Talkdesk : Cloud-based Call Center

Background & Overviewext

Follow @talkdesk on Twitter! 

In 2011, Tiago Paiva & Cristina Fonseca identified that the call center platform was extremely outdated. Before Talkdesk, Paiva was a developer at P&G, where he learned many of the app development skills. Located and headquartered in San Francisco, CA it primarily focuses on the US domestic market, however they have offices in Porto and Lisbon, Portugal. These offices have been primarily used as hardware/programing locations, but Talkdesk has recently pivoted to Portugal as a home base to head up their international expansion in Europe.

Call Center Integration

I tried to highlight this in my presentation, but Talkdesk doesn’t have nearly the value it does without its integration with CRM (Customer Resource Management) software like Salesforce, Zendesk, Slack, or Google. This means that information that is collected on a customer is not lost or kept in a single platform. By having the platforms work together, the quality of service is multiplied exponentially. By allowing them to work together, that means the information only needs to be entered once, reducing time per call.

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“Cloud Based”

If you are like me and the cloud still seems a little abstract, I will try and explain it simply. Through internet access, you are able to access information stored on other computers. Talkdesk is a SaaS company, and they deliver their application to customers via the cloud. This means that companies do not have to invest in infrastructure (Servers), which is costly and time consuming. By only paying for the cloud servers they need, and not having to maintain the servers, companies save millions in overhead costs.

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Talkdesk’s platform keeps all of a clients details in one place, in an easy to reference place. 

Because Talkdesk and the CRM connect automatically, and the lack of the need for hardware, agents can make calls from anywhere in the world. Because its cloud based, the only thing an agent needs is an internet access (not even a phone!). Many talkdesk companies love this feature, because physical location is no longer a barrier to productivity. If you have an agent stuck in the airport, or wanting to work remotely, it is easy and with the call quality recording they can be evaluated just like they were in the office. By hiring agents who don’t live in direct proximity to their offices, many companies have been able to save money without the negative effects of totally outsourcing the call center.

Pros/Cons of selling enterprise software B2B

When Talkdesk is trying to lure in new customers, it can sometimes be difficult to land more established companies. These companies have very narrow windows between their existing contracts, or sometimes operate on old legacy software and outdated hardware. However, because of the costs perceived by switching, many are hesitant to move to a new platform. Companies sometimes want to do it entirely in-house, however it is usually not practical for smaller companies.

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Just a few of the companies that use Talkdesk to combine with their CRM platforms

This market of small to mid-sized companies is one of the reasons Talkdesk has been so successful. Startups like Pillow, Anki, Edmunds.com, and others don’t have to invest in expensive hardware and IT professionals that were traditionally needed, while still having access to a top of the line customer service platform.

Talkdesk for Sales

Talkdesk has become more than just a CRM tool. It is starting to provide for all of the different needs that a company has in the process of Identifying/creating/managing relationships with customers. By making sales smarter by connecting it to information and other departments in the company, they allow the sales people to seem very intelligent. By analyzing what is being talked about in the conversation, the platform will search the database of information to reference. Sales notoriously gets a bad rep for only focusing on themselves, and being disconnected from the other aspects of the company. However, Talkdesk’s sales platform integrates them and allows them to avoid disconnects that lead to the “ummm…Ill get back to you on that”

By increasing the sales conversion rate by having that information and knowing who to call, along with decreasing the time an agent spends filling in information about the customer or searching for answers, Talkdesk is able to increase the time spent talking to clients by 300%.

Talkdesk AppConnect

Talkdesk has recently (April 2017) announced that it will be launching AppConnect, which will be a platform that allows users to download software that is adjacent to Talkdesk’s. After realizing they were only meeting a small portion of their customers many enterprise needs, Talkdesk decided to launch a store to better service them. It was very important that the platform remained easy to use, so with a few clicks and in a matter of minutes, the new software can be set up. They also provide free 30 day trials and a pay-as-you-go method to incentivize companies to try which products would be best for them. Their customers have really appreciated the new opportunity, and it will be interesting to see how this platform develops over time.

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BC @ Talkdesk

Both of these guys I have talked with in preparing this, and they are incredible people. If you are interested in the space or want to learn more about Talkdesk, they are of great help. I hope we get to meet them!

Kevin Lee – BC ‘13 @kevinchilee

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAw8AAAAJDczMjUxYTM2LTY0MDctNDdmZi05ZGY2LWY1M2NhMDY3MzdhMgKevin is an Account Executive at Talkdesk who joined in March of 2017. He originally worked at Oracle. His current tasks are developing and following leads to recruit more mid to large sized businesses to use Talkdesk. He was a Finance and Info Systems major at BC.

Spencer Wiedeman – BC ‘13 @SpencerWiedeman

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Spencer is the head of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) Sales and is currently located in Lisbon, Portugal. He joined the Talkdesk team in 2014 and has been in sales for most of his time there. Before Talkdesk, Spencer worked at Zillow in Product Marketing. He was a Finance, Info Systems, and Strategic Management triple major and was involved in BCVC when he was at BC.

Questions for Talkdesk

  • How do you plan to reach large/established companies when they are on legacy systems?
  • What new features are you planning on rolling out to expand sales capabilities for companies? How do you see the AppConnect platform growing?
  • You have an office in Lisbon, Portugal; how do you plan to expand Talkdesk abroad? What difficulties do you expect?
  • As an enterprise software, how is it different selling B2B, and what are the types of clients you have to pitch? main-qimg-f6648b6d68a1e7ec2e2bb2e65c277d58-c

10 thoughts on “Talkdesk : Cloud-based Call Center

  1. John, awesome presentation and blog post! Talkdesk is a fascinating company, and I think their mission is spot on. Call centers can be extremely inefficient. At my previous internship, I did data analysis for the mortgage department at a small firm, and I sat right next to the call center. It was a nightmare! I think the personalization aspect of their service is a factor that differentiates Talkdesk from other companies. That statistic that using the technology can increase time spent talking to clients by 300% is incredible!

    I do have a question for you. Do you think that Talkdesk’s reliance on other companies like Salesforce could be a problem for them in the future? I don’t know of any company that has become a tech behemoth that relies majorly on other firms’ technology for their success. I think this could really inhibit their expansion, and if Talkdesk wants to become a major company, they may have to do some vertical integration and bolster their technological capabilities. Just curious to hear your thoughts on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Dan I totally agree with you, I think this is an interesting situation for Talkdesk. They want to stay true to what they are good at and can only grow so fast. They have gone from a handful of employees in 2012 to over 400 currently. With this rapid expansion, they have not been able to grow in all sorts of directions and developing their own software. Also, Jobs originally questioned the idea to let other developers sell their products on the App Store, but it has turned out to be one of the most successful moves for Apple so far.

      It will be interesting to see how this pans out for Talkdesk. On their relationship with salesforce, I see it as more of an advantage than a problem. I will add the graphic to my original post (see end), but Salesforce has grown in usage rapidly, meaning that the 20% of the market is now easily persuaded potential customers. By leveraging this relationship, they might not make all of the profit but they can reach a much larger audience which is important for cloud based firms with high fixed costs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great presentation and great post. Also, it was cool that you reached out to people who are currently at the company. How do you think Talkdesk could crack the huge, established firms that are going to have high switching costs? How would Talkdesk differentiate themselves from any other Cloud based talk centers, if any exist?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and follow-up to your presentation, John! It’s interesting reading about this in light of doing the readings for Salesforce this upcoming class, TalkDesk has a big advantage over some competitors with the ease of set-up enabled by Salesforce (https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/given-an-assist-sports-e-commerce-giant-fanatics-closes-that-1-billion-round-led-by-softbank/). But, I agree with Dan that it may be difficult to gain market dominance if they are also dependent on using other companies for their success. Potential concern: Could TalkDesk just be acquired and integrated into Salesforce?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m a big fan of technology revamping legacy industries, so your blog and presentation have been so interesting. I agree with Abby that TalkDesk being acquired by Salesforce might be the most likely integration situation—CRM systems are so massive and expansive that it would make more sense to put call center management under that umbrella as well. However, I wonder if TalkForce would consider acquiring some of the companies on their App Store.
    It would be cool to hear how companies can leverage data from call centers for retargeting purposes. It seems like TalkDesk has built up such a robust platform that analyzing call transcripts for retargeting could be a powerful next step for companies to increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Coming from someone who spent an hour on the phone this weekend with customer service agents, explaining myself again and again, I am rooting for Talkdesk. I would love to get the chance to play around with a demo to see the features you described firsthand. As Salesforce expands its Einstein (AI) features, do you see any potential for Talkdesk to capitalize? Also, props to you for reaching out to alumni to help prepare for your presentation / blog post. I am excited to meet Kevin, Spencer, and more members of the Talkdesk team!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post and presentation! I think B2B companies, like Talkdesk, have such a unique and arguably more difficult task of attracting customers. Selling software to a single user in a B2C model seems significantly easier than the B2B model where you’re trying to sell software to a massive and highly bureaucratic organizations with so many moving parts. I have not been a fan of call centers, but it seems like Talkdesk solves a major pain point for both consumers and enterprises!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for an awesome blog! It’s really helping me refresh on Talkdesk and their SaaS solution. I’m most interested to learn what it takes for a company like this to go to the next level. Does Talkdesk’s expansion take them to a sale from a CRM provider? I worked at a similar company to Talkdesk last summer, an SaaS financial budgeting/analysis company that worked as part of an ERP solution. However their decision appears to be going public soon. I’m curious what Talkdesk plans to do as they look to expand their business the right way.

    Liked by 1 person

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