Voice-Based Marketing Automation Blog
We have released the new version of IfByPhone. It hasn't been that long since we did a dot release, but, frankly, our developers are incredible. Full release details can be found on our support page. Here are a couple highlights:
* Scheduled & Emailed Reports: You can now schedule a report to run on any frequency you choose and select from reporting periods of previous day, week, month or year.
I'm a big fan of Social Media in general. Anything that can bring people together and help create interesting conversations has a great deal of value.
Our vision, stated here time and again, is that the phone is the best technology that small and medium businesses have at their disposal. Normally it is in the context of using our technology to drive more conversations (using Click-to-call, IVR applications, Virtual Receptionist, Voice Broadcast, etc).
I was reading this excellent post by Paul Sweeney today. One of the things he touches on regularly is customer service. Today he mentions a couple websites I frequent: Summize and GetSatisfaction. Summize is a search tool for Twitter, and GetSatisfaction is a website that shows conversations surrounding particular companies and products.
With so many ways to publish information (Twitter, blogs, websites, Facebook, etc), it is becoming increasingly easy for consumers to let people know they're unhappy with a company. You've heard the expression that word of mouth is the best advertising? How powerful is word of mouth when you can press a few keys and complain about poor customer service to hundreds of your friends on the internet? How much damage can one unhappy customer do?
This can be a little scary for companies. But it shouldn't be. View it for what it is: an opportunity. Pay attention to your customers. You have all kinds of information about what they think about you and your competitors. Find it. Read it. But more importantly, act on it.
Call them. I recently had an experience with DirecTv, where I was close to canceling my account after being a vocal proponent for 10 years. When they found out about my unhappiness (via searching Summize), they called me. That phone call was more important than anything else they could have done. Someone with the ability to help me took a proactive step and called one of their millions of customers and had a conversation about how to make it right. Now that negative press I was giving them turned into a positive customer service experience and positive press.
As we like to say, the phone is the Rodney Dangerfield of technology. It gets no respect. But really, it's still the most powerful and productive technology that most business have at their disposal. So use social media and the internet to find out what your customers think. But follow up by the phone. Your customers want to hear from you.
Recently in this space we've talked about the lack of interesting VOIP Applications. It seems that people all over are asking where the apps are. No less than Jeff Pulver has decried the lack of innovation in this space. At first, I objected to Jeff's post, saying that there were several companies doing interesting things (us being one of them!).
In the last couple days, there has been bad news for a couple Voice 2.0 startups, Jangl and TalkPlus. There are people commenting on what this means for Voice 2.0: has the bubble burst? What does the future hold for Voice 2.0 companies?
I feel bad for the people at Jangl and TalkPlus. More or less, I've been in their shoes before. I know how it feels, and it's not pleasant.
But second, Voice 2.0 is poorly defined. I consider IfByPhone to be a Voice 2.0 company in at least some ways. But we are vastly different than both of these companies above and many other companies under the Voice 2.0 umbrella. IfByPhone is sitting in the middle of a convergence of several different marketplaces, Click-to-call, Call routing, call tracking, voice broadcast, and IVR being just a few of them.
So, I for one, am going to suggest that we stop calling every new telephony feature or company or widget Voice 2.0.Â Just becuase AT&T doesn't offer it to their residential customers doesn't make it part of the next wave.
For IfByPhone, I think the most appropriate term is Telephony Application Provider or TAP (I didn't come up with the term, but I think it fits). I think it's pretty clear that there will be a huge marketplace for companies large and small to integrate voice into business processes and existing business applications. And IfByPhone will be there at the forefront of that marketplace.
We released Version 2.7 last night. Below are highlights of the new features.
Some of the new features in Ifbyphone Version 2.7 include:
- The availability of local telephone numbers in all major US metropolitan areas. Customers will be able to select either toll free or local numbers for use with our Virtual Receptionist, Find Me, Survo and other inbound call routing applications.
- The Publish SurVo feature has been improved to allow for multiple logins for a single SurVo, as well as the deletion of SurVos that have already been published. The ability to edit the top portions of an active SurVo - e.g. everything above the questions, such as the email addresses, play beep at end of question and announce question count.
- The addition of a SurVo question type that allows a transfer to a Virtual Receptionist, Find Me, or Voice Mail.
- We will begin offering a new Audio Only Voice Broadcast with the ability to send out 25 simultaneous calls at no additional port usage cost.
- The ability to schedule Voice Broadcasts to run only on certain days of the week.
- The audio file maintenance tool now includes the approximate length of the recording in minutes.
- The ability to delete multiple audio recordings at once.
- Feature to automatically remove the beeps at the end of recorded Virtual Receptionist and SurVo prompts.
- The speed of many reports has been significantly enhanced.
- The addition of confirmation emails/receipts when signing up and adding additional items.
Some enhanced features for developers include:
- A new API for retrieving SurVo recordings as a streamed MP3.
- The ability to create Find Me's using the Administrative API.
- The ability to retrieve the Call Detail report via the API.
- The use of a click-to key or API key will be required on new accounts to increase security. Current accounts won't require this key, but we recommend you add it for additional security.
- Some additional parameters for Net Gets including dialed number and SurVo ID.
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I wrote a guest post on VOIPSupply's blog. The post is about the Voice 2.0 market, how TAPs (Telephony Applicaiton Providers) are changing the market, and how VOIP companies in particular are able to take advantage of the functionality we provide.
Also, our Facebook app was reviewed:
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As previously mentioned in this space, we recently announced our PhoneMashup initiative aimed at getting developers involved with our product. Every day we're getting more developers signing up and doing interesting things with our services.
Our CEO was the guest on the SquawkBox podcast hosted by Alec Saunders and Dan York.
It was a very informative interview about what we do, and how we think about the marketplace. Please check it out here.
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We recently released a new feature that I wanted to mention here. Now you can publish the results of your IfByPhone Survo calls on the web. The entire process takes about 3 minutes to set up.Â This feature will allow you to give a URL to your clients so they can log in and see how their campaign is working in real time.