CRM Hooks Up With IP Telephony


White Pajama offers a low-cost call-center option


ASP White Pajama has beefed up its Web-based CRM solution with voice-over-IP (VoIP) capability, giving customers greater ease in using the system. It also cuts down on the cost of calls going over telephone lines, company officials say. White Pajama 3.0, which began shipping late last year, enables call-center agents to receive and send out information to customers via e-mail, live chat or phone. The solution now works with Cisco Systems' IP phones.

Now that customers can access the solution over a converged network, call-center agents have greater freedom because they can move IP phones themselves to a new location, as long as they have access to the network.

White Pajama's main selling point is that the solution provides a way for small and midsize customers to set up CRM contact centers without having to invest in equipment and staff, according to Jim Dworkin, CTO at White Pajama, Hayward, Calif.

Customers only need a Web interface, an Internet connection and a telephone to tap into the White Pajama solution housed at its data center. The ASP operates each customer's call center from a data center equipped with a Unix-based platform and other equipment from Cisco and Hewlett-Packard.

White Pajama provides integrators with an XML-based programming interface that takes customer and product information from their current automated system and puts it into a database that becomes part of the White Pajama solution. The integrator or systems administrator opens a Web page with a URL from White Pajama. Information such as agent names and locations is configured onto a customized Web site.

White Pajama's proprietary technology keeps each customer's database and Web environment separate and secure, Dworkin says. The solution uses software with standard protocols that route calls to agents and send responses to customers.

Angela Swope, president of Bear Paw, a systems integrator in Clearwater, Fla., says she thinks White Pajama 3.0 will be more marketable because of its new features. Customers can also get detailed reports on how the calls are handled and the productivity of the call-center agents.

"Reporting capabilities in a call center are a must," Swope says. "An agent behind a phone can make or break you. Customers want to know what they are doing."

Other new features include outbound dialing, which lets agents make calls out to customers, enhanced voicemail and contact-center customization improvements. An integrator can install the White Pajama solution and get it up and running in three days or less, she adds.

Bear Paw receives a monthly service revenue for selling and maintaining the White Pajama solution. Its clients include insurance companies, service bureaus and financial institutions, which don't necessarily have a budget to buy call-center or CRM equipment, or for overhead expenses such as training and paying agents. That can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $45,000 a year, she says. White Pajama's 3.0 solution sells for about $600 per agent. Volume discounts are available and prices vary depending on features.