One of the many benefits of UCaaS is the ease and speed at which users benefit from new capabilities. New features are seamlessly delivered through continuous software updates, without the need for an IT department trained in communications or collaboration software, while users always have the latest and greatest features and enhancements at their disposal.
But, while the update process is simple, the process of getting customers up and running on a new platform can sometimes create a bottleneck. Antiquated provisioning systems that require manual, error-prone processes to onboard businesses are still required for many platforms. It seems to fly in the face of all the benefits of cloud and start provider-customer relationships off on the wrong foot.
I recently spoke with Enreach, a large European cloud communications provider, and bOnline, a UK-based UCaaS vendor that leverages Enreach’s infrastructure to understand how the how the two companies work together to simplify the provisioning and onboarding processes and how these benefits translate to end-user customers.
A fresh approach
Much of bOnline’s success can be attributed to its refreshing attitude towards supporting its customers, described well by this tagline on its website: “Made for business owners, not IT wizards.” bOnline is challenging the market with its enterprise-grade, cost-effective technology aimed specifically at freelancers and small businesses – delivering robust services without lengthy contracts or hidden costs.
Along with its features and pricing, bOnline’s approach to service provisioning is an important attribute. The company demonstrably reduces the time and effort required for onboarding.
“We are one of the few providers in the UK from which you can get a business phone number in two minutes and be making calls two minutes later – all without having to speak with us,” said Casey Solomon, Head of Marketing at bOnline.
The simple onboarding makes life easier for small businesses, and the approach is helping drive bOnline’s impressive growth; it is currently bringing on between 1,300-1,800 new customers per month.
Self-service enabled by Enreach’s API
The secret to this rapid and efficient onboarding is bOnline’s self-service portal, which is powered by Enreach and its open API. Created in-house and delivering a simple user experience, the portal acts as a dashboard for customers.
Enreach is one of the largest UCaaS providers in Europe, with operations in over 25 countries and servicing over 2.3 million end users. Enreach provides a full suite of UC services, including connectivity, collaboration, and contact center applications. The open API was one reason why bOnline selected Enreach over other competitors.
“Enreach’s API integration is one important example of how it helps us build a next-generation solution,” notes Robert Akehurst, head of product at bOnline. “We were looking for a forward-looking partner who, like us, is always looking to improve and innovate and can achieve things in a fast and flexible way. That was important for us because we continually gather customer feedback and data analytics from 10+ sources to improve our offering on a weekly basis.”
With bOnline’s previous platform, provisioning was a very manual process that involved giving the platform provider a list of names to upload. It wasn’t very user-friendly and it hindered bOnline's business model of signing up as many new users a month as it hoped. bOnline really needed zero-touch provisioning to keep pace with its acquisition strategy. After evaluating other platform vendors, bOnline selected Enreach, which not only had the infrastructure, but also demonstrated it could rapidly deploy new features, especially those that enhance the user experience, something Akehurst says is hugely important to bOnline.
Moving away from tradition
The results are impressive. Since rolling out automated provisioning, bOnline's customer onboarding has come down from two days to just two minutes for each customer – that’s less time than it’s taking you to read this article. bOnline added other tools to the dashboard that allow customers to log in and administer their accounts themselves.
"Our users don’t have IT departments, and they want to set up their telecoms in their own time and do it quickly. So, we give them a solution where they are in control and can make changes in a very user-friendly, fast way,” explained Akehurst.
bOnline’s ambition is to be the top communications provider in the UK – and across Europe. It expects to top 100,000 business customers by the end of 2023. In most cases, UCaaS solutions are very similar, so providers need other differentiators. For bOnline, its automated provisioning platform, powered by Enreach’s comprehensive API, is proving to be that elevating factor – along with its user-friendly customer portal – and will serve it well as it seeks to achieve its growth objectives.
Edited by Erik Linask