Did Voicemail Contribute to Tragedy in Florida?


The state employee didn’t hear the voicemail until one day after the deadly accident.

Engineer’s Voicemail Warned State Of Bridge Cracks 2 Days Before Collapse

I was sickened last week when I saw on the news, the video footage of the bridge collapse in Florida. Believe it or not, voicemail workflow may have been a contributing factor in the tragedy. An engineer on the project noted there were cracks in the bridge and left a voicemail. The voicemail was not listened to until a day after the bridge collapse by the intended recipient. It is a disturbing revelation. You can read the entire story by clicking here.

Voicemail is easy to leave, but difficult to retrieve. It is a known fact that voicemail can sit for up to three days unheard. Yet, when something is important we turn to the phone. Could this tragedy have been avoided if the message recipient had received a text message notification with the voicemail transcription while out of the office? We will never know. But we do know that 90% of text message are read within 90 seconds of receipt. A text message just might have made the difference.

It is time to retire the 1980’s voicemail workflow and replace it with a modern digital one. The technology to convert voicemail to email and SMS messages is available today for about $2 per user per month. There is really no excuse for any modern enterprise to rely on a message waiting light and dialing in to retrieve what could be critical messages. For most organizations, this technology is used to increase sales and decrease costs. But for some applications, the ability to convert a voice message to text may contribute public safety and save lives.

#publicsafety #voicemail #bridgecollapse #communication

Posted in Unified Messaging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Recover Faster from Surgery with a Text!


Over 2/3 of all Americans own a Smartphone and use text messaging as their primary communication method. It turns out text messaging can be good for your health, especially if you have just been discharged from a hospital surgery. If you work for a hospital, text messaging can be good for your bottom line. In fact, over half of all hospital revenues come from Medicare and avoidable readmission is a multi-billion dollar problem that hospitals are increasingly being fined millions of dollars each for not addressing.

One easy solution: Engage patients with text messages post discharge.

Sixtyfive percent of all Medicare readmission are avoidable. The treat ’em and street ’em mentality has become too costly. One solution is to engage patients post-discharge and staying in touch via SMS text messages. Text messaging patients (or their caregivers) after discharge to track their recovery process and intervene before things go south is an evolving best practice with some very good clinical evidence behind it.

Wait a Minute.  What About HIPAA? Texting PHI is a NO NO.

Texting protected health information in the clear is likely a HIPAA violation, but as it turns out there is a new technology available that enables hospitals to start a conversation with a patient using an SMS text message and pivot to a secure conversation on their Smartphone. No app to download, just send the patient a secure URL to continue the conversation.  It is brilliant.

Now clinicians can reach out to a patient with an easy to use dashboard interface. The clinician can send an ad hoc message or choose from a menu of pre-canned messages and send a patient a SMS text message. When it is time to discuss personal health information, the conversation can switch to secure messaging mode with a click:

The patient’s post-discharge progress can be tracked and if things start to become a concern like a potential infection or increasing pain, instead of waiting until things are bad and require a patient ER visit, a nurse can triage via secure text and intervene before things spiral out of control by setting a clinic appointment.

There is $17 Billion a year at stake and avoidable readmission could save the Medicare program from going bankrupt.  Adding text messaging to post discharge care costs about $1 per patient discharge.  It is an absolute no brainer. Hospitals can even try it free for 30 days.

Secure texting is available as a cloud service so any hospital or physician’s practice with a browser can add the service without investing in special equipment. The system can be interfaced using HL-7 to any EHR system so messages can even be added to a patient’s record with relative ease.

One day the folks at Medicare and Medicaid may mandate this type of solution, but until then hospitals have a huge incentive to implement text messaging on their own.  Not only does the system work to avoid readmissions, it also improves patient satisfaction on CAHP surveys earning the hospital a 1 to 2 percent bonus payment from CMS.  Patients win because they avoid painful complications that can increase morbidity and mortality.  Hospitals win with lower costs, better HCAHPS scores and bonus payments from CMS. Taxpayers win because Medicare payments go down freeing up desperately needed money taken from each of our paychecks. Who would have thought health care costs could be so dramatically reduced with a simple text?

Look for my  article in July that will show use cases for population health management and cite proven clinical outcomes.  For more information, feel free to message on Twitter @rq1958 or email rq@mutare.com.

#HIPAA #BringItOn #Patient Engagement

Posted in Unified Messaging | Leave a comment

Why Your Company Should Dump Voicemail Now

Dump Voicemail

Why users hate voicemail and your company should dump it.

Coke and JP Morgan Chase dumped voicemail for many of their employees. JP Morgan Chase cited cost savings as part of the motivation but stated it was more about employee preference and workflow. Coke made similar claims.

The telephone user interface for voicemail is an archaic analog workflow in a digital world. That said, 80% of all calls go to voicemail.  Now more than ever,  companies need a strategy for completing calls that enables workers to be responsive to callers and more productive at the same time. This article will give you a 5 point strategy for dumping voicemail on your business and mobile phones.

 Why Voicemail is Hated

Voicemail comes in two flavors: Urgent Messages and SPAM.  When something is important we turn to the phone. Urgent calls require fast attention, while SPAM calls can be ignored. Often times people will hide behind voicemail so they don’t have to take annoying calls or interrupt their workflow.

SPAM messages are not worth the 2 minutes of your life to dial in, retrieve, listen to and delete the message just to turn off that irksome message light.

Message Waiting Lights Suck

Message Waiting Lights Suck

Handling Callers

Many companies are simply hanging up on caller. This is an awful business practice and a brand killer. Coke, who has one the biggest brands on planet Earth, should know better. I recently called a sales person at a Fortune 50 company (name withheld to protect my pocketbook) and got a recording that said “The person you called is not taking messages at this time. Goodbye.” I guess they don’t need my business.


Call Completion Replaces Voicemail

The newest way to handle callers and give employees the text based workflow they need is called SAM – Smart Assist by Mutare.  SAM answers the call, lets the caller speak a voice memo and then SAM transcribes the message to text and delivers it to the employee in email, SMS or as a Skype Instant Message.  Callers get served and employees no longer have a voicemail box to manage.  The system is simple, works with all business phone system and mobile phones and requires only a one-time setup. It is licensed by user annually. Savings from workflow and reduced administration alone pay for the system compared to traditional voicemail.

The Five Point Strategy for the C Suite

We launched this strategy at Avaya Converge 2016 to a packed audience that found it was exactly what the C suite had asking for.  Customers with other switch environments have said the same thing, which is why SAM can be used with any phone system, not just Avaya.  So Cisco, ShoreTel, Microsoft, Mitel and mobile users can all benefit.  Here is your 5 point strategy to serve your employees and callers that C suite is looking for:

  1. Serve all callers and be responsive.
  2. Serve employees by eliminating the need to manage greetings and dialing in to retrieve messages.
  3. Notify employees of calls by their choice of email, SMS or IM.
  4. Convey the gist of the message with a transcript and eliminate the message waiting light, enabling employees to distinguish between SPAM and urgent calls.
  5. Lower service, maintenance and admin costs by replacing voicemail with call completion.

View the recorded webinar by clicking here. Visit http://www.killvoicemail.net or http://dumpvoicemail.com for more information.

Posted in Unified Messaging | Leave a comment

Texting Patients for Better Healthcare Outcomes

Surgical Waiting

Surgical Waiting

Text messages and automated reminder calls are a proven method to enhance communications with patient and family members with use cases documented to:

  • Decrease no show rates for appointments
  • Improve therapy compliance with medication reminders
  • Reduced anxiety, lower reported pain, better nurse/patient/caregiver communications through early reunification in Post Anaesthesia Care Units

The three use cases above have been documented in over 20 hospitals using a communication platform that integrates text messages, phone calls and emails to interact with patients and caregivers in each of the use cases. The findings have very positive implications for better and more cost effective healthcare delivery:

  • No show rates for appointments and follow up appointments decrease onaverage 20% to 25% improving outcomes for patients and lowering costs for healthcare delivery by maximizing clinician time and avoiding the hassles of rescheduling.
  • Compliance with complex therapy is documented to increase when drug reminders are sent via text or phone call especially to elderly patients on regimens of multiple drugs. A simple phone call or text reminder to “take the small yellow pill” can improve compliance in a range studies from 54% to over 94%. Studies have been run on reminders for therapies ranging fromglaucoma eye drops to HIV antiviral therapy.  In every study compliance with drug regimens went up resulting in better outcomes.
  • Surgical procedures are very stressful on patients, caregivers and the clinicians. Several studies have concluded that reuniting the patient with a family member in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) reduces stress, improves communication and patients who are reunited report lower amounts of pain.  The best practice implemented by Memorial Health in Springfield, IL is 30 minutes.  Memorial has achieved Magnet status twice and is now using data from text messaging to support a 3rd Magnet designation. Not bad for a workflow enhanced by simple text message!

Hospitals, medical practices, outpatient clinics, medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies should all consider implementing HIPAA compliant opt in SMS text reminders to decrease costs, improve health outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. Patient survey data shows text messages are very effective for these communications and result in better compliance.

Some practices are even starting to use branded mobile apps that use secure message data in place of SMS, which also has the added benefit of eliminating SMS text message costs. This approach has great merit as well and enables clinicians and patients to privately discuss personal health information without fear of the information being breached.  Text messaging may be just what the doctor ordered!

#patientengagement #userexperience

Posted in Unified Messaging | Leave a comment

Just Let Me Talk to a Person

I had a flight cancelled the other day on a major airline carrier stranding me in Pennsylvania. The folks at the airline counter could not book me on a return flight to Chicago for two more days. Rebooking wasn’t an option so I decided that renting a car and driving home would be a better idea. I asked for a refund and they directed me to call their toll free number…

Have you ever found yourself yelling into your mobile phone trying to get to a customer service agent? The voice control system can’t understand you half the time because the mobile connection is horrible and the logic programmed into the interactive voice response for “self service” is so draconian that you have to go through several minutes of dead end choices before you get a chance to speak to someone that can actually help.

Self Service Tools Must Work and Be Easy to Use or They Can Damage Your Brand
When the system asked me what I wanted I said “refund” – no joy there. I said “agent”. No luck. What I did get is a lot of “I am sorry, I didn’t get that. Would you like help with a reservation? You can say common commands like…”

Enough already. Self service phone support shouldn’t be so hard. So here is a bit of advice to anyone involved in marketing, contact center management, customer support or customer experience:

Make Contacting a Representative Easier

It would be unfair to criticize without offering a solution so here are a few:

  • Limit Phone Menu Choices to No More than 4 – If your company offers customer service by phone, limit the IVR menus to the bare minimum and offer from the beginning the ability to speak with a person that can help or find you one that can. Don’t commit callers to voicemail jail, always offer a “zero out” option. Natural language self help is a wonderful technology, but we live in a mobile society and mobile phone clarity is just not sufficient to always work well especially for customers on the go. People in cabs, noisy airports, on the street, on hands free devices or bluetooth headsets are going to have audio challenges, so be sure to accommodate them.
  • Include In App Chat for Mobile Apps – If you have a mobile self service app – offer in app chat so that you can text with a live person. Instead of just publishing a toll free number, put in an Icon that says “Live Chat” and enable secure texting from within the app. Offer email as well, not every problem requires an immediate answer and email can offload the costs of expensive and high skilled agents to lesser expensive backroom associates. Doesn’t that seem like a good idea?
  • Offer Live Chat on Your Website – If you have a website (and who doesn’t) offer live chat from the website so people can get to a live person when the self-serve tools fail them. Oh and please code the website to be responsive so it works on a mobile phone. If you have to pinch to expand the screen you lose over 1/2 your visitors.
  • Just Let Me Talk with a Live Person

    Just Let Me Talk with a Live Person

Your brand is the sum of all the impressions your company makes with its customers and prospects. One of the most powerful impression is the interaction that takes place between the customer and the customer service representative. Make it count.

Posted in Unified Messaging | Leave a comment

Five Steps for Leaving a Better Business Voice Mail Message

ContactUsEighty percent of all business calls go to voice mail. We all make fewer calls these days, but the calls we do make are typically for more urgent or important matters. So make your voice messages work to your advantage. It will improve your work flow, bolster your personal brand and speed resolution.

The millennial generation just entering the workforce has the hardest time with voice messages, but it is an essential skill everyone should master. Even seasoned professionals sometimes get tongue tied especially if it is a stressful situation.

Here is how to leave a high quality business voice message everytime:

  1. Once the beep plays state your name and phone number for the return call. Speak slowly and clearly. Unless the person you are calling has voice to text, they need to write down your message so don’t rush it or wait until the end. If they are using a voice to text service, speaking clearly is even more important especially if you are calling on a cell phone.
  2. Get right to the point and be specific. A voice message should rarely be longer than 30 seconds. Assume when they call back they will get your voice mail so if all you need is a quick answer they can leave it for you. Voice mail can be a tool for carrying on a non simultaneous conversation if used properly.
  3. Smile as you speak as it will come through on the recording and set the right tone for a return call. It is not helpful to have stress or anger in your voice.
  4. Since voice calls are typically for more urgent matters, let them know the best time for a call back so you can avoid telephone tag.
  5. Write down the message before calling. You should always have call notes before picking up the phone. Don’t forget, 20% of the time the person you are calling will answer, so be prepared to speak live as well as leave a message. DO NOT RAMBLE when leaving a voice message.

Here is an example:

“Hi this is YOUR NAME, phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX. I am calling to follow up on our Wednesday meeting. I need to confirm the quantities we discussed to complete the quote you requested for your Friday meeting with the CEO. If you reach me before Noon today, I should be able to have it for you by 2 PM to review. My number again is XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

You don’t need to say “hello” or “goodbye”, just hang up. Follow these 5 simple steps and you will master the art of the business voice message in no time.

Posted in Unified Messaging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Fun with giSTT Speech to Text

Click this link to watch a short video produced by Tribecca Flashpoint Academy: Voicemail Stalker – A little fun with giSTT  

The students at Tribecca Flashpoint Academy have some fun with voice to text.

The students at Tribecca Flashpoint Academy have some fun with voice to text.

Posted in Unified Messaging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment