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Fonality Gift-Wraps CRM Integration for SMBs
The vendor's new PBXtra Unified Agent solution fulfills the promise of unified communications, according to one analyst.
Posted Dec 16, 2008
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One of the requests on many supervisors' holiday wish lists is clarity, a more complete view of what is going on in the different facets -- customer service, marketing, and sales -- of their organizations. This need is magnified for the small-to-midsize business (SMB) segment, looking to avoid high customization costs. Hoping to bring some cheer a little early this year, Los Angeles-based contact center solutions provider Fonality released its PBXtra Unified Agent edition on Salesforce.com's Force.com AppExchange.

Corey Brundage, Fonality's vice president of marketing and product management, says that the offering combines phone system, contact center, and CRM capabilities to provide a more complete view of contact center operations. "We found that a staggering number -- 95 percent -- of our SMB customers are using CRM solutions," he says. "There's a broken promise of CRM, which says you can get a 360-degree view of all contact center operations. Yet, it doesn't actually know anything about what's going on in the phone system."

By integrating United Agent edition with Salesforce CRM, which many of Fonality's customers use, Brundage stresses managers within SMBs can now bring all the disparate pieces together and make better business decisions. He also stresses his company is the first to provide an out-of-the-box integration of this sort for the SMB space, and it didn't come easily. In fact, it took the purchase of Australia-based CRM company Insightful last year to do the job. "We tasked this organization with building the product, and it took well over a year to pull it off," he recalls. "It's a very expensive proposition for a business to do [itself]."

David Yedwab, partner at Market Strategy and Analytics Partners, says the complete integration is very clean. "It really proves the promise that we've been talking about in the unified communications space for quite awhile now," he declares. "This is done by enabling business processes like a sales [one]…and integrating that with telephony capabilities in the contact center, specifically in this application."

Yedwab is also quick to point out that this level of integration has been done before, but largely on a customized basis for larger enterprises. "It's about driving it down to an affordable level for SMBs, and we're seeing it now," he says. "I think that certainly in today's economic times, being able to do this integration and have it available quickly and have a faster time-to-market, it makes an awful lot of sense."

Some new features in Fonality's offering include:

  • automatically tracking and recording all call data in Salesforce CRM;
  • viewing customer call histories;
  • understanding the relationship between follow-up times and profitability;
  • determining the number of calls it takes to convert a lead to a sale
  • ascertaining which agents are the most responsive;
  • visually ranking agent calling frequency and duration; and
  • instantly reporting all leads not called within a specified period.

These features combine sales and support processes, which Yedwab says is by design. He admits the reality for many SMBs is that the contact center is now the focal point for all parts of an organization. "We're really talking about enabling a sales-oriented contact center," he says. "Everybody is involved in customer contact."

 

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