Verizon Takes Business to Europe

Verizon Business announced today that it has expanded its hostedinteractive voice response (IVR) solutions to 11 European countries. The service, provided to contact centers, allows companies to manage IVRs off premises while at the same time integrating existing on-premises technologies to the new, hosted IVR.

In Europe, the solution will largely be marketed to large multinational corporations (MNCs). Michael Barnes, director of contact center solutions product marketing at Verizon Business, says the global expansion of its hosted solutions follows more than 15 years of offering the service to U.S. MNCs.

"We have a large focus on in the U.S., and expect to do so in Europe as well," Barnes states. "Because [European customers] have very large-scale contact center needs and are very often early adopters of new technology, they have very sophisticated technological needs. There's a lot of demand [for the hosted contact center market] in Europe, and possibly even more so than the domestic U.S., because of the distinct value proposition of hosted contact center services."

That value proposition stems from the reduced cost of handling technical issues like call transfers and construction of IVR menus in-house, which gives companies more time to focus on other infrastructure issues. Currently, Verizon Business will focus on the European healthcare and the financial services sectors -- the same vertical markets that have been at the core of its U.S. business.

Though MNCs in Europe are still relatively large businesses, Barnes notes that European contact centers often house fewer employees than their U.S. counterparts, which further increases the need for hosted solutions. The company's hosted IVR solutions model in Europe allows companies to give responsibility for touchtone and speech self-service to Verizon Business, though Barnes also notes that one of the offering's biggest selling points is the availability of Verizon's vast network.

"Because this [service] is network-based, it is integrated into our network, we can offer call transfers done in the network, which can free up infrastructure on the customer's premise," Barnes says.  "You can do things at a network level and take advantage of our global network that you couldn't otherwise do cost-effectively from a local perspective."

Barnes notes that the hosted IVR market has "historically" been stronger in the European, Middle Eastern, and African markets than other countries. The 11 European countries where Verizon Business will offer its hosted IVR services are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. The company will continue offering the service in the U.S., as well.

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