Interesting New Things Are Popping Up in the Cloud, Testing, and CRM


Interesting New Things Are Popping Up in the Cloud, Testing, and CRM

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  January 10, 2014

Cloud-based contact center solutions have been priced fairly uniformly in the past. You pay per seat and feature. If you want to add more people or features such as analytics, you pay more. Some vendors offer an all-inclusive solution, of course, meaning the only variable is the number of seats; but, regardless, the model has been fairly static for the past few decades – starting back in the 1990s when the term ASP was what we used to describe the space.

Now, a new company called Fenero wants to turn all of this on its head with transaction-based pricing, meaning you don’t actually pay until you use the software.

Imagine setting up a call center with hundreds of agents and training them for a month and not having to pay for the privilege. Only when customers start engaging does the meter start running.

This is a startup’s dream. It further disrupts the contact center equipment market in ways that will keep current players up late after reading this story.

In a recent discussion with Marlon Williams, the founder and CEO of Fenero, he said the company is working out final pricing models, but that the cloud-based service will cost 2.5 cents or less per minute of calling, and e-mail and chats will cost 2 cents per transaction.

Williams says his company provides solutions for companies of all sizes and it is focused primarily on medium-sized organizations or larger, the solution could be used by the five-seat center as well. Specifically, it offers support for full inbound IVR and ACD; outbound manual, preview, and predictive dialing; quality assurance (QA scoring and auditing, 100 percent call recording, and live monitoring); e-mail routing and chat. The company also provides native apps for iPhone (News - Alert) and iPad users to manage their operations. Fenero does not rely on any third-party offerings to deliver any of these or other services ­– they are all intrinsic components of the company’s Asterisk (News - Alert)-based system.

Williams explained further that the company’s software is gorgeous, and there are no hidden fees. He further emphasized its support is ridiculously fanatical as the company considers itself an extension of customers' IT departments and is always available via e-mail, phone, or Skype (News - Alert).

He closed by saying upfront licensing is dead and so is per-month subscription-based licensing. Finally he exclaimed, “We are ushering a new wave of contact center software business models.” This new model, if successful, has the potential to shake up the cloud in profound ways and could usher in a new era of entrepreneurs who can literally start up on a shoestring.

I also wanted to use this space to touch on some new developments in call center testing and CRM.

Lynn Evans, an independent systems engineer deploying call center solutions who in the past has worked for such banks as Franklin Templeton Investments and Wells Fargo (News - Alert), recently brought me up to speed on a testing company she is working with called Cyara Solutions. According to Evans, “The solution costs less than other tools – you can buy it for less than the cost of renting from the competition.”

She went on to explain that using Cyara’s solutions allowed her QA team to focus more on intelligent evaluation rather than grunt work. With this system she can test 100 percent of changes, not just a fraction of them. This resulted in a deployment time of one day instead of up to eight weeks using other systems, she said.

In addition to better contact center solutions, companies in recent years have moved to offer better customer service and better internal results by more broadly embraced contact management solutions, now more commonly known as CRM systems.

I recently spoke with Pipeliner CEO Niklaus Kimla about the company’s system, which is designed by salespeople for salespeople. Written in Adobe (News - Alert) Air, it is cloud-based but also works when the data connection has slowdowns and other issues. It is graphical, and it was built to work with social. It is also target-based, so salespeople can see where they are relative to where they need to be. They can also graphically see the buying team in a target company – the reports and the dotted lines between buying teams.

Kimla thinks his solution is a game changer. Salespeople are entrepreneurs, but they are generally not treated as such, he said. He believes that his company’s software can help salespeople improve and more importantly allow them to collaborate to close sales more successfully as a team. In other words, it is successful at pairing strong closers with lead gatherers.

Edited by Blaise McNamee
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