8x8 Inc. has introduced a contact center service aimed at small businesses and teams. 8x8's ContactNow addresses a market gap of smaller groups and organizations that may not be able to afford or easily deploy a traditional contact center service.
ContactNow enables a company's accounting department, for example, to use an outbound calling feature to inform customers if a significant error has occurred, said Frost & Sullivan analyst Nancy Jamison.
"We've always had the need for the capabilities that the contact center brings on areas outside the contact center," she said.
But 8x8's new contact center service won't have a huge effect in its first year because of the sheer size of the contact center market, Jamison said. ContactNow follows the trend of offering services to the small end of the market, which does not have feature-rich offerings.
ContactNow also targets small businesses that have grown to the point of needing contact center tools to enhance customer engagement, but may not have experience with traditional contact center services, said Matt McGinnis, vice president of product marketing at 8x8.
Contact center service targets untapped market
More than a decade ago, Jamison said, companies toyed with the idea that certain departments, such as human resources or accounting, could be informal contact centers. However, the idea never materialized because it wasn't cost effective for these groups to buy and deploy contact center services.
A traditional contact center service can take weeks or months to deploy and cost about $100 per agent. ContactNow offers a more flexible, lower-cost cloud-based deployment, McGinnis said.
"It enters the untapped market for groups not traditionally in the contact center area," Jamison added.
McGinnis said that untapped market consists of teams and small organizations whose needs fall in between a formal contact center and informal cloud communications. In the U.S., this market has about five million users, he said.
Pay as you go with a full feature set
ContactNow offers three cost models and allows organizations to trial the full set of contact center tools.
The standard plan offers a pay-as-you-go model that lets organizations pay for only the minutes they use. The plan includes full contact center capabilities, such as one month of call-recording storage and an iPad monitoring app. If an organization or group reaches a point where the pay-as-you-go model becomes costly, they can upgrade to a subscription-based plan.
The pro plan costs $50 per month and includes a bundle of 2,000 minutes as well as expanded features, such as three months of call-recording storage. The ultimate plan costs $75 per month and includes 5,000 minutes, 12 months of call-recording storage and expanded graphical reporting capabilities.
Jamison said the pay-as-you-go plan is disruptive to contact center pricing models because it allows organizations and teams to trial the service and move into a subscription model, if needed.
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