Ozonetel Executive Interview
Prashanth Kancherla, VP – North America, Ozonetel
Ozonetel Offers a Full-featured Omnichannel Communications Platform at a Competitive Price Point
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Ozonetel, founded by an experienced team of technologists and entrepreneurs, built full-stack customer experience software from the ground up to solve the practical problems that keep call centers from optimizing their communications platforms. The goal was to offer secure, cloud-based communication solutions that provide a superior customer experience at a lower total cost for contact centers. The company enables businesses to communicate effectively via all major channels: voice, email, social media, SMS, chat, and more - one platform with no capital investment. Ozonetel provides call management and analytics tools to monitor and track customer interactions.
Known for developing and launching what they say was the first cloud-based customer experience platform in the Indian marketplace, they have evolved to create a global impact.
In her continuing series of interviews with companies scheduled to exhibit at Enterprise Connect before it changed to an online event, CrmXchange Managing Partner Sheri Greenhaus had an enlightening exchange with Ozonetel’s Prashanth Kancherla, VP – North America, Ozonetel Communications.
What do you see as your product’s differentiators?
We have been in the contact center market for about 10 years. In that time, we have been able to identify and capitalize on the three or four differentiators that we believe make our product stand out over our competitors. Speaking operationally, we believe that CRM integration has been one of the primary reasons why we are winning deals in the US market. While many of our competitors are larger companies, we have the advantage of being a highly nimble player with the capability to integrate with any CRM systems more rapidly. This is because, unlike some other players in the market, we are not dependent on a third-party for our platform; ours is completely homegrown.
A second factor is that is difficult to enable autodialers on the cloud and the better- known suppliers often can’t provide them as efficiently. They offer click-to-call as a mechanism. We have a very efficient autodialer which has been used successfully in other markets for 10 years. It is also available in the US as well. That is a key product differentiator and since it integrates with CRM systems, makes it even stronger.
The third advantage is the service differentiator. Our support network is available 24/7 on both the phone and email channels. We also have a dedicated account manager for all Ozonetel customers. Our clients can feel confident that there is a point of contact to whom they can always reach out. This makes it easier for contact center admins to get things accomplished. They do not have to pay more for support packages on these channels.
Integrations with Legacy pbx systems of Avaya or Cisco has been another key differentiator. We use sip trunk integrations with these pbx/ucaas systems to enable a combined solution and allow clients to migrate to cloud based products easily and enjoy all advantages we provide without drastic changes to their internal calling processes.
What is the profile of the types of companies that use your system?
In terms of types of users, I would say companies that use our solution have about 60% inbound and 40% outbound calling requirements. The same client typically has both inbound and outbound calling requirements.
Our advantage for these companies is our outbound dialer, that while most existing CCAAS solutions in the market don’t offer. Our IVR designer that allows businesses to create and change their IVR without any coding is also popular, however, our biggest advantage is our dialer API with capability to integrate with any CRM system. This gives us a big advantage in the marketplace.
In a recent blog, we talked about the importance having a solution that’s integrated with the CRM system. It creates agent efficiencies that have a multiplier effect. The first advantage is that the agent does not need to go through multiple pages to operate effectively in taking customer calls and chats. There is one single page, which is the CRM. We don’t try to make our product the center of the agent’s daily life: instead, we focus on the CRM as the core system because that is where all the customer information is located. We add our product into the CRM, so when the agent logs in, our product is fully available, usually running in the background. Only in cases where the agent needs to transfer the call or conference someone else in, they would need to need to click on the Ozonetel link.
Since our solution is WebRTC based, a big benefit is that agent don’t need to take any additional steps to take the call, it’s on the computer and directly on the browser. The second benefit is that they already see the customer information, so the integration is already done.
As we touched upon previously, what we consider the third advantage is outbound calling. If the business needs to call a customer, click-to-calls is available. But calls can also be added to a scheduler. For example, if a customer requests a callback at 2:00 pm that day, they can put that information into our scheduler and auto-call the customer, then connect to the agent if the customer answers the call. These are the improved user experience functions we provide for the agent and that is what we mean by having an integrated contact center. It ensures that the contact center team is aligned with other teams within the organization so everyone is going in one direction, collaborating to drive a consistent experience for the customer.
Another goal of ours is to create an effective customer engagement model. This involves the company making a strategic yet sincere attempt to create brand loyalty at every stage of the customer lifecycle. They accomplish it by exceeding customer satisfaction and experience through proactive, meaningful, and contextual customer interactions.
Please explain the customer engagement model.
A customer engagement model is specific, where one size doesn’t fit all. It is dependent on several factors such as product or purchase lifecycle, customer type, and perceived product value. Based on these, companies can strategically segment their customer base and optimally meet their customer where they are. With some of the brands we work with, we enable them to market to their customers using additional tools we offer. They can use these marketing tools to promote to specific customer profiles. They can do gender-based marketing or profile-based marketing employing both gender and age.
Once the customer is engaged with the brand and has made a purchase, that information comes into the CRM system and the entire lifecycle is tracked between our product and the CRM. Thus, we know when the customer is engaged with the brand, when they have purchased something from the brand and if they come back on for support.
One top-of-the-mind use case involves a spa which has promoted a discount coupon to their customers. When the customer engages with the brand, obviously it involves an inbound call, but it has also been tagged with the marketing messages sent. The agent sees which offers have been sent to that specific customer. They already know the relevant coupon codes and once the customer has booked an appointment, our solution automatically sets up reminders via text and makes an automated call to the customer on the day of arrival to the spa. Should the customer want to change the schedule that can be done directly on the phone. The change will be automatically updated in the spa’s CRM system.
Where do bots come in?
The recent evolution over the past six months has been that outbound reminders are completely bot-based. The bot can respond accordingly to the customer’s wishes and make the necessary changes in the system. The admin gets an alert at the end of the day on the number of customers who have cancelled appointments so they can verify and take appropriate actions on that information. That is what we consider to be a complete 360-degree customer engagement model.
We provide both the chatbots and voice bots and some companies use these as a standalone product. If a business has an existing solution in place and can’t move out of the contract, they can still deploy our AI-based bots.
We have readymade connectors for standard CRM systems such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Zoho or Freshdesk, but if the business has a homegrown CRMS, we can shape the APIs and the company’s developer integrates them.
What are the keywords businesses might use to find your solution?
One is autodialers, where we are top of the charts even though it is not our primary application. We also are prominent in APIs for autodialers. Another is IVRs. We have also seen an uptick in search results for call center and contact center software, which is a broader category.
What makes a company a good prospect for you?
When we are at a live conference, the first questions we might ask someone who stops at our booth that is how many users they have,what existing solutions they have in place, and what challenges they face. The top three business challenges they tell us about include poor CRM integrations, overly complicated IVR set-ups, and inefficient outbound calling processes. What is popular amongst these prospects are our IVR designer because it allows them to make a more effective self-service application on their own… and autodialers. Interest in the latter has seen a surprising uptick over the past two years in the contact center market.
I must add, we are in no way responsible for the epidemic of extended car warranty and other scam calls. Whenever we make a contractual agreement, we make sure that the company will not be using our autodialer to make unsolicited marketing calls. We make every effort to strictly comply with Stir-Shaken regulations. We are seeking to deal only with core businesses that require an autodialer to optimize the process of communicating with their own customer base with whom they have an existing relationship.
In terms of IVR set-ups, 80-90% of companies don’t need any advanced functionalities. They just need a plain, simple set-up that can be accomplished by any layman with business knowledge. For the 10% of customers that need API integrations, the person who is doing the design does not need to develop code but should at least understand what an API is, what parameters need to be sent, what responses are being obtained and how they need to be used in the IVR flow. There is no need for a developer, just someone who can drag and drop to create a responsive IVR. There’s no fee to set up the system no deployment fee. We usually support onboarding for at least two weeks. This gives the customer time to get comfortable with the product dashboards and reports.
We also offer monthly contracts. This is what makes us very popular with fast-growing businesses that need to scale up in efficient, cost-effective ways.
We need to stay on our toes to keep our customers happy. We believe that our operating cost is about 50% of our competitors’ costs. The pricing is available on our website and can be compared directly with other offerings.
We’re often asked why we keep the prices so low when we have the same feature set. We also want our channel partners…who are crucial to our success… to make money as well. That was one of our first realizations in the initial 18 months after launching the product. Approximately 40% of our sales are now through channel partners and roughly 60% are direct. The partner share is growing as they are bringing us larger and larger deals. Our largest client in Asia has about 2,200 seats and we in the implementation phase with one of the largest banks in India that has 16,000 contact center users.