Cost overtaken by usability as driver for VOIP adoption, says Vadacom
Integration, flexibility and ease-of-use are key drivers in customers’ choice of internet telephony platform.
Until recently, the main driver for VOIP adoption has been cost savings but this is changing quickly, according to Igor Portugal, CEO of Kiwi VOIP technology specialist, Vadacom.
“Cost is still an important consideration. VOIP can and does deliver significant cost savings over traditional telco solutions even though telcos have been forced to meet the market and drop their call costs recently,” Portugal says.
“However, what is increasingly driving customers to adopt VOIP-based telephony is the flexibility and ease-of-use it offers – which can offer huge productivity improvements to staff.”
Portugal cites the ability to fully integrate mobile communications as one example of the flexibility that customers are looking for in a VOIP solution.
“Customers are looking for the ability to manage their communications seamlessly - whether they’re in the office, or out on the road and on whatever device they happen to have at the time. They want their calls and messages to come to wherever they are. They want to manage their accessibility easily too. For example, when they’re in a meeting, they want their calls to go straight to voicemail or to a colleague who’s available. “
“On traditional systems, with a mix of landline and mobile phones, that’s all just too hard,” he says. “They want simple, easy control – ideally straight from their smartphones or an easy to use web application that they can access from the office or from home.”
Portugal says customers are looking at VOIP to provide the flexibility and integration needed to manage their contact and call centres.
“Running an efficient call centre means having tools that enable you to see wait times, call durations, operator loads, and even customer satisfaction – all in real-time. Because VOIP platforms are basically software-based, they allow you to deeply integrate communications into your business processes and back-office systems.”
“For example, many customers are looking for a system that integrates with their CRM, and lets them communicate with their customers easily. Not just for calls, but for instant messaging, Twitter, group chat, conference calling and even video. This is increasingly important as businesses look to ensure they can respond to their customers’ needs effectively whatever communications channel the customer chooses to use.”
Portugal says VOIP is now mainstream technology, and customers have come to expect the same ease-of-use and flexibility for their telecommunications system as they get with their smartphones, or with the cloud-based web applications that they use.
“VadaXchange is our VOIP PBX. We designed it from the get go to be capable of running in the Cloud or on premise, so it could be administered easily by the customers themselves via a simple web interface– therefore reducing the need for telco engineers. But the end user side needs to be just as simple,” he says.
“We’ve spent the last 12 months building the second generation of our Buddy client. Buddy is our web-based application that lets users manage every aspect of the way their calls and other communications are handled – including instant messaging, access to voicemail, recording voice prompts and so on. “
“We went to market and interviewed many customers from different companies. We looked at how they used the old Buddy web client, and how they needed the new client to work for a range of different uses – from the receptionist, to call centre staff and managers, to individual staff members.”
Armed with that information, Portugal says the team came back and totally redesigned the Buddy user interface from the ground up - adopting UI features from popular web applications like Gmail, Hootsuite and Twitter that people are familiar with.
“We also made sure it complied with modern standards”, he says, “so it’s built using HTML5, and uses responsive design so it’ll work nicely on a tablet or a smartphone. Though we’ve found for Smartphone users, our native iOS or Android apps are actually a better option – and we’ve started working on the next generation of those too.”
Portugal says one of the things he likes most about developing VOIP technology is that it’s a real “enabler” for companies.
“We work with all sorts of companies, from large to small. What’s nice is being able to bring the sort of benefits that previously only large companies could afford to small businesses too. We can really make a difference to their productivity and efficiency and the way that they interact with their customers. For New Zealand companies that can give them the edge they need to compete on a global stage – and that’s really rewarding,” he says.
For more information about buddy click here.