The Call Services market remains integral to the Channel in 2017 as key players start to gain
traction with their cloud services. The complexities in this market continue to play to the
strengths of specialists and thus deliver a buoyant market for all.
Billing encompasses a large area of operations today and applications are now very far removed from just billing lines and minutes. Additional functions may include the capture of usage records, call detail records, charging data records, network traffic management data. There is also a need to rate consumption to determine further calculations such as calculating total time of calls for tariff zones, counting short messages, traffic summaries, in order to apply prices, tariffs, discounts, taxes and compiling charges for each customer account, rendering bills, delivering bills, applying adjustments all whilst maintain a customer account. All of this is taking place amid the market transition to cloud based models.
Any billing platform should be able to cope with market changes and bill new technology as it becomes available. The capacity for billing software to adapt to new technology and market conditions is a key differentiator between the various billing solutions, and the importance therefore of a solution’s potential for future development cannot be overstated.
A billing provider understanding the core challenges resellers face and offering that coveted value-added service to the reseller and the end customer in turn, makes for a very strong billing partnership. Organisations are realising that even if they could afford to create a solution in-house, their investment will not necessarily bring with it the knowledge and expertise that will set their business apart.
One of the channel’s key billing solutions providers says that channel resellers benefit from a holistic back office system that is accurate, simple to administer and avoids the need for multiple data entries across different packages.
Such a system should be based on the billing platform as this is the reseller’s main revenue generator. In an ideal situation an integrated billing solution would knit together applications for service provisioning (WLR3), rating, invoicing, CRM, accounts and service management. Some systems even provide APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) so that resellers can bespoke and integrate their own applications on to the billing platform.
Billing from the cloud delivers a number of benefits to partners in terms of flexibility and the varied nature of Channel businesses these days. Thankfully many billing providers have made this transition whilst also helping partner’s navigate key industry changes particularly around regulatory reform.
With the increasing provision of SIP trunks, businesses are taking on call recording as a standard add on as it is far more affordable than years gone by. Call recording is moving into the cloud but challenges remain around mobile call recording as companies look to consolidate services with their fixed-line estate.
It’s not just big businesses that want to record their call centre departments but now any sized business is looking to utilise the technology. Call recording is now affordable for any business and the ROI is always assured. Call recording via cloud based systems enables the Channel to provide high quality additional services to customers especially around storage and bandwidth. In a hosted environment the cloud enable partners to access call recording as a managed service.
Video conferencing recording is expected to be a growth area for the call recording market as user behaviours shift towards video based conference calls. Another growth area is expected to be around the analytics engines that collect customer data. This data can be integrated into CRM systems to give users a better understanding of their customer’s behaviour and interactions.
Mobile call recording is still booming within the financial markets and much of the SME segment is looking for cloud based solutions. Looking up into the mid-market and beyond there seems to be a trend to still have onsite recording as the regulators demands during investigations are becoming more stringent.
Call management products are a great way to find out more about your customers and is increasingly overlapping the call centre market.
Traditionally a vehicle to monitor and manage the high cost of calls call management is now seen more as a business management tool.
Call Management is now all about the here and now information which is often displayed on wall boards. Previously it centred on pouring over historical data to look at things like calls per month or year. Call Management today is immediate, intuitive and very flexible.
Call cost measurement used to be the primary business application but today, whilst they still need measuring and monitoring, they are not the major issue they once were. For any business to become profitable costs have to be reduced or controlled and sales opportunities need to be exploited and developed and in recessionary times the need to do both is paramount. We know call management will measure costs but it is in the area of productivity and performance where the real benefits are being derived these days.
Call management systems today are often accompanied by an optional wallboard to show a wide array of key performance indicators for a business.
As a result resellers are selling wallboards rather than logging. Wallboards are being located in visible areas such as reception, sales and service areas as well as management offices to provide ‘at a glance’ visual, graphical and numerical information on how the business is performing. Contrast this to previous times when call logging was the de facto product sold alongside a PBX, installed in a cupboard and producing management reports just for the accountant once a month.
Out of the box capabilities of call management systems have also come a long way and the number of functions which are integrated as standard has vastly increased. Outlook used to be a standard out-of-the-box feature, now there are many like CRMs such as Salesforce and many more.