Company Perks — and the Employees They’re Meant For

Sometimes I get a little jealous when my husband comes home and tells me of some of the really impressive perks he gets by working at one of Indianapolis’ top technology companies — eight-time Best Places to Work in Indiana honoree Interactive Intelligence. Like the one day he got to end the workday with a cold beer and a cupcake (right?). Or the day he came into work and there was a blanket fort built above their cubicles (I made him send me a picture of that one). Or basically any of the days he goes into work in a t-shirt and shorts (what?).

I found this article from the Wall Street Journal about which employees some of these perks at technology companies are actually meant to entertain and keep around. It’s not the sales or marketing people, or the support staff – it’s the engineers.

A candid interview with the CEO of a Seattle-based realty and tech firm relays that the company knows what it needs to offer to attract the best talent – and extending those perks to the entire company ensures no bad blood forms. The CEO also notes that company-provided lunches are opportunities for the technology teams and the sales teams to get together and talk – which often means the tech people have a good idea of what types of technology products their co-workers need.

An interesting point the CEO brings up is that employees seem to get used to the perks … to the point of entitlement, even.

Each year, we recognize the state’s top employers through the Best Places to Work in Indiana program (attention: nominations are open for the 2015 program, through November 21). And every year we comb through the results of the employer questionnaires to put together profiles and interesting stories for BizVoice® magazine. There have been some really impressive perks noted along the way.

And while the afore-mentioned CEO brought up the issue of entitlement (which may very well be the case on the West Coast), I’ve spoken with many employees of the Best Places companies throughout the past four years and overall I get the sense of a humble gratitude for their employers providing the benefits and perks that they do. On the flip side, the employers also talk about how they are grateful to be able to provide happy and productive workplaces that are often centered on treating people well and supporting family-friendly environments.

If nothing else, it’s a good reminder not to take for granted any of the perks or benefits your company provides.

Don’t forget to apply for the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana program! Visit www.bestplacestoworkin.com for more information.

Creating Great Customer Service

We’ve all had a terrible customer service experience, and we often dread having to contact that “voice” on the other end of the line when we have a problem. This attitude may soon change, thanks to research done by Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence.

The main purpose of the company’s annual survey was to find out what consumers want in a great customer service experience. Some of the findings include:

  • A knowledgeable representative and a timely response are the most valuable components of a great service experience
  • Hotels, online retailers and banks provide the best customer service experiences
  • Live agent remains the preferred interaction type, followed by email. There is a significant drop to web chat, etc.
  • Not being able to understand the agent is rated as the most frustrating part of an interaction
  • Customers are more willing to use social media to praise a good service experience versus complaining about a poor experience

Joe Staples, Interactive Intelligence chief marketing officer, commented on the survey and its results:

“As a provider of business communications software for contact centers and enterprises, we wanted to help our customers maximize the value of our solutions by giving them insight into what makes a great service experience for their customers. The results of the survey accomplished this by revealing a number of interesting findings ranging from preferences about agent behavior, to those about the technology used in a customer service interaction.”

Hopefully, these survey results will help to positively impact the way that companies handle customer service. I know that I would be happier if I knew that contacting customer service would be easy and painless every time.

Full survey results can be downloaded after a free registration.

Interactive Intelligence Gets National Recognition from Forbes

Those in the Indianapolis area have likely heard of Interactive Intelligence by now. Founded in 1994, the company has emerged to become one of the world’s leaders in business communication systems. And now, behold this prestigious honor, as Forbes has ranked the company eighth among America’s best small companies:

Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), a global provider of unified IP business communications solutions, has been ranked No. 8 by Forbes Magazine among America’s Best Small Companies.
 
This is the second year in a row Interactive Intelligence has made the Forbes list, which is composed of the 100 best-performing American public companies with under $1 billion in revenue. Last year Forbes ranked Interactive Intelligence 26th on its list.
 
The Forbes America’s Best Small Companies ranking features firms with remarkable sales and earnings growth in a host of industries, according to an article in the magazine titled “The Top 20 Small Public Companies In America.”
 
Interactive Intelligence had sales of $192 million for the 12-month evaluation period ending June 30, 2011, with 20 percent sales growth and a 31 percent return on equity.
 
Interactive Intelligence was also included on Forbes list of 15 Small Company Stocks You Should Own Now.
 
“Our inclusion for the second year running among Forbes Top 20 Small Public Companies in America affirms our continued customer-focused approach with an emphasis on long-term value,” said Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO, Dr. Donald E. Brown. “This approach has spurred significant demand for our cloud-based contact center offering and it’s fueling an ever-increasing number of sales to the very largest global enterprises.”
 
Interactive Intelligence develops business communications software that provides contact center automation and unified communications functionality for mid-size to large organizations. The company’s software can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, and is ideal for all verticals, including financial services, insurance, teleservices, and credit and collections.
 
“With exciting new development efforts underway that marry social media with mobile technologies to yet again transform customer service, we look forward to another opportunity next year to make Forbes most worthy list of best American companies,” Brown concluded.
 
Candidates for Forbes Magazine’s America’s Best Small Companies ranking must have been publicly traded for at least a year, generate annual revenue between $5 million and $1 billion, and boast a stock price no lower than $5 a share. The rankings are based on earnings growth, sales growth, and return on equity in the past 12 months and over five years. Stock performance versus each company’s peer group counted as well. Shares of last year’s members outpaced the Russell 2000 small-company index by an average of 10 percentage points.
 
More information about America’s Best Small Companies can be found in the November issue of Forbes Magazine, or on its website at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2011/10/19/the-top-20-small-public-companies-in-america/.

Interactive Intelligence Sept. 24 Gala to Raise Funds for Indiana Youth

If you’re not familiar with Indiana Chamber member Interactive Intelligence, it’s a remarkably successful business communications software provider based in Indianapolis. But it’s also a company with a social conscience. Through its foundation, the company raises funds for local not-for-profit organizations including the Julian Center, Save the Children and FIRST, each selected annually by the company’s board, based on projects that promote technology education to targeted at-risk youth. One of the main sources of revenue for the foundation is the Annual Interactive Intelligence Foundation Auction Gala. The company relays:

On Saturday, September 24, the Interactive Intelligence Foundation will hold its 1st Annual Interactive Intelligence Foundation Auction Gala at the JW Marriott Indianapolis.The goal of the event is to bring together numerous Indianapolis corporations, Interactive Intelligence employees and volunteers who will join together to assist in fostering life improvement for at-risk youth.

With an estimated attendance of over 200 attendees, enjoy a fun evening of entertainment, a live and silent auction and much more! The Interactive Intelligence Foundation Auction Gala provides not only an opportunity to support a great cause, but is also a great marketing opportunity for local businesses and is a powerful way to advertise while helping those in need.

Items up for bid include: a Vegas vacation featuring a stay at a five-star hotel, tickets to Cirque du Soleil, limo transportation and a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon; a Sugarland autographed guitar; a party at the Rathskeller for 25 people; four-course meal with complimentary red and white wine for up to 10 guests in the JW Marriott’s private dining room in Osteria Pronto; several golf packages; an elephant behind-the-scenes experience including a painting at the Indianapolis Zoo, and more.

Click here for more details and ticket pricing info.

Event highlights include a reception, three-course dinner, the auction, and live entertainment provided by Fingertrip.

Internship Experience ‘Interactive’ for Local Company

Last week I visited Interactive Intelligence, Inc. on Indy’s northwest side. I3, as staff members refer to their company, is participating in the inaugural Future Workforce Connections program. In partnership with Department of Workforce Development,  Indiana INTERNnet has placed 26 educator interns in summer internships around the state. 

Tina Bedel, an IT teacher at Ben Davis High School, has been with the I3 tech team for a month and while the team helped her develop lesson plans to take back to the classroom, they brushed up on skills they don’t use on a daily basis. The team atmosphere is one aspect of her experience Tina will share with her students. As students sometimes balk at the idea of teamwork projects, Tina knows the importance of working alongside of others and now has firsthand knowledge of what can be accomplished through this work approach. 

I3 is one company committed to growing its own as their internship program has more than doubled from last year hosting 23 interns in 2008. From high school students to educators, I3 understands that in order to cultivate employees for tomorrow, they must invest in the emerging workforce today. There is no way a kid with even a bit of interest in IT couldn’t be motivated by spending some time at the very cool I3 headquarters. If our remaining internship site visits are even half as good, I will consider this program a success. Employers, if you’d like to be part of the 2009 summer internship program, join us on Aug. 5 to learn more.