Exotel is place to buy virtual phone numbers for your company. These virtual numbers are like normal landlines or mobile numbers except they can receive or make more than one phone call at the same time. So there are never any busy tones for customers.
On top of these virtual phone numbers you can now add smart applications (apps) like IVR, Call recording, SMS, missed call, CRM Integration etc. and make your business phone number smarter.
MO: Can you elaborate on how Exotel was launched to solve a “pain point?”
Vijay: Exotel began when Shivku (Co-founder & CEO), was building another company called Roopit, which was a start-up or small business and he wanted a system to manage phone calls in an automated fashion (distributed call center) without having to invest in any assets (like EPABX) and or people to manage the calls. He could not find a good solution for himself, and started building Exotel for his own need. When hacking up Exotel, a lot of other small business owners and friends suggested they would pay to use the system he was building, and then he naturally pivoted into starting Exotel.
MO: How does the process work? Can you expand on some of the features you have for sales, marketing, support and internal communication?
Vijay: Any business that has a good dependency of more than 30 phone calls a day in India (which is usually the case as India is a very phone driven market), can come online, sign-up for a trial account, try the application which works best for his/her business. If it is an E-Commerce business they can take the basic IVR setup and Cash-on-Delivery verification app and buy a virtual phone number from the available list (depending upon the region) and start. As easy as that, in less than 30 minutes, and that is a huge step forward from the normal dealing with telecom operators who at-least make you go through 2-3 weeks of running up and down to get a simple phone number. That won’t even be smart, it will just be a phone number.
MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you so far?
Vijay: We are unlike most Indian focussed SaaS companies, still predominantly an online marketing focused venture. We have focussed a lot on content, useful helpful which helps decision makers and users understand Cloud Telephony better. We would say our case studies section has been a huge hit. At-least 22% of the last 3 visited pages before sign-up have one of the case studies viewed. I think as a business if you can associate the solution more closely to a similar business, you know it’s solving a problem, rather than just imagining it.
MO: Can you elaborate on how you use aspects of the concept of Cold Calling 2.0 in your sales pitches?
Vijay: We have tightly knitted our conversion (inside sales) and CRM (Pipedrive) with our own software (Exotel) to make sure we have complete records of what our customers are talking, to whom and how. As we have begun to scale the online marketing front, we noticed a lot of bogus deals would take up time of our conversion team and hence we have begun small steps in ways to do lead qualifying, be it based on certain parameters we know that typify a good customer, and by automating technology (call-backs & e-mailers) to get the best time spent on the strongest potential lead. Cold Calling 2.0 is not totally in place, but we are moving towards there.
MO: What are some trends that you’re excited about?
Vijay: On many fronts actually – but in context to the growth we are trying to get at Exotel with our focus market being India, here are the main one’s:
1. India’s internet adoption and internet penetration is growing like crazy
2. Telephone usage in India is not dying anytime soon, and only growing as more and more entrepreneurs seek automation and smart-ness in their telephony systems
3. The ability to integrate CRM/ERP/other SaaS solutions with our Horizontal Telephony solution via our API gives the opportunity for much more efficiency in adoption of IT software services.
MO: Can you share the findings from the study Exotel conducted around how your E-Commerce customers were managing their calls? Are there any plans to implement these observations into your business strategy?
Vijay: At 1 point around January, we had over 100+ E-Commerce businesses using us and we thought, let us try and understand what data we can pull out to understand how this industry is using Exotel, and how others can use us better or improve upon their own customer service standards based on a benchmark from across these 100. We would many a times, get questions like, how many people should I hire, how much basic call volume does an early-stage E-commerce company get, and we felt, or how many of typical E-commerce customers are on DND (Do-Not-Disturb Directory) etc.
We felt, we could pull out the data and share with the others what is the benchmark, and this also helped us understand what sort of companies at what stage, require what kind of a solution. So a Cash-on-delivery verification app is useful, once someone touches some scale of orders, or API integration is needed when your CRM is in place, but for an early-stage E-commerce venture, they would typically need basic support routing and SMS facility to inform their customers about the order.
We are consistently learning from our customers across sectors, not only E-Commerce, we happily serve over 400+ customers across the Retail, Education, Food n Beverages, Finance, Logistics, Real estate, IT & more. It is like a website, a phone number, it just has to be there for your business, else you are missing out.
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