This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
It is no secret that one of the attractions of cloud-based telephony for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly the exploding small office/home office sector – a.k.a. micro businesses/entrepreneurs – is the ability to use features and functionality that larger enterprises enjoy without the need to support an IT staff. This is particularly true for entities desirous of having sophisticated customer interaction analytics, but that have been hesitant to invest in them for a variety of cost-related reasons.
Indeed, the cloud offers small business people, through subscription-based pay-as-you-go and pay-as-you-grow capabilities, unprecedented and cost-effective ways to appear like the big guys, as well as the tools to mine the data generated for competitive advantage.
That is precisely why it is noteworthy that Livingstone, N.J.-based Phone.com has entered into an agreement to make the VoodooVox Analytics platform available to its customers – to help advertisers and marketers better target their audiences while safeguarding consumers’ personal information.
The Internet age has allowed anyone, regardless of size, to present their business globally with the look and feel of a large organization. What Phone (News - Alert).com is offering through its agreement with VoodooVox is access to improved business intelligence about calling volumes, which can be quickly translated into actionable insights.
Phone.com (News - Alert) CEO and cofounder, Ari Rabban, draws a good analogy in noting that, “This service will allow our customers to glean new insight from their call volume the same way that Google (News - Alert) Analytics provides valuable insight into Web visitors.”
The deliverable is consequential.
In addition to multiple activity reports on call traffic, all of Phone.com’s customers can access VoodooVox’s demographic database on 250 million phone numbers. And insights can be gained without disrupting a company’s trust with existing or potential customers.
As Rabban emphasizes, “By combining a few national databases, such as U.S. census data, and applying statistical methods, we can relatively accurately derive conclusions about the aggregate of a region’s callers without the need to collect, store or know any specific personal information.”
What it means for small businesses is better knowledge about what is working and what is not, and the ability to make smarter decisions about where, how and with whom (based on enhanced profiles) to target with precious marketing resources.
Mike Durance, CEO at VoodooVox, echoes the value being offered through the agreement: “Phone.com is a leader in SOHO telephony, and we are pleased to bring the power of VoodooVox Analytics to this new customer base. Phone calls are more than just talk, and VoodooVox Analytics enables businesses of all sizes to learn more about their customers without compromising consumer privacy.”
A few pictures demonstrate the value of the analytics.
The first shows the dashboard that enables users to understand how their callers are reaching them, e.g., via landline or cell phone and includes the name of the cellular provider.
The second is a nice way for campaign managers to connect callers to their social media (Facebook, Twitter (News - Alert), etc.) and provides the ability to break down the information between new and returning callers to a company’s virtual office number.
Additional insights include:
- Overview: A Virtual Office wide snapshot of caller data with new and returning call break downs.
- Demographics: Caller data is analyzed by caller demographics in a variety of ways, including census population data.
- Activity: Breaks calls down by inbound or outbound call, duration, length of time on hold as well as the time of the call.
Getting Simple and SaaSy
VoodooVox’s Analytics is a SaaS solution priced on a per seat basis. The service will be deployed to the entire Phone.com customer base, and will be available in two plans accessible from Phone.com’s current management platform. A basic plan with access to a variety of analytics will be roughly $2 per month, while a richer set of capabilities will be available for just under $5 per month using and opt-in model that will include several months of free trial service.
Rabban notes, “We wanted to make this simple as well as affordable and give people the chance to take us out for a test drive to understand the value.” He has a point. For less than the cost of a good meal including an alcoholic beverage for two at a decent restaurant, customers can have tools that literally could pay for themselves with one or two new sales.
Phone.com is no stranger to offering economical innovations to small businesses. The list includes: First to market: Voicemail Transcription, Voice Synthesis, Physical IP Phones, HD Voice, iNum (News - Alert) & Global Numbers, Mobile Office Apps, Channel Partner Program, Virtual SMS / chat, Group chat (patent pending), APIs.
As Rabban notes, “The cloud and broadband are making all of this possible, and giving small business the right tools for sales and marketing to make effective decisions.
As noted at the top, even the smallest business entities, those with fewer than 10 employees, have an incentive to want to have better business intelligence in order to compete. They need to have it quickly and at a level of granularity that enables them to spend scarce marketing dollars more efficiently and effectively. Such tools have been out of the reach. Phone.com, in collaboration with VoodooVox, by making this a cloud-based service, is giving SMBs the ability to play like the big guys in a very large sandbox.
Rabban believes there is a lot of education that is still needed for small businesses to get their hands around the power of improved business intelligence. Leveraging one of the great domain names, which creates a great online presence for a company whose sales channel is primarily the Web, is not a bad way to get people educated on capabilities that can help them succeed.
Peter Bernstein is a senior editor at Technology Marketing Corp. (www.tmcnet.com), the parent company of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.
Edited by Braden Becker