A little over 18 months ago, New York City-based hosted IP PBX provider M5 Networks announced M5 Connect, a set of APIs for integrating its phone service with customers’ custom built CRM applications.
Today, the company announced the launch of M5 Connect, retooled specifically to work with the popular software-as-a-service applications of NetSuite—which include financials and ERP, salesforce automation (CRM or customer relationship management), and e-commerce.
M5 Connect for NetSuite is now available as one of NetSuite’s carefully selected SuiteApps (partner-created extensions to the basic Suite functionality).
“NetSuite is trying to not be like SalesForce in their partner program—their app exchange program,” Brent Barbara, M5’s vice president of client solutions told Enterprise VoIPplanet. “SalesForce.com probably has thousands of apps on their app exchange. NetSuite is being a lot more selective.
According to Barbara, M5 had to convince NetSuite of the value proposition M5 Connect could deliver to their customers. “They selected us, and I’m quite proud of that,” Barbara said.
M5 Connect for NetSuite, pretty much a plug-and-play application, provides two basic types of functionality: click-to-call dialing from anywhere in the Suite that a phone number is recorded—along with screen pops containing customer history, notes, etc.—and automated telephony metrics or analytics, which up to now has been available only to large enterprises
“From a sales perspective, it’s about efficiency; it’s about transparency,” Barbara asserted. Click-to-dial is not only physically faster than keying in numbers on a phone, it is error-free. “Sales people find that these tools, these sales force automation systems, can actually help them achieve their goals easier. Most of these guys sell on the phone, so they see that this is a great addition to their toolkit in helping them to sell more,” he said.
Barbara also sees this CRM-telephony integration as a key management tool. “We hear from our sales managers in the field that they want their staff to record every single time they talk to the client. But without this type of technology, it was really never done,” he said. “With technology, it does it automatically.”
“One of the things we’re proud of is being able to very easily provide voice analytics to our clients,” Barbara told VoIPplanet.. “It resonates in sales; it resonates in service; it also resonates in marketing.”
In a marketing context, an example might be the system tracking incoming call responses to an advertising campaign. By associating different inbound numbers with specific ad programs, and tabulating which of those numbers are being dialed, and how frequently, managers can easily assess the effectiveness of any given campaign.
To make the point about telephony automation and service, Barbara tells a story about a local business he patronizes regularly:
“When I phone my local Chinese restaurant, they have my phone number on file—they have it tied to their PoS system—so when I call, they say ‘Hey Mr. Barbara, how nice to hear from you. Do you want your same order?’ They have my credit card on file.
“That kind of client experience is what most businesses would like to be able to provide today, and this technology allows that,” Barbara said.
Summing up, Barbara said, “We believe and we’ve seen needs and usages of this type of application in the front office, in the middle of the house, and in the back office: Sales, account management—even the people doing receivables and collections. Everybody in an enterprise using NetSuite can benefit from CTI in some way—even if it’s just the convenience of clicking and dialing.”
In terms of M5’s own business prospects, this kind of integration with popular online business apps creates an entirely new sales opportunity for the company. Whereas in the past M5 depended on a direct sales force and word of mouth to drive sales, now, businesses that want their phone system integrated with their critical business applications will naturally turn to M5 as their phone service provider.
“It’s really a new channel for us,” Barbara said—”where the connection of the phone married with the business data in the CRM application can really enhance the overall experience.”