Ask the Experts: Inbound Contact Center Features

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle discuss inbound and outbound contact center features with Evolve IP’s CTO Scott Kinka. Find out more about cloud contact center solutions from Scott and the Evolve IP team here:

Andrew: Diving right back in, guys, to our next Ask the Experts session. We’ve been talking about contact center. We’ve been talking about omnichannel, and inbound and outbound, and all these different cool features, and how contact centers belong in the cloud. I want to spend a few minutes here now with one of our UCaaS providers that has a really solid–and frankly very disruptive–price point on contact center solutions: Scott Kinka, CTO of Evolve IP. Scott, welcome again, man.
Scott: I’m excited to talk about this topic.
Andrew: All right. Good deal. I know this is a real strength of Evolve IP. You guys have built this really awesome contact center platform that integrates beautifully with your BroadSoft deployment. I wanted to give you a chance to talk about the two flavors of contact centers–ones that are predominantly inbound, ones that are predominantly outbound. Where do you think Evolve IP really shines? Where are your strengths in those areas?
Scott: We are primarily focused on the traditional inbound call center. When you talk about call center, most of the features that people are familiar with, queuing and how agents are managed, those are really hallmarks of the inbound call center. For us, it’s the 500-person business with 100 agents. In those types of businesses, it’s largely an inbound type of approach. It’s a big strength for us, as you mentioned.
We’ve done a dramatic amount of internal development around the BroadSoft platform, and it really extended that to the point where we’re driving their road map and then we’re extending that beyond for tools that are really focused on the inbound call center.
We do offer some features that are often considered outbound that I should mention. Queue callback, which is an internally-developed IP feature which is really the, “I called inbound, but I don’t want to wait, enter number or recognize number,” and then it creates an outbound activity when the call center calms down. Also, through our CRM integrations we do a lot of what would have historically been considered sort of a progressive or preview dialing scenario–which is load call list, press to call–but a lot of that really functions out of the CRM. It’s really a function of the application where they’re living.
Outbound, in the predictive methodology, was really a conscious choice for us. I’ll explain predictive very quickly for those of you who aren’t familiar, which is the load the list and let the system make the dial, and when it connects to somebody, then it gets somebody in the call center. One of the reasons why we really chose to not focus on that is it’s really hard to weigh out the good customers from the people who’ve got “do not call,” and you’ve got all kinds of things going on there. It just wasn’t a fit where customers were bringing along the rest of the services.
Outbound is generally a thing where you move that traffic around, and you park it. And generally the call back in may go to the Philippines, or someplace else where we’re not going to get the rest of that business on the PBX side. It’s just an area where we’ve chosen not to focus, per se, largely because of what our community–Intelisys’ partners as well–are bringing to us. That’s mostly focusing on the inbound side.
Andrew: Got it. Let me ask this question. On inbound contact center, the amount of money that an enterprise customer might spend on contact center software is remarkably high, right?
Scott: Absolutely.
Andrew: It could be in the many, many thousands of dollars up front, per contact center seat, but you also get some really advanced features in some of those contact center solutions.
Scott: No question.
Andrew: All the different application integration and so forth, and the different channels of communication. If you had to look at one of those really high-end, very expensive platforms, and then look at Evolve IP’s platform which has very disruptive pricing, where would you put yourself on that scale from a feature functionality perspective? Are you equal to the most expensive ones out there, or is it a scenario where you’re getting–I’m just making this up–80% of the features at half the price? What are your thoughts on this? Speak to that real quick.
Scott: I think that was a pretty good characterization of it. Clearly, you’ve been involved with some deals with Evolve IP there. I appreciate that characterization. There’s no question. I think the key to being successful in call center is to make it a practice, not a feature, right? That’s one of the differences with Evolve IP from some of the other hosted VoIP providers out there who have a call center feature set, but it’s a feature set like unified messaging is a feature set. Practices around selling it to call center managers, understanding their needs, focusing on helping them implement. The challenge that you have in the call center space is the person who’s implementing is usually the longest-standing agent there. They were an agent. They became a supervisor, became a director. Now they run the call center. They’re going to something else. They’ve never seen anything else. You need to be in the mode of helping them get there. To us that’s really where our hallmark is.
I think from a feature set perspective, I would say that because it’s practice for us, we’re sort of above the people who don’t focus on it. Definitely above them. We’ve added a bunch of reporting and dashboards, things like that. I don’t want to say that we’re in catch-up because we’re consciously there, but we’re clearly at that 80-ish percentile, and it’s largely around places where we either go to do third-party integration–so workforce management. We don’t have it embedded, but we have integration so that you can leverage. We could be around screen capture, as an example–agent screen capture. We don’t have it natively, but we have an integration. It’s those types of things.
To make one other comment, one of the other areas where those large tools focus is in the multi-channel arena, so that’s the blending of chat and email with voice services. In the industry there’s a lot of debate about where that should live now. Our feeling, and one of the reasons that we didn’t focus there, is that really belongs in CRM. If you’re a Salesforce user, chat, emails, the tracking among them, belongs–and there’s a better customer-rounded skillset–inside of CRM, then there generally is inside of a PBX that also happens to do chat. Our focus there has been to integrate with Salesforce, with Zendesk, at a level that it can be used as a multi-channel solution.
Andrew: Got it. Cool. That’s great, man. We’re doing a lot of business with you guys in the contact center space. We’re obviously big fans of that. Guys, that’s Scott Kinka, CTO of Evolve IP, and a member of the faculty here at the Cloud Services University from the very get go. Great to have you on board here, Scott.
Scott: I was thrilled to be here.
Andrew: Good deal. Guys, make sure you do spend some time at the Evolve IP learning center. Lots of great stuff in there about contact center, and it is a real strength of theirs. They’ve done some really cool custom development that kind of expands the whole functionality of kind of the off-the-shelf BroadSoft platform. And they do some really, really cool integrations that can help you win big deals in the contact center space. Good selling.