CloudTalk: Bend the Ear of an Engineer

Nick Bitzer cut his teeth as a ReadyTalk engineer three years ago when he began on the Q/A and release team. Now, he’s responsible for maintaining backend reliability that makes our ReadyTalk products possible. He’s armed with an acute sense of our tech DNA, and a sleeve tattoo of a steamship anchor repping his Florida roots.

Q: What was your most memorable day at ReadyTalk?

A: The first day I got here. Haha seriously. It was a great introduction to the company culture and my whole team. Definitely a whirlwind of events that day. My first impression was how inviting and welcoming everyone was. Also, sometimes the formalities of meeting managers can seem awkward and forced on your first day. It was NOT that way at ReadyTalk. My questions were heard and answered, I was able to meet even the highest level directors and C-level executives. The access to people and resources was really an eye opener. I definitely felt the culture was dropped in my lap on day one. Plus, we crushed it at happy hour that evening, so that didn’t hurt either. It did hurt the next day.   

Q: What’s your most unpredictable type of work day?

A: The catch 22 is that the bad or difficult days are the most rewarding. Once in awhile, unforeseen production issues may cause a hiccup and I have to get up early to put out a fire. It just happens, as with any other service on the market. Even though these events are high pressure, I do enjoy solving the problem and identifying why something went wrong. I think that’s when I’m at my best because my teammates and I need a resolution ASAP.

Q: Even though you work on the backend in engineering, how does your work affect customers?

A: Since I’ve worked on a lot of our bug fixes and product enhancements, I enjoy acting on the concerns of our customers and delivering additions to our services. In this case, the engineering team works with the customer care department to remedy different components, or to stay competitive in the market by adding product features. This was especially true when I worked on the release team because we were building automation that verified our products. We pushed out the changes every six weeks so that definitely kept us busy. This relates to ongoing projects that reflect the voice of the customer, so it might not always impact my day-to-day flow. Rather, the bigger picture across the company as we get feedback about maximizing the user experience.

Q: I noticed that you have an exposed tattoo. Does that make it hard getting a table at a nice restaurant?

A: No. Absolutely not. It helps.

Fact-checking common misconceptions about remote work

Even just a decade or two ago, having a remote workforce was probably seen as the stuff of science fiction. How could a company have employees all over the world that are not only effectively managed but productive in their work?

Well, times have changed. New technology like unified communications that enables seamless connection and collaboration between far-flung individuals has changed the nature of work and human relationships. Despite these innovations, however, old fashioned and outdated views of remote work remain popular.

Let's bust the myths and fact-check some common misconceptions about remote work:

Misconception #1: Remote workers are not productive – they're too distracted by the TV.

Fact-check: Sure, a house has distractions like Netflix, video games and a fridge full of food, but an office has its collection of time-wasters, too, such as the watercooler, social-butterfly co-workers and that universal foe to focus, the internet. The reality is that many remote employees find they're actually more productive doing work at home. This may sound counterintuitive, but it makes sense – telecommuters are able to buckle down and get work done in the comfort and quiet of their own home office. In fact, a survey by employee engagement firm TINYpulse found that 91 percent of respondents say that they're more productive working remotely. 

Misconception #2: Remote workers are easily forgotten by corporate.

Fact-check: With tech tools like unified communications, video conferencing and hosted voice, employees in-office can efficiently and productively connect with remote workers, ensuring they are valued members of the team. Remote work arrangements have also been found to reduce employee turnover rates, according to a study published by Stanford University. And when it comes to including remote workers in social office events, companies are getting creative, using video conferences to enable telecommuters to "attend" holiday parties and all-hands meetings. 

Misconception #3: Remote workers are unhappy and isolated. 

Fact-check: They may be located hundreds of miles from the office building, but home-based employees are pretty happy with their arrangements. The survey by TINYpulse found that remote employees are happier at work than their in-office counterparts. And the top reason that employees choose to work remotely was that they "enjoy having the freedom of choosing when and where to work." 

It's time that companies embrace the exciting opportunities that remote work arrangements bring to their organizations' productivity as well as their employees' happiness levels. With this attitude, they can go forth and prosper in the 21st century. 

CloudTalk: Navigating Customer Success

No two accounts are exactly alike — that’s why our customer success team thrives on supporting a variety of cases. Margaret Thomas is ReadyTalk’s Senior Customer Success Manager, and she has a knack for accommodating every buyer type on the cloud. Check out her thoughts on quality service and delivering creative solutions across all of our product lines.  

 

Q: How many years have you worked at ReadyTalk?

A: I’ve been here for seven years but originally started as a strategic account manager. But this isn’t my first rodeo in the web conferencing industry — I also worked for a larger corporation for 10 years prior to ReadyTalk.

 

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Every day is different. Every budget is different. Every person is different. I enjoy hearing about a customer’s needs, and then brainstorming with my team to develop the best ways to accomplish their goals. In other words, I offer consultation, training, and onboarding for our accounts so that they’re ready to host a meeting or event. There’s a bit of flexibility in my role because each company has a unique use for our platform. It happens a lot that a customer will say, “Hey Margaret, I want to do x,y,z,” and it’s up to me to figure out the best plan for them.

 

Q: What types of customer interactions motivate you?

A: Whenever I legitimately help a customer and make an impact on their experience. Sometimes a ‘thank you’ email from an account is one of the best feelings. An honest, genuine, appreciation of our work together really goes a long way. Obviously, that’s what I’m here for — but the acknowledgement means that we made a positive difference in their day. It means I didn’t let them down or leave them hanging, and that’s what they want. More importantly, for their sake, they were able to execute effectively based on our guidance.

 

Q: OK, where do you really love to spend your time?

A: The summer is consumed by baseball. Otherwise, I’m with my fam up in the mountains! My husband and our two sons love to get out of dodge on the weekends. We all love the outdoors and it’s why we’re here in Colorado! In the winter, they’re skiing while I read or hit the spa. No complaints! Haha.

Want to take your cloud services to the next level? Give our customer success team a call today!

3 ways to pump up collaboration at your company

Is your company in an innovation dry spell? Has it been searching for that great new idea, but been unable to find it? Are your thinking caps piled on shelves, collecting dust, as employees work quietly away in their solitary cubicles? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, it's likely your business is suffering from low levels of collaboration – and it's time flip the switch. 

Collaboration is key to success at any company, regardless of industry or size. Whether employees work in-office or remotely, their conversations and knowledge-sharing drives progress. Stirring together different perspectives and adding a dash of fearless creativity is a recipe for innovation. 

If you worry your company isn't working together as dynamically as it could be, don't fret – it's something that can be changed. Here are three ways to pump up collaboration at your organization:

1. Smash that hierarchy 

Senior-level management, mid-career workers and recent grads – employees at all levels of the organizational hierarchy should be exchanging ideas with one another. This is because the goal is to minimize the weight of that hierarchy and democratize company culture so that everyone feels incentivized to do their best work in a fair and transparent environment. All-hands meetings and regular Q&A or brainstorming sessions that bring together workers at various levels and points in their careers help everyone feel valued while driving the exchange of ideas. 

2. Unite workers with the right tools 

If you want to have more collaboration at your company, then you need tools that enable easy, efficient communication, no matter where employees are located in the world. Unified communications tools like hosted voice, video conferencing and instant messaging ensure employees can share files, information and ideas with one another. 

3. Create a unique solution 

A common mistake organizations make is trying to copy the collaborative work models and practices of other companies, as Sam Marshall explained in an article for CMSWire. Often, their efforts don't work out because they adopted practices and culture attributes that just don't fit their unique work environment and the traits of their employees. Instead, companies should create collaboration practices that are tailored to their workplace. 

In a study of companies with high levels of productive collaboration, the Harvard Business Review found that they commonly had "'signature' practices – practices that were memorable, difficult for others to replicate, and particularly well suited to their own business environment."

Reflect on the habits of your company, and create collaborative methods that fit that. 

CloudTalk: Hotel Boiler Room and Customer Comedy

Meet Chelsea Langen, a ReadyTalk Account Executive with stories even Wes Anderson couldn’t write. For over a year Chelsea has created relationships with a variety of customers — some with traditional conferencing needs and some that were a real bugger. When she’s not camping or playing with her Golden Doodle, you’ll find her problem solving and coming up with the best ways to help her customers. Here’s Chelsea’s first-hand recap of her most memorable experiences on the sales team.

 

Q: What’s the most creative use for a web meeting that you’ve encountered?

A: Not long ago we had a bug exterminator that wanted to use our video sharing platform with his clients. For real. Basically, he wanted to be able to diagnose bug problems in a customer’s house over video. To each their own, go for it.

 

Q: Why do you love working at ReadyTalk?

A: I really think my coworkers are an awesome group of individuals. It’s a talented team of friendly and outgoing people. In a given week, you often spend just as much time at work as you do at home so it’s great to be around fun people.

 

Q: What was your best day at ReadyTalk?

A: I’ll tell you about the best (read: most random) deal I ever closed. On New Year’s Eve last winter I was driving back to Colorado from Michigan and stayed for a night in a cheap hotel room. Middle of nowhere in Nebraska and snowing. I had a deadline and needed to close the account before the end of the year. So, in spite of my surroundings — dark room, shag carpeting — I was able to find my customer the webinar package that they wanted. ON NEW YEAR’S EVE. Apparently I like cutting it close. Haha.   

 

Q: What are the most common products that you sell to any given customer?

A: Across the board. I’ve worked with new and existing accounts on all of our lines of business. I guess the majority would be webinars and our collaborative services. I’m also super excited to be working with clients on our unified communications product.

 

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Being able to create unique solutions for customers, especially those who have struggled with competitor products in the past. I really do love that. If they’ve used someone else’s webinar or web conferencing platform but had a bad experience, I truly enjoy providing excellent customer support. Thankfully, our customers are easy to work with!

Here’s what one of our customers has to say about working with the ReadyTalk team!