Comms Business Magazine talks to Simon Whatley of call management firm Tollring. Today call management applications have become far more than the call loggers of yesterday. So apart from call logging of voice calls what ‘extra’ features do they have and how do you sell them?
Call management has evolved from the call loggers of yesterday, to become a significant contributor of business-critical information. Companies of all types and sizes now use call management to drive improvements to the business, refining processes and resolving business challenges.
The in-depth analyses of call data include; which extension or group of extensions calls are transferred to, how many calls are missed and how, when and where they were missed, and how well calls are handled, enabling managers to find trends in activity and improve productivity across the business.
Simon Whatley (SW) from Tollring comments, “The level of analytics delivered by call management solutions is more business-focussed than ever before, delivering much more than telecoms statistics. Our integrated products such as call recording, CTI, automated dialling and contact centre analysis all include their own reporting tools. The real value of our call management suite, however, lies in the central ‘holistic’ view of the individual elements working together, providing the insight required to increase productivity and ultimately profitability.”
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): There seems to be a trend of integrating call management products with other applications – call recording and call/contact centre for example. Is this the case and typically what additional opportunities do vendors provide the channel?
SW: Over the past few years, the channel has seen margins squeezed and revenues decreasing, so adding margin-rich solutions to the offering not only adds value to the sale and differentiates one reseller over another, but most importantly increases revenue. Resellers now have the opportunity to sell a solution that every business can benefit from, which will deliver a return on their telecoms investment. The challenge, however is to inform customers who are not familiar with call management of the benefits it can deliver.
Call management solutions enhance a reseller’s product range, extending the size of the market as well as increasing their ability to respond to key functionality requirements, which in turn enables resellers to talk to new companies who they may not previously have been able to approach.
Integrating call management products provides a new level of sophistication for companies wanting to manage inbound and outbound calls. Monitoring inbound calls is often as important as monitoring volumes of outbound calls these days. It is possible to track how long a caller has to wait to be answered; you can then assess how the call progresses by listening to the recording. From this you can identify whether the outcome was negatively affected by the wait time – not simply whether they waited long enough.
We estimate that historically a 14% attachment rate would have been an average figure. Today, amongst several of our larger channel partners, 100% of systems are now sold integrated with call management, CTI and call recording products. Further integration with external applications such as databases or screen pop is also becoming more common. On the contrary, Tollring estimates that at least 50% of our resellers opt to sell phone systems rather than solutions. Reasons may include fear of over-complicating the sale or the risk of increasing the price in the quotation and losing to a competitor on price. The question is whether such products should be considered as options or necessities. We strongly believes that as managers become increasingly accountable for company expenditure, selling using the cost-justification model gives solution partners the advantage, differentiating them from those strictly meeting a list of requirements within a specific budget.
CBM: How can call management be used throughout an organisation?
SW: Every company is looking to win new customers and retain customers by looking after them. This is achievable using business intelligence, which is exactly what call management delivers. Call management provides relevant and valuable business knowledge to managers across the business, tailored to their role and specific requirements. For example, Tollring ireport delivers a business summary to the Managing Director by summarising 12+ reports from various areas of the business into one overview report. No matter what area of the business needs information, ireport delivers department-focused reports. As examples:
Unreturned missed calls for the sales and support teams enables companies to deliver outstanding customer service levels.
Specific DDi reporting enables marketing teams to directly source leads and run detailed reports to maximise campaign planning.
Live statistics on call contact centres such as call queues, alongside a view of historical trends, facilitate staff modelling to ensure staffing levels are appropriate at right times.
Call management is all about developing a complete picture of customer interactions across job roles and departments, to help decide how to do it better.
Where call management gets really interesting is when external data widgets are used to pull data from other sources, to blend relevant telecoms and non-telecoms data. Providing this ‘bigger picture’ to customers is where channel partners can gain the real competitive edge using call management. Providing a product that can do this changes the customer relationship from one with a reseller to one with a solutions partner, adding value and providing fast ROI, helping them to achieve increased profitability through a wise investment.
CBM: How best can resellers demonstrate the value of call management applications to their customers?
SW: Call management applications help your customers to look after their customers better. There are two key sales approaches for resellers:
For the people who do not know they need call management, firstly show them how it works, how simple it is and how much value it adds to the business. Then help them to understand how the cost can be justified. Show it, talk about it within the context of their business and sell the solution using the cost-justification model.
For those that know they want it, simply show it to them and they will be impressed by the power of the analytics. Call management dashboards are highly visual and work well in a demo. Again, show it, talk about it in relation to their business needs and sell the solution.
Whatley advises resellers, “Don’t just add it to the quote as a non-essential ‘option’. Sell it to them – sell the benefits, the cost-justification and the business solution. ‘Prod the bruise’ – you know it will be of benefit to their business and solve common business issues, but if they don’t realise it, they will not ask for it!”