Magazine article CRM Magazine

They've Got Your Number: Enterprises Now See the Potential for Telephone-Enabling Technologies and Software-as-a-Service to Help Capture the Voice of the Customer

Magazine article CRM Magazine

They've Got Your Number: Enterprises Now See the Potential for Telephone-Enabling Technologies and Software-as-a-Service to Help Capture the Voice of the Customer

Article excerpt

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The recent fight over the Google Voice application for the Apple iPhone has the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) scrutinizing competition in the high-tech and telecommunications sectors. No resolution had been reached at press time; the FCC is still investigating.

Whatever the outcome, the stakes are high for CRM players as well: Google Voice--along with other telephone-enabling technologies that utilize cloud computing--has the potential to fundamentally alter how businesses act upon the voice of the customer, a topic gaining traction in the business community.

It's about time, says Greg Goldfarb, general manager of enterprise applications for Ribbit, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider of voice and telephony solutions. "There's all this data and content that has been locked up in the telephone networks--voice calls, messages, and SMS," Goldfarb says."The SaaS community is really picking up on what can be done, especially when business is becoming more mobile ... and enabling people to do more with telephony."

With Ribbit--which calls itself "Silicon Valley's First Telephone Company--developers combine voice calls with Web 2.0 experiences. Voice, messaging, and other forms of communication can be added as programmable features to any Web page, application, or online community--a SaaS play in a traditionally hardwired space. In fact,when the Google Wave collaboration platform debuted in late September, Ribbit--one of CRM's Rising Stars in last year's Market Awards (September 2008)--already had plugins to enable conferencing and messaging.

"There's a new stream of data--[which] has never been available to things like SaaS applications--to get to businesses much faster, and with more visibility," Goldfarb continues."It's a stark contrast. One day a customer calls and leaves a voicemail for someone in customer or field service.... In the old days, that was stuck on one individual's voicemail system and the person wouldn't retrieve the message until the end of the day, only to scribble it down on a notepad. Now, that same message can flow into a CRM system, be converted from voice to text, and create an activity in the CRM [system] so it can be acted upon in a matter of minutes. …

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