Running a startup? Get hooked up the right way

PHOTO: Running a startup? Get hooked up the right way

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How can a small company without a large staff serve thousands of customers online?

One way, as local Internet auction site adPasar found, was to have a communications system that was smart and flexible enough to greet customers like a much bigger rival – just without the high costs involved.

About two years ago, the company signed up to Hoiio’s Main Line and Direct Line phone services, each easily customised with interactive voice response (IVR) and call forwarding. Customers calling in could get a customised voice response for holidays or weekends, and can leave messages if a staff member is unable to answer the call.

“Some people call for tech support, others ask about business development, but they will all manage to reach the right people within the company,” said Lucian Pan, founder and chief technology officer of adPasar.

There was no need to hire staff specially to answer calls, he noted. Important calls, in particular, are forwarded to key executives in the team so no opportunity goes unanswered, he added.

adPasar currently has 50,000 listings, ranging from shoes to video games, and serves a predominantly Singapore user base. More than just directing users via a smart phone line, the fixed line service also provides a way for the website to quickly adjust if high volumes of calls are expected.

“Hoiio has a very impressive admin dashboard that lets you configure options and these changes happen in real time,” said Pan. “This means we don’t need to call Hoiio for help each time we want to change something in our phone system.”

Being more agile in its operations gives the company an edge over similar rivals, while enabling it to compete with larger sites in the market. That applies as well to adPasar’s use of Hoiio’s SMS services for a mission-critical function.

Being an e-commerce site, it protects against online fraud by sending one-time passwords (OTPs) to validate members’ phone numbers and automated transaction alerts. These SMSes must be sent on time and guaranteed to reach members. Otherwise, a trade falls through, along with the company’s cut of the deal.

The solution: a smart, flexible SMS service. Not only is it more reliable than other offerings, it is easy to integrate with the site’s features, said Pan. What he also liked is a feature that lets him place adPasar’s name in an SMS short code to better identify and brand the company to users.

In particular, he pointed to flexibility as a key factor in choosing Hoiio. There was no lock-in period and no costly sign-up fees, unlike with big telecom operators, he noted. He could add or remove services on an admin portal any time, thus cutting down on operational overheads.

The change is possible with a new wave of Hoiio communications apps, all hosted online, that enable companies to quickly select popularly used services, or even develop their own customised ones should they require that.

They provide an alternative to the expensive, one-size-fits-all offerings that large communications firms force companies to commit to. Also out of the window – expensive hardware to run telephone exchanges in-house. In their place are cloud-based services that enable companies to control what services they want and how to configure them easily.

Indeed, Pan is looking to deploying more voice and SMS services with Hoiio in the coming year. As the company expands to reach more mobile users through smartphone apps, he expects the volume of transactions to go up by 30 per cent.

And he is sure his communications system can deal with more business. “I’m not worried. With a system that is highly scalable, there will be no issue,” he said.

Get empowered with Hoiio

That plain old telephone service that you have been making calls on – or perhaps still sending faxes on – can be a lot more powerful today with all the intelligence built into modern telephony.

Insights into incoming calls, for one, provide an easy way to track how popular an advertisement is. At the same time, companies can have an automated “main line” directing callers to various departments without having a single piece of telephony hardware in their premises.

More than that, Hoiio now also provides communications technology that is agile and alive to the changing needs of business. An early developer of Internet telephony, the company has built an application platform for customers and developers to create more “apps” to add intelligence to the good old phone service.

Want a new way of adding intelligence to your business communications? One way is to take the Hoiio software and develop it yourself. Another is to buy the app from a marketplace, and pay for it in a pay-as-you-use subscription model. Like cloud technology, it’s cost-efficient, it’s fast and it’s scalable.

Sign up for a 30-day trial, today.