December 1, 2017
**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**
Talkdesk has some chatter going on. The cloud-based contact center startup has raised $25 million in funding from Salesforce Ventures, DFJ and Storm Ventures; been named a visionary in Gartner’s contact center as a service Magic Quadrant along with BroadSoft, which was recently snapped up by Cisco; and signed on reference customers including Dropbox, Shopify and Peets Coffee. And, in October, it named Jon Heaps VP of channels. Heaps is a longtime channel veteran who’s done stints with ShoreTel, Corvisa, inContact and Qwest Communications.
Talkdesk’s Jon Heaps
Hosted contact centers are a huge opportunity for the channel, with some major advances that partners should be stressing to customers. For example, Talkdesk’s contact center app store allows partners or customers to customize their contact centers with add-ons, such as voice analytics and workforce optimization, and it offers a number of one-click integrations with CRM and other enterprise applications. That ability to customize is a trend that Sheryl Kingstone, research director of customer experience and commerce for 451 Research, says will have a huge impact on how call centers operate.
Here’s our Q&A with Heaps touching on his goals for the program, deals with master agencies and more.
Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?
Jon Heaps: Talkdesk is an easy-to-use, cloud-based contact center solution that improves customer interactions while reducing costs. It really comes down to the ease of use and ease of doing business. Talkdesk is simple to use, simple to maintain and easy to evolve as needs change.
Historically, call center software has been on-premises, taking up to six months to install. Since Talkdesk is in the cloud and designed to be operated by business users, companies can set up a call center within minutes. All they need is Wi-Fi and our solution. Essentially, Talkdesk is the first company to innovate an outdated industry, with the most modern technology and design techniques. At Talkdesk, we think of ourselves as an engineering company, with 150+ engineers and growing, we are constantly evolving our solutions using technologies such as AI to empower businesses to have more impactful customer conversations.
Additionally, Talkdesk has developed and launched the first ever enterprise app store for the contact center, AppConnect, which offers customers key partner integrations. AppConnect makes sure all partners on the platform offer one-click installations, 30-day free trials and pay as you go. This is one of the reasons Gartner named Talkdesk a Visionary in the 2017 Contact Center as a Service Magic Quadrant. Talkdesk is also the youngest company to ever be included in …
.. this quadrant.
CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?
JH: We have a comprehensive channel program in which we’re partnering with the top master agents in the country. In addition, we have dedicated channel managers to provide the full spectrum of partner support, internally and externally. Some partners we’d like to highlight are Intelisys, Carrier Sales and Telarus.
CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.
JH: Talkdesk recently started to focus on the channel. I was brought on to build the channel business from very little to our goal of 60 percent, which I have done in the past. We’re all-in now, and I am ramping up the team to get to our goal.
CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?
JH: Our main competition would be inContact and Five9. Why is our offering preferable? It comes down to the ease of doing business, fast implementations and the ability for customers to make adjustments, like routing changes or adding a workforce management app, on their own. Customers can have a contact center up and running within a matter of a few minutes, not months or quarters. When they need adjustments, they can just make it happen quickly. And we are always delivering new features.
CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?
JH: Considering that we dedicate 50 percent of our resources to R&D, our speed to innovation is unrivaled. On average, today companies increase customer satisfaction by 19 percent with Talkdesk. We continue to invest in AI-enabled capabilities that allow business to have even more effective customer interactions. And we’re adding more AppConnect and integration partners each day.
CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?
JH: New features and integrations are how we keep up with the quickly evolving world of the contact center. Our channel team is going to be just as agile. Over time, we’re looking forward to growing the team to further support our partners.
CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?
JH: We do have a dedicated channel team that will provide white-glove service to any and all partners. Considering we work in tandem with our internal sales team, there’s no channel conflict, ever. The team is as flexible and agile as the product, and that’s why we win.
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