Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Connect faster to Hyderabad with Fonolo!

Quick. Tell me a three letter acronym that begins and ends with pure evil.

Give up?

It's IVR, or Interactive Voice Response. This is that fabulous technology that lets Air Greyhound and Cattle Car Express, among thousands of other companies, ask you to press or say eight to talk to someone about something. Is there anything more exasperating? No, there isn't.

But the Robin Hoods at Fonolo have created a way to stick it to BancEverywhere and every other company that appreciates your business and asks you to wade through six phone tree levels before it puts you on hold for 18 minutes before it connects you to someone in Hyderabad who has adopted an Anglo Saxon name to make Middle America comfortable with this form of outsourcing.

Hey, it's not "Trevor" or "Brittany"'s fault -- they're just making a living. And there are absolutely excellent Indian and Pakistani and Eastern European customer service companies with sharp as a tack people to answer your questions, when you finally get to talk to them.

Hey, I get it, phone calls are expensive, so companies would prefer to answer your questions with tapes rather than Indian nationals.

But that doesn't make it right.

Fonolo automates the process of navigating phone trees so you get to talk to Hyderabad just that much faster. By transcribing the phone trees of large companies, Fonolo gets you where you need to be in the system faster. Rather than waiting for Brenda or Will to tell you "To speak with an agent, dial 37" in their neutral Midwestern accents, you can just look at the transcribed tree and click to get there but quick.

The system is organized into visual menus that let you deep dial a system instantly.

By using Fonolo, you can also record notes and bring them up if you have to make follow up calls.

From their site:

How does it work?
So how do we do this? We've built revolutionary technology that "spiders" the phone system, much like a web search engine spiders the web. Our system dials companies, navigates their menus and uses a combination of speech recognition, signal processing and human editing to maintain a map of “phone space”.

Since phone menus can change at any time, we continually spider each company to keep the database current. This is a very challenging technical problem (that we've protected with patents) and it yields a data set that has never been built before.

Every time a user requests a “Deep Dial”, we validate the entire path through the phone menu using this same technology. In real-time, we listen to audio from the call and use speech recognition to determine if it’s a match to the information we have stored in our database. Our approach of “node validation” ensures that we always route customers to exactly the right spot in a company’s phone menu.

Big hugs all around for the Robin Hoods and Maid Marians at Fonolo. They deserve the Nobel prize for stickin' it to the man.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write.

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