Pippa Rhys, Marketing Manager at Datapulse, says it is true to say that call logging is seen by many as an isolated, low end solution for billing departments and curbing telephone abuse, even though the scope of call logging is much broader.
“Indeed, various attempts have been made by suppliers and resellers to elevate this perception, typically by changing the name. Call management, telemanagement, call accounting, or the grand sounding “network management”, have all been used. However, no matter what the product is called, once described it is invariably greeted with; “Oh, you mean call logging” and instantly the value is somehow diminished. But is this fair? Or is call logging a strategic, high value solution?
With convergence and collaboration high on the agenda for many organisations, the shift to IP based telephone systems offers an excellent opportunity to use call logging as a strategic tool. A key selling benefit of IP is a future cost saving, but without the necessary telephone traffic data how can any reseller accurately size the requirement for switches and bandwidth for their customer? Over estimating could result in a reseller losing a sale because the proposal is just too expensive, or the ROI is too long in coming. But proposing too little bandwidth would give service issues which would have financial implications and possibly turn the solution into an ongoing loss-making nightmare.
Provision of call logging as part of the process of moving to IP enables accurate sizing of the requirements and a corresponding accurately sized and costed proposal. It also offers an insight into current costs and service levels with the potential for savings or improvements in the customer experience by monitoring call answer times and highlighting lost calls too.
The many features of the IP world, whilst giving great benefits, also provide opportunities to open up abuse on a significant scale – much of it not readily detected unless you know what to look for. It’s here that call logging comes into its own, alerting managers to irregular activity and discouraging misuse.
Call logging solutions also achieve cost savings through consolidating different suppliers billing information and allocating the charges to cost centres or departments within an organisation. Reports highlight significant changes in costs by supplier, cost type, or employee, and allow drill down through the data to individual transaction so bad practise and redundant expenditure is quickly found. By covering fixed, mobile, email, stationery/print, IT consumables, and IT services, call logging helps managers react quickly to increasing costs. The simple fact that the costs are so visible results in savings of at least 10% on average.
Call logging solutions can also provide an additional revenue stream through the supply of reporting services. Organisations can recharge tenants in managed workspaces for a range of costs, particularly telephone costs, and provide the tenant with billing detail. By integrating the call logger with accounting systems, the process of recharging is quick, easy and extremely cost efficient.
In order to successfully utilise unified communications, a central source of accurate information needs to be available to both the systems and their users. This important information is constantly changing as people leave, join or move within an organisation, and is often stored in different systems, formats and locations.
In order to provide accurate reports about telephony usage, a call logging solution needs access to accurate information about people, departments, and locations. Therefore it makes sense to integrate disparate systems and directories into one place which the system can access and easily maintain. This creates gains in efficiency, avoids duplication and keeps costly manual administration to a minimum. This common database is then utilised by all communication and collaboration tools within the organisation such as accounting systems, online directories and operator consoles. This enables the reseller to provide tangible benefits to their customers above and beyond the simple provision of a call logging service.
Tighter budgets and reduced resources has meant that although many organisations can see a benefit to ensuring efficient, cost effective communications, many do not have the time, resource, or budget to analyse the performance and costs of their networks and staff. Managed call logging services provide effective outsourcing options for communications management, eliminating the need for purchasing and administering a call management system and dedicated hardware.
A hosted service will collect data from the customer’s IP switch/PBX for processing and carry out tariff set-up and maintenance, directory updates and trunk group mapping, saving valuable resources and preventing the need for specialist skills. A web-based solution provides broad (but secure) and rapid access for users, is intuitive to use, easy to implement and extremely scalable. Pre-formatted and customised reports of the collected data can be viewed securely, anywhere in the world, using a standard web browser.
And it is inexpensive. A hosted call logging service charged on a monthly fee basis avoids the capital budget freeze, and can give an immediate return on investment. We have seen the entire annual charges dwarfed by the savings made in the first few months.
For resellers there are also advantages to providing customers with a hosted solution. A key differentiator is the ability to brand the service and provide easily implemented links to the service through the reseller own web site. The reseller has the ability to monitor service levels, manage clients operations remotely, or indeed provide a fully managed service for their customers. This provides the potential to spot upgrade opportunities, and generates an ongoing revenue stream from the service fee – not something to be missed in any climate, but particularly now.
The term “Call logging” does not in any way reflect the comprehensive nature of todays integrated services, and the general perception of the value of call logging is a long way from the reality of the content. If only we could think of a better name …”