Verizon (News - Alert) and Google are partnering to offer a new VoIP call center service called Virtual Communications Express. The cloud-based program piggybacks off of Google (News - Alert) Apps to make it easier for employees to simply click a button while responding to e-mail, thumb through calendars, or participate in chat sessions to seamlessly advance to traditional voice calls.
The union represents Verizon’s latest offerings in the way of unified communications services for the VoIP call center and is geared toward small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Tom Dalrymple who serves as director of Global Voice Services at Verizon says the application will most likely be implemented by businesses with anywhere from 20 to 70 employees. It is aimed toward SMBs who want the benefits of private branch exchange (PBX (News - Alert)) and UC systems without the high cost or hassle.
According to this article featured in Information Week SMB, Virtual Communications Express will carry a fee somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 to $35 per employee setup on the plan, with the number of subscribers and type of configuration accounting for the cost variation. The price of the phones and charge to subscribe to Google apps are additional.
Some might be wondering why those who don’t have the resources to install a full-blown UC system don’t just implement Google Talk or Skype – both of which are free. Besides additional features, the answer lies in Verizon’s ability to deliver the hesitant business its full range of customer support.
According to Dalrymple, many businesses utilizing Virtual Communications Express to power their VoIP call centers want a hands-on, interactive customer care presence. To that end, Verizon will be rolling out implementation coordinators whose main job will be to ensure the successful oversight of the program from start to finish.
Matt Davis, IDC (News - Alert) analyst, says that IDC research indicates a lot of SMBs are reluctant to jump into PBX or other means of cloud-based communications. Ironically, cloud-based services are often designed for just these sorts of businesses – companies that don’t have the financial backing or know-how to house the technology themselves.
Virtual Communications Express has been referred to by Davis as an exercise in market-building. In addition to inexpensive calling, the program offers the VoIP call center telepresence, voicemail to text options, and other features found in traditional UC and PBX frameworks. The only difference, Dalrymple says is that no pricy Cisco (News
- Alert)-certified technician is needed to make the configuration.
Although there are no associated mobile apps currently being marketed with Virtual Communications Express, they are being developed. Users can, however, use the program to place calls from their mobile devices and have them show up on the other end as coming from the business number. They also have the option to answer incoming calls to the business line via their mobile phones.
Additionally, there is talk of Verizon expanding its services by way of implementing other cloud-based platforms applicable to the VoIP call center. But for right now, we’ll have to just wait and see.
Edited by Jamie Epstein