Our December 2013 cover story on The New On-Demand Society talked about how renting anything and everything – be it a car, an evening gown, or a little cabin in the woods – may well be the wave of the future. It discussed how our connected world now enables the quick and easy display and purchase of available assets.
Now, a company called LiveAnswer is bringing this model to the contact center.
Like the on-demand car rental company Uber (which, by the way, is among its customers), LiveAnswer dynamically leverages the resources that already exist, using a software-based platform to see what’s available where and when.
“We are using this shared economy to create a new model,” says LiveAnswer CEO Adam Boalt, who previously founded digital business strategy agency BOALT and travel document service RushMyPassport.com.
When you think about it, LiveAnswer relies on a pretty basic wholesale/resale model. The wholesalers in this case are contact center outsourcers including Ameridial, InfoCision (News - Alert), and LiveOps (and, in the future, large enterprises with in-house contact centers), from which LiveAnswer buys idle contact center agent time by the minute or the hour.
The company employs technology from Twilio (News - Alert) to get information from its contact center partners on the availability of agents. If one of its customers has a need for an agent, LiveAnswer might send out inquiries to multiple contact centers, and it gets results – via SIP response codes – on agent availability in less than 9 seconds.
Once an agent has been identified, a script is pushed to that agent. A software dashboard enables organizations using LiveAnswer services to dynamically deliver and alter contact center scripts to new agents as they become available. Clients also can opt to add agent notes, select their own customer hold music, block numbers, do call tracking, and run contact center reports based on such parameters as time of day.
Boalt tells me that the company aims to solve two key problems with its services, which are aimed at small and medium businesses. The first is that using enterprise-class contact centers is frequently too expensive of a proposition for SMBs. LiveAnswer opens the door for SMBs to have access to such contact centers, he says, and at the same time enables the contact centers to reach higher occupancy given they frequently have a lot of excess capacity.
While the LiveAnswer services are more expensive on a per-minute basis (95 cents on average vs. the more common 60 to 65 cents), he adds, the company sells its services by the month (starting at $45 a month). However, with LiveAnswer there’s no minimum requirement, which he says is where the rub is for SMBs considering traditional contact center solutions.
The offering seems to be resonating with the SMB community.
Since its launch in March, LiveAnswer has answered more than 1 million calls and signed on 2,119 clients.
“We are signing up customers every day,” said Boalt, who spoke to CUSTOMER magazine in mid Spetember. “It’s been incredible growth. People are coming over from virtual PBXs like Grasshopper. And in a few days we will launch a feature that is a Chrome extension, which gives people the ability to accept or reject calls.”
Edited by Stefania Viscusi