Another First from StarHub -- New Toll-free Service to help SMEs to Extend Global Reach
Singapore, 25 July 2000 -- StarHub, Singapore’s new info-communications provider, has partnered ComEase.Com, a global provider of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service, to provide a first-ever enhanced 1800 toll-free service which will allow locally-based companies to extend their global reach. Targeted predominately at SMEs and marketed as ClickNTalk, the service will enable local merchants to establish voice communication with their online customers anywhere in the world via the Internet without either party having to incur international-call charges.
With this new service, online businesses can improve upon their existing web presence, generate more sales leads and increase customer satisfaction by providing potential customers direct voice communication with a customer service officer free-of-charge. Companies aspiring to go dot.com can also leverage on this new development to open a new e-marketing channel to reach out to a larger audience.
"The high cost of owning a toll-free number has traditionally been the greatest barrier to companies, particularly SMEs, as the service would have catered only to the small Singapore market," said Mr John McLean, Head of Marketing Operations, StarHub.
"But with ClickNTalk, the VoIP platform covers the international leg of the communications and this is free to all customers. StarHub has lowered the price barrier to entry considerably while at the same time expanding our clients’ customer base. This new proposition provides a more cost-effective solution to all would-be toll free merchants, adding that personal touch of voice communication wherever their end-users may be," he added.
ClickNTalk is a total-bundled solution consisting of StarHub’s Domestic FreePhone 1800 service and ComEase.com’s Web Communication Suite, comprising the ClickNTalk Internet software, an integrated co-browser and voicemail facility. The ClickNTalk application is designed in the form of an icon on the merchant’s website, which is easily installed without any additional hardware requirement. Customers visiting the website from anywhere in the world will be connected using VoIP to the company’s customer service representative through a pre-programmed toll-free telephone number provided by StarHub.
Besides real-time voice communication capability, ComEase.com’s integrated co-browser tool also allows the merchant’s customer service representative to remotely bring the online customer to a specific web page where he can highlight and promote his company’s product features. The only equipment end-users would need is a microphone and speakers or a headset with microphone at their PC terminal to enjoy this service. At the merchant’s end, the online call will be received like any normal incoming call.
"Local merchants can immediately open up new global markets at no extra cost via the Internet through ClickNTalk," said Mr John Tan, Chief Executive Officer, ComEase.Com Pte Ltd. "In order to turn eyeballs into revenue, Internet e-commerce websites must provide a new level of customer experience. The provision of customer service is not new, whether it is a brick and mortar business or that of an e-business. If shoppers have queries over a product or services, they would prefer if they have someone to speak to allay all their doubts."
In the US, ComEase.com has entered into a partnership with Telepacific Communications, a leading broadband telecommunications provider, to offer ClickNTalk to toll free subscribers there. In Japan, ComEase.com has also signed a service collaboration agreement with Japan Telecom whereby ComEase.com will use Japan Telecom’s toll-free call service "Free Call Super" to provide ClickNTalk to the Japanese e-commerce market. ComEase.com is expecting to launch the ClickNTalk service in South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia in Q3 2000 and the service is expected to be in 16 countries by the end of this year.
Understanding the online shoppers’ mentality has become increasingly important in the competitive Internet marketplace. In a research study by Internet Business Magazine, it was reported that 34 percent of online users would rather buy from a person1. In a separate report by Forrester Research, 90 percent of online shoppers consider good customer service as a critical factor in selecting an online retailer2.
IDC forecasts showed that Web-talk service provider revenues will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 200 percent from $208 million in 2000 to $16.5 billion by 2004. During that time, the amount of time users spend talking on the Web will exceed 3 trillion minutes a year.3
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