Big Company Call Center Functionality For SMBs

A new SaaS offering from Ringio seeks to bring enterprise-class call-center technology to small organizations by leveraging Google Contacts.

Benjamin Tomkins

April 19, 2010

3 Min Read
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Just because SMBs can't afford enterprise-class call center technology doesn't mean that they don't have call-center needs every bit as complex as large corporations. Moreover, with smaller customer bases and less entrenched brand recognition, the quality of customer care that SMBs provide, potentially, can have a bigger impact on the bottom line. Bringing the CRM and telephony functionality that enterprises take for granted to SMBs is the premise of the Rich Calling service announced today by Ringio.

"The high-level idea behind Ringio is to solve the issue of uninformed phone calls between customers and employees and give the employee more context, more info, and more help when a calls come in," said Ringio Co-founder and Chairman Michael Zirngibl. "The type of technology is not revolutionary. It has been used in large corporations and call centers for some time; CTI [computer telephony integration] and CRM-integration can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. We're making this type of technology available, accessible, and affordable so that a five-person company can benefit from the same technology as a million-dollar call center."

The Ringio's Rich Calling service is SaaS-based and presents users with both calls and contextual details via a desktop client; a mobile version for Android-based smartphones is also available. Through the desktop or mobile call-control screen, Ringio users can view customer information and add to it. The records automatically sync with a Google Contacts database, making the contextual detail information available across an organization. Future integration with other contact managers as well as is planned. The customer data syncs with an organization's Google contacts and is also stored in the Ringio framework.

The service also supports so-called intelligent call routing provided by Voxeo. This allows incoming calls to be directed to specific employees or departments. Using the Ringio client, users can view incoming calls, and available details about the caller, and then elect to accept or direct the call, transfer the call to a colleague and view colleagues' availability in real time. An administrator reporting function allows managers to view data about incoming calls and behavior.

In a demonstration, Zirngibl created a contact for my phone number in the Ringio database and then asked me to call the company's main number. When I called, I was greeted by name and then selected the option to speak with business development, which routed me directly to Zirngibl according to a set of pre-determined "rules" that were set up in the Ringio client. Connecting with a real person wasn't instant, but it was quicker than many of the phone trees we've all experienced. How effective the system is for any one company will largely depend upon how they configured the call routing options.

A bigger question mark for some business owners will be about storing customer data in the cloud. For companies that have already made the move to the cloud, this may be a non-issue, but for others it may be a show stopper here. That's more a question about the security and reliability of the cloud than about Ringio however.

Zirngibl claims a set up time of less than 10 minutes for a 10-person company. The company now offers toll-free numbers and local numbers in select areas. The Ringio Rich calling service is available directly from the company site with pricing starting $99 per month for four users and $25 per month for each additional user.

Benjamin Tomkins is editor of InformationWeek SMB.
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