Communications services providers today are challenged with finding new revenue sources. Much of this discussion centers on tier 1 CSPs, but more medium-sized and small service providers are in the same boat. One new revenue source they may not have seriously considered is delivering contact center capabilities. But some of the CSPs that have already moved forward with cloud-based contact center solutions recommend taking the plunge. And three of them spoke recently about how Metaswitch and Telax have helped them do that.
Metaswitch Cloud Contact Center is a solution provided by Metaswitch and powered by Telax. The latter company is a cloud-based contact center business that last year decided to begin catering exclusively to service providers. It then cut an exclusive go-to-market deal with Metaswitch.
Today service providers including EarthLink (which has the largest contact center deployment of Telax’s 50 or so service provider partners), FairPoint Communications, and Saddleback Communications, all of which have gotten into the cloud-based contact center space with the assistance of Metaswitch and Telax, are singing their praises. Representatives from all three companies were on a panel at the recent Metaswitch Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz.
There are three perceptions preventing some smaller local exchange carriers from getting into the contact center arena, according to Steve Obee, senior director of sales and service at Saddleback Communications.
One is that contact centers are very complex and smaller LECs don’t have the expertise to sell them. Saddleback initially thought that too, he said, but then it partnered with Metaswitch and Telax, which helped fill any gaps in knowledge it had. Selling contact centers is a lot less complex than is VoIP, and many small LECs have already embraced that, he said.
“Frankly the contact center is not that complex,” said Obee. “So I don’t think that [perceived complexity] is the reason to stay out of this.”
After less than two years Saddleback is providing contact centers for 500 seats “and [we’ve] done it without poking our eye out,” he added.
The second perception/misperception is that contact centers are only for larger organizations. But Obee said that’s not the case.
The third, he continued, is that contact center solutions are too high cost for customers, who will be unwilling to pay what it takes. But Obee said CSPs shouldn’t assume that’s the case without asking, and he added that $50 to $150 a seat is small beans for sales people who sell a lot.
“The cost of those seats is inconsequential,” he added.
All that said, Obee suggested that CSPs should move to offer contact center solutions sooner rather than later, because if they don’t provide them to their customers, someone else will. And when someone else sells their customers contact center solutions, he said, that gives them a foot in the door to provide those customers with other solutions – possibly solutions that will displace what the CSP (News - Alert) is offering today.
Working with Telax helped FairPoint Communications deliver contact center solutions far faster than it would have been able to do alone, added Chris Alberding, vice president of product management at the service provider. FairPoint is among the newer CSP partners of Metaswitch and Telax.
Telax benefits from its go-to-market relationships with CSPs, said Koray Parmaks, president and CEO at Telax, because they provide it with access to service providers’ existing customers. As a result, Telax saves money on customer acquisition costs. This strategy is also a win-win proposition, he added, because facilities-based CSPs have the network resources and expertise to ensure that the contact center gets the quality connectivity it requires.
Edited by Alicia Young