FairPoint introduced a new Cloud Contact Center application with an aim of enhancing its business revenues by targeting its Hosted PBX and SIP trunking customer base.
A key element of the application is that it reduces capital for business by allowing customers to get contact center capabilities without the expense and maintenance of an on-premises based solution.
Customers that use the application can also access new features and functions all of which will be managed directly by FairPoint at a competitive price. FairPoint offers two subscription service tiers for Cloud Contact Center seats: Gold is $79.99 a month, while Platinum is $149.99 a month.
Cloud Contact Center services delivered what Frost & Sullivan said was “significantly” lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than comparable premise-based systems for all configurations analyzed over three-year and five-year terms.
Businesses can use the Contact Center application to connect with customers and meet their needs through formal or informal contact centers, with individual departments or representatives, and/or with subject matter experts.
Bob Ashley, senior product manager for VoIP services at FairPoint, said what motivated the telco to offer the application was a request from one of its public sector customers that was looking to transition away from a PBX voice system.
“The initial interest was from a government agency customer who wanted to move off their aging premise-based system and go to a cloud-based application," Ashley said. "They were very interested in the benefits of a contact center application so that’s how we started the introduction."
Ashley added that FairPoint is now seeing interest from other customers in other vertical segments that are looking for a lower-cost contact center solution that was only available in a costly premises-based product.
“We do have other customers in the retail vertical and have a electric utility customer," Ashley said. "We think this will be a great product for a lot of companies who could not afford a premises-based system, but can get contact center capabilities to improve their analytics and performance."
Although FairPoint foresees the new service being applicable to all of its customer segments, the company expects the immediate sweet spot customer profile will be those that have 20-100 employees.
Built using Telax software, FairPoint’s Cloud Contact Center delivers a host of call center capabilities through various methods, including traditional voice support and through multimedia applications like instant messaging, online chat, email and social media queuing. It offers automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), unified messaging, workforce management, computer telephony integration, performance analytics and more.
FairPoint’s Cloud Contact Center can also assist customers with their disaster recovery and business continuity requirements by enabling contact center agents to re-establish service from any location if their primary workspace is unavailable.
All a business needs to get the contact center application is an internet connection and a standard phone line.
“If you have internet access and a terminable phone number you can be anywhere on the face of the planet and use it,” Ashley said. “The flexibility for remote users is really quite attractive to customers.”
To lure customers to this service, FairPoint is initially targeting customers that use its SIP trunking and Hosted PBX services.
FairPoint’s SIP trunking is an IP trunk service that can be configured to support both traditional Private Branch Exchanges (PBXs) and IP-PBXs. The service can also be used by businesses as an IP replacement for traditional Primary Rate Interface (PRI), T1 and analog line PBX interfaces, or can be delivered natively to an IP-enabled PBX.
As a cloud-based service, FairPoint’s Hosted PBX enables businesses to support various voice and data services without the need to install and maintain an on-site phone system. Since the PBX system is hosted over FairPoint’s Ethernet network, the telco can keep the Hosted PBX calls separate from the open Internet.
“We’re really using the contact center application to complement our SIP trunking customer base,” Ashley said. “Obviously, the SIP trunking piece could attach to an existing PBX that the customer has and we can offer the service on top of that and give them the analytics they need to make their business more efficient and workforce more productive.”
Greg Ross, VP of product management for FairPoint, said the motivation to offer this application is part of a broader effort to enhance its revenue stream as services like Ethernet becomes less of a differentiator.
“We have noticed with carrier Ethernet services we have done really well over the years, but what we have picked up on that is that service is becoming increasingly commoditized,” Ross said. “The solutions we have been introducing like hosted voice have created an extra level of stickiness or retention and increased our customer satisfaction.”
While FairPoint’s sales team is increasing its Ethernet sales by signing up new customers and transitioning others, being able to also offer hosted PBX and data center services the telco can stave off competitive threats from Comcast Business, for example.
Evidence of this trend was seen in FairPoint’s second quarter results. While FairPoint reported that Ethernet revenue was $24.9 million, overall revenue declined $1.4 million as more customers transitioned off of TDM to IP-based services.