New Start-Up Talkdesk Promises to Create a Call Center in Five Minutes



Founded back in 2011, Talkdesk is generating buzz in the cloud contact center market after securing its third round of funding in early June. The company makes big promises, claiming its cloud-based infrastructure enables it to create a contact center in five minutes. But while its speed is an appealing premise, the company's background in caller ID functionality may be a stronger asset, analysts say. 

"We started out as an advanced caller ID provider in Portugal, and Talkdesk is a proof of concept of this caller ID technology," Talkdesk COO Gadi Shamia says. Its caller ID capability provides all-important context for customer service conversations, arming call center representatives with background information on an individual's customer journey. "By the time an agent actually answers the call, they already know lot about the person that's calling and what they need," Shamia explains. Though a number of vendors have this capability, few have the legacy background Talkdesk brings to the table. Furthermore, even fewer vendors offering in-depth caller ID functionality provide an equally seamless deployment process, Shamia maintains. 

With more than 3,000 global customers, the company has evolved into a different animal since its inception. Today, Talkdesk is a cloud contact center provider, but Shamia says the company has no intention of being classified as a telephony company. "When you think of traditional call centers, they're complicated. They're expensive. They're difficult to manage. With our technology, you can deploy it and customize it in no time," he adds. Adding a new company phone line and number or changing an IVR provider, for example, takes 15 seconds, he says. 

And Talkdesk boasts several post-call features as well—once a call is completed, information on the call is added to a user's profile. When a call is missed, callers are prompted to leave a message, which is then forwarded to the agent. There are also more than 50 integrations with other solutions, including Zendesk, Salesforce.com, and Shopify. 

Since receiving its most recent round of funding, Talkdesk has piqued industry curiosity, and Shamia says he's not surprised. "There's greater demand in call center technology than there was several years ago. In the past, call centers were seen as a cost, but now they're seen as an opportunity not only to solve a customer problem, but also to up-sell, cross-sell, and earn loyalty. It was perceived as an unattractive space, but that's now changing," he says. 

The cloud contact center market is indeed maturing, Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, agrees, but the space is quickly becoming too crowded, she adds. According to Fluss, Talkdesk has over 150 competitors, with new companies entering the market every day. As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult for companies to differentiate themselves, which may be the reason they're making bold claims, such as Talkdesk's five-minute call center promise. 

Rather than preoccupying themselves with how quickly a deployment can take place, vendors should instead focus on how effectively they can deliver solutions tailored to customer companies' specific needs. "They're doing themselves a disfavor...they need to take the time to develop an understanding of what that B2B customer is looking for, and that's going to take much longer than five minutes," she says.  As for Talkdesk's caller ID roots, Fluss sees more promise. "There's no doubt that we're moving towards more personalized customer service. Agents need to have access to that customer journey, and it will only become more important," she explains. 

Despite periods of "excitement" over a promising vendor, the space is very much in flux, according to Fluss. There is no clear leader, and for the time being, "dependability is the only true differentiator," she says.

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