The goal of Startel/Professional Teledata (PTD) is to be a complete technology solution provider. CEO and president Bill Lane indicates that they are now the largest vendor in the TAS industry, but this is not what makes them different from other vendors. Startel/PTD sees itself as a partner to their customers. They work in concert with customers to build relevant, cost-effective, complete solutions with the goal of bringing technology to bear in increased profitability, efficiency, and enhanced experiences for their customers and their customers’ clients.
It all starts with innovation. The following are a few examples of how Startel/PTD continues to deliver superior technology solutions to its customers.
- One hundred percent soft switch (released in 2009)
- Cloud-based SMS solution
- Open source soft switch
- Utilization of the robust Microsoft SQL Server as the database repository within its contact management center (CMC)
- Logical scripting software
- HIPAA-compliant system validated through annual third-party audits
- Interactive video monitoring software
- Platform independent billing solution
- Multi-tenant hosted solution with coast-to-coast high availability
- Hosted solution housed in a SOC 2 Type II- and SOC 3 HIPAA/PCI-compliant data center
There are, and will be, many more innovations for Startel/PTD. Why does innovation matter? Because innovation makes their customers money, saves money, ensures compliance, or provides the confidence that their customers’ competitors are behind them, not ahead. The size of Startel/PTD’s growing research and development team results in a hastened pace of innovation. Increased innovation benefits their customers by delivering an ever-increasing number of new products, integrations, and technological capabilities that provide customers with an edge over their competitors. Another by-product of their ever-increasing research and development efforts is the technological advances it provides to their customers.
Integrations: Long ago Startel/PTD made a commitment to utilize standard APIs and protocols when building their 100 percent software solution. This makes it not only possible but relatively easy to integrate with customers’ critical third-party software. A major benefit of integrations for Startel/PTD customers is that they are able to more effectively accommodate their clients’ requests and thus provide them with the ability to acquire and retain more clients. Some of the integrations Startel/PTD have performed to date are Law Ruler, Amion, QGenda, Clinical Solutions, Parlance, Nuance, and dvsAnalytics.
The process of requesting integrations is open to all Startel/PTD customers. While Startel/PTD may not choose to perform every integration requested, they do promise to evaluate each opportunity fairly. Integrations that benefit the largest number of customers receive greater priority and are typically free, while integration services that are unique or benefit only a subset have less priority and minor fees.
Partnerships: Why are partnerships important? Because the savings Startel/PTD enjoys due to key third-party software and hardware partnerships enables them to offer their customers more cost-effective solutions than could otherwise be obtained. Just like any large retailer, volume purchases result in increased price concessions. Startel/PTD passes those cost savings on to their customers. Some of their partnerships include Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Avaya, Lenovo, and Dell EMC.
Customer Feedback Mechanisms: A Listening Ear: In order to build a comprehensive technology solution, it’s necessary for Startel/PTD to listen to their customers. In an effort to do so, they have constructed an array of opportunities and platforms to gather as much quality feedback as possible regarding existing product enhancements as well as new product development.
Startel/PTD employs a product manager model similar to that which large corporations enlist to gather customer feedback. Product managers are customer facing with the goal of collecting, assimilating, and providing customer input to development resources within the organization. Product managers gather customer ideas and requirements through on-site visits, focus groups, alpha and beta testing, and a variety of other means. By tracking product enhancements, features, and functionality, they are able to prioritize each item and present them to the product review committee within Startel/PTD that ultimately decides development priorities.
This disciplined approach to product development serves Startel/PTD customers well. It maximizes the development effort by streamlining the process of customer feedback, batching the results, and efficiently communicating development needs to the software engineers who ultimately build the products. Other ways Startel/PTD lends a listening ear to customer issues and ideas include:
- Regularly scheduled wish list meetings
- Semiannual product advisory board meetings
- “Ask Startel/PTD” sessions at annual user group meetings
- Open “wish list” sessions at annual user group meetings
- Dedicated customer experience director level positions
- Customer site visits
Professional Research and Development Team: Startel/PTD claims the largest research and development team in the TAS industry, and the group is ever growing. Startel/PTD only hires about 5 percent of the software engineers they interview. Prior to becoming permanent members of the research and development team, each engineer undergoes prescreening grades, intense interviews, practical application tests, and a ninety-day trial period where they are assigned a small, individualized project to complete. Startel/PTD only hires and retains software engineers who love technology and exhibit potential for becoming architectural software engineers.
The result of this stringent hiring system is that Startel/PTD deploys software engineers who develop products from the ground up without the crutch of expensive third-party code libraries that often contain royalties and thus are more expensive to produce. By utilizing royalty-free software code based on open source wherever possible, Startel/PTD’s products are the most cost-effective on the market.
Software Assurance: Startel/PTD is committed to providing customers a cost-effective and complete technology solution. Eight years ago, they did away with the traditional pricing model and implemented comprehensive low-cost pricing of the Startel solution coupled with software assurance.
At the same time Startel/PTD introduced the concept of “core technology.” Any product deemed to be core technology – whether new or an enhancement of existing products – will cost nothing for customers who subscribe to their single support plan. An example of this is the new Startel auto-dialer launched in spring 2016 at the annual Startel National User Group (SNUG) meeting.
A completely new product, the auto-dialer was deemed a core technology because it did not require a separate infrastructure to support it. Therefore, by implementing simple comprehensive solution pricing and the core technology concept, Startel/PTD has reduced the total cost of ownership for its customers. This helps users keep more of their profits while at the same time providing them with more revenue generating opportunities.
Startel/PTD is successful today because they are technology savvy, listen to their customers, and build relevant and quality products. In addition, they have implemented an efficient and disciplined royalty-free product development process and are able to pass on volume-pricing concessions to their customers.