Genesys gets new board members, analysts start office pool on selloff date

Today Genesys — now part of the Permira portfolio — announced five new board members. Out of the five, only one (CEO Paul Segre) is the “non-banker,” the rest are partners of private equity outfits.

According to the press release, Genesys will be “into its next phase of growth” post Alcatel-Lucent.

Let’s see… A new board fortified with experienced PE execs and listing “growth” as a goal? Hmmm, what’s Genesys up to…?

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‘United Breaks Guitars’ dude starts Gripevine, will it work?

Remember Dave Carroll? The musician responsible for shaming United Air Lines with a simple but popular (approx. 11.5 million views to date) song “United Breaks Guitars” after getting no customer service from the airline after it destroyed his band’s instruments.

Since the success of that YouTube video Carroll has been invited to speak and headline many conferences about customer service, many of them by contact center technology vendors. For example, he was invited to the RightNow Customer Summit 2009:

He also showed up at Genesys GForce Melbourne:

Carroll is now a co-founder of Gripevine, a “customer service platform” startup hoping to better connect the customer with the company by automatically alerting the company about your online complaint.

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ShoreTel moves to the cloud, West Interactive upgrades Holly (supposedly)

The news reports that caught my eye this week:

ShoreTel acquires M5 Networks

ShoreTel’s 2Q2012 revenue came in at +22% year-over-year (quarterly net loss of $2.5 million) — not bad for a company that hasn’t dug deep into the cloud. But that’s all about to change as it scoops up cloud communications provider M5 Networks for $146.3 million in cash and stock.

No doubt that ShoreTel was able to nip at the traditional premise voice market by being aggressive and signing on major partners (Ingram Micro, Windstream, and HP). Really, being up 22% Y0Y is impressive especially in this economy where most money is being spent on cloud solutions. The M5 Networks pickup will definitely strengthen its offerings and expand the customer base.

West Interactive releases Holly 6.0 (?!)

The acquisition of Holly Connects was announced in May 2010. For an year and a half we don’t hear a blip about it…

Then this pops up in my news feed that got me all excited. But no corresponding link to an official press release or even a blog post.

Nothing on West Interactive’s website, either. In fact, the last news listed there was dated August 11, 2011.

Hmmm, anything from @WestInteractive? Plenty of tweets but nothing about the major release of Holly 6.

I can’t wait to hear more about the TuVox acquisition, if any news ever makes it out officially

Fonolo brings virtual queuing to the masses with new flat rate pricing

There’s no law against putting your customers on hold while waiting for a live agent, but that doesn’t mean you should operate a contact center that way. Today’s customers are no longer just armed with a telephone line to complain, but they’ve got smartphones and social networks to make their complaints louder than ever and reaching greater number of ears.

Virtual queuing has been around for a long time, but it is still rarely implemented. This awesome feature allows a caller to keep his/her place in queue even after disconnecting — and have the system call back when an agent is available to speak.

Fonolo is one of the companies focusing on this very niche. According to CEO Shai Berger (in a comment he’d left on the blog last year):

So the big question is, why have these features been so rarely implemented? The answer, we’ve learned, is that today’s call center is very resistant to innovation. Proprietary standards, multi-site operations and outsourcing have made for a very difficult environment for anything new to be deployed. So Fonolo’s answer is to add the smarts “from the outside”. That is, we don’t require anything to be installed at the call center. I believe this approach is what’s needed to break the log-jam.

That’s certainly true and a main reason why enterprises are implementing cloud solutions. But then there’s also a fundamental reason: cost.

The old school, well-established VQ vendors will get the job done — after selling you servers, software, licenses, and professional services. However, there are thousands of companies with a decent website but a small contact center, and these folks simply cannot dish out the money to buy all those components.

Fonolo’s VQ solution is very web-centric, requiring no additional premise hardware or software. Now with its new flat rate pricing, virtual queuing is no longer out of reach for any contact center. How would you like to implement VQ at $10 per agent per month, without having to deal with any infrastructure changes?

Don’t be shy to say Hi to Shai (@ShaiBerger) at ITEXPO Miami going on right now! I’ve spoken to him and met him before — he’s never made me wait!

Press release:

TORONTO – – Feb. 2, 2012 – Fonolo (fonolo.com), the company that helps organizations reduce call center costs while improving the customer experience, announced today that virtual queuing is nowwithin reach of any call center. By offering self-serve online setup along with flat-rate pricing, Fonolo is making it effortless for companies to promise their customers, “you’ll never wait on hold again”.

Everybody Hates Being on Hold

For decades, the call center industry has been stuck with the out-dated concept of placing callers “on hold,” whereby callers grow increasingly frustrated and companies spend money unnecessarily tying up phone lines. Virtual queuing solves these problems by replacing hold time with a call-back, when an agent is available.

Though commercial systems have been available for more than a decade, adoption of virtual queuing has been slow. The complexity and expense of implementation, driven by proprietary systems, a lack of standards, and costly consulting and integration projects have all been contributing factors.

A Breakthrough

In 2009, Fonolo revolutionized the call center world by introducing the first ever cloud-based virtual queuing system, thus completely removing the integration barrier. Since then, Fonolo has handled more than one million minutes of calls for companies ranging from one of North America’s largest banks to companies with only a handful of agents.

Today, Fonolo is demolishing the expense barrier with clear and affordable pricing. Companies can now set up virtual queuing for $10 per agent per month.

“Our success over the past few years has allowed us to build infrastructure at the scale necessary to support this breakthrough flat-rate pricing. We’ve known for a long time that many companies would love to offer virtual queuing to their customers, but have simply found the process – and the pricing – daunting,” said Fonolo Co-founder and CEO Shai Berger.

“Our customers have more important things to do than to sit on the phone listening to hold music. Now Fonolo will wait on hold for them and call them back when an agent is on the line. This is a fantastic value. You can’t put a price tag on a happy customer,” said Jeremy Watkin, director of customer service for Phone.com.

Companies that deploy Fonolo can offer their customers visual navigation, integrated directly into their web or smartphone properties, in addition to other innovative customer experience enhancements.
Learn more at fonolo.com.

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About Fonolo

Fonolo’s cloud-based call center solutions provide companies with visual dialing and virtual queuing services, improving customer satisfaction and lowering call center costs. Callers simply click on the phone menu option they want from the company’s website or mobile application, and Fonolo connects them to the right agent – every time.

A growing list of organizations, including the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Sirius Satellite Radio Canada and VoIP Supply have discovered the value of using Fonolo to connect their call centers with their web sites. The privately-held Toronto-based company has received numerous awards, including “Best Contact Center Solution” from ITEXPO Conference, “50 Best Websites” from Time.com, “Best New Product” from Emerging Communications Conference, “Judges’ Choice” from GigaOm’s Mobilize Conference and “Top Telecom Idea” from Springwise.