From the monthly archives: April 2008

EComm Badge

We were delighted to hear yesterday that Fonolo was been named “Best New Product” from the Emerging Communication Conference. As well, they have now posted a video of my presentation here. The video looses a bit of the presentation’s impact because you can’t see the screen where I’m doing a demo of the product. The best way to learn about Fonolo is on our site.

Thanks again to the organizers for doing such a great job. Can’t wait for next year’s show!

 

earthAt the EComm show in March, I had a nice conversation with Luca Filigheddu, who runs Abbeynet, an Italy-based provider of VoIP and other IP communication services. He pressed me to make Fonolo available in Italy, saying that there would be considerable appetite there.

I’ve had a number of conversations with people about international expansion. Unfortunately, we have our plate full right now just rolling out the North American version of Fonolo, so I can’t predict when we’ll be ready to tackle other countries.

On Thursday we started getting a ton of requests for beta accounts coming from Italy. We were a bit puzzled until I found, in VoIPBlog.it, this post: Fonolo Lo Spider Per Call Center.

Turns out Luca was right on the money — there’s a ton of interest. OK, we heard you! We’ll put Italy high on our list of priorities. Grazie per il suo interessamento.

 

baby treeThe Deep Dialing feature of Fonolo lets you skip through menu prompts and connect directly to the point in the phone menu that you need. The key to this process is having a map of the “phone tree” for each company in our database.

A question that I have been asked repeatedly is: “How do we keep our map of the phone trees in sync with the real phone systems?” It is indeed a challenge, because there is no way for us to be notified when a phone tree (officially known as an “IVR system”) has been changed. Remember, we don’t have any official arrangements with the companies in our database — they aren’t feeding us any data.

We use three techniques to keep the trees fresh:

1. Scheduled check-ups
Our automated system “spiders” through each company’s phone tree on a regular schedule, comparing what it hears with our database. If there’s any difference, that menu is flagged and then rebuilt from scratch.

2. User-driven validation
When a user requests a Deep Dial, our system dials the company and then navigates the phone menu to the desired location. At each step in the navigation, our system compares what it hears against our database. This gives us close to real-time notification of any changes. A nice consequence of this is that, as the number of users grows, Fonolo will getter better and better at staying in sync.

3. User feedback
Finally, we make it easy for our users to provide feedback on any errors encountered during the call.

User feedback box

There’s some more info about this topic in an excellent post on the Telco 2.0 blog: “IVR search: a ‘Google’ for phone menus?