Channel Trends for 2015

By Tony Martino, Managing Director, Tollring


The impact of the Cloud
Traditionally, technology contracts involved hardware, software, services, integration and education.  When the customer signed a contract they agreed to take on the cost and complexity associated with the capabilities of the deal, thus taking all the risk.  The return on investment was expected to take time.The impact of Cloud technology has been disruptive, creating a major shift in the industry, away from complexity and towards business value.  The Cloud is creating new roles for suppliers and customers, empowering customers to make decisions without risk.  The responsibility of risk no longer lies with customers, who can now pay for what they use, switch solutions if they don’t see the value and monitor performance of their chosen technology.

Customers can now demand working pilots before committing to a company-wide roll-out.  In this scenario the supplier takes all the risk, as well as having to prove a return on investment before adoption.  Once the customer contract is signed, the supplier has the same vested interest as the customer to monitor usage and drive business value.

The channel needs to adapt to this change to remain competitive and focus on the business value of every solution that they sell.  These days, most companies have enough ‘good enough’ technology so the cost-justification discussion must focus on business value.  Understanding customer requirements is imperative, so they can deliver the most appropriate solution for any customer.

It is not only customers that have more options as a result of increasing Cloud technology.  The Cloud has created opportunities for all tiers of channel partner to sell a wider range of solutions that add value to their product portfolio.  Partners can choose to create their own Cloud, offer services hosted in their supplier’s Cloud or simply to offer Software as a Service without the risk or cost of maintaining their own.

The value of integration
It is becoming increasingly important to integrate with an organisation’s wider business systems, databases and processes and consolidate services to provide the business intelligence needed to enhance an organisation’s customer experience and help customers realise value.  To achieve this, it is no longer necessary to provide the entire engine to deliver the complete solution.  Web technologies enable information to be shared and the concept of ‘the portal of all portals’ is now within reach.

CRM integration brings a new dimension to call management, enabling call data to be integrated into customer interactions.  Analysing call recordings or missed calls, and sharing this data insight with CRM systems and the wider operations teams across organisations, will facilitate more informed, strategic decision-making.  Understanding the whole customer experience from the number of times the phone rings before answered, the number of unresolved missed calls through to how the call was handled and what was said at company, branch or an individual customer level, completes customer relationship management and makes excellence in customer service achievable.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) where a customer’s need is properly addressed the first time they call, is an increasingly hot topic, which applies not just to contact centres but to any business with customer facing sales, service or technical teams.  A customer’s inquiry or problem going unresolved can result in customer dissatisfaction and significant revenue loss yet many businesses are unaware of the importance of FCR.  According to Service Quality Measurement Group, out of all business metrics used to monitor customer facing teams, first call resolution has the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.  The market focus on FCR helps the channel to justify the value of fully integrated call management on any phone system sale.

Web technology enables icall suite (iCS) online to seamlessly integrate with OrecX hosted call recording to enable companies to playback, tag, evaluate and email call recordings from within the application.  The promise of integrated call recording solutions presents a great opportunity for the Channel to provide an enhanced offering.  New revenue opportunities and higher margins will also be generated from the added consultancy and professional services required and providing these additional services will greatly assist in customer retention.

New market growth
It is estimated that the UK call recording and quality monitoring market today is worth in the region of £2.0 billion according to industry estimates from two separate analysts Frost and Sullivan and Data Monitor. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that hosted agent performance optimization (APO), which include call recording, customer interaction analytics, performance and quality management, and workforce management, will have the strongest growth of any contact centre product segment.  The industry continues to be fuelled by Britain’s ‘claim culture’ and as a result businesses are looking to be more accountable and have more control over the services they are delivering.  However, demand for call recording continues to grow as more and more everyday businesses are recognising value far beyond the regulatory protection call recording provides, as they discover that the mining of these calls reveals invaluable customer insight.

The widespread need for call management solutions has meant they have become more available at more competitive prices. Gone are the days when such systems were deployed solely in large enterprises. This means that these solutions are now accessible to not just large corporates, but to a huge SME market. Cost effective call recording together with innovation in call management solutions with Unified Communications and CRM integration has meant that this market is now taking advantage of powerful solutions that deliver real business intelligence.

76% of Tollring’s business reporting solutions sold today include call recording. Of these, 34% are deployed with CRM or business process integration. More and more businesses with customer- facing teams are demanding real-time customer analytics to manage their service level commitment targets to ensure they remain competitive. No longer is this level of business insight exclusive only to large enterprises as on average these customer-facing teams comprise as few as 5 to 25 members.

We are now seeing a significant increase in enquiries from existing customers reviewing business processes and existing communications strategies as they consider migrating to cloud based offerings. We see that the evolution and availability of business intelligence solutions like ours, with the same level of functionality that is present in premise-based offerings as one of the key factors behind the adoption of cloud telephony services.

Resellers now have the opportunity to sell a ‘solution’ that every business can benefit from and deliver a return on their telecoms investment. The Channel must become more innovative in its sale of call recording and management solutions and use these solutions together with their telecoms offerings to help in delivering real customer outcomes thus creating a real point of differentiation from competitors.