Improving Communications for Automotive Dealers

NEC recently attended the 2013 National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The NADA Convention is the automotive industry event of the year and the world’s largest international gathering place for franchised new-vehicle dealers.


NEC participated with Phillip Sherman, CEO of Telecom Advisors Group, Inc. and one of the leading independent automotive industry technology consultants in the nation.


Like many companies today, auto dealerships are interested in the best ways to cut costs and increase the productivity of their sales team and services advisors. The NADA convention gave the perfect opportunity to show the ROI of Unified Communications (UC) technology and demonstrate how it helps the rapidly growing automotive industry reduce cost, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. Customer Satisfaction is important in any industry, but particularly in the automotive industry, which relies heavily on its Customer Service Index (CSI) score. For example, JD Power and Associates reported that dealerships with high CSI scores during the first three years of ownership retained 79 percent of dollars spent on maintenance and repairs during the first five years of vehicle ownership.


The auto industry is heavily impacted by technology to help make improvements for both the dealer and the customer. NEC employees were also on hand demonstrating our communications solutions to more than 20,000 conference attendees. With the need for uninterrupted roaming and productivity from any location within a dealership, applications that allow cellular and Wi-Fi roaming were of key interest to attendees. For those automotive dealerships tired of losing revenue due to appointment no-shows, we demonstrated our Appointment Reminder to show them how to alleviate this frustration by simplifying the appointment reminder process and communicating with their customers more efficiently. In the auto sales environment, responding to and distributing call-in and internet leads is critically important. Leveraging contact center technology that queues, distributes and tracks customer opportunities provides dealers with a competitive advantage and the ability to respond as quickly as possible.


To learn how uMobility or Appointment Reminder can enhance your organization click below.

NEC Appointment Reminder

  NEC Fixed Mobile Convergence

10 Key Capabilities of Contact Centers in Higher Education

nec-contact-center-higher-education-part1We’ve all been that frustrated caller on hold waiting to speak to a “real” person who can address our concerns. While waiting, you’ve probably thought of all the ways your experience could be improved if they would just answer the one or two quick questions you wish to ask. While you can’t get any of your time back, the good news is, there are several contact center features that can minimize your customer’s frustration, and, as a result enhance their experience. It’s no secret that a consolidated,centralized contact center can increase staff efficiency, but how is this increased efficiency accomplished? The following list highlights the first five of ten ways contact centers enhance institutions of higher learning.

1. Contact Routing for Multimedia Contacts

Multimedia contact centers enable students, prospective students and other customers to interact with campus offices however they please – whether by phone, e-mail or Web chat. Regardless of the medium they choose, call routing ensures each student receives the priority attention they deserve.

For example, many campuses may sell tickets to campus events over the Internet. Potential customers include not only students, faculty and staff, but members of the community as well. If your campus contact center offers customers an extra opportunity to have their questions answered by offering a web chat capability, you can very well decrease the number of abandoned shopping carts, while increasing the number of completed sales and simultaneously providing opportunities for personnel in the ticket office to better serve customers.

For offices taking calls from existing students, faculty and staff, contacts can be routed based on campus identification (ID) numbers. This number enables the call to be routed, along with caller information from a stored database, to the most appropriate representative. For prospective students or other callers, the Automatic Number Identification (ANI – typically the caller’s phone number) can be used to route or set a priority to the call.

2. Response Library and E-mail Auto-Response

A knowledge-based library houses responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ). Use of these pre-defined entries can simplify the representative’s job and significantly speed the process of creating responses.

One useful element to store in the knowledge library is a response to be automatically delivered to the sender of a message to give them an idea of when their inquiry may receive attention. When an e-mail is received, the multimedia application should automatically reply with a message acknowledging receipt and committing to a personalized response in a specified timeframe. In doing this, the campus has a much greater opportunity to meet expectations – and met expectations translate into customer satisfaction.

3. Screen Pop

When a caller can be identified by either campus ID or phone number, database information for that caller can be presented in a pop-up window to the representative at the time the call is received. This feature is known as “screen pop” and eliminates the time required for a representative to collect key information from the caller, resulting in increased productivity and improved accuracy.

4. Queue Announcements

At a time of high call volume (which is typical in contact centers), it is inevitable that some callers will wind up in queue waiting to speak to a campus representative. However, implementing queue announcements can discourage callers from hanging up by offering other contact options and providing useful information.
Did you know that a caller in queue is using campus resources – ports in the communications infrastructure, IVR resources, and potentially long distance resources? If this caller becomes frustrated with the wait, hangs up and calls back later, then the campus pays for twice as many resources for that one caller. This costly situation can be avoided by providing information to set the expectation for the caller, making them much less likely to “abandon” their call while waiting in queue. In either case, resources are not wasted since the campus only pays for the caller to wait in queue one time.

5. Callback

Callback can help improve caller satisfaction. In addition, callbacks decrease indirect costs and direct costs. Indirect costs are associated with the ports required to keep calls in queue. Direct costs are reduced as the campus does not incur toll charges for the time the call remains in queue awaiting an answer. The callback capability offers to return the call when an agent becomes available, thus preserving the caller’s place in the queue. The result – reduced resources required to support the call on hold. Additionally, callers can be offered a return call at the time when their call would normally have been answered, or they are offered the opportunity to request a callback at a specific time.

Whether you’re looking to increase productivity and efficiency, enhance student experience, or make a financial impact, your campus or university may have much to gain from a successfully implemented contact center. We’ve just scratched the surface on the benefits you can reap, to learn more, check back for 6-10 and download the White Paper.

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Top 4 Myths of Implementing Unified Communications (UC)

nec-unified-communications-mythsWhether you’ve been toying with the idea of implementing UC, or your company is seasoned in the world of UC, you’ve likely heard several myths about its implementation. We put together a list of some of the most common myths we hope to dispel.

Myth 1 – Unified Communications is something new
The concept of Unified Communications is certainly not new, the term “Unified Communications” is just a new name for a group of technologies that have been around for quite some time. As technology continues to evolve, the methods in which various organizations utilize UC to meet their needs is changing. To your business, merging voice messaging with e-mail may constitute a UC solution, but to another company a UC solution may be as involved as using a common interface to unite their entire communications infrastructure. Moving forward, think of UC as an idea or concept.

Myth 2 – Your existing system is obsolete
In many cases, you can enable Unified Communications to enhance the performance of your current systems. For example: Just because you may not have Voice over IP (VoIP), there’s no need to upgrade your phone system to Voice over IP (VoIP) to use Unified Communications. UC can still provide you with the capability to control the phone sitting on your desk, regardless if it is a VoIP or traditional (TDM or Analogue) phone.

Myth 3 – Unified Communications is expensive
The hardest thing about Unified Communications deployment is understanding how to make the most out of it – without breaking budget. In many cases you may already have what is required, so UC deployment can actually save you money in the long run, provided you have an understanding of what you want to achieve and can in turn put a strategy in place to achieve it. If you plan properly, enabling UC can heed greater performance at a lower cost since you may only need to buy one or two new services or upgrades without putting forth a large investment. For example, techniques such as centralization and virtualization can actually save you money because they require investing in fewer trunk lines and result in easier management and deployment.

Myth 4 – With UC, It’s all or nothing
Not at all. In fact, Unified Communications is made up of a lot of individual components, and most are mix and match so you can be sure to get the best unified communications solution customized to suit your needs. This unique benefit gives you the power to determine what makes business sense for your organization, and you enable the components you need to get the most out of the technology. You may rarely see unified communications purchased as a complete package. Since the breadth of what can legitimately be labeled as UC is vast, some companies choose to buy individual components that they see immediate value from, with an eye toward unifying them at a future date. This is a way to first assess the value of the individual components before assessing the value of integrating them. On the other hand, some companies may prefer to use multiple unified communications vendors to purchase best of breed components rather than purchasing a complete end-to end UC solution from a single vendor. NEC gives you the option to purchase either, or both, depending on your needs. To see what they have to offer, click here.
Hopefully this list has helped address some of your common questions about Unified Communication features, benefits and implementation. We’d like to stress the importance in selecting the right vendor so you’re not breaking the bank in your implementation. With the right vendor and proper migration planning you can upgrade so the UC features you have already invested in will continue to work for you – and improve, rather than lose value.

To SIP or not to SIP?

nec-sip-trunkingHave you ever wondered what all the fuss is about with SIP trunking? Well, for starters, not only can SIP trunking improve communication and collaboration, it can also significantly lower your IT costs – so much so, that some organizations have taken advantage of the savings to justify additional investments in Unified Communications.

Traditionally, an enterprise’s private branch exchange (PBX) is connected to the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) over a “trunk”, which is a hard-wired connection of the enterprise to the rest of the world. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking is an alternative to that model, in which third-party Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) connect the PBX to the Internet and then to the PSTN, allowing communication with fixed and mobile devices worldwide without the hassle of a physical wire trunk.


Switching to a SIP trunking solution can yield significant communications savings and offer a quick return on investment, especially if your company has multiple locations and often uses international calling.

So what are the benefits of SIP trunking, and how can SIP help your organization? SIP trunking will better utilize your bandwidth because telephony and Internet lines are combined, allowing for optimization based on average consumption rather than peak usage. Additionally,call speed is increased because all data, voice, and media is passing through carrier systems as IP traffic rather than analog signals. The risk of implementing new technology is mitigated by using an ITSP, as the ITSP keeps you current with technology updates without recurring costs. By using multiple ITSPs and least cost routing (LCR) to always make the most cost-efficient call, a company can realize substantial savings – especially with regard to international calls. What’s more, SIP reuses HTTP ports so it can be easier for end users to work with. Plus, billing is bundled, making things easier on you, the end-user. These aren’t the only benefits; check out the list below for more.



  • Reliable delivery of communication applications such as instant messaging (IM), presence tracking, video conferencing and application sharing.
  • You will no longer need a costly PSTN gateway.
  • Long-distance charges will be reduced.
  • Voice, video, and data are combined in a single line.
  • SIP trunking can be a cost-effective delivery option for external communication.

There’s an ongoing debate questioning the value of SIP trunk costs savings as justification for migrating your PBX. Some believe the value is an overstated reason to migrate, while others point to real cost savings. Which side are you leaning toward?

Enterprise Communications: How to Avoid a Traffic Jam (Part II)

nec-unified-communications-traffic_management-2You’ve identified your problem, now let’s solve it and maintain the results.

Ongoing traffic maintenance is critical to the success of a well formed traffic management strategy. You must continually monitor your call flows to ensure that the patterns have not changed.

In most cases, weekly or daily traffic reports are run and analysis performed to ensure that no busy conditions are occurring. If they do occur, it is imperative that you first check to see that this is not due to a fault such as a downed T1 that has reduced the number of available trunks on the route. If this is not the case, then a traffic problem exists and needs to be immediately accounted for.

Call Center environments are especially sensitive to traffic problems. In call center environments, an aggressive traffic management strategy should be implemented and diligently attended to. The voice administrator needs to have exposure to everything that is going on related to that route to properly troubleshoot issues or plan for growth.

What information will I need to assess my trunking needs?

Depending on the needs of your organization, the types of traffic information you find valuable will determine which traffic types you should collect and store. For example, peg count and call second usage information can be collected for many different types of traffic based items including trunk utilization, station statistics, group usages, attendant statistics and call center information.

Another traffic type that can be collected is the VoIP statistics information as it relates to any number of different IP based voice devices throughout your communications solution. This information is based on the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) packets that are passed between the devices throughout the course of a conversation. This data is valuable because it tells an administrator how much bandwidth is currently being consumed by voice traffic and over which network segments that information is flowing. It is beneficial in aiding network capacity planning efforts or in troubleshooting problems experienced with VoIP implementations.

Once you’ve collected the data, determining how much you should store will be dependent on your organization’s business needs. Every business is different, but each business likely experiences peaks and valleys in call volumes. If you experience higher traffic volumes on certain trunk routes at certain times during the year, be sure to plan to store enough traffic data to cover those peaks.
Regardless of your particular situation, traffic issues and trunking errors are costly and can potentially damage your organization’s reputation. Knowing the fundamentals of traffic management and coupling that with the right tools is the key to an effective traffic management strategy.

Hey, you made it all the way to the end. Learn more about tools designed by NEC to make traffic management both simple and automatic.