April 09th, 2008 12:00am | aioffice, Call Logging, Call Recording, Comms Suite, Record, Report,

It has been with no small degree of pleasure that Oak has watched as sales of its aiOffice call logging products grow year on year – a massive 40% last year alone, with no indication that is going to slow down. Call logging remains a hugely sellable application for the channel. But is it just a commodity product or a real value-added sale? I would argue that the time for relying on margins on volume sales alone has passed – the way to win profitable business now is to take full advantage of the features that are being added to call logging software to build a better end user proposition.

Good as the applications might be, I have a suspicion that a lot of call logging systems in the SME sector are not being used to their full potential – and that means that resellers are losing out on the opportunity to maximise the value they are perceived to add to a customer’s business.

What value gets added?

Of course some of Oak’s continuing growth in call logging is accounted for by the whole market having grown, but I am equally sure that we have been gaining market share, even though ours is not positioned as the cheapest product on the market. This proves to me that, despite the volumes being achieved, call loggers have not become commodity products that can be marketed with a buy-one-get-one-free supermarket mentality. Quite the opposite: end users are growing wiser to the uses to which these systems can be put throughout their organisations - and it goes much further than reducing call costs.

Call logging and cost control is only part of the story and as call logging reaches further into the end users’ organisations, it is adding value to every department and function within the business. So it is the ‘extra’ features like ease of use, intuitive interfaces, reporting features, scalability and support that make the difference. All of these also, of course, open the doors to larger and multiple-site organisations

There are new features being added to call logging systems all the time - all of which can be turned into customer benefits. The latest release of Oak’s UK-developed aiOffice call logging offers, among other things, more selection and sort criteria enabling end users to generate customer reports – it really is an easy tool to use, which is why we are only too happy to set up customised live demos to help you sell. There is the option to run reports automatically and email them, and offering a choice of text and graphical formats for bespoke reports ensures they are always relevant and immediately useful to the recipient.

Of course, reports are generated after the event, for ‘real time’ management, but exceptional call events can be highlighted by screen pop ups, email and SMS enabling managers to take immediate corrective action when appropriate.

Where does the value get added?

That brings me to my original question: where does the value really get added? Is there really much difference between one vendor’s call logger and another’s call logging software? Well, fundamentally not a lot – all of the systems on the market are basically databases that gather information and output it is one form or another.

However, remember that the difference between chimp and human genome is less than 2% – it doesn’t take much to make a massive difference. Truly flexible reporting tools, for instance, are much more than the icing on the cake and while many call logging systems will generate customer reports, I would argue that none do so as well as aiOffice!

If a call logging system is really going to add value to a business then the information it can generate is likely to be used by people throughout the end user organisation, not just the IT or facilities staff. So it has to be genuinely easy to learn to use it has to allow people easily to extract information that is relevant to their job function. This might sound obvious, but so many of the standard reports that are built into call logging systems seem to be geared to the telecomms manager. The sales manager, for instance, doesn’t give two hoots about cost uplift, he or she just wants to see call traffic for individual operators or teams.

So please SHOW the end users what a call logging system can deliver. If you are not familiar with every feature of the products you sell, how are you going to communicate the benefits to the end user? Take time out to learn about them – join us at one of our reseller training sessions at our school in Peterborough. And be sure your customers are fully trained to make sure they get the best use of the systems you have sold them.

The call recording upsell

It’s not exactly news that call recording provides a foot in the door to sell a call logging system and vice versa. This is not the time or place to go into the pros and cons of different call recording functions but it is worth exploring why these two functions are converging.

Call Logging is often sold to enhance the reporting output from call recording systems, and quickly proves its worth as a management tool. Call recording, as an add-on sale where the original requirement was for call logging is increasingly seen as an easy and inexpensive add-on that will help with dispute resolution and staff training.

Either way, the key to successful sell is the depth and breadth of integration and support between the two applications. If the pairing is not easy, then it won’t be used. And if it isn’t used, then it won’t be valued. And value is what is sold in the channel.

Elite Cars in Leicester provides a managed taxi service for business users, working with a nationwide network of 60 taxi operators. Bookings taken by Elite’s central call centre are passed onto third party suppliers and accuracy is critical.

Working with reseller Solar Communications, Elite Cars installed Oak’s ProVoice. The call recording software enables them to resolve disputes quickly using the fast search facilities of ProVoice to locate and then forward conversations by email at the click of a mouse. As an added benefit, Elite Cars has found that the knowledge that calls are being recorded encourages all parties to adopt a more professional attitude, so reducing the number of misunderstandings and disputes at source.

By integrating Oak aiOffice call logging and its reporting facilities with its call recording software, Elite Cars has been also able to identify opportunities for improvement in both staff performance and telephone usage.

National Transport Breakdown Services (NTBS) is one of those names that every now will be familiar with – their vehicles seem to be everywhere – thanks to effective communication between the operations centre in Denton, Manchester and the company’s 1500 UK agents and 32 overseas networks. NTBS’s service promise is to get the right agent to the right place within the hour and to maintain contact with both the customer and the agent until the repairs is complete.

Accurate recording of calls and logging by a call logging systems is invaluable in avoiding disputes with customers over timing, the nature of the problem that they initially reported and the invoice that is eventually raised. Call Logging data outputs enables NTBS to maintain records of the performance and availability of agents.

Following a recent incident, a record of a call proved that NTBS had advised a customer that the refrigeration unit in a truck required replacing, and that recording was used to prove that NTBS was therefore not liable when the unit subsequently failed and a truck load of frozen food worth over £20,000 was spoiled.

Find out more about Call Logging from Oak.

Find out more about Call Recording from Oak.

You Should Follow Us On Twitter!

Follow Oak Innovation