Long distance firm hits ground running with CRM

A start-up long distance rebiller is using a pared-down customer relationship management product to invoice its future clients.

Toronto-based Long Distance 4 Less buys bulk long distance from major Canadian telcos and resells

it to customers. The company, made up of telco veterans, required a product to handle its billing and invoicing while it focused on making sales.

“”We looked at perhaps doing the billing ourselves, but because we’re going to be more sales focused, we looked at outsourcing this as both a time saver and giving that sort of business to experts,”” said Long Distance 4 Less president Don Rudman.

The company Long Distance 4 Less chose is Datex, which has repackaged its customer care and billing solutions for start-ups and small enterprises in a suite called Quick-Start.

“” We’ve managed to isolate the common components that everyone in the industry would require. A start-up is going to follow a particular pattern . . . where everything is off the shelf,”” said Datex president Jim Dawson.

“”There’s very little financial risk involved — it’s very low-cost, very quick to implement. All you need to do is take all of your resources and concentrate on marketing, which is what people really want to do and we allow them to do it,”” he added.

Through products like Karbon Lite, a billing system and rating engine, and BOSS Lite, a back office support service, Long Distance 4 Less is handing off key accounting functions to Datex.

Long Distance 4 Less buys long distance minutes from different carriers — which are also split into rates based on national, North American and overseas calls — but company’s customers only want to see one bill. Datex will aggregate this into a single view for the customer and mail out it all out on a single invoice.

Freed up from this aspect of business management, Long Distance 4 Less will be able to focus not only on finding clients but setting up other offices. Rudman said he plans to establish franchise offices across the country and is looking for other people with telco experience to do the selling.

Long Distance 4 Less will focus on small and medium enterprise clients — customers that “”Bell, Sprint and Allstream really don’t go after, other than telemarketing,”” said Rudman.

Larger companies are off Rudman’s radar for now, but that may change “”because our prices are good enough to compete. Everything’s a commodity now in the toll free and long distance sector.””

Next year, Rudman hopes to add data and Internet services, and possibly voice-over-IP, all of which can be handled through Datex.

Datex is looking to sell its Quick-Start products into other verticals. Dawson said he has already sold the suite to a health-care provider to organize billing for services that are not covered by OHIP.

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