How We Plan to Rebuild in the Post Covid Economy

How We Plan to Rebuild in the Post Covid Economy

Q&A session with Charlie Katz of Authority Magazine and Joe Vaccarella, CEO, CIA Omnigage

“How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy” series

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I took a job in sales at a startup teleconference company in 1992. I eventually became COO and grew the company to over $15M in sales. We had an opportunity to get into a new market, which was blast voicemail. The owners had absolutely no interest in that product, so the sales VP and I joined to form Client Instant Access, LLC in 1997. We developed and marketed the service to the financial community and within 2 years, sales were over $4M and had some of the largest investment banks knocking on our door asking for our service. Our products have constantly evolved over the past 20 years and tailored to the needs of the financial services sector.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

In the first month of operation I had a research analyst tell me that the service was so bad he would put us out of business. This happened to be on my birthday. Not a good day. I realized then that investment banks hold services to a higher standard. Because of perceived shortcomings of the service, I developed a product that addressed the specific concern of the analyst. Because of that upgrade, we had every large investment bank knocking our door to use the service. Our takeaway was to build products based on customer feedback and needs and since then this is what has separated us from competitors.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I read a lot of biographies and history novels of successful people. I like to understand successful personalities and gain insight from history.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?

When we launched Client Instant Access back in 1997, the technology that companies used was far different than what we see today. The Internet was still in its infancy and on Wall Street, traders conducted almost entirely over the phone. Our goal was to help financial services and banking professionals manage their data and communicate with customers and co-workers more efficiently without having to worry about losing customer information due to security breaches.

Ultimately, our goal was to raise the bar in workflow efficiency and, as a result of our initial success, we’ve been able to expand into other industries like healthcare, legal, education and retail over the last 20 years.

As workflows have become more complex and the technology that’s being used is more sophisticated, we’ve had to stay ahead of the innovation curve and a key part of that is constantly talking to our customers to find out what they want in a communication and customer engagement solution and what things are not working for them. Knowing these things, we’re able to continuously enhance our offering to ensure we’re providing the best tools so that firms are able to provide their customers with the best experience possible.

Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?

Stay the course. Adjust to client needs and maintain the long term goals and mission of the company. Difficult to do, but we’ve weathered the Dotcom crash, 9–11, the financial crisis in 2008, and now COVID-19.

Always listen to your customers and adjust your offerings to address what hurdles they are facing in the industry ecosystem. If you’re offering the same old things that others are already doing, there’s no value-add. You have to stay creative and continue to innovate and the foundation for that is knowing what your customers want and delivering it as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share a few of the personal and family-related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Mostly to keep everyone safe and still provide a service for our clients. We’ve helped by collaborating with clients to develop disaster recovery efforts. Some solutions have been one-offs, but we were there to help. We planned for remote operations, but no one could have expected it to be at this level. The plans have made the transition seamless and we are fully functioning remotely while empowering our client base to do the same.

Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Biggest challenge is to keep up with the increase in volume of business. Being a telecom company, demand for our service has increased. The challenge has been to continue to provide the same level of service. All our employees have done a phenomenal job of maintaining quality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way professionals in every industry work and communicate. Companies ranging from major global banks to smaller mom and pops shops are becoming far more comfortable with the idea of working remotely on a more long-term basis. One of the primary reasons this has been possible is because of solutions like the one that Client Instant Access offers. Communication channels can be consolidated within a single workflow and the technology can be deployed overnight if necessary. Without the ability to webcast and send blast email messages to entire client lists, working from home would not be possible.

Not only have we been empowering business continuity over the last two months, we’re helping to change the way industries will communicate in the months and years ahead, even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Primary concern for all is to stay healthy. Next is loss of income. No amount of words ease those stresses. However, I offer that the only thing to do is stay calm. I’ve encouraged friends and family to continue to pay service people if they are in a position to do so without anything in return. Helping those near you is the best we can all do. It’s a bridge to post-COVID.

As for clients, we collaborate to morph our services to adapt to their immediate needs and develop longer term strategies to aid in future crises.

Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-COVID economy will look like. But we can, of course, try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-COVID economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time, the Post-COVID growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-COVID economy?

Supporting remote operations will be a huge growth opportunity. We see that with the ways our clients are using our services. They are looking at processes in an ‘outside the box’s perspective that doesn’t occur in day to day normal times. For example, we’re running virtual roadshows for clients. They have had great feedback and this will likely be how these meetings are conducted in the future.

Since the working and the general communication dynamic will continue to shift for so many companies — with COVID-19 serving as the catalyst for these shifts — there will be ample opportunity for technology vendors to step up and improve daily efficiencies. From the way companies communicate with customers to how they manage market and personal data, the pandemic has cast a bright light on how workflows can be improved now that everyone has been forced to work outside of a traditional office setting.

There will also be opportunities for companies to reevaluate how they employ technology across the organization. Over the last two months, many back-office functions have proven to be incapable of handling the level of bandwidth that firms are seeing during these turbulent times. Companies will need to take a hard look at how they are storing data, what security protocols they have in place and how they’ve approached disaster recovery up to this point.

How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?

Just like the experience I had in the first year of business changed my product, COVID will change some things for the better. Awareness of hygiene, handwashing, etc are things that will reduce all infectious disease. In business, the threat of a pandemic leads to a greater awareness and preparation for its effect. We will all be better prepared if and when there is another virus. People will certainly be more cautious when venturing out in public but it’s unfortunate that the loss of life and income is the price of knowledge.

From a business perspective, companies have realized that a remote work environment does not necessarily equal a drop in productivity. In fact, many companies that have leveraged the appropriate technology functions and tools have seen an uptick in productivity, largely due to the fact that the circumstances have forced them to communicate more often and provide a greater level of transparency to their customers.

Companies are finding new ways to leverage data and apply data to everyday tasks. The ability to capture data, analyze it, and make informed decisions is what will allow some companies to succeed while others will be left to reevaluate again.

Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-COVID economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-COVID Economy?

Mainly to strengthen the ability to productively operate remotely. For us, it’s always going to come down to how we can streamline daily workflows even better for our customers. Our Omnigage platform empowers clients to build stronger and smarter customer relationships, store and analyze data more efficiently, and remove the constraints of legacy telephony technology that firms have been using for decades. We’ve received such a massive increase in customer requests during the COVID-19 pandemic that we’ve been able to pinpoint what customers will need in a remote work setting so that we can continue to enhance our product offerings as the landscape of different industries, especially financial services, continues to shift.

Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?

Collaborate with customers and your partners. One of the things that has made us so successful is hearing what others are doing in the industry and staying ahead of what customers will want. We have a great partner network and collaboration is what drives innovation.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not a quote, just a cliche….always look at the glass half full. There aren’t many problems that can’t be solved and I never start with ‘no’. Most times, you will not only succeed, but excel.

How can our readers further follow your work?

I regularly write about developments in the industry which can be found on CIA Omnigage’s blog page

You can also follow CIA Omnigage on LinkedIn and on Twitter 

Elevating Multi-Channel Engagement Practices – Part 2: Workflow Efficiency

Elevating Multi-Channel Engagement Practices – Part 2: Workflow Efficiency

In Part 2 of Client Instant Access’s thought leadership series on how firms can elevate multi-channel customer engagement, we examine how to optimize workflows, even amidst unpredictable circumstances like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As firms across financial services, healthcare, education, and other industries continue to work remotely – and with many already considering implementing work from home policies longer-term – multi-faceted and secure resources like webinars, blast voicemail, conference calling, integrated dialer and SMS capabilities, provide the efficiency and peace of mind in what has quickly become a heavily-saturated and hectic communications environment.

Communication Remains Critical in Crisis 

Business Continuity will cease to exist for most firms if they do not have the platforms, tools, and systems in place to combat workplace inefficiencies. With a solution like Omnigage, designed with a secure and compliant infrastructure, the tools you need can be integrated within your CRM and deployed overnight so your firm can remain in touch and productive through any crisis.

While blasts are excellent for keeping teams up to speed and distributing service updates to customers, direct communication is equally as important. Omnigage can dial any number in the world while protecting employees’ personal numbers and tracking communication without the use of a PBX. This can be a particularly valuable tool in the banking sector, where analysts can record messages and share with their sales team, who then have the option to leave a personalized message from the analyst when calling client lists.

Due to the accelerated communication contingency issues that arose during the COVID-19 outbreak, Client Instant Access experienced a 75% increase in business in March alone. This not only demonstrates the increased demand for multi-channel communication solutions during a crisis but also Client Instant Access’s ability to rapidly deploy these tools anywhere in the world, at any time. With our state-of-the-art Omnigage platform, remote work has never been easier.

Never Lose Momentum

Working from home is the perfect opportunity to use new communication platforms and connect with co-workers in different ways. Multi-channel communications systems can keep you as engaged and involved as you would be in the office. With all meetings and events now happening in a virtual environment, Client Instant Access has provided a polished and secure atmosphere for thousands of board meetings, Q&A sessions, and business pitches for professionals that would normally occur in-person.

Even communication among team members has become more valuable than ever before. Tools like a built-in team inboxes empower remote workers to collaborate over email and SMS about customer conversations with team members.

For the financial sector specifically, Client Instant Access has helped ensure business continuity for the corporate access sector, allowing leading banks to connect investors with management teams virtually since roadshows and in-person conferences are no longer an option. Whether you’re using conference calling and webinar services, blast voicemail, email, or SMS to connect with clients and co-workers, Omnigage ensures workplace productivity and business continuity.

A loss in productivity means a loss in business momentum. The struggle to rejuvenate workforce efficiency can be an arduous journey but with a secure and proven communication foundation in place, not only are relationships elevated but the confidence in the tools provided is unmatched.

With employees away from their desks, traditional telephony has become upended. Using a modern cloud solution for calling is the solution.

By employing a platform that optimizes workflows, keeps your data secure, and ensures that your firm is ahead of the compliance curve, you are adding a layer of efficiency to what may be a challenging time for many.

FinServ Comms Q&A, Markets Media: Joe Vaccarella, Client Instant Access

FinServ Comms Q&A, Markets Media: Joe Vaccarella, Client Instant Access

Joe Vaccarella, CEO and Founder of Client Instant Access examines how the dynamics of multi-channel communications have been impacted since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and how this will alter the landscape for technology and cybersecurity moving forward. 

What are some of the communication challenges firms across the financial sector have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

With nearly everyone in the global financial sector working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, secure and streamlined communication solutions have never been more vital. Companies have been forced to rely on alternative resources for meetings, earnings calls, and customer communication. There’s an immeasurable layer of cybersecurity and protection that these platforms must provide clients in the unpredictable climate. Conversations with clients and co-workers are vulnerable to hi-jacking and other disruptive behaviors when they are not streamlined on a secure and trusted platform, as we’ve seen with a number of other providers. 

A system that provides integrated and flexible capabilities through voice, email, SMS/MMS, and phone will be a major asset to firms not only with clients but internally as well. Finding a system that can be quickly deployed, while addressing cybersecurity threats and compliance parameters will be the difference between business continuity and business failure. 

What are some key features that should be encompassed in a reliable and secure multi-channel communications platform? 

Security and compliance have to be the top priority. Although regulators like the CFTC have loosened some of their regulatory parameters on working remotely, security around communication channels needs to perform at optimal levels to ensure that customer information and data is not compromised. 

As far as specific capabilities, customers are still for the most efficient way to deliver messages with a personalized touch. Multi-channel communication platforms should offer state-of-the-art conferencing, dialing and messaging services that can connect users globally. All services should complement one another, whether it be for voice, SMS, or email blasts. A good platform will offer solutions that seamlessly integrate with CRM platforms already in place in under 24 hours and foster a customizable, advanced alert system. 

A platform that is well-equipped and trusted will foster long-lasting relationships and provide the security and efficiency of automation with the attention to detail they would get from working in-person.

In the long-term, how will the pandemic impact how financial institutions approach communication technology and the surrounding cybersecurity protocols?

As more robust and secure communication tactics and strategies come into play during this pandemic, working remotely is slated to become the new normal. We have slowly seen Fortune 500 companies and institutions such as schools, churches, hospitals, and more take advantage of multi-channel communication technology and financial institutions are having to adapt quicker than normal. 

Reliable technology and communication solutions like CIA’s Omnigage that can connect with client relationship management systems make all the difference right now. This transition to consistent, remote work will be aided by these tools and we expect this shift to continue in the years ahead. As communication methods become more sophisticated and the banking and capital markets landscape becomes more electronified, more of the workplace will embrace the work from home lifestyle and it will all happen under unified and nimble communication channels.

This article was originally published on Markets Media.

Mergermarket – Client Instant Access expanding in healthtech, CEO says

Mergermarket – Client Instant Access expanding in healthtech, CEO says

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced professionals from industries that range from finance to healthcare and pharmaceuticals to work remotely. Client Instant Access’s multi-channel communications solutions have been a pivotal element in the business continuity of many of these firms during that time. CEO Joe Vaccarella and CTO Michael Morgan spoke with Mergermarket fintech reporter Yizhu Wang about how CIA is addressing everyday technology hurdles that firms are facing and how the business has grown as a result:

  • In March, CIA saw a 75% increase in the usage of its communication products, up from about 25% in January and February
  • 900 new users across product lines from existing clients
  • 40 new organizations in government, education and the financial industry

Read the full article in MergerMarket.

FTF News Technology Innovation 2020 Awards

FTF News Technology Innovation 2020 Awards

Omnigage – Client Instant Access (CIA) has been named a finalist in the 2020 FTF News Technology Innovation Awards in the category of Best Cutting-Edge Ops Solution!

The FTF News Technology Innovation Awards celebrate and recognize the individuals, fintech vendors and regulators that have made significant strides and noteworthy achievements in operational excellence over the last 12 months.

Winners are selected across 29 categories through reader voting, which is now open until April 17.

Show your support and cast your vote for Omnigage as 2020’s Best Cutting-Edge Ops Solution’ today!