The 2017 CRM Service Elite Customer Companies: OwnerListens

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Although it empowers 13,500 businesses across the United States and Canada to resolve customer issues via text messaging, Menlo Park, Calif.–based OwnerListens was facing its own customer service challenges. Despite the increasing popularity of texting as a customer service channel, OwnerListens was inhibited by a lack of available phone numbers, high costs, and jumbled messages, particularly messages that exceeded 160 characters.

Thankfully, these obstacles went away after the firm adopted Zang to help it solve its text messaging and customer service interface issues.

When consumers send text messages to any of OwnerListens’ clients, the company receives and analyzes the messages and routes them to the right person, department, office, or chatbot within those companies. The companies can then respond on the same platform via text or email, or through an integrated dashboard.

Its previous two service providers were unable to meet its needs, which have increasingly revolved around the ability to text-enable clients’ existing landline phone numbers. These providers struggled to accomplish this task in a cost- and time-effective manner, which made it difficult for OwnerListens to deliver the level of service its customers expected.

This soon changed with the availability of Avaya-owned Zang, which was able to provide OwnerListens with greater functionality at a reasonable price. After acquiring Canadian firm Esna, Avaya launched Zang as a separate company in March 2016. Zang’s business model, which differs from that of its parent company, is based on providing a cloud communications platform and communication applications-as-a-service.

OwnerListens adopted Zang in early 2016. Today, the solution handles 12,000 text conversations per month, many of which involve multiple back-and-forth messages.

“A lot of messages go into each conversation, so costs can add up,” Eli Lipstein, head of product at OwnerListens, told CRM magazine in late 2016. “But with Zang, we’re saving thousands [of dollars] per month. Zang is helping us keep costs to a minimum.” Lipstein went on to say that OwnerListens has been able to deliver text messages with an open rate of more than 98 percent, with roughly 95 percent of messages read within the first three minutes of being received.

Zang is also able to scale with OwnerListens, which has built additional tools for businesses to scale their messaging with customers as it has grown. These tools include escalation, time-based routing, and suggested responses, as well as integrations with commerce systems from Wix, Shopify, Magento, and SquareSpace. Furthermore, OwnerListens has been busy adding support for instant messaging platforms and apps such as Twitter, WhatsApp, and WeChat.

Zang’s platform-as-a-service model has been vital to OwnerListens, as the latter has used Zang’s platform to build smart apps that enable click-to-connect communications with video, chat, voice, SMS, and document-sharing capabilities from mobile, web, and desktop environments. Zang’s highly interoperable platform not only provides complete workflow automation but also furnishes sophisticated tools for application development.

OwnerListens has recently unveiled a number of updates to its solution. These include multimedia messaging service capabilities, suggestion bots that serve up answers to customer service reps based on previous customer interactions and their company’s answers database, and the ability to build chatbots both inside and outside of Facebook Messenger. Additionally, OwnerListens is now able to integrate with Zendesk, Desk.com, Nanorep, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Kore Software.

Although Lipstein acknowledged some “bumpy spots along the way,” he said that Zang’s engineers were quickly able to work through them. “Our end goal is to support customers on many different platforms,” he went on to say. “So far, Zang is doing a really good job for us. As part of Avaya, they can offer a lot of great things.”

Lipstein also noted that adding capabilities will be easy “because Zang has a really great [application programming interface] that is easy to hook into.” 


  • handle 12,000 text conversations per month between consumers and businesses;
  • deliver text messages that have an open rate of more than 98 percent, with 95 percent being read within the first three minutes of being received; and
  • save thousands of dollars per month in communications costs.

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