Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are gradually opting for cloud-based telephony systems for their business calls -- so much so, that cloud-based telephony player Exotel has seen a customer addition rate of 10 per cent for SMEs, as against two to three per cent for larger enterprises.
"Currently, we are acquiring customers at around nine per cent, month over month. This has been primarily online inbound acquisition. As we set up and expand our partner networks, we are looking at a much higher acquisition rate. SMEs are added at around 10 per cent, while larger enterprises get added much slower, at around two to three per cent. But that is from the perspective of count, not revenue," said Shivakumar Ganesan, Exotel's co-founder and chief executive officer.
Currently, out of the 18,000 companies registered with Exotel and more than 45,000 users, the majority are SME companies. Business from SMEs and larger enterprises is in the ratio of around 50:50. "Growth from SME business has seen a two-fold increase in the last six months," Ganesan added.
According to Ganesan, SMEs earlier had to either work with traditional systems like the EPABX to manage their business calls. However, no one had a clear understanding of how this worked or how it could be used optimally to grow the business.
"With Exotel, we offer them the chance to convert their normal phone system to an intelligent phone system and track calls, record them, get alerts for calls missed, play callers a professional IVR, etc. Exotel is a cloud-based system and has no setup or hardware cost, thereby making it possible for businesses of all sizes to use these features," he said.
The company is able to attract SMEs on grounds of improved efficiency and control: businesses are able to perform more efficiently because they're able to track their team's performance more closely. For instance, SMEs now know exactly how many calls have been missed and need to be returned, and what time of the day their call traffic is high. Through cloud telephony, all their calls are recorded and available for easy monitoring.
Moreover, SMEs are able to grow faster and scale up without having to worry about infrastructure or hardware. Further, by using cloud-based telephony, SMEs have gradually seen a reduction in their operational costs by around eight per cent.
While operational cost savings vary from sector to sector, a common usage among e-commerce companies has been in cash on delivery to reduce losses due to bogus bookings and failed delivery attempts.
"Some of our customers have been able to cut down on the loss due to bogus booking by at least 80 per cent. In general, most customers look at the benefit that Exotel provides as 'cannot manage what cannot be measured'. Though the benefits vary across verticals, on an average the Exotel customer has been able to reduce operational costs by eight per cent," Ganesan added.
Cloud-based telephony carries a typical cost of ownership that starts at less than Rs 1,750 per month. Such has been the increase in cloud adoption among SMEs that Exotel is currently setting up partner networks across the country to ensure that it has a better chance of reaching out to the SME market. The company is also looking at international expansion soon.