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Customer Interaction Solutions
November 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 6

Are There Suitable/ Affordable/Adequate Technologies For Small To Medium-Sized Call Centers?

By: Michelle Amodio, Associate Editor,
Technology Marketing Corporation

 
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For telemarketing organizations in the small to medium-sized category, there are two very distinct technological issues that can prove to be obstacles. First, there are very few solutions directed at the teleservices space. In many instances, organizations are trying desperately to customize CRM solutions to attempt to turn them into teleservices solutions. Simply put, it just doesn’t work.
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Another obstacle is that organizations are faced with the high costs of equipment, software, implementation and training. Not only is this unacceptable to large organizations, but it is disastrous to small to medium-sized organizations. This roadblock leads to tremendous costs, lengthy implementation time and a lack of productivity, which leads to even higher costs due to lost revenue.
TeleMarketingKey (www.telemarketingkey.com), a provider of telemarketing solutions and software, designs and develops solutions for all sizes of call centers, catering primarily to small and medium-sized organizations that require technology that both enables their agents to perform their duties and allows management to monitor and supervise the organization.
Glenn Platkin, vice president and co-founder, recently spoke to TMCnet about TeleMarketingKey. Glenn provided his executive insight on the telemarketing industry and how TeleMarketingKey is speaking to some of the challenges.

MA: Tell us about TeleMarketingKey. How long have you been in business? What prompted the launch of TeleMarketingKey?

GP: We are an established solution, just releasing version 4.4, with hundreds of clients and thousands of users worldwide. Our clients range from mortgage and insurance companies, duct cleaners, health insurance providers, survey/poll takers and even charities, all the way to multinational organizations managing their in-house telemarketing group.
 
MA: Why TeleMarketingKey?
 
GP: Because there is a screaming need for it. It is probably the most under-served market out there. It’s a confused, frustrated and fast-paced market. Our clients and prospects need a solution, but don’t have the time or resources to seek it out, nor the budgets to license and implement them. We’re here to relieve that frustration and provide that solution that they are looking for both timely and economically.
 
MA: Can you tell us more about TeleMarketingKey’s telemarketing
solution? Is it a hosted solution?

 
GP: We offer both a hosted version (or, as we call it, “TMS-as-a-service”) as well as “TMS on-premises.” We find that many organizations have the resources and requirements to maintain the system in-house. However, there is a growing group that prefers (or needs) to subscribe to a service that will provide all the software, hardware, security, backups and availability. These companies want to be free to do what it is they’re in business to do: telemarket. In their business, volume is everything and time, resources and costs have a direct impact on volume.
 
MA: What are some of the key features of the TMS system?

GP: Some of the more attractive points about TMS is that there are no add-on modules to purchase. Everything comes complete in the system, including:

• Automatic dialing capabilities;
• Advanced/interactive scripting, questionnaires and call guides;
• Stock control/inventory, sales order processing;
• Appointment scheduling;
• Real-time management dashboard;
• Report writing (with many canned reports);
• “Do not call” support; and
• Multilingual capabilities.

 In addition, the system is very open and can easily be integrated into any other application that is being used.
 
MA: What do you see as the number one issue or opportunity facing purchasers of telemarketing solutions today?
 
GP: Sadly, there are still a lot of organizations making phone calls by hand, going sequentially down the local telephone book and using post-it notes for leads and follow-ups. These people are not technology-adverse, but their business requires volume and they can’t be bothered trying solution after solution or even worse, trying to ram the wrong tool into the wrong place. It just makes things worse.
 
MA: How is TeleMarketingKey addressing this issue?
 
GP: TMS has been designed and developed, from scratch, specifically for the telemarketing industry. We have hundreds of clients who have built their organizations around us. They have given us feedback and enhancement requests over the years to make the solution better. Out-of-the-box, a new TMS client can be up and running with their own data in 20 minutes and immediately productive. It’s something that companies can easily license at a reasonable cost with a full suite of features and functionality, quickly implement, deploy and be immediately productive.

MA: ROI justification is a big deal to many companies. How does TeleMarketingKey prove to be an ROI success?
 
GP: Everyone measures ROI differently. It can be measured by low software license fees, quick implementation/ deployment time, low cost of ownership or as simply as agents and management being productive within minutes of installation. But I think it is best when we hear people tell us that:

• “When we coupled the automatic dialer with the scripting feature, productivity more than doubled.”
• “We were able to add more agents now that we have a way to manage them.”
• “Generated xx more qualified leads this week, a new record.”
• “Closed xx more sales this month, a new record.”
• “We have better control/insight into operations.”
• “Using TMS’ interactive scripting, we are able to hire lower-cost, entry-level agents.”
• “We can now manage our work-at-home agents.”
 
MA: Who are your main competitors?
 
GP: We are finding a lot of companies are going with “auto-dialers,” which in many states are illegal (due to do-not-call legislation and new privacy laws), and the very expensive “predictive dialers” — you know, when you get an “out of area” on your caller I.D., you answer and nobody is on the other end, because it called five other people at the same time and you weren’t the first to answer? That’s always fun. We also find a lot of folks stretching and pulling on CRM. CRM plays a very important role for managing relationships with customers. We are trying to facilitate the generation of leads and prospects. It is an entirely different paradigm. In fact, the output of TMS is the input to CRM.
 
MA: What mistakes do companies make with telemarketing solutions implementations? How is TelemarketingKey
speaking to these?

 
GP: Basically, companies choose the wrong tool to remedy a problem, or they spend too much time, resources and money chasing the wrong solution. We provide a solution that is software-based, will work with your existing phone system (even SIP-based systems and/or Vonage and Skype (News - Alert).) It is feature-rich and easy to license, implement, deploy and use.
 
MA: Looking to the future, what is the biggest change you see on the telemarketing solution horizon?
 
GP: We are seeing a few things. First, laws are getting stricter regarding people’s privacy. To comply with these new and evolving laws (with severe penalties), telemarketing groups can no longer make arbitrary calls from a phone book or a purchased list. They must comply with federal, state and local restrictions. The only way to guarantee immediate and consistent compliance is through automation.

Additionally, more companies are outsourcing their telemarketing functions. When you think of outsourcing, you immediately think overseas. We’re seeing a lot of that, especially in India, Canada, Mexico and the Philippines. But, we’re also seeing a lot of distributed and part-time agents domestically. We are seeing a lot of stay-at-home parents making calls during their free time, professionals getting home after a day at the office and adding revenues to a side business or extra income from a freelance telemarketing role; again, it’s very important that these people have the tools necessary to be productive, especially in remote locations, and that management can monitor their efforts and progress. CIS
Michell Amodio
Associate Editor

Michelle Amodio (mamodio@tmcnet.com) is Associate Editor for TMCnet’s Online Channels. For information and subscriptions,
visit www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800.

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