President and Chief Revenue Officer Michelle Accardi discusses Star2Star’s cloud-native offering and its necessity amid COVID-19...
Star2Star is a unified communications company that offers collaboration, voice, video and text chat integration capabilities, as well as contact centre and desktop-as-a-service offerings. Michelle Accardi is President and Chief Revenue Officer at the company, responsible for the entire sales and go-to-market strategy of the organisation. “We offer a way to take companies into the cloud and great mobile applications to keep people connected, whether they're in a work from home environment because of the pandemic or because that's just part of the way the world is working these days.”
Star2Star’s huge experience as a communications company has stood it in good stead for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and re-emphasised the benefits of strong communication. “We've really taken a very agile approach to making sure that we're doing daily calls, helping people understand where they need to be focused, overcoming whatever obstacles and giving them the focus for the next day. And then we use our great tools and everything from our own video meetings to our own mobile applications to help us all stay connected.” That use of technology is informed by a culture of transparency at the organisation. “I really try to facilitate people bringing forward any challenges they're having so we can remove those obstacles,” says Accardi. “It's certainly why we've won workplace awards, because we foster that kind of open but hard working culture.”
Its approach is why it is favoured by its customers as a solution provider, with the highest customer retention rate in the industry at 99.4%. “We are one of the only vendors I know of that focuses so much on customer retention, with our retention rate being due to putting the customer at the centre of everything that we do,” says Accardi. “During the pandemic, for instance, we've rolled out many different types of programmes - free months, deferments, anything to help our customers.” The holistic nature of its solution is another key part of its appeal. “There are a lot of single-threaded vendors out there who can only do one thing. The fact that we can do so much is very unique to us. I don't know of any other solution provider like Star2Star that has things like employee alerts as packaged applications that can be built into workflows, for example.”
Among its raft of solutions is a mobile softphone app. “It’s about being able to get a call to your business phone number versus your personal phone number, right on the mobile app, while also being able to do text messaging, or even fax via a mobile application,” says Accardi. “You'd be surprised how often different industries, whether it's healthcare or real estate, need that kind of thing. Those text messaging applications, both on mobile and on desktop, are really game-changing in the pandemic. Businesses are trying to do things like mass marketing, or getting information out to people like appointment reminders or curbside checkout, which we can help with.”
A strong enabler of the work Star2Star does is its partnership with Citrix, with the company being the only UCaaS provider certified as Citrix-ready. “They have great technology that allows companies to put their applications that were previously housed on-premise in the cloud, so that workers can now work from everywhere,” says Accardi. “And it can do that in a secure manner. There are literally millions of companies and users who depend on Citrix, so we can either provide desktop-as-a-service from Citrix if customers don't have that capability, or we can simply put our communications on top of the Citrix environments they have in place.”
The pandemic has accelerated changes in the work environment, with Star2Star serving as a model for how businesses may look going forwards. “Thankfully we've always been a cloud-based company and we've always had a remote workforce,” says Accardi. “So for us, having everyone go remote just as those people who aren’t in our headquarters means we can understand and give all of our customers the capability to go remote as well.” Accardi sees that as a permanent change, even once the pandemic has abated. “How people work and where people work is changing. And we have a broad spectrum of solutions that can help them, whether they prefer to have a desk phone, or they prefer to have a mobile app that can communicate via voice, text, or fax.”
As the world bends to precisely the mode of working that Star2Star can facilitate, Accardi is clear that the company’s future is bright. “We see a future where it is going to be a mix of remote and working from home. Once vaccines come about, there will be a return of some workers to the office. But they're going to want the flexibility to have mobile applications that enable them to work from home when they want to.” Star2Star is perfectly positioned to allow companies to straddle that gap. “I often like to say: it's with irritation that you make the pearl. For Star2Star, we build solutions that enable companies to not just get through the pandemic, but to actually thrive as they digitally transform because of it.”