A RESELLER agreement between Gen-i and startup Datasquirt is bringing the technology of SMS to contact centres.
Datasquirt’s Contact product was specifically designed to allow contact centres to introduce non-voice channels into their existing processes.
General manager Julian Smith says until the release of Contact an SMS product had never been available for contact centres.
“Text is an intimate channel where all the old business rules don’t apply. It’s unchartered territory for organisations,” he says.
Contact works on a thin client model that is hosted by Datasquirt and is accessed by the user over the internet.
“This means it can be deployed within hours - customers don’t have to buy hardware or software. Since contact centres often don’t have extra resources to put into implementation this is very attractive.”
Jo Allison, Gen-i business manager contact centre services, says that although the formal reseller agreement has only recently been signed, the partnership goes back several years.
Datasquirt worked closely on product design with Gen-i’s contact centre services team to ensure Contact works with processes and performance measures.
“In the contact centre if it moves you mea-sure it, so to introduce a new channel could be a potential disaster. Contact had to fit in with Gen-i’s other solutions for that market,” says Allison.
She describes the product as customer focused and flexible.
“I’ve never been part of a reseller agreement like this. Trust me, there’s no shortage of vendors trying to get Gen-i to partner with them - I would see a presentation at least once a week.”
To date, the most high-profile use of Contact has been for the New Zealand Elections Enrolment Centre, using SMS to allow voters to enrol.
It took two weeks to plan, develop and implement the project, which was launched in April.
Smith says the Elections Enrolment Centre is thrilled with the results of the programme — contact volumes were up 72% in the first two weeks - and will likely be used for all future election campaigns.
At the same time email contact dropped by 80% compared to 2002, although phone and mail figures stayed the same.
“This is the first time the government has offered an SMS channel to the electorate. At this stage all our pilot projects have ended up becoming customers which is a healthy sign,” says Smith.
Gen-i now plans to generate market demand for Contact and has been awarded a Technology New Zealand research and development grant to evolve the technology.
“There are 13 million texts sent each day in New Zealand,” points out Allison. “From now on it’s sell, sell, sell.”