisville to gain insight into how they used technology to solve a common business problem. After speaking with customers and employees in the branches, I noticed just how much the organization cares about serving its members and visitors. And I was even more impressed with how they handle customer interactions. You can check out the results of our visit in the video case study.

One of the first things I noticed was how quiet the lobby was. Not one phone ringing. Instead, members were having direct face-to-face conversations with Y team members at each desk, and receiving their undivided attention.

Since the YMCA of Greater Louisville has centralized all incoming calls to customer service via UNIVERGE® 3C and Contact Center solutions from NEC, the front-line staff at Branch locations can focus on providing a great customer experience. This gave on-site employees the necessary time and the freedom to address every concern in person, while the customer was in the branch. Part of the YMCA’s mission is to ensure customer satisfaction via uninterrupted, one-on-one interaction, either in person or by phone.

So often, as we get caught up in the technology and not the people that it serves, we lose the intended purpose of the technology. But this was not the case for the YMCA of Greater Louisville. This organization found the right balance to meet their customer needs.

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YMCA’s VP of IT (Ryan Kingery) and CEO (Steve Tarver) had encountered a problem that is not unique to any retail outlet or public organization serving its community: WAIT TIMES! At the core of the YMCA mission is the ability to serve its community and members, but the challenge they faced was the increasing wait times in their branches, which necessarily led to less in-person customer interaction due to long lines and busy phones.
Think of this scenario: if you have kiddos, you know that swim camp, t-ball registration or even your own “ME” time at the indoor pool cannot be done without registration. And the quicker you can get your registration(s) complete, the quicker you move on to being a satisfied customer, which is what we all want. The solution the YMCA put in place did just that–and it improved the quality of the real-time, one-on-one interactions between employees and clients.

Happy Customer = Better Customer Experience = Revenue Growth

Whether it’s about internal accounting clients at your company utilizing core IT- supported services, or a customer whose satisfaction is crucial to the continuing revenue growth of your company, a pleasing customer experience is the ultimate goal.

So, after this experience with the YMCA, I am wondering how many IT professionals are running across similar business problems that negatively impact a customer experience within your own organizations. What are you doing to change that experience?

You can watch the video below to see how the YMCA was able to achieve its mission.

Free Ebook: UCaaS RFP 2016

Free Ebook:

UCaaS/Hybrid RFP & Review IP Telephony and Unified Communications System

There are significant differences in offerings from the major vendors in terms of architecture, functionality and total cost of ownership. IT organizations are encouraged to work with their business units to understand their unique requirements and to articulate these in an RFP or other formal procurement vehicle.



Acquire New Technology on Your Terms

Frequently organizations adopt a “make-do” attitude when it comes to technology, primarily because the acquisition of new technology is often expensive and time-consuming to implement. Add to that the potential complexity of integration to legacy systems, hardware and software upgrades, and an increase to capital expenditures, and many organizations feel it is necessary to maintain rather than upgrade. Until…

A multitude of events can create demand for new and upgraded IT resources, including:

  • You’ve landed that big fish – acquiring a new major client that requires certain amounts of integration to your systems or you simply need to improve performance.
  • An acquisition may be in the works – whether you are looking to expand via acquisition; be acquired or merge with another company, having up-to-date IT assets will help ease the transition.
  • The company is ready to grow – perhaps the organization has reached a milestone and is ready to expand, either to new markets or geographic areas. The need for a solid IT infrastructure to accommodate expansion is incredibly important.
  • An existing IT vendor folds – it’s sad, but can happen. Now, you have technology without support and are in need of a rapid change in order to ensure your organization is not adversely affected.

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You may find that you need to act quickly, and need to do something that does not negatively impact your budget. Where do you turn?

Your Technology Funding Source

Traditional sources are not always the most effective means to fund your IT needs. You need a source that is responsive and understands the nuances of acquiring new technology.

“At NEC Financial Services, we start with a transaction team and use underwriting and financing contracts that are customizable to the client needs,” said Herschel Salan, vice president, NEC Financial Services. “Our unique system enables us to use experienced people, coupled with 30 years of knowledge, to create a better solution that ensures our clients have what they require to grow their businesses.”

Attention #B2B CIO or CFO, you have options to Acquire New Technology with Flexibility. Click To Tweet

The NEC Financial Services team offers several options for the financing and leasing  of technology acquisitions, and yet the approach can be very different than you will find at a more traditional lender or bank. For example:

  • Programs based on customer requirements – most organizations face the same business challenges that are not easily resolved with standard finance transactions. NEC Financial Services provides different types of programs based on customer requirements. From a purchase to own arrangement to an OPEX finance option, the program is designed to fit the business need.
  • Off Balance Sheet – many organizations find it more attractive to acquire technology as an operational expense, giving them additional financial benefits.
  • Driven by cash flow – if an organization has a specific budget amount they need to meet, NEC Financial Services will work to structure financing to accommodate that number.
  • Our job would be to align the budget expense to the cost of that technology over time. For example, with a $10K budget a month – the goal would be to get that number to $10K or less.
  • Beyond the traditional – NEC Financial Services designs financing options to ensure that clients can receive funding for their technology upgrades and investments, even during the installation or implementation phases. . Many times this can be accomplished through various offerings that include direct and working capital loans or structured financing.

“Our team becomes very involved with our clients to understand the technology, how it will have a positive impact on their business and how to best fund it for success,” said Salan. “Whether it’s progress loan financing in the early stages of a longer term transaction, or even multiple vendors and multiple technology types, we structure our financing to meet the business needs.”

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More Than a Banker

“Our goal is to have long-term relationships with our clients where we support their ongoing business growth,” continued Salan. “We ensure that we understand their business requirements and growth strategies so we can structure finance options to meet their needs and successfully implement  their plans.”

In addition to the financing options, NEC Financial Services also provides asset tracking.

“We find that many of our clients require a more robust asset tracking system than they have in-house, so we provide that service,” said Salan. “We can track assets by jurisdiction, county, state, and zip code, taking the burden from our clients while providing added value.”

Salan also said that many clients have a need for protection  against technology obsolescence. This is one of the drivers for determining the right finance solution and term.

“While the length of a typical technology lease is between three and five years, we create terms based on the customer’s decision,” said Salan. “For those that obsolescence is a real issue, we can structure shorter terms so they can keep up with important technology updates to grow their businesses.”

Salan and his team work through the whole corporate lifecycle, ensuring that the technology will grow to meet current and future needs.

“It’s an advantage to our clients that we are agile and have business growth at the core of our decisions,” said Salan. “We understand how technology can help a business grow and reach the next level, so we are eager to explore those options with our clients.”

To learn how NEC Financial Services can provide technology financing on your terms, contact us today!

YMCA of Greater Louisville: Using UC to Transform the Guest Experience

This powerful narrative about the YMCA of Greater Louisville shows how the organization’s use of NEC unified communications (UC) transforms the guest experience. YMCA management and staff share how NEC technology is empowering employees to connect more closely with members—resulting in a better experience for the Y’s membership.

Utilizing a newly built contact center that serves 17 branch locations across three counties, the YMCA increased onsite productivity by effectively handling on average 12,000 calls a month from a single remote location. Which leaves more time for staff to personally interact with their local members. Learn more about the YMCA’s story presented in their own words.

NEC technology can help other organizations grow their businesses through unified communications solutions. Are you ready? Let us know as we are ready to help.

Want Consumer Loyalty? Get Smart About Hospitality Innovation!

At the recent 2015 HITEC event, the hospitality industry got a taste for industry highlights and overviews of things to come, and the event certainly did not disappoint. Among some of the more innovative solutions were concierge-style robots that provide more basic services like room service delivery, and of course NEC’s own Kylie!

Always top of mind for hospitality is customer loyalty. How do you reward those who are loyal to your brand? And how do you keep them loyal? One way is to ensure they feel welcomed and valued, as demonstrated through NEC’s VIP facial recognition avatar, Kylie.

Using NeoFace® face recognition technology and pulling from the secure database your organization collects, Kylie greets visitors, provides them with information pertinent to their stay and helps them with everything from getting checked into a room to getting to their return flight information. She is always on, always friendly, and always ready to greet customers to ensure a strong customer experience.

It’s More than Bells and Whistles

Of course, greeting VIP customers helps ensure a positive experience, but it’s only the beginning. Also important is an overall customer experience that couples the desired convenience with the required security. NEC’s Smart Hospitality Solutions are designed to provide both enhanced guest experiences with increased efficiency of hotel operations.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions consist of key solutions related to hotel operations, including communications platforms, Unified Communications (UC) applications, Property Management Systems (PMS), facial recognition systems, digital signage and guest room management systems. As the solutions are based on a modular approach and can be tightly integrated, customer information and other data can be easily shared throughout the portfolio of applications. As a result of this seamless integration, hotel owners and operators can provide highly value-added guest service and improve the productivity of hotel staff.

For example, NEC’s facial recognition solution makes it possible to use cameras at hotel entrances to identify VIP guests in real-time using previously registered data in a PMS. This enables the provision of personalized services and greetings to coincide with the arrival of a VIP. The guest experience can also be enhanced by enabling hotel check-ins and check-outs and room service orders and other requests to be accessed from tablets or guests’ smartphones.

NEC plans to continually strengthen the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions portfolio while promoting its “Hotel IT in a Box” approach, which offers hotel solutions consolidated into a single server platform. Based on this approach, NEC launched its Application Platform for Hotels, a vertically integrated solution platform optimized for the hospitality industry. Moving forward, NEC plans to further integrate new solutions such as PMS into the Application Platform for Hotels.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions

A Glimpse into the Future

Of course, no event would be complete without a demonstration of futuristic technology. During HITEC, NEC demonstrated its  Interactive Projection System. This easy-to-use touchpad device connects with customers’ cell phones and provides information of their choosing, including property maps, coupons, and entertainment information. Giving customers the opportunity to self-serve actually improves the experience with quick access to information that can be uploaded to their mobile devices for access at the exact time they want it, a big bonus for those people on the go.

Customer loyalty is critical in the highly competitive hospitality industry, and comes down to the experience. Utilizing innovative solutions such as Kylie or the Interactive Projection System will create a positive visitor experience. Couple this with solutions that improve productivity, and both the customer and the hospitality organization win.

For more information on the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions, please visit our website.

NEC Advantage Executive Conference Gives Dealers First-hand Look at Latest Solutions

More than 125 top dealer organizations gathered in May to attend NEC’s annual Advantage Executive Conference, held this year in Phoenix. A total of 502 attendees came together to learn about NEC’s latest Smart Solutions for Smart Business, see demonstrations of the latest solutions, and network with counterparts from other organizations.

The annual event provides an excellent opportunity for NEC dealers and consultants to meet directly with NEC product and solutions experts and management. The exhibit area featured demos of not only NEC’s newest solutions, but also related products and services from vendors who work directly with NEC.

A highlight of this year’s event was the keynote address by Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova, who spoke on “Reading the Tea Leaves: Responding to the Speed of Business.” Bova addressed “keeping the customer as the true north” when preparing for the new business reality of what Gartner calls the Nexus of Forces: the convergence of social, mobile, cloud and information.

A wide range of products and solutions for both enterprise and SMB organizations were showcased during breakouts and in the exhibit area, including:

  • NEC’s award-winning software-defined networking (SDN) solutions and its Smart Enterprise IT portfolio of SDN-ready UC solutions
  • Smart Solutions for verticals, including higher ed/K-12, hospitality, healthcare and government
  • Applications for NEC’s new UT880 terminal
  • UNIVERGE SV9000 series of communications platforms
  • UNIVERGE Cloud services and hybrid models
  • Customer care solutions
  • Innovative biometrics solutions

“This year’s conference was probably our best ever, in terms of attendance and showcasing a wide range of NEC solutions,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president of sales, NEC Corporation of America. “Our Smart Solution portfolio, featuring innovative NEC technologies such as biometrics and SDN along with our communication networks and UCC solutions, received an enthusiastic response from our dealers.”

To learn more about NEC’s technology and solutions, visit http://necam.com.