Natterbox Review: Out-of-the-Box Cloud Comms with Integration for Salesforce
Read our review of the Natterbox Advanced Voice Services cloud communications system
Contextual communications is one of those buzz phrases which periodically do the rounds in the telecoms industry. Another emerging phrase used to describe roughly the same thing is CPaaS – Communications Platform as a Service.
As in most such cases, the words themselves are less important than the ideas behind them.
Whether you call it contextual comms or CPaaS, the idea is this – instead of running UC and collaboration tools as distinct, separate applications, why not have them embedded directly into the software you use day to day in your work?
The point is, whatever productivity, workflow, CRM or ERP platform your business uses, integrating UC tools directly within them is more efficient, intuitive and user friendly. Instead of having to open a new app to make a call or share a document you are working on, you have that capability right there, just a click away.
The concept has emerged out of the field of cloud communications because of the flexibility hosted services offer. Like UCaaS, CPaaS makes comms tools available on a subscription basis, via the internet, on any device and from any location. The difference is, CPaaS makes tools available to run in the context of other programmes, not as apps in their own right.
Many UCaaS providers already do this, of course. They make their APIs available so customers can create their own integrations into their favourite software platforms. The downside to this is, you or someone you know has to know a thing or two about programming.
Not every business employs its own software developer. For many, the concept of code and APIs is daunting. So should they miss out on the benefits promised by contextual communications?
Not according to Natterbox. Sensing a gap in the market for businesses which wanted to integrate comms with CRM but didn’t want to do the configuration themselves, the London-based cloud specialist came up with an innovative solution. It developed the world’s first, and to date only, cloud phone system and contact centre solution designed to be run 100 per cent native in Salesforce, the market leading CRM software brand.
So what exactly are the benefits of being able to run a business telephone system direct from Salesforce? How exactly do the worlds of hosted cloud communications and CRM align? Before we take a closer look, please remember that UC Today is a 100 per cent independent news and insight service for the UK telecoms industry, and does not endorse or promote any particular brands, products or companies.
What Can It Do?
Natterbox Advanced Voice Services (AVS) is a complete end-to-end enterprise telephone solution which operates entirely within Salesforce. And that doesn’t just mean you get access to things like your directory and an in-built webphone from within the Salesforce interface. The AVS system also integrates fully with all Salesforce data points, your customer records, case management, task management and so on.
AVS is available for two Salesforce solutions, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. Used with Salesforce Sales Cloud, AVS acts as a Cloud PBX system designed to provide sales teams with global telephony reach and full range of business features. Used with Service Cloud, AVS provides a fully integrated contact centre solution for customer service teams.
The AVS suite is built up out of six different modules:
- AVS Cloud PBX: A telephone application which comes with a WebRTC webphone, voicemail, user extensions and IP phone management tools. As it is web based, it operates globally, providing 100 per cent availability wherever users log in.
- AVS Contact Centre: Also built around a WebRTC webphone, Contact Centre provides dynamic call queues, advanced call routing based on live CRM data, wallboards and analytics.
- AVS CTI: A customisable interface which provides automatic screen-popping of customer records and live calls note-taking, with a global single sign-on.
- AVS Record: A call recording module which allows companies to securely store recordings as part of Salesforce customer records with storage from 6 months and upwards.
- AVS Numbers: This module allows administrators to purchase and set up new business lines directly within Salesforce. This helps to speed up setting up new extensions and new branches.
- AVS Global Calls: A call tariff package for local and international calls, making use of Natterbox’s multi-carrier single platform comprising data centres in Europe, North America. East Asia and Australia.
Salesforce customers have the option to subscribe to all six modules, and therefore get a comprehensive solution for all their telephony and contact centre needs, or they can choose individual applications to integrate within their existing systems in an over-the-top (OTT) fashion.
What do we like?
There are two things which really stand out about Natterbox AVS. First, its ease of deployment. Natterbox describes it as ‘lightning ready’, and that is a very apt description. All Salesforce users have to do is download the modules they want from the AppExchange, and they are away. Because everything is designed to run within Salesforce, your telephone system comes preconfigured and ready to go. It means your CRM admin can also quite easily set up and run your telephone and contact centre system.
Secondly, the data integration with Salesforce allows for an unparalleled level of cooperation and coordination between communications and CRM. Call logging, including adding outcomes and next steps, takes place directly within Salesforce, helping to inform and streamline workflow and business intelligence seamlessly. AVS provides more than 120 reporting templates, so service levels can be monitored and analysed as part of your CRM. All report templates are easily customisable.
Finally, from the administrator console, users can create IVR welcome messages, surveys and feedback tools using a simple drag and drop interface, and the policy builder means call routing and queues are being built side by side with the Salesforce workforce and process builder. In other words, your contact centre systems are being designed and managed first and foremost from the perspective of customer service.
Who is it for?
Natterbox AVS is available for any customers running Salesforce Sales Cloud or Service Cloud. It is popular with a number of enterprise brands, including Groupon, Reed.co.uk, Legal & General and Majestic Wines.
Where to buy and for how much?
Natterbox AVS can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Salesforce AppExchange.
There is lots more information available on the Natterbox AVS System at the Natterbox homepage. There is also a downloadable Natterbox Whitepaper on their OTT offering – stating that you can keep your current phone system while getting full contact centre integration
UC Today Opinion
You can expect to hear a lot more about contextual communications, CPaaS and whatever other names are conjured up for it in the coming years. Slowly but surely, the divisions between communications and general business software platforms are being eroded. The differences between the technology used to run comms compared to say, a productivity suite, are disappearing as software and especially cloud solutions take over. Put simply, it makes sense to businesses to have everything run from the same place.
Natterbox’s AVS is as unique as it is innovative. Rather than offer a standalone UC platform, Natterbox has decided to look at a way of making a hugely popular and successful CRM solution even better – its USP is that it adds value to Salesforce. The commercial danger for Natterbox and vendors coming up with similarly disruptive solutions will be when companies like Salesforce begin to add communications functions as standard themselves. But for now, it provides Salesforce customers with a UC plug-in unparalleled in its scope and simplicity.
Are you a Salesforce end user who has used Natterbox AVS? What are your thoughts? Does it add genuine value to your CRM operations? Please let us know what you think in the comments section below, and feel free to share this article with friends and colleagues on social media.