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July 10, 2012
By J.R. Sloan
In contact center sales, the mid-market between 50 to 200 seats can sometimes be a little misunderstood. Many people push those sales into the wrong camp, assuming the needs are the same as either a small or large operation. But with a little more understanding of mid-market needs, you can address a rich vein of potential business that could otherwise be lost.
The mid-market contact center typically has four major priorities that come up time and time again:
They want to be assured of the ease of installation of the new contact center.
They want to be assured that the new contact center will be reliable.
They want better reporting than they have currently.
They want more than they can afford.
This last priority is perhaps the biggest challenge of all.
So how can you address all of those needs and still generate the right margin?
Let’s take a closer look at those needs first of all. The first need, ease of installation, is reasonable and not in the least surprising. The IT department of almost every enterprise has been burned in the past from overly drawn-out installations that stretch their limited resources and put them in the firing line of frustrated business units. They want to be assured that this will not happen again with their new contact center. Nonetheless IT departments are not unrealistic. They are typically sophisticated groups with the expertise and experience to appreciate that enterprise software is rarely as simple as plug and play” even in an increasingly cloud-focused world.
The second need, reliability, is likewise not too surprising. The business demands reliability to ensure mission critical operations run efficiently and without interruption and customers remain satisfied. The entire business wants reliability, so that fixing and managing the contact center does not become a day-to-day burden. This need implies that the IT department has been burned here too that they have been sucked into a fixing and managing” role that they did not want or anticipate in the past.
The third need, better reporting, is more revealing. Many companies recognize that they may not have the right measurement tools in place. Bear in mind that we have seen that mid-market sales are usually replacements of older technologies, rather than greenfield opportunities. That means that they usually have some analytics and reporting in place, but in the years since it was installed, the analytics have proven to be antiquated, inflexible or simply not fit for purpose. When the right things are being measured, contact centers can be run far more efficiently, resulting in several percentage points of cost efficiencies, not to mention improved customer responsiveness. Interestingly enough, many mid-market companies do not know the exact measurements that they want, but virtually all of them know that what they currently have is not helping them very much.
The fourth need, wanting more than they can afford, is the tricky one. From experience, just because a business falls into the mid-market contact center range does not mean that they have mid-market expectations. Their levels of IT sophistication are typically on par with companies that want a much larger contact center. They read the same publications, hear similar gripes from their customer service department and often listen to the same industry analysts. Practically speaking, they have the same pressures that a much larger customer service operation faces, just nothing like the same budget.
So what can be done to close the gap between mid-market desires and budget, ensuring that you and the customer profit?
The most important piece of advice is to address their needs with software solutions that genuinely address the mid-market. It might sound simple, but many technology resellers and integrators neglect to do this. It is understandable because most contact center technology is aimed at either the large or small end of the spectrum, meaning the mid-market is largely ignored. That means that unless you specifically seek out mid-market solutions, you run the risk of proposing an ill-fitting solution to the customer. It is almost like attempting to dress a teenager with either children’s clothes which are too small or their parents’ clothes which are too big.
The next most important piece of advice is to seek out bundles of customer interaction technologies. If you are used to dealing with much larger contact centers, you may fail to appreciate how much could be available to the mid-market by choosing the right grouping of customer interaction technologies. One-off installations of different customer interaction technologies can potentially lead to difficult integrations and dis-satisfied customers. However, the pre-integrated bundle could well meet the customers’ needs and even go beyond their expectations. For example, you could install a bundle that delivers a workforce management solution and an IVR system, as well as the core contact center software.
To carry the previous clothing analogy a little further, think “elastic!” Be sure to look ahead to ensure that the solution you present can grow with your customer’s business. A bundled solution could have extra components that could be added at some future date when their business demands it. Similarly, do not present a solution that tops out at 150 seats if the customer is at 100 agents now. In a relatively short period they could grow beyond that threshold and feel pretty cheated if they need to rip out the old system and replace it entirely frankly if they found themselves in that position, they would probably look elsewhere for a provider that factored in the long-term approach.
The final piece of advice is simply not to compromise. The reality is that the just right” solution does exist. Reasonable installations, reliability, better reporting and all within budget are possible for the mid-market. With a little more searching and the right amount of due diligence, you can find the right fit and push aside the easy-to-find large or small contact center options that can pull you away from a tailored option that will allow your customers flexibility in the longer term. Dont compromise on finding the right fit and dont compromise your future sales!
J.R. Sloan, product director, portfolio management, for Enghouse Interactive, has more than 20 years of experience in software, technology and contact center. Since joining Syntellect (now part of Enghouse Interactive) in June 2000, he has been responsible for systems engineering, product management and marketing, strategic direction, defining product and solution content, specifying product and solution requirements, and related areas. He has spoken at numerous conferences.
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