After 25 profitable years in the business, Oak Telecom can fully justify its tag as the UK’s leading call management company and the knowledge joint CEO Phillip Reynolds has gained in that time about what organisations need from inbound and outbound call intelligence is second to one.
So it’s something of a shock that he now suggests that call logging as a single product may have become outmoded, especially at a time when the value of adding it to a telephone system solution as a cost management device is unquestionable.
“As a product, call logging has run and run and run. It was consistently sold through the last recession and is selling well in this recession, but I think it’s losing its identity a bit and I don’t think historical call logging is enough now,” Reynolds told Comms Business.
He maintains this is mainly due to smaller organisations becoming more technically aware and demanding what was once the preserve of the larger enterprise, namely joined up call intelligence solutions.
“What’s happened is that smaller and smaller businesses have been made aware of Computer Telephony Integration and what it can do for their businesses so suddenly call reporting or call logging isn’t quite enough.
“Knowing how quickly calls are being answered and how many calls are being made is still relevant, but what’s happened now is that people are thinking, actually I wouldn’t mind when somebody calls me for it to screen pop from my Act or Goldmine database or appear in Outlook , so I know who’s calling me. And, when I’m calling people, I wouldn’t mind recording my calls, now that call recording’s affordable. Oh, and actually I’d like to do some reporting to back that lot up.
“So I think call logging on its own has ironically become less important because of increasing awareness in SMEs that actually their telephone system could do a lot more within a customer relationship management context.”
Oak is reacting to the change by slowly introducing call ‘reporting’ as a term for call logging and, within its Comms Suite portfolio, offering resellers a range of call management solutions that can work independently or link together to give their customers powerful added -value CRM packages.
“Call logging is moving away from basic telephone information which is why our product is called reportX because so many more statistical tools have been added to enable an integrated solution. For example, if call recording or a wall board solution is sold as part of a package the amount of calls recorded can be reported and stats can be relayed to all staff via the wallboard or desktop computers. In effect, it’s enhanced call logging.”
In this economic climate, Reynolds believes voice and data resellers have a unique opportunity to enhance their reputation as a complete solutions provider by offering customers sophisticated business management tools wrapped up in a telephone system sale.
“In an economic downturn it’s a great time for selling business improvement solutions. Organisations have to provide the same level of quality with less staff and one way of doing that is to improve their telecommunications. Businesses want improvements in productivity, in visibility, in customer service and performance and it’s amazing that all these things can now be added to a telephone switch.
“With Oak’s Comms Suite we have enhanced our solutions to include any customer contact including a dialler. This now means you can have the dialler contacting people off a database, you’ve got screen popping onto a screen or wallboard when customers call in, you can see who is calling and when they last called you, you can review and evaluate calls and you can pull down statistical reports on the entire process.
Reynolds believes this joined up approach has to be the way reseller salespeople approach business in these times and the opportunity to address specific vertical markets are clear to see.
“If it’s a call centre operation they’ll be interested in seeing the calls coming in, recording them and dialling. If it’s a normal business they will be looking for more performance related tools such as how long you are spending on the phone. And if it’s a regulated business call recording will be the priority.
“I think partners should look at each customer in turn then perhaps lead with call recording with one, call reporting with another and screen popping on another. It all depends on the market or business they are in but ultimately the initial approach can lead to a fully integrated solution that can offer an array of customer benefits.”
Reynolds says Oak has more account managers on the road helping resellers address market opportunities that any other call management business.
“We have 10 account managers on the road which means each Oak partner has their own account manager and we work really proactively with them. We are often involved in doing the quotations for them and we’ll train sales teams both here at our headquarters in Dorset and, if the partner is prepared to put a sales team together, at the partners own premises. We also will happily attend reseller sales conferences to speak on a particular subject, for example ‘selling call logging in a recession’.
“We are in a position to help any reseller to engage with us. If they work with us they get the training and expertise they need to sell 21st century call management,” added Reynolds.