Webinar Rewind: Sophisticated Billing-as-a-Service for Resellers Presented by Rev.io

For our last webinar in June, we invited leaders from Rev.io, SkySwitch’s premier billing partner, to demonstrate the benefits of their system and explain the importance of combining subscription-based billing with customer management and taxation planning. 

Moderated by SkySwitch CMO, Andy Abramson, and presented by Rev.io’s VP of Marketing, Patrick Elliott, and SkySwitch’s VP of Customer Success, William Brister, this webinar discussed everything Rev.io has to offer SkySwitch resellers.

Keep scrolling to listen to the full webinar recording, download the slide deck, read the top highlights from this webinar and to learn more about how the Rev.io platform works with the SkySwitch platform.

Who Is Rev.io?

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Rev.io is a next-generation billing and back-office software platform used by leaders in the UCaaS, Wireline, Wireless, VoIP, and MSP markets. They offer a carrier-grade solution tailored to the needs of communications, IoT and technology service providers with recurring revenue or consumption-based business models. Their platform can rate usage, calculate taxes, bill, and manage the services provided to customers.

Rev.io’s Billing-as-a-Service (BaaS) Ecosystem

Rev.io’s robust billing-as-a-service platform empowers businesses by providing them with all their billing needs within one consolidated platform. Their adaptable telecom & IoT billing solutions scale with your business, enabling billing capabilities for any recurring, metered, or one-time service. Their simplified billing management, quote-to-cash capabilities, hybrid cloud infrastructure and self-service tools are just a few of the services that they can offer SkySwitch resellers.

SkySwitch, Rev.io and Resellers

SkySwitch’s integrated partnership with Rev.io completely supports our white label UCaaS platform. Rev.io’s platform gives resellers access to accurate recurring billing, usage rating, telecom tax presentation, customer management and reporting. Once resellers set up and learn how to use this rock-solid platform, they will see for themselves how Rev.io has committed to providing all resellers with a solution to manage their monthly billing with ease.

Congratulations To These Attendees...

For this week’s webinar, Rev.io raffled off some of their branded swag to give to three lucky attendees! 

Congrats to this week’s winners:

  1. Brian Kiefer
  2. Fouzi Bouzid
  3. Evelin Flores

Join Us for SkySwitch’s Next Weekly Webinar

Make sure to join us next Tuesday, July 7th at 11 AM ET for the next SkySwitch’s webinar, Learn More About SkySwitch’s CamCommand Solution & How to Create a Cloud Video Sales Strategy. SkySwitch VSaaS Specialist, Justin Baker, will be taking a deep dive into how the CamCommand solution works, the benefits of the solution for you and your customers and how you can create an effective cloud video sales strategy. 

Register now to join us live and to also be added to our email list to receive the webinar recording. We can’t wait to virtually meet up with you! 

Webinar Rewind: Your Customer’s Journey Is Fueled By Content and Support by the Cloud Voice Alliance

For our weekly webinar this week SkySwitch invited the Cloud Voice Alliance to join us for another lively session. Managing Director of the CVA, Jeff Dworkin, newly named “The Marketing Magician,” joined SkySwitch CMO, Andy Abramson, to educate resellers on many of the aspects of “The Customer Journey” as well as the types of content they should be providing their customers along each step of the journey to better close a deal. 

If you missed the live session, no worries! For your convenience, you will find access to the webinar recording, presentation, a live demo of the CVA portal and the major highlights of this week’s webinar below.

The Cloud Voice Alliance strives to help locally-owned telecom providers of Cloud-Based PBX and UCaaS services compete effectively against large national, and multinational, telecom providers. The CVA does this by providing resellers with the marketing resources to help them build awareness in the market, and by providing a collaborative environment where members can share best practices, pool resources and leverage buying power to increase profitability.

The Customer Journey from Acquisition to Close

The Customer Journey is about understanding the customer’s experience from start to finish. Knowing how your customer interacts with your company and brand is a very important step along their journey. To help you along the way, try to implement the acronym A.I.D.A, which stands for Attention, Interest, Decision and Action. AIDA is a very sales-centric way of approaching a customer. In today’s market, it’s all about digital and social which means that you have to really be on top of the type of content you put into the buyer’s hands. 

Be On Top of Your Content

Many people today opt to do their own research and look at lots of different things before actually contacting a person to close a deal. So how do we get the right information into your customer’s hands? Creating and delivering the right content at the right time is essential to getting your customer’s attention and then keeping it. Try executing these content tactics: 

If you are focusing on content in the digital realm then you need to consider: 

  • Keywords
  • SEO
  • Retargeting
  • Remarketing
  • Pay-Per-Click
  • Landing Pages
  • SEM

If you are wanting to focus more on content the real world then you need to consider: 

  • Advertising
  • Webinars
  • Direct Mail
  • Trade Shows
  • Word of Mouth / Referrals
  • Speaking Opportunities

Are you a Cloud Voice Alliance Member?

In the webinar replay, Jeff Dworkin will take you through a live demo of how Cloud Voice Alliance members can best use the CVA portal. As a CVA member, you have access to free marketing resources, like rebrandable product sheets, and collaborative forums where you can talk with other members and share vital information with each other at any time. If you aren’t already a CVA member be sure to sign up today!

Congratulations To These Attendees...

The SkySwitch team is always excited to raffle off prizes to attendees who participated in the Q+A session! For this week’s webinar, we gave away two SkySwitch Swag Packs, each of which includes a T-Shirt, socks, PopSocket and hat. 

Congrats to Jaclyn Morse and Colin Cummings for being this weeks winners! 

 

Join Us for SkySwitch’s Next Weekly Webinar

If you enjoyed this week’s webinar, make sure to join us next Tuesday, June 23rd at 11 AM ET for a SkySwitch reseller focused webinar,  Resellers Helping Resellers: Telecom Advice From the SkySwitch Community.” This webinar will feature a panel of SkySwitch resellers who will be speaking on what’s been working for their businesses, how they’ve overcome challenges and advice they have for their fellow SkySwitch resellers. You definitely don’t want to miss this! 

Register today to join us live and to also be added to our email list to receive the webinar recording.

CVA Webinar: Work From Home – How It Has Changed in 2020

Yesterday, our CMO, Andy Abramson, was featured on a Cloud Voice Alliance webinar along with CVA Managing Director, Jeff Dworkin, on how the workplace as we know it has changed forever. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses have transitioned to a work from home model, and company CEO’s and Owners are now seeing the benefits of remote work. So what does this mean for businesses moving forward post pandemic?

Find out below in this CVA Webinar Replay. 

Webinar Replay: Yealink’s T5 SIP Phones Deep Dive: Learn More About These UC Phone Solutions, Presented By Jenne

Having the ability to successfully counsel your customers while working in a remote environment is crucial in these unprecedented times — which means it’s even more important to be knowledgable about the lastest telephony hardware and software developments. That way, you’re equipped to best advise your customers on which devices fit their unique needs.

This week’s webinar was packed full of the most up-to-date information as we took a deep dive into Yealink’s UC Solutions that help support working from home. SkySwitch CMO, Andy Abramson, spoke with Jenne’s Yealink Business Development Manager, Craig Rocco, Yealink Business Development Specialist, Anthony Johnson and Yealink Product Specialist, Joseph Freistuhler, and together they educated resellers on the ins and outs of the new Yealink T5 Series SIP Phones and other UC Solutions.

Replay the webinar below, download the presentation and read on for the important highlights of this week’s session. 

Jenne and Yealink

With an extensive inventory, Jenne is a platinum distributor and resource for Yealink products. They have a dedicated support team that specializes in Yealink product knowledge. The Jenne team handles everything from promotions and demo requests to sales and tech support. Most importantly, Yealink products can be bought from Jenne via the SkySwitch Store.

Yealink USB Headsets, Personal Conference Phones & T5 Series Business Phones

USB Headsets

Many Yealink products are easily adaptable for remote work and also have flexibility in traditional workplace locations. Their newest USB Headsets, the UH36-Mono and UH36-Dual, have soft ear cushions for breathable wear, lightweight design and are ideal for remote work, in-office or call centers. They feature excellent audio performance with a noise-canceling microphone. When integrated with Yealink IP Phones (V85 and above) they offer enhanced functions like audio optimization, redial capabilities, call hold, volume synchronization and multiple call control. 

Personal Conference Phones

The Yealink Personal Conference Speaker Phones, the CP700 and CP900, are perfect for working from home, private offices, huddle rooms, or on-the-go business. With middle and high-end options, these USB speakers have a portable design and both are certified for Microsoft Teams. Both speakers are user-friendly and have easy Bluetooth and USB connectivity options. They also offer acoustic echo cancellation, noise suppression and digital signal processing.

T5 Series Business Phones 

The T5 series is the latest generation solution from Yealink, with upgraded enhancements these phones can help boost your bottom line, maximize ROI and provide more flexibility, at a low cost. The Yealink T5 key features include an Acoustic Shield for background noise suppression, a large ergonomic adjustable display, corded-cordless options and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. This series offers 3 options: the Flagship Smart Video Phone, Smart Business Phone and Prime Business Phone. With the T5W Series, there’s no need for any extra accessories, which frees up the USB slot and has a more reliable WiFI Dongle.

To learn more about these Yealink products and how to sell them to your customers, make sure to listen to the full webinar recap linked above.

And The Winners Are…

After Craig’s great presentation and Q+A session from the Yealink team, our team randomly drew names for prizes! We gave all attendees the chance to win one of two new UH36 Yealink Headsets, one UH36-Mono and one UH36-Dual. This week, we had two lucky winners: Congratulations to Kyle Wayman and Rich McGahan!

Thank you for tuning in! Our team had a great time meeting up with you virtually, as usual! Make sure to register for our webinar next week: 

Everything You Need to Know About Appointment Reminders on vBroadcast

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 11 AM ET

Webinar Recap: Work from Anywhere with Jabra – Solutions for Anyone: Companies, Managers and The Team

Yesterday, on SkySwitch’s weekly Tuesday webinar, Jabra joined us for a discussion on their long standing belief surrounding the benefits of working from anywhere. Speaking alongside SkySwitch CMO, Andy Abramson, Jabra’s Channel Account Manager, Nicholas Boan, educated the audience on how to manage virtual teams while maintaining productivity in a remote work environment with the proper tools. 

If you missed the live session, no worries! For your convenience, you will find access to the webinar recording, presentation and the major highlights of this webinar below.

Adapting To A Remote Work Model in Unprecedented Times

Due to the recent unforeseen changes in society, you may have experienced a disruptive shift in both your work and personal lives. Nicholas gave some practical advice and recommendations on how to adapt, keep engaged in your work while adding value to your customers who now find themselves working from home. With Jabra’s partnership with SkySwitch, you can easily access the products you need via the SkySwitch Store, to create a successful system for managing virtual teams and growing your business.

Home Office Habits of Highly Successful Employees

When it comes to creating a plan for a remote work model, it is important to involve everyone from the CEO to entry-level employees, to ensure success in a digital workspace. 

Nicholas explained how leading by example and showing your employees how to conduct themselves by setting the tone for communication behavior is very important to remain successful. He also touched on another vital aspect of a fully virtual office, which is setting up your employees with the right technology tools. This is where SkySwitch and Jabra can help! 

With the variety of Jabra headsets and speakerphones available that deliver easy-to-use functionality, the Jabra product line can quickly improve the overall employee and customer experience when working from home.  

Enable Your Customers to Work From Anywhere

Nicholas also covered how easy it can be to work from anywhere, drive profits and sustain growth with some use-case examples with some of Jabra’s products. For example, with Jabra’s Evolve wired and wireless headset series, their Panacast and Speak 710 and 750 it is easy to collaborate and stay connected without ever missing a beat.

As a Jabra partner, you have free access to their Jabra One Zone program, which provides you with sales and marketing materials, training and tools to help you sell Jabra products and solutions to your customers. For more information about this program, you can reach out to Nick Baon at nbaon@jabra.com

Congratulations!

To top off such an informative webinar, all attendees who joined the live session were eligible to win a Jabra Work From Home Prize Pack that included: 

  • 1 – Jabra Evolve2 65  Headset – Work anywhere with superior wireless audio performance
  • 1 – Jabra Speak 710  Professional, portable speakerphone
  • *Both packaged in a high-quality Jabra-branded pack with office supply items
Jabra Evolve2 65 Headset – Work anywhere with superior wireless audio performance
Jabra Speak 710 Professional, portable speakerphone

For this webinar, the lucky winner of the prize pack was Justin Dipopolo of Quality Communications of New Jersey. Congratulations Justin! 

Want More SkySwitch Webinars?

If you enjoyed this webinar, make sure to keep an eye out for our weekly newsletter, which highlights our upcoming webinars! To ensure you’re receiving all of our important email announcements, add “info@skyswitch.com” to your address book.

Don’t miss our next webinar: Safe Workplace Solutions for Your Customers That Can’t Work From Home. On Tuesday, April 28th, at 11 AM ET join Phil Lembo, President of CyberData, Justin Baker, VSaaS Product Manger at SkySwitch and Andy Abramson, CMO at SkySwitch as they discuss safe workplace solutions you can offer your customers who are required to work on-site during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Times of Crisis, Communication is Essential

When it comes down to it, we all think we are prepared for the unexpected — but are we really? Power and IT outages, natural disasters, even global pandemics, can happen at any time and inevitably affect your entire organization. In order to always be prepared for the myriad of unforeseen circumstances, businesses should have a crisis communication plan ready to deploy at any given moment to ensure business continuity.

Coming from a company with a cloud-based business model, SkySwitch wants to help ensure that your business keeps flowing in the event of a crisis or when unexpected situations arise. To keep going, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to create an effective crisis communication plan for your business: 

Do your employees have an easy way to communicate their status?

Whether it be during a crisis, or when you are operating business-as-usual, employee safety should always be a top concern in your company. As part of a safety assessment, C-level executives and managers need a way to account for their teams no matter where they are in the world. You might want to consider implementing a platform, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, for your employees to use for daily communication and messaging. It’s important for your crisis communication plan to include an established way for employees to check-in safely and quickly during an emergency.

Do your employees have a way to make and receive business phone calls at any time?

By using cloud-based softphone systems, you can provide your team with communication connectivity without the need for a physical desk phone. Apps like ReachUC Mobility offer essential and crucial features such as smart call routing and auto-attendant services. This makes the concept of “taking your work with you” easier than ever by bringing your office phone to your mobile device. Softphones allow your business phone number to follow you anywhere so your contacts can easily reach you. Making sure your employees are properly trained on how to use these cloud-based systems on their mobile devices is essential for times of uncertainty. 

Does your team have an efficient way to stay connected with their customers?

During non-emergency situations, your employees should have a safe place where they can serve your customers and be able to meet crucial deadlines. Consider checking out places like coffee shops, local co-working facilities like WeWork and Regus or other safe spaces for your employees to set up shop. But, during a global pandemic where everything is closed to the public, where should your employees and customers meet? To prepare for this kind of situation, make sure your employees are properly trained and equipped to work from home (#WFH) with all of the proper resources.

Do your employees have access to the proper resources for a digital workspace?

To create a smooth transition for your business during a crisis or unexpected event, it’s best to already be actively using remote-friendly apps and platforms. Using the proper collaborative resources for voice calls, instant messaging and video conferencing, where you can easily invite participants in and out of your organization, will help your business stay running as usual in a crisis situation. With the advancements in 4G and 5G technologies that are available today, it is easier than ever to give your employees a way to seamlessly switch from working in an office to a remote work model while still maintaining productivity. 

Creating a team environment has always been essential to keep business flowing. Now that we are experiencing a global crisis together, it has never before been more important for businesses to pull together as a team and stay connected. As a SkySwitch reseller, you have the tools available for your customers to maintain communication as they make use of their crisis communication plans. 

In times of need, SkySwitch is here for you, and your customers. If you’d like to learn more about how SkySwitch supports resellers in times of crisis, please contact us.

Promotional Ideas to Sell Cloud Communications During Times of Uncertainty

A global pandemic is not something any of us were expecting to face. Not in our lifetimes anyway. But here we are, trying to adapt in the best way we can. Businesses are scrambling to find ways to transition their teams into a remote work model but are finding out that it’s not as easy as they expected it to be. Not all companies possess reliable hardware that allows their teams to effectively, and efficiently, work from home. This is where you, as a telecom reseller, can come in and save the day! 

 

In order to become the hero, you may want to consider offering your customers special training and promotions that will assist them in keeping their business flowing. To do that, you’ll first need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask:

  1. If I were my customer, what would capture my attention?  
  2. If I were my customer, what would make me want to buy?  

From there, you can begin mapping out a promotional strategy that showcases the value in your offering, engages your audience and ultimately drives more customers to buy.

 

As a starting point, our team has pulled together a few ideas you can consider offering to your customers during this time of uncertainty. However, the sky’s the limit! The great thing about partnering with SkySwitch is that you’re free to set your own pricing and create your own promos, offers and bundles. We hope that the list of ideas below helps trigger some offering ideas that you can use for your business. 

  • Offer your customers a period of free service. 
  • Include a number of free desk phones with purchase of service
  • Offer free web and video conferencing for 90 days
  • Purchase cloud voice and add as many devices as you would like to your line
  • Provide free ReachUC softphones for 6 months with the purchase of cloud voice service
  • Free WFH-friendly headsets with the purchase of two or more lines

 

For more materials to help support you in times of uncertainty, make sure to keep an eye out on our blog, social media pages and weekly email newsletter.

 

Webinar Rewind: How to Work From Home With Grandstream

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, SkySwitch hosted a webinar featuring Grandstream, one of the newest brands found in the SkySwitch Store. During the webinar, we talked about which Grandsteam solutions can now be offered to your customers, who are transitioning from the traditional office to a remote home office environment so you can help them cultivate a more collaborative and productive workspace for their employees.

The team of experts who gave SkySwitch Resellers an inside look included:

  • Andy Abramson, CMO, SkySwitch
  • Corey Stoker, VP of Support, SkySwitch
  • Phil Bowers, Marketing Director, Grandstream
  • Hieu Huynh, Director of Support, NA & APAC, Grandstream

This webinar was full of information on the current state of WFH, the devices that make it possible and how to counsel your customers to deploy these solutions, so make sure to watch the webinar replay below.

For your convenience, check out these quick highlights on what we covered in this webinar…

Grandstream WFH Considerations

Phil Bowers explained that one of the hurdles resellers might face are customers who are hesitant to change. Since most businesses already have a set of devices for their employees to use, they hesitate when it comes to purchasing anything new, even during a remote work transition. That’s why it’s important to not just look at all the new devices you can offer your customers but to also present complementary devices that help your customer’s current work situation. In this webinar, Grandstream discusses the equipment that will complement the devices you already have with wireless and compact endpoints that optimize affordable remote work environment, management and usage. 

WP, DP, GRP, GAC Phone Series & Accessories in the SkySwitch Store

Grandstream has a variety of different devices that can help support your remote workforce. Support experts Hieu Huynh and Corey Stoker go over each product in detail so you know exactly which product is the right choice for you and your team. The wide variety of Grandstream products covered in this webinar that are available in the SkySwitch Store include: 

  • WP820 – Cordless Wi-Fi IP Phone
    This cordless phone is ideal for at-home usage. It’s easy to set up with dual-band Wi-Fi, roaming and 2 SIP accounts. This phone has an impressive feature set with Bluetooth, HD voice, dual-MIC design, AEC and noise shield technology, micro USB, 3.5mm headset jack, 7.5-hour talk time and 150-hour standby time. This phone also offers push-to-talk, accelerometer and a panic button.
  • DP750 & DP720 – Cordless DECT Base Station & IP Phones
    The cordless DP DECT series offers the ability to roam around your home while talking. It’s light, compact, offers 3-way voice conferencing, up to 10 SIP accounts and has a 50-meter indoor range. These phones both require a DECT base and DECT handset. 
  • GRP Series – Carrier-Grade Desktop IP Phones with Wi-Fi Support
    These desktop phones were made for mass deployment and management. With 7 models, ranging from 2-6 lines, this series offers built-in dual-band Wi-Fi (in most models), Bluetooth, color screens, virtual multi-purpose keys, HD audio, Opus code support, enterprise-level security, VPKs and dual LCDs. 
  • GAC2500 – Android Audio Conference Phone
    This hands-free Andriod powered conference phone makes it easy to work from home. You get access to the Google Play Store, built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB ports, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, gigabit ports, integrated PoE and a 6 line, 7-way voice conferencing bridge. This phone makes it easy for users to use popular Andriod apps for communication.
  • HT801 & HT802 – Analog Telephone Adapters
    Grandstream is the world’s largest ATA manufacturer and its HT series has been on the market for almost 20 years now. These ATA’s are easy to remotely deploy and manage and offer 3-way voice conferencing, FXS ports, SIP accounts, T.38 Fax, call transfer, multi-language prompts, flexible dial plans and automated provisioning including TR-069 and XML config.

New Custom Faceplate Feature Rolling Out Soon

During the webinar, resellers asked if there was a way to customize desk phone faceplates for the GRP2600 series* through the SkySwitch store. We’re currently developing a process that will be available in the future and in the meantime, we have created a manual process to fulfill custom faceplate requests. Thanks to the hard work of our eCommerce Operations Manager and Dev team, we have quickly formed a process where resellers can customize faceplates with whatever they’d like — whether it be their company logo or their customers’ organization logo.

Currently, the process is as follows:

  1. Initiate a faceplate customization request by sending an email to store@skyswitch.com.  There is a minimum order quantity of 200 plates at $3/ea. A Store representative will provide you with a document with art specifications and instructions.
  2. Provide your artwork, which will be used to create a digital proof for you to approve before going into production.
  3. From there, the SkySwitch eCommerce team will work with all related parties to get requested artwork configured on your new custom Grandstream faceplates. For brand new orders, the production time can take up to 4 weeks, and for repeat orders, approximately 2 weeks.

    *The GRP2614 requires the faceplate to be affixed to the phone itself during production, therefore requiring a different process. Please contact store@skyswitch.com for further information for this model.

In the future, we plan to roll out an automated process to request artwork at the time of order through the SkySwitch Store, so stay tuned!

To listen and learn more information on these products and how you can work from home with Grandstream, make sure to listen to the full webinar recap.

ITEXPO 2020 #TECHSUPERSHOW RECAP​

It’s already been one week since ITEXPO 2020 wrapped in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and SkySwitch couldn’t be more excited about the outcome of the event. Not only were we exhibitors, but the SkySwitch team could be found speaking and moderating various sessions throughout the #TECHSUPERSHOW. 

If you missed us there, no worries. Here’s a full recap of everything SkySwitch at ITEXPO:

Tuesday 2/11 –  On ITEXPO day 1, the team could be seen running in and out of the expo hall. We reserved this day to get everything set up and ready to go for you on day two.

Wednesday, 2/12 –  During ITEXPO day 2, our VP of Business Development, Harlan Hamlin, led a panel on “Implementing Kari’s Law and Other New E911 Requirements.” This informative discussion taught us how implementing simple updates on multi-line telephones can help improve the reaction times of first responders and save lives in the community. Kari’s Law went into effect only four days after this panel on February 16, 2020, and we announced a necessary SkySwitch upgrade in support of new E911 requirements.  

IMG_4141-3
Left to right: Harlan Hamlin of SkySwitch, Justin Nelson of Voyant, Kevin Selkowitz of Netsapiens and Mary A. Boyd of Intrado

Thursday, 2/13 – ITEXPO day 3 continued with an engaging panel discussion in The Cloud Voice Alliance suite, “Adding Cloud Voice To Your Existing Portfolio & What To Look For In A White Label Partner.” Our Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, spoke on this panel alongside Jon Arnold, Research Analyst, and SkySwitch reseller, Guy Fawkes, CEO of Telepath Communications and Club 1000 member. 

The discussion was heavily driven by the audience, who had questions about how to effectively transition customers towards newer technologies, how to sell to tricky industries, like non-profits, and how local resellers can differentiate themselves from large, national brands and succeed. Interestingly, SkySwitch resellers in the audience were actively participating and offering their own words of advice to those who were new to reselling telecom. Moments like those truly showcased how strong the #SkySwitchCommunity is.

Friday, 2/14 – ITEXPO day 4 wrapped up with another great day of networking in the expo hall. Along with this, our CMO, Andy Abramson, participated on a panel on “Modern Marketing for MSPs.” His panel explained how to boost your current marketing strategy by utilizing current marketing, advertising and public relations trends and resources. If you were circulating the #TECHSUPERSHOW, you probably also had the chance to see Andy moderating multiple sessions throughout the conference. 

IMG_4237
Modern Marketing for MSPs panel at ITEXPO with Maddy Martin, Head of Growth Education at Smith.ai and Andy Abramson, CMO at SkySwitch. Moderated by Peter Radizeski, President at RAD-INFO, Inc.

We hope you had the chance to stop by the SkySwitch booth during expo hours to chat with us, grab some one-of-a-kind SkySwitch swag and enter to win big prizes from our partners! If you did, we’d like to say “thank you” for choosing to spend your time with us. With so many exhibitors at ITEXPO, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the amount of steady traffic we had at our booth. One of the most valuable takeaways the SkySwitch team gets from these events is being able to connect, and reconnect, with both new and familiar faces in the industry. 

Do you want to see more of SkySwitch? Come meet with us at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas this March 9-12 at booth 603! 

Computer Instruments Releases New Product with SkySwitch: Virtual Concierge

Learn how conversational IVR could be beneficial to your business

In this interview from Vectors 2019, TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Chris Herring, President of Computer Instruments, about their new product Virtual Concierge. They talk about how it works and how businesses should incorporate it into their ecosystem.

 Virtual Concierge is a software package that resides on a conversational IVR that has integration to Google Voice services and Google AI. So essentially, it’s a personal digital device for a company, much like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. 

Chris Herring talks Virtual Concierge working with Google integrations with Erik Linask at Vectors 2019.

 

Vectors2019 #SkySwitch #TransformCloudComm #ComputerInstruments  

 

Full Video Transcript Below

Erik Linask  0:07  

We’re here in Orlando, Florida at Vectors 2019. We’re here on the second day of the show. And joining me is Chris Herring from Computer Instruments. Chris, thanks for joining me. 

Chris Herring  0:16  

Thank you very much Erik, appreciate it. 

Erik Linask  0:18  

So second day, what have you seen? You know, what are your thoughts on the first almost two days?

Chris Herring  0:23  

Oh, well, this was a very impressive event. I’ve met a lot of people and certainly, the product that we’re talking about today, Virtual Concierge, is really something that’s going to fit in here. So we’re very excited, we’re going to be on the stage here shortly, and we’ll be anxious to talk about it.

Erik Linask  0:41  

So this is something that you actually just announced yesterday morning, along with SkySwitch. Tell me about that.

Chris Herring  0:49  

Well, that came to us about 60 days ago, we announced our product Virtual Concierge. They came to us said, “Hey, we’d like to take a look at your product.” We gave them a demonstration. We did essentially a proof of concept with them. They said this is something that their team and their channel would be interested in. So we signed an agreement. Actually, we just signed the agreement last week and so here we are.

Erik Linask  1:12  

And when you say Virtual Concierge, what do you mean by that? What does your Virtual Concierge do?

Chris Herring  1:17  

Okay, well, first off, it’s a software package that resides on a conversational IVR that has integration to Google Voice services and Google AI. So essentially, it’s what we call Virtual Concierge. It’s a personal digital device for a company.

Erik Linask  1:34  

So you’re taking a Siri or something like that and throwing it into the business world.

Chris Herring  1:38  

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Erik Linask  1:40  

Is that something that customers or that businesses, I should say, are demanding or where’s the need or the demand coming from?

Chris Herring  1:49  

Well, that’s a great question. But you know, today, most of the people, let me say that not most, but 41% of the population or homes in the United States have a Siri or Alexa or Google Home. So there are acquainted with this technology. Furthermore, there’s even more people that use a smartphone or use “Hey, Google” to do searches, things like that. So it only makes sense that as that technology takes hold, and people obviously are using it and like it. They’re going to ask companies that they do business with if they have the same kind of technology and essentially, that’s what Virtual Concierge does. It provides the bridge between a caller through their communication platform PBX to Google AI, and back.

Erik Linask  2:29  

So how does an AI-based system like this differ from the IVR systems that people have really come to dislike over the years?

Chris Herring  2:40  

Well, you’re right. IVRs in the past have been primarily a presser say, type environment, you know, and it’s also, particularly with speech recognition, been difficult, particularly if you’re in a noisy area and so forth. But when you bring AI into the picture, and you bring a good communication platform, then you have the proper mix really to be able to have a very intelligent conversation interrogated by an artificial system to understand what you say, and provide a better and enhanced environment and enhanced experience for sure. 

Erik Linask  3:16  

Do people trust artificial intelligence?

Chris Herring 3:20  

Well, interesting, too. There’s been a study here recently that people are more truthful with an IVR and with a spoken conventional, conversational IVR than they are speaking to a human and so the answer is more so.

Erik Linask  3:34  

Interesting. And is there a difference in terms of usage, or enjoyment, or value, or however you want to characterize it, using a male voice versus a female voice?

Chris Herring  3:48  

That’s a good question. You know, we find depending on the industry, for instance, banking, people like to speak to females. More involved with like transportation, leisure and so forth, male voices have been really the most popular. I’m not really sure that I’m an expert on which voice works best but in our experience, that seems to be the trend.

Erik Linask  4:13  

How much has conversational AI evolved over the past year or two? And where do you see it headed going forward?

Chris Herring  4:22  

Oh, well, that’s a good question to, the best way I can really probably explain it is the cost of doing it. You know, just 12-14 months ago, for instance, we did a natural, what we call a natural language standard way of doing it, and using the technology that was present and it’s in the 300 to $500,000. Well, now when we look at the same opportunity, if we were going to use Virtual Concierge today, we’d be under $50,000 to get it accomplished. So from a perspective, it’s cost-effective. Also too conversations are everywhere. People again are going to are taking hold of this technology, they’re taking hold of using their personal devices, and we’re just going to see that from conversation that’s going to evolve the business and working with tools that provide the ability to understand conversations and use it further. 

I would say too, conversation is eventually going to be really the currency for business strategies. People want to know what people are saying when they come to your company, they’re going to want more than just what press one or press two says, they want to know why somebody called your company. They’re going to want to know what the emotions are of that caller, and they’re going to look at that, and be able to route and do business logic to understand what’s the best way to enhance the experience of that caller.

Erik Linask  5:40  

So I’ve had similar experiences, but I’ve heard from others as well, you know, we tried to use this natural language understanding and it just, you know, these automated assistance just aren’t understanding what I’m saying. Sounds to me like that technology has evolved to the point where it really is starting to understand very easily and very accurately what people are speaking.

Chris Herring  6:02  

Well, when you’re talking about, for instance, integrating to Google, you’re already working with a technology that already does well with handheld cell phones. Ok, and so as you can expect the quality of this being I guess, as good as if you being on a cell phone and driving in your car with a window down. With the addition of Google AI using that technology that’s filtering out and looking at the conversation. So it’s a measurable improvement over the standard speech recognition that people have used in the past.

Erik Linask  6:37  

Are there particular industries, particular use cases that you’re targeting or that you expect to be earlier adopters?

Chris Herring  6:45  

Well, certainly healthcare, insurance. We’ve had a number, in our client base, of trucking firms that are interested in working with us. So really, it’s people or companies who have issues with conversations that they need more information than just what an IVR or necessarily what they can get from an email or something like that. So this technology is going to make it more workable. It’s going to be able to be more applied to pretty much any place where you need a conversation to understand what you need.

Erik Linask  7:20  

Do you think this technology now can flip the sentiments around IVR back towards positive?

Chris Herring  7:28  

Oh, absolutely. Well, look at it this way. If you were upset, and you called into a company, you would want somebody who had the skill set to work with you. Now you wouldn’t want to necessarily go through an Auto Attendant presser say and then get routed to who knows what. Really what you want is you want the company to understand that you are calling and what you’re calling about and that you’re not necessarily emotionally happy about the whole experience. Well, companies normally would want to take that call and route it to somebody with a better skill set, or somebody who can better handle that kind of a situation, and particularly if you are a good client, so we’d know who you called in, who you are, prioritize your situation, prioritize your emotion, that all can be done with AI.

Erik Linask  8:17  

So if I’m not getting the resolution that I’m looking for, I’m not getting the answers that I need. How easy is it for me as the caller to get out of that IVR system and in touch with a live person?

Chris Herring  8:29  

It’s as easy as saying, “Hey, I want to talk to somebody.”

Erik Linask  8:34  

It’s a whole lot easier than trying to figure out what number or number of combinations to push. 

Chris Herring  8:37  

I agree. 

Erik Linask  8:39  

Excellent. Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining us today.

Chris Herring 8:40 

Appreciate it.

 

 

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