Giva Blog
Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

Healthcare Data Breaches on the Rise

Healthcare Data Protection

Since the start of the year, over 92 million medical records have been affected by breaches of the healthcare industry. According to recent news in Forbes, these breaches can affect customers both financially and in a more personal way with the private medical history involved making them more vulnerable. The fraudster could actually receive medical treatment under the victim's identity in the end putting the victim at risk of later receiving wrong medical service based on someone else's health information. The possibilities of complications stemming from these breaches are endless.

According to the article, it used to be that the top cause for patient data loss was an employee losing a device or having it stolen, but more recently the medical information is being obtained through cyber attacks on major medical organizations including Anthem, Premera and Carefirst. Because financial services and retailers have become savvier about protecting customer data the cyber criminals are now targeting the healthcare industry. "In a recent FBI presentation, Kam [Rick Kam, president and cofounder of ID Experts] says that the agency said that it had seen health insurance information fetching a price of $60-$70 on the black market as opposed to less than a dollar for a Social Security Number." This should propel all of the healthcare industry to do all they can to make the protection of their customers' private information a top priority.

Giva's cloud software rises above the rest by being HIPAA compliant. For more in depth information on this very important benefit , please see 7 Key Elements of Giva's HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Help Desk Software for Electronic Health & Medical Records.

Using Metrics to Improve First Call Resolution

First Call Resolution Metrics

Resolution timeliness is a major factor in customer satisfaction and First Call Resolution (FCR) is an important metric in order to gauge the success of a help desk/call center in resolving routine requests.

The gathering and use of metrics to manage system performance is a common IT practice. A Service Desk manager may employ a number of proven techniques to realize meaningful improvement in First Call Resolution. Each of these techniques is based on standard Continuous Quality Improvement methodology.

The Value of FCR

As FCR improves, the overall cost of providing support decreases. Industry analysts estimate the mean cost to resolve a ticket on level one to be about $32. The mean cost to resolve an escalated ticket is about $60. In an environment averaging 4,000 calls per month, improving FCR from 50% to 75% reduces the number of tickets requiring escalation by 1,000 per month. The total cost to support those tickets is commensurately reduced yielding an estimated savings of $28,000 per month, based on the averages.

The Use of Metrics

Using metrics to establish and improve on baseline performance is one key method to deriving optimal performance from your IT teams. Great statistics alone do not achieve results. Long-term quality improvement and cost savings result from nurturing the operational and organizational maturity of those teams and the people on them.

For a much greater in-depth study of proven techniques to drive first call resolution at the service desk and add value to your organization, read Giva's Whitepaper Service Desk Optimization: 40 to 80 in No Time Flat.

4 Helpful Insights for Effective Internal CSR Communications

Internal Corporate Social Responsibility Communications

There are a number of benefits to having a strong internal communication strategy set up to explain your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, accomplishments, and future plans. Communicating internally about your company's CSR helps to inform individuals and departments, bring them "on board," and enhance participation. Here are 4 helpful insights on effective internal CSR communications.

Get Staff On Board

No matter your company's size, it is important that individuals and groups, or departments, understand how their roles are important in contributing to the larger goals of your business. Poor internal communication about CSR can have a number of impacts on its efficacy, a major one being that important individuals and departments may not understand how the program impacts their organizational functions, and, as a result, they may take no action to effectively support CSR program goals.

People work best when they understand how and why their work is making a contribution. To accomplish this, a company can create a CSR philosophy, or mission statement, in order to communicate and reiterate this to all new and veteran staff. As a result, this will appeal to them and show how CSR is not a separate and independent department, but an integral part of your organization. If you are able to convey the relationship between CSR and other departments as mutually beneficial and symbiotic, you will be able to foster employee buy-in and commitment to CSR.

Focus on Content

Whether you are communicating with staff or potential new hires, people are most interested in CSR programs that involve volunteerism or initiatives related to their interests. Just like college studenst may choose a course that incorporates one or more of their interests into the curriculum, workers will want to volunteer with CSR programs that incorporate their personal interests and talents, skills, etc. This may be obvious by the nature of the goods and services your company provides, or it may require obtaining feedback from a survey generated by your internal Communications Department to distribute and collect data.

Appealing to your staff's interests is a great way to select a CSR focus or program of interest, as well as an important aspect of your communication strategy. Appeal to employees interests in your communications. Explain to them what they will be doing, how their work and skills will benefit a program, and how they may benefit from their experience as well. This should be an ongoing process in your communication; continually establishing CSR as not only a foundation of your organizational culture, but also an important part of its functioning.

Choose a Vehicle for Your CSR Communication That Fits

Communication about CSR to your employees can take on many forms; choosing the vehicles of communication that are best for your company will require that you consider various things. One item to consider is how much money and time you want to devote to communicating about CSR. If you have limited funds to dedicate to your CSR communications, a very cost effective mechanism is via email or your company's intranet, if you have one. In addition, try to get individuals to communicate in person about CSR. Emails are easy to skim over, or just not read, and the same is true of intranet posts.

Incorporate your CSR communication into all-staff meetings, departmental meetings, or even meetings about benefit enrollments, etc. This is another vehicle for facilitating interpersonal, face-to-face communication about CSR. Employees can also ask questions and offer feedback in settings like this. You can even create meetings, either all-staff, or in smaller groups, strictly about CSR. Dedicating this sort of focus and time to CSR sends a clear message in itself that your organization values CSR and values employee involvement and their input about company CSR strategies and practices.

Suggestion boxes, whether they be tangible boxes in or around an office, or a virtual suggestion box online, is a great way to solicit feedback from employees about CSR. Remember, communication is a two-way street. You should communicate with employees about your CSR strategy, not at them.

Involve Leadership

Regardless of the size of your organization, communication should always, in some way, involve a leader in the company. You can have CSR newsletters and emails come from your CEO or bring them to speak at meetings or events. Whatever the method, involve leadership in CSR communication.

Aside from the content of the message itself, when a CSR newsletter comes from a CEO or other executive, there is an implicit message about the importance of CSR in your company. When leadership shows that they value the CSR initiatives of their organization, they are validating it for other employees and lower-level leaders. Their involvement, or lack of involvement, has a trickle-down effect; therefore it is in the best interests of the CSR department to heavily involve executives. Ideally, a CEO or other high-level executive will serve as the face of the company's CSR initiatives.

DeSantis-Breindel is a consulting agency that works with companies to improve a variety of functions, including employee engagement with CSR. They note the importance of leadership involvement with CSR communications: "A well thought-out branding and communications strategy, backed by the support of an engaged CEO, can align CSR activities with the corporate brand in a way that is both authentic and meaningful, and transform all volunteer, philanthropic and sustainability initiatives into culture-building activities" (Does CEO Engagement Lead to CSR Impact?).

These are just a few insights into what makes an effective internal communications strategy for CSR, which can increase commitment and participation among employees. If you would like to learn more about developing an internal communication strategy that is right for your organization, there are many guides and resources you can reference to build your strategy.

Here are a few suggestions for further reading:

CSR Europe: Internal Communication and Employee Engagement

EUROPA: A Guide to Communicating About CSR

Internal Communications and Employee Engagement 2013

Does Your Business Need A Service Level Agreement?

Sample Service Level Agreement

Organizations prepare service level agreements (SLA) detailing the services provided to their customers. These agreements describe how the work of the service organization is prioritized along with agreed upon response and resolve times.

For example, In order to provide optimal first level support service to all departments, all problem and repair calls might be received by a central Help Desk. This first level provides a platform where:

  • All problems will be recorded
  • Problems will be resolved or assigned to the appropriate specialist
  • Problems will be monitored etc.

An SLA describes the factors influencing first level problem determinations, such as:

  • Number of customers affected
  • Effect on business mission
  • Context of problem etc.

Tables used to define severity levels describe how calls are prioritized and the associated response and resolve commitments.

Single point of contact responses can be determined using the following criteria:

  • Orders for new equipment provided by manager
  • Data entry service
  • System sign on request etc.

Does your business need a service level agreement? To ensure your SLA is consistent with best practices and contains all relevant topics and details, Giva provides much more in-depth coverage of this subject, using a help desk/customer service agreement as an example, in our whitepaper Sample IT Help Desk Service Level Agreement (SLA), which you can view online or download for free.

The Giva Challenge: Giva Customers are Talking! Miles & Stockbridge

Miles & Stockbridge

Saving time, in the long run, saves money. The new Apple watch discussed at TechCrunch is in the business of saving people time by making it easier to see important information throughout their workday without having to pull out their smart phone. This equates to precious time saved. According to Matthew Panzanaro at TechCrunch, "There are very few products that allow you to hand someone cash and be given back TIME."

Working around-the-clock to meet a client's needs is what a great attorney does. If that clock is slowed down in any way it costs extra money. Miles & Stockbridge P.C. has enjoyed a rich history of well-planned growth, enduring client relationships and loyal community leadership for over 80 years. They support approximately 500 employees in 8 offices across the east coast of the USA. "Since we are providing IT technical support to attorneys that work around-the-clock, we needed a solution that could be accessible anywhere and anytime by our staff. Our attorneys' time is our 'stock in trade', so we must keep the firm up and running and highly productive on a large number of applications and various hardware platforms in order to generate revenue." (Ken Adams, Chief Information Officer) They were spending a lot of time and money on managing and maintaining servers and software to host their previous application.

After researching their options, they found the solution to their time problem. "Giva's application suite is fast and responsive, and we have had 100% uptime. Any cloud application we use must perform this way, especially since we are working with attorneys that are always under tight deadlines and want to minimize the amount of time they are on the phone with us." Not only have they saved attorneys valuable time they have also experienced;

  • 70% cost savings when considering the total cost of ownership (TCO) over a 3 year period
  • 70% decrease in number of tickets that remain open from day-to-day
  • 60% increase in customer satisfaction of attorneys and staff
  • 100% application uptime and high application responsiveness

Miles & Stockbridge have taken the time to save their clients valuable time. According to Ken Adams, "With Giva, when I view any report, it always has real-time information. Furthermore, any of my staff can create, save and share reports, which allow us to retrieve pertinent real-time information at any moment without having to set up our own versions of a report. This dynamic nature of Giva's reporting engine is a tremendous advantage over all the others we evaluated."

Find more information at Miles & Stockbridge Case Study.

What is your challenge? Let Giva be your solution!

Benefit Corporations

Benefit Corporations

What is a Benefit Corporation?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a well-known term in the for-profit sector. As it has grown and become recognized as a necessary strategy for most corporations, it has also expanded and taken on new forms. One such unique form of CSR is its role as an overarching strategy for businesses, placing importance on social and environmental impact above net earnings. Benefit Corporations align their strategies, both internally and externally, on achieving a positive impact on society and the environment. They are unique from traditional corporations in a number of ways.

Benefit Corporations' strategies are geared toward achieving a positive social or environmental (often both) benefit. They are also held accountable to do as such. Unlike traditional corporations' obligation to make decisions in the financial best interests of shareholders, i.e. creating long-term shareholder value, benefit corporations are obligated to make decisions that are in the best interests of achieving their intended purpose of creating a positive social and environmental impact.

Benefit Corporations are unique for-profit agents of change because they are held to standards that other corporations are not. They are held accountable to achieve their proposed social and environmental impact, which is explicitly stated to shareholders and stakeholders. Benefit Corporations must publish an annual benefit report, in accordance with third-party standards, that illustrates their measured social and environmental impact. This accountability also serves as a form of transparency; it must be delivered to all shareholders and be published on a public website. There are many third-party reporting assessments that can benefit corporations in order to create the annual review report. Many third-party standards are geared toward assessing specific industries, such as food or textiles/clothing.

Several benefit corporations are highlighted below reflecting exciting and unique approaches that are being taken to generate positive social and environmental impacts worldwide.

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" - George Eliot

Inkkas

According to many fashion critics and magazines, 2014 was "The Year of the Sneaker." Even if that is up for debate, sneakers are a staple item in almost everyone's closet, and a shoe for the ages. It is safe to assume they will not be going out of style anytime soon. But, looking to get a pair of trendy new sneakers can also leave a positive "footprint" on the planet.

Inkkas is a socially and environmentally conscious fashion brand, "founded on the principles of fair-trade, philanthropy and authenticity." They sell shoes, bags and jewelry that are all handmade from local artisans in Peru and other countries, featuring the unique colors, patterns and designs that originated from the land of the Ancient Incas. Their impact is both social and environmental. Products are fair trade, contributing to the livelihood of the individuals who craft them, and the communities from which they originate.

Inkkas partnered with the non-profit Trees for the Future to create the OneShoeOneTree™ which assists in "the reforestation of the world's depleted forests" by planting one tree for every pair of shoes sold. This leaves a positive "footprint" in the world at large as well.

Raven + Lily

Raven + Lily is an online retailer that sells handmade, eco-friendly fashion, accessories, and home goods made from at-risk women in Kenya, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India and the Unites States. Raven + Lily has a collection dedicated to the crafts from women in each territory. For example, their Ethiopia Collection includes colorful statement jewelry pieces handcrafted by HIV+ women in Ethiopia. Their crafts are used as a form of empowerment; some of the most breathtaking pieces are crafted from beads and charms made from melted bullet castings from former war conflicts. Raven + Lily employs all of their women at fair trade wages and, beyond that, helps them to use their creativity, passion and stories to craft more than just beautiful clothing and jewelry but also sustainable lives for themselves and their families. They now employ over 1,000 women from 13 different artisan partnerships, and they are continuing to grow their socially and eco-friendly business.

Call2Action

It is clear that video, internet and social media are great tools for increasing leverage and impact in the social sector. What is not always clear is how. And that is where Call2Action comes in, providing individuals and organizations with their "Spark" tool which utilizes video to inform viewers about a specific cause or action-issue and then inspires them to take action. Spark is an addition to a YouTube video that allows for various action items after viewers have watched a video, such as signing up for a newsletter, sharing on other forms of social media, donating, or joining an effort. In many ways, Spark helps to remove barriers that obstruct potentially interested individuals from joining or donating to an effort. Call2Action provides customers with consulting around how to adapt their Spark videos to best fit the need of the customer and their goals, and to generate the most impact and leverage. One of their most successful campaigns was in partnership with Feeding America, the leading hunger relief organization in America. Call2Action helped Feeding America to make their action items in the videos customizable for local food banks, but still unified in their message.

10 More Tough Questions to Better Qualify Any Software / Cloud Vendor

Questions for Software Vendors

How can you more quickly qualify and evaluate any software or cloud vendor?

In another informative whitepaper, Giva offers even more tough questions to keep your potential software or cloud vendor on their toes and to make sure they know you have done your homework. Customers interested in purchasing any software or cloud service may encounter myriad of problems and obstacles during the purchase process.  This whitepaper provides tough practical questions to ask your vendor candidate to help avoid mistakes that even the most experienced professionals can make. 

Some topics covered include:

  • What happens if we have a disagreement? Mediation/arbitration or litigation?
  • What are the costs of additional modules and licenses purchased in the future?
  • What are license options for part-time usage?
  • Are customer case studies with business results achieved available?
  • Are your customer references compensated in any way?
  • How will our future feature requirements be obtained?
  • Will we have a dedicated Account Manager?
  • Are thirty-day supported production trials available without obligation?
  • How many new releases are provided per year?

For more information and tough questions to assist you in your vendor selection process, please refer to Ten More Tough Questions to Better Qualify Any Software or Cloud Vendor

4 Tips for Optimizing Online Customer Service

Digital Online Customer Service

Micah Solomon, best selling business author and named by the Financial Post "New Guru of Customer Service Excellence," wrote about an important principle of customer service titled the BUBL method in his informative article, "The One Customer Service Training Secret You Need To Know". The simple acronym stands for Begin immediately, Uncode, Break Your Schedule, and Leave Room For More:

Begin Immediately: This means giving immediate attention to the customer. Keep in mind they are here for your service; their needs are your priority.

Uncode: Be receptive to the body language, tone, and verbal cues of your customer to decode their persona and adjust your attitude accordingly.

Break Your Schedule: Throw your to-do list out the window. Customer service entails tending to customer needs as they are needed, so assure your schedule is their schedule.

Leave Room For More: Lastly, leave your interaction open-ended. In other words, make yourself available for future assistance.

These four practices are essential to successful customer service interactions.

But how do you provide helpful customer service when you are not physically present? Excellent online customer service is equally possible; however, business methods must be adapted to digital spaces:

  1. "Beginning immediately" is no longer an issue in an online environment where the desired information should be readily available. A customer service representative or associate may not be present, but providing a Frequently Asked Questions page in your navigation can substitute as a reliable resource for any business-related questions your customer may have. Additionally, a search feature will assist users in navigating your website for any specific questions.

  2. Uncoding a customer's presence online may not be possible , however, knowing what your customers find helpful or unhelpful is critical to the success of your business. To quote Bill Gates, "We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." Encouraging customer input by Including a survey or feedback form is a simple and effective way to gain that feedback. Consider using websites like Survey Monkey.

  3. Navigating a website is a self-serving practice prohibiting you from personally tending to the customer's schedule. Instead, implement an analytics program to view the effectiveness of your website. By tracking metrics, you can gain a comprehensive look at customer interactions and pinpoint what areas of your business need improvement.

  4. With regard to leaving yourself available for further interaction, be sure to provide a customer service phone number and email address in a clearly visible area should a visitor have additional questions or concerns. Regardless of the efficiency of your website's navigability or helpfulness, customers will always genuinely appreciate the option to communicate with a live person.

The online customer brings different challenges to the customer service environment, and successful organizations will find creative ways to closely interact with them, even if it is through "personal" virtual means.

Multinational & SME CSR Relationships

CSR for Large & Small/Medium Businesses

Much of the evolution in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) over the last decade has been driven by large multinational enterprises. The ambitious initiatives undertaken by some of the world's largest companies have made them leaders in the field. But, CSR also occupies an important place in many Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) creating an interesting dynamic with the multinational firms these companies often supply. A fascinating report by the World Bank Institute titled "Can Small Be Responsible" analyzes this dynamic in some detail. The report, based on dialogue from an e-Conference on CSR in SMEs, is internationally focused and a decade old. But, many of its conclusions are still relevant today for SMEs in a variety of cultural contexts. It raises many questions concerning the best way to form a CSR agreement that meets both parties' expectations.

The majority of comments concerning this topic centered on the one-sided dialogue that often plays out in these multinational SME CSR relationships. Multinational enterprises often demand SMEs attain their compliance standards without analyzing the unique challenges these demands create. Occasionally, loan schemes are provided to SMEs to reach these goals. The method is a very top-down approach and caters primarily to the multinational company's interest.

Some small businesses complain of other challenges as well. For example, satisfying the elaborate reporting systems of their multinational consumers is often difficult. But, the benefits the multinational companies bring can outweigh these kinds of difficulties, and the vast majority of experts agree that these large enterprises have been instrumental in exporting ethical business practices overseas and to SMEs.

Ultimately, in order to improve the CSR relationship of multinational companies and SMEs, both parties need to improve the ongoing dialogue. The report recommends that multinationals implement their policies with rewards to SMEs rather than demands. They can take advantage of the more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse spirit of their smaller suppliers. In the end, it comes down to improving the education of these small firms. By offering both guidance and support to SMEs while still allowing flexibility, multinational companies can extract the most from such an important part of their partnerships.

20 Tough Questions to Better Select, Compare & Evaluate Any Software / Cloud Vendor

Questions for Software Vendors

There is nothing more frustrating than signing on the dotted line and then regretting it. Selecting a software or cloud vendor is a major decision for any company and Giva has designed a whitepaper to assist you in becoming more informed and educated by reducing the complexity of the cloud or software vendor selection process.

This whitepaper provides twenty penetrating questions to ask cloud vendors in order to become a more informed buyer. It provides practical "how to" advice to help avoid mistakes that even the most experienced professionals make, ultimately costing them a lot of time and money. Use these questions early in your selection process to poke and prod at your list of cloud vendors.

Some topics covered include:

  • Using uptime and support service level agreements to manage our relationship
  • How to qualify the reliability and security of a data center; SSAE 16 (formally SAS 70), Trustwave PCI Certification and SysTrust Compliance
  • Access to your data and rights in the cloud
  • Source code escrow rights and responsibilities
  • Termination clauses, contract term commitments, discounts and hidden fees
  • What if my company is dissatisfied?
  • What if my company finds better technology?
  • Deployment "out-of-box" vs. time and cost of customization/configuration
  • Preparing and comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of all alternatives
  • Most overlooked critical fine print in software maintenance agreements
  • Vendor product roadmaps and commitment
  • What are the costs for post-implementation customization/configuration?
  • What qualifies as routine technical support vs. professional services fees?

To view the whitepaper in its entirety, please see Twenty Tough Questions to Better Select, Compare & Evaluate Any Software or Cloud Vendors.

 

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