The economic recession has prompted many companies to limit their software investments to projects deemed either absolutely necessary or able to deliver immediate return on investment (ROI). It's an odd side effect of the recession, though, that certain software vendors may see more interest rather than less. The "absolutely necessary" category often includes technology designed to address compliance issues -- such as products for call recording that help achieve Payment Card Industry compliance. With a winking nod to the vocabulary of the recession, Voice Print International (VPI), a Camarillo, Calif.–based provider of contact center solutions, hopes to even more traction with its new Call Recording Technology Bailout Package.
According to Patrick Botz, VPI's director of marketing, the genesis for the move unsurprisingly came from its client base, both current and prospective. "Many businesses want to upgrade their technology, but do not want to put up a large upfront investment," he explains. "That's an issue we're seeing more of in this economy."
Particularly in verticals such as collections, financial services, healthcare, and insurance, Botz says he expects this new message for VPI's Web-based offering to be particularly alluring. "Due to the financial situation and calls to be compliant, companies are trying to figure out ways to upgrade," he says. "So we're setting out to give the most products possible…for the highest value and [at] an aggressive price."
Botz says he doesn't find a lot of contact center vendors focusing on the value derived from their offerings; instead, he says, most of his competitors harp on added features and functions. Botz, of course, obviously agrees that functionality matters, but believes that VPI can make waves by promoting value correlated with attractive pricing.
Dick Bucci, a senior consultant at Raritan, N.J.–based research firm The Pelorus Group, also agrees that value is paramount, but suggests that the main concerns for buyers will remain customer care and satisfaction. "The distance between that and ROI is going to become much closer," he says. "Companies have to evaluate alternative capital requests, and contact centers are only one group within many organizations. There will be battles for funding approvals, and the strong business cases will rise to the top."
The Call Recording Technology Bailout Package from VPI will run $549 per month for a company looking to record 50 employees (or seats). At the upper limit, 250 seats, the monthly cost is $1,999, including professional implementation, training, and project management.
Botz says VPI decided to focus on call recording and quality management (QM) because of a belief that those are the two aspects companies must incorporate into their customer service portfolio. VPI's Web-based model is modular, and integrates with Voice over Internet Protocol, time-division multiplexing, and hybrid environments with companies including Aspect Software, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Mitel, and Nortel Networks.
VPI also offers performance analytics, coaching, and other workforce optimization solutions, but Botz says that the addition of call recording could become a tipping point. "When you add in another module, you can install it on the same server so virtually everything can be done remotely," Botz says.
Bucci predicts that, along with streamlined pricing, software-as-a-service offerings are something we can expect to see more of among contact centers as the recession continues. "The market recognizes now that we're in an environment [in which] capital is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to secure," he explains. "You see vendors now providing automatic call distributors, CRM applications, and, to some degree, workforce management solutions via the hosted model."
While Bucci has yet to come across other vendors offering "bailout pricing" deals similar to VPI's, he says he's not surprised that the company is first-to-market with an offer tailored to the recession. This marketing effort, he notes, "was very innovative, which is characteristic of the company. This industry is made of companies that make or sell products -- VPI certainly makes them, but they're aggressive in selling them, too, which is very important today."
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For more on CRM amid the economic downturn, see the February 2009 edition of CRM magazine, The Recession Issue.