While navigating the challenges and complexities posed by the COVID-19 lockdown was tough for established businesses, it was even more arduous for startups.
Yet, SendSpend, an alternative payment system that enables vendors and e-commerce merchants to accept electronic payments from cash customers who don’t have a bank account or credit card, found a way to forge ahead during challenging times, thanks in large part to an innovative digital solution.
“SendSpend is a socially responsible business that is committed to enhancing and uplifting people in underserved communities by boosting financial inclusion through innovative digital solutions,” explains Esther Motlafi, SendSpend’s local Managing Director.
“Merchants and consumers can transact using the SendSpend payment system via an Android-compatible e-wallet on their smartphones. The service also makes funds accessible for remote transfers and remittence.”
“We needed a solution that would enable our small team of four to maintain business continuity while working remotely through this vital period in a startup’s lifecycle,” continues Motlafi.
The team required a solution that would route inbound calls for new business registrations or support calls to their mobile phones so that whoever was available could attend to the query.
“We also needed to make outbound calls while keeping communication costs as low as possible,” she adds.
In addition, as a registered financial services provider, SendSpend required call recording functionality to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
SendSpend issued a request for proposals and invited local managed services provider Pivotal Data to propose a solution based on a referral.
“Speed, call quality, and the cost of implementation and ownership were key selection criteria, as were flexibility to scale and reliability,” explains Graham Davies, Group Director and Founder at SendSpend.
In this regard, a hosted PBX solution ticked all the boxes when compared to an on-premise system.
“The ability to provide ongoing maintenance, and holding the skills needed to successfully implement and support the solution were also important considerations when choosing our preferred technology partner,” he adds.
According to Davies, Pivotal Data met all of these criteria and the team’s attention to detail and diligence ensured the company stood out from other providers.
Based on SendSpend’s requirements, Pivotal Data recommended Pivotal Voice, the company’s flagship cloud-based IP-PBX solution.
Christo Marais, Sales Executive at Pivotal Data, affirms that Pivotal Voice was the ideal solution to provide SendSpend with affordable, quality and reliable business telephony services.
The Pivotal Voice platform is hosted in the geo-redundant and secure Tier-1 Teraco data environment to ensure business continuity with high availability.
The solution enables remote connectivity via an application installed on the smartphones of SendSpend staff for always-on connectivity. SendSpend team members can also make outbound Voice over IP (VoIP) calls from a desktop client for lower call rates by using a shared call number.
“And the team benefits from rich reporting functionality with real-time analytics to monitor quality of service,” explains Marais.
The reporting functionality notifies SendSpend about calls that were not connected, and the team can review the number of dropped calls to gauge system performance.
“We can listen in on conversations between a customer service agent and a client, which is invaluable for training purposes, and to identify and address potential customer service issues.” explains Motlafi.
As a hosted solution, the rollout was a simple plug-and-play implementation and the app set-up and portal deployment went smoothly.
“While we experienced an initial challenge with regard to the number of lines we could have and the termination points they route to, the Pivotal Data team easily sorted it out,” adds Motlafi.
Pivotal Data also provided SendSpend with extensive training before the company began using the solution.
“The technical team was very professional and the trainer was patient and explained everything in a manner that non-technical individuals could understand. The sessions were also very interactive,” continues Motlafi.
Once the training was complete, Motlafi explains that the on-boarding process was seamless and a pleasurable experience.
“This helped us to get up to speed on the new terminology and the functionality, and we quickly learnt how to operate the intuitive solution. Based on the experience and our usage to date, we’re delighted with the results.”
And SendSpend is also confident that the Pivotal Voice solution’s scalability will support the company’s ambitious growth plans, both domestically and into international markets.
“While SendSpend only has a domestic presence at the moment, once we receive our forex license we intend to expand into the SADC region, as well as the UK and India,” elaborates Motlafi.
“We are already exploring how Pivotal Data can help us grow our business into these markets. We hope to use South Africa as a base by routing international calls back into our local channels. And the least cost routing offered from the Pivotal Voice solution will minimise call expenditure, even on international calls.”
“As a business, we pride ourselves in our outstanding customer service and the importance we place on our customers being able to contact us at any time. The quality and reliability of the Pivotal Voice solution gives us the comfort we need that our customers will always be able to contact us,” concludes Davies.