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Fonolo Lets You Bypass Company Phone Menus

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-gimme-a-people dept.

Communications 171

An anonymous reader writes "Fonolo, a Toronto based voice 2.0 company, helps you avoid those annoying company phone menus by letting you skip ahead in the company phone system using a process they call 'deep-dialing.' Just search for the company on their website (apparently they have over 500), and you'll see a visual representation of the company's phone system. Then you just select the option you want, put your phone number in, and Fonolo calls the company on your behalf and dials you back when the agent is available — for free. They have a business product that provides this same service (visual dialing), plus virtual queuing and data pass-through." One company creates a phone system designed to encourage you to hang up to save them money. Another creates a phone system designed to make it easy to stay on hold indefinitely. I wonder where this ends.

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Comcast has a service that does the same thing (3, Interesting)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540244)

I think it's called Comcast 4u or something like that. If there's a large que of calls you get the option to have the company call you back when it's your turn. I can't imagine why more companies don't do this.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540276)

I think it's called Comcast 4u or something like that. If there's a large que of calls you get the option to have the company call you back when it's your turn. I can't imagine why more companies don't do this.

This will give the companies incentives to do this.A really smart company would let you request a call from their website though.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540326)

A really smart company would let you request a call from their website though.

Right, because there's no way that would be abused by pranksters.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540388)

Then have them call me once, now, to enter a code on the call-request web page, and once, later, when there is a representative available. These problems have solutions, and (further) are only problems if they are actually abused.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540468)

At that point, wouldn't it just be easier to eliminate the middleman and call them yourself to request a callback? Personally, I'd rather only be on the phone once instead of going to their website, getting phoned, entering a code and waiting.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540520)

Right, because there's no way that would be abused by pranksters.

It would be relatively simple to keep pranksters at bay by asking people to fill in verifiable account information as part of the online request - in most cases, previously existing log-in infrastructure would suffice. Another line of defense would be to require customers to register their account for callback support, with the option to disallow at any time.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540666)

Yet Another Login - yeah, great.

I would have thought caller ID would be enough. You call them, it logs your number and calls you back.

If you're hiding your number for some reason then it can record DTMF tones of you typing your number (or whatever...use your imagination). There's no excuse for having people sitting on hold these days.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540756)

If there's a large que of calls you get the option to have the company call you back when it's your turn. I can't imagine why more companies don't do this.

One, it'll cost them money. Two, if you're calling it's probably a complaint or something that'll also cost them money, and they'd rather you just fuck off.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540284)

Because it costs them money and they don't really want to talk to you?

Let's be honest here, why would a company want you to call their support line? The only reason the line exists at all is to appease you and keep you from canceling the contract. As far as any company is concerned, whether you can use their product or you cannot does only matter insofar as you don't cancel the contract. So you on hold is you not canceling.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (3, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540314)

You've answered your own question: Why don't more companies do this? Because they want to keep you from canceling the contract. But your point is valid, there may not be a cost benefit between making call backs and losing customers.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540344)

Sometimes a good, old-fashioned, letter is what it takes.

Specifically, I've found that sending the relevant CEO a list of my service requests, along with photographs of his family and maps showing the routes that they commonly take during their respective daily routines(just to show that I, too, value my relationship with the $FOOCORP family), really improves responsiveness.

Often, the response is so fast that the service techs arrive before the cops do!

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540376)

...those are not the service techs you are looking for...

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540822)

I don't think those are local cops you've got knocking on your door. More like FBI. I suspect you might not want that kind of attention as they will label you a terrorist. That sort of thing seems to be in vogue these days.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541230)

The cops might also take all your PCs and phones so you won't need those services...

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (5, Informative)

shaiberger (2300162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540908)

Hi there, CEO of Fonolo here.

Great to see all the enthusiasm!

> I can't imagine why more companies don't do this.

That's actually a really interesting question. The idea of letting the customer hang up and then get a call-back when an agent is ready is called "Virtual Queuing" (VQ), and has been around for a long time. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_queuing [wikipedia.org] .

Why don't we see it more often? It is not for lack of interest, as some of the comments have said. There has been strong interest in VQ for a long time. Waiting on hold is actually lose-lose approach to queuing: Customers get pissed off, and the company wastes money (keeping the lines open). There have been virtual queuing systems available for over a decade. They remain rare, not because companies don't want them but because they require installation at the call center and, in today's call center environment, that's costly and often impossible. Why impossible? Because of the widespread use of outsourced call centers. If you're sending some of your calls to a 3rd party, you can't force them to install any custom equipment. For more on this: http://www.shaiberger.com/2010/10/when-will-we-stop-waiting-on-hold [shaiberger.com]

Brief plug: Fonolo offers a service that allows companies to add virtual queuing without any changes to their call center. http://fonolo.com/features/virtualqueuing [fonolo.com]

- Shai

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541322)

Waiting on hold is actually lose-lose approach to queuing: Customers get pissed off, and the company wastes money (keeping the lines open).

I suspect that there's some break even point between cost of keeping the line open, an annoyed customer down-grading or cancelling service due to hold time, and money saved by reducing the size of your operator/service pool and potential savings when an annoyed customer gives up without actually tying up an operator OR down-grading/cancelling (maybe not common among the /. crowd, but likely a realistic option).

Non-Dial Map? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541562)

Can we also get visual maps without actually dialing? Verizon frisbees you all over their phone tree with their legendary "I'll get someone who can help you" (either dumps customer back into one of the queues or gets a department that doesn't actually handle your question.)

With a visual map it might show you what to say to the next wrong rep in the chain.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541640)

There may be a psychological effect at play in "lose-lose" waiting-on-hold: customers may not trust a company to call them back. The customer service line is only used when a company's products or services have failed to such an extent that complaint seems useful, so the customer is already disinclined to trust the company. If the company says, "We'll call you back when we get around to your call," the customer may suspect that they'll never be called back: virtual queuing, when controlled by the company being called, amounts psychologically to relinquishing control over the grievance and risking being ignored. Fonolo's solution gets around this brilliantly: a third party (Fonolo) handles the virtual queuing, so the customer doesn't feel like he's surrendering control over his complaint process to the company to whom he's complaining.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541698)

Thanks for the brief explanation. I want to express my appreciation for a CEO who takes the time to present his/her company to people, even if briefly. Thank you.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

torqer (538711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541732)

As someone who manages Virtual Queuing equipment and other call center equipment, like PBX's and such, as an outsourcer, I've found that the primary use of Virtual queuing and customer call backs isn't for the benefit of customers at all. Most times this technology is deployed is when the company is providing regulated service. Often the regulators require calls to be answered in a certain amount of time (let's say 3 minutes), and if the Virtual Hold system answers the call immediately and places the call back when they customer would be next in line then company meets their mandate of answering calls within the 3 minute time frame.

This is great news for the company as they avoid paying penalties in an understaffed call center, as a call that would normally take 30-90 minutes to be answered appears to be answered almost immediately, despite the customer not reaching an agent for an extended period of time.

For what it's worth, the outsourcer certainly can be required to use 3rd party software as requested by the client. It all depends on what's written in the contract.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541086)

Comcast got the idea from their Moscow office.

In Soviet Komkast, tech support calls YOU.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541432)

Based on my previous use of their products, I'm pretty sure if Comcast created it it's more like Comcast FU.

Re:Comcast has a service that does the same thing (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541548)

"I can't imagine why more companies don't do this."
1. Phone systems are expensive.
2. Most are not using VOIP yet, so they will have to pay for long distance calls back.
3. Their current system uses "On Hold" as a performance measure.

Please listen (3, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540252)

"Please listen to the menu options as they have recently changed."

Yeah, right! When was the last time you recently changed them? Oh, listen, I haven't called company X in over a year, but their menu system has not recently changed, it's been the same for so many years!

Re:Please listen (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540272)

It was recently changed when they added that message. It was then changed when they removed the message, so they had to add it again for accuracy?

Re:Please listen (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540464)

Help! I'm trapped in a recursive phone message!

Re:Please listen (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540928)

One company creates a phone system designed to encourage you to hang up to save them money. Another creates a phone system designed to make it easy to stay on hold indefinitely. I wonder where this ends.

Dueling banjos

Re:Please listen (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540660)

Press 4 to hear a duck quack

Re:Please listen (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541072)

Press 44 to hear an echo of a duck quack.

Re:Please listen (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540328)

I've been trying to get DOCSIS (Data over Cable) Internet, and it has been a freaking pain of dealing idiocy (strangely, it's the first time in my life that I've had to deal with something that involves multiple phone calls). Luckily the robo-lady stops talking whenever I've pressed the correct menu button even though she hasn't finished talking, but one question which tickles me is "We will record your call for [standard bla bla] purposes. Say yes if you agree with this.". So far I've been saying "yes" before she's even asked the question. And each time I chuckle at the thought, what if they change the question to something like "We are now going to take a million dollars from your account, say yes if you agree.".

OK, that anecdote sounded funnier to me...

Re:Please listen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540430)

I hate the phone systems that DUPE you by changing the counting order.

For instance, I want to reach Billing.

Machine answers,

If you want sales, press 1
If you want corporate press 2
if you want apparel press 3
if you want billing- (I press 4).

After reaching the wrong person I go back and wait, and hear this.

If you want sales, press 1
If you want corporate press 2
if you want apparel press 3
if you want billing press 9

FUCK YOU!

Re:Please listen (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540542)

I usually just ask the wrong person to put me through to the right person.

Re:wrong person (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541748)

There are only 144 right people in all of Verizon. The other 10,000 reps are wrong and they put you through to each other. I was on the phone for THREE HOURS trying to set up a dry loop DSL that doesn't have voice.

Re:Please listen (1)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540766)

Which secret department did you get when you pressed 4 :-) ?

Re:Please listen (4, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540382)

Not as bad as the: "we apologise for the delay but we are experiencing higher than usual call volume." Some companies have that message for years, which just means they haven't bothered hiring enough people to answer the phones.

Re:Please listen (1)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541212)

Even worse than that, "higher than usual call volume" is an outright lie. They are experiencing "typical" call volumes, but it still leads to excessive queuing.

Re:Please listen (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541692)

Sometimes the simpler systems are even worse. Like the bitch who answers your call with "This is Briefcase Holdings Limited, please hold..." than slapping you into a spiel of inane jingles and advertising crap before you can shout "NO!".

There is one advantage to bricks-and-mortar shops: you always have the option of driving there and making someone's life a burden and affliction until you're satisfied.

Re:Please listen (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541614)

The worst is. I am sorry all lines are busy... Click... Dial tone.

Re:Please listen (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541756)

Actually, I call that "lying". And when they lie to me, I feel that lying is expected so I lie to the people I end up talking to, often blatantly. If they call me on it, I mention their lie, and suggest that if they start out by lying that it is only fair that I be allowed to lie back to them.

Re:Please listen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540510)

Dude, it changed on Thursday. You know, when Microsoft and the Internet warned about the worst virus ever that will totally destroy your computer!

Re:Please listen (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540784)

Yes, believe it or not, Mr.BigBank, your phone system is not so integral to my daily existence that I would memorize it in the first place, so how bout we just skip the BS please. Also, let's go ahead and read that script at about double the speed you're reading it at now, so I don't fall asleep waiting for you to get to my option.

do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540274)

the whole point is to route calls to the right CSR's. not have a direct line to your new best friend who really can't stand you calling because you're always trying to get a deal. same like those annoying people who always call the help desk or IT wanting crap without a trouble ticket

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (4, Insightful)

Phleg (523632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540332)

But they don't. I've not once been sent to somebody who can't help me by dialling "0" repeatedly or repeating "operator" to the voice recognition system. Not to mention, it's infinitely frustrating when they make me waste a half hour dialling in identifying numbers, my address, etc., only for the CSR to ask for the exact same information the second they pick up the phone.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540490)

Phone the sales department. You'll find that they have a very short waiting time, often instant. Get them to transfer you.

In the UK, try http://www.saynoto0870.com/ [saynoto0870.com] and put in the support number, or company name. Often you can get local call numbers for premium rate lines, or direct office numbers bypassing the switchboard.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540496)

I was told by a college IT teacher that dialing 9999999 repeatedly will most often get you a person to answer. It doesn't work everywhere, and I've also found dialing 00000 repleatedly works almost as well.

I also find it frustrating that I take the time to enter my account number and am asked for it again by a real person. I always ask at this point why I was asked to enter it in the first place, or if they don't already have that information forwarded to them on their screen. I think they sometimes just ask us to be annoying. Maybe not. Maybe the company has a communication system that only does part of its job.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540562)

That would get you someone to talk to in the UK. 999 is national emergency services, similar to 911 in the states.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (2)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540710)

. I always ask at this point why I was asked to enter it in the first place, or if they don't already have that information forwarded to them on their screen. I think they sometimes just ask us to be annoying. Maybe not. Maybe the company has a communication system that only does part of its job.

About ten years ago, I worked for a very short time as a CSR for Sears handling calls for their in-store credit cards—pretty much everything except collections, which was a separate department. When you called, you had to put in your account number. The system was supposed to forward that to my screen and automagically pull up your information. Very occasionally, it did just that. 90% of the time or more, it didn't, so I had to ask the annoyed caller for it again. I was told that the problem was that "all our systems haven't been upgraded yet." I have no idea if they ever were.

Of course, that was also the job where staying on the phone long enough to actually help someone meant that your call time was too high to get a good performance review, we only got 30 minutes for lunch (nearest fast food restaurant? 12 minutes away—you could go there, if you ate on the way back), one of my coworkers was inordinately proud that her boyfriend was a stripper/escort, and somebody lost a tooth in a brawl in the employee break room.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540788)

one of my coworkers was inordinately proud that her boyfriend was a stripper/escort, and somebody lost a tooth in a brawl in the employee break room.

Those two things sound pretty cool actually ;-)

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541038)

one of my coworkers was inordinately proud that her boyfriend was a stripper/escort, and somebody lost a tooth in a brawl in the employee break room.

Those two things sound pretty cool actually ;-)

I suppose. But that didn't make up for—for example—explaining to the irately mathematically ignorant that if your payment is less than your interest charge your bill will, hey presto!, go up instead of down.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (2)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541590)

I also find it frustrating that I take the time to enter my account number and am asked for it again by a real person. I always ask at this point why I was asked to enter it in the first place, or if they don't already have that information forwarded to them on their screen. I think they sometimes just ask us to be annoying. Maybe not. Maybe the company has a communication system that only does part of its job.

Entering this data is so that your call can be placed properly in the queue. Some customers have priority status and when they enter their number, they go to the front of the queue or even to a "high value customer CSR". The information is typically not passed to the CSR's system when the call is finally dispatched.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (2)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540576)

I have a colleague who puts these calls on loudspeaker. He happily keys in his credit card number, bank account number, DoB and all the rest. I've even heard him spell out his address to the operator.

Should I warn him or just kept recording?

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541470)

You should inform him that people who use loudspeakers in that way are douchebags.

Then you should use his info to buy a boxes of dildoes, live cockroaches, and maybe some other weird things you can order online.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540636)

it's infinitely frustrating when they make me waste a half hour dialling in identifying numbers, my address, etc., only for the CSR to ask for the exact same information the second they pick up the phone.

I just tell the person I've called that I've already inputted that data and that I won't input it again. They get frustrated and eventually I speak to a manager about the fact that I won't input the data again but their phone representative won't help me further. Eventually the manager finds the data or says that I can bypass the security questions which is quite often why their re-asking for the data.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540522)

Talking to the goddamn robot voice is degrading, and will continue to be degrading until it can pass the Turing test.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541740)

Talking to the goddamn robot voice is degrading, and will continue to be degrading until it can pass the Turing test.

Funny, that's exactly what the robot voice thinks about YOU.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540716)

90% of IVR scripting sucks ass. How many times have you entered your acct #, only to have the rep you finally get to ask you for it again?
This is either because these 90%ers don't want to spend the money it takes to do it right, or they simply don't care.

IMO, this is a massive failure of government to regulate business. Customer service standards should be law.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541252)

Yeah, that's what we need. More stupid laws for stupid business practices. Oh no, you have to wait! The horrors!

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540718)

Yes, they really do, because "the whole" point, in many cases, is clearly to frustrate the caller to the point where he goes away stops being a problem that must be dealt with. Seriously. The way some companies handle their "valued customers" calls, which "..are very important to us..." can be explained no other way. Most phone companies would be exhibit A.

Re:do people really hate IVR systems? (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540772)

...and I'd be perfectly fine with that - *IF* it actually worked that way. See, the voice recognition menu systems I generally deal with have absolutely no AI behind them - they are usually worse than the "Press 1 for billing, 2 for sales, 3 for support..." stuff, because they SAY they can understand you, but invariably point you to the wrong place.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAnB-Xz9J1U [youtube.com] (start at 0:32, then again at 3:20)

See, a voice driven interface in which a specific set of commands is required is just a command line. Don't believe me? Call T-Mobile customer care and say "unlock my phone". I did this recently, since I wanted a SIM unlock for a phone that was out of contract and out of warranty. The first time I said it, it replied, "alright, problems with calls. So, briefly tell me what you're calling about." "I want to unlock my phone". "I'm sorry, I didn't get that, Let's try again." "Unlock my phone". "Sorry, can we give it another try?" "Unlock. My. Phone." After a few more rounds of this, the system finally decided to forward me to "a representative who could help". Fine. It sent me to general support, who then sent me to tier 1 support, who then had to forward me to a specialist.

I don't blame T-Mo for this, because this is just the norm. In fact, that call, end to end, took me about 15 minutes. A friend of mine was on the phone with a general representative over at Verizon for over an hour and a half trying to get the bluetooth to work with her car stereo before the rep admitted that she wasn't really a tech support rep! Certainly that's not exactly a good case study for voice driven menu systems.

I'm down for automating forwarding a customer to the correct department so they can get help. However, it seems to me that the mood that anyone calling a support line would inherently be in doesn't lend itself to making the customer feel supported by a computer who requires an argument, when a half decent receptionist could route calls better.

Decreasing inter-message delay (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540282)

I ran into a new variation on the 'getting you to hang up' theme the other day. The on-hold experience was the typical repetition of the phone tech's message barking, "we're so happy to have you as a customer, please hang on," followed by a period of Muzak. The new wrinkle is the length of the Muzak period decreased over time, until about 16 minutes in, it was a staccato alternation of the "we love you" message with a couple seconds of Muzak, and then back. First time they've gotten me to hang up, I'm usually more stubborn than that.

Easy Solution (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540506)

Asterisk Reverse Hold! [voip-info.org] You call them up and then put them on hold through your Asterisk system. It parks the call and plays a loop telling them not to hang up and to dial a number when you come off hold. Then it makes your phone ring and connects the call. Genius! And if they want to leave you on hold for a month, that's fine. At least as long as you come in through their 800 number...

Re:Easy Solution (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540758)

Yeah right. "Please hold the line for an important call." Really? I'm sure if it was that important an actual human will ring me next time ---call terminated---

Re:Easy Solution (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540982)

And having worked in tech. support, answering the phones, with a queue, if somebody tried that crap with me, I would release the call and take somebody else who actually waited to speak to me. When I actually had to worry about call metrics and such, that kind of call was perfect: no human on the other end of the line, 5 second call to lower my average and let me actually take the time to help people.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541388)

Well then the recorded/AI message just has to be a bit more intelligent.

And I daresay it doesn't have to be very intelligent or coherent given the "minimum grade of caller" that most call centers are not supposed to drop ;).

e.g. "Hello!, oops, sorry dropped my... *garbled*... OK, now where was ... oh not again... *garbled*... Now as I was saying... " .

Re:Decreasing inter-message delay (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540790)

Most of the companies (or companies' branches) around here play the local public radio station [mpbonline.org] instead of Muzak, presumably because they can get it for free. Since the station is either news or classical music, I'm pretty sure it's an attempt to drive folks off, but I'm a classically-trained violinist. I've happily listened to three movements of a Mozart symphony while on hold with (at the time) Bellsouth.

I hate Shaw.ca (3, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540286)


I called shaw.ca about my business account. After waiting for over 20 minutes a call center drone answered. Gave all my info then he asked for my business PIN. Huh? So he said he'd mail it to me and it would arrive within 5 minutes. "Can you wait for me to get it?" "NO, so, sorry, we're not allowed to wait." "So I have to wait 5 minutes then wait another 20 on hold at Shaw?"

I guess he didn't like that because the PIN never did arrive. Fuckers, I HATE SHAW.

Re:I hate Shaw.ca (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541570)

Shaw, Rogers, Telus. What do they have in common? They're all Canuck companies that suck beaver balls.

Well, shit. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540292)

I'm pretty sure that this is, second only to the one where earth is entirely reduced to a sphere of computronium surrounding the NYSE and hosting assorted expert-systems trading ever-more-baroque financial instruments with one another in obedience to the profit maximizing imperatives of programmers long dead, one of the more plausible scenarios for world-destroying-robot-apocalypse.

Corporate phone-menu-trees already contain a burning hatred for all mankind. Anything that encourages an unbounded increase in their complexity and sophistication is just begging for a skynet scenario accompanied by soothing, affectively flat, female voices and horribly insipid 'music'.

For free? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540304)

So how do they make any money off of this? Is it all ads on their website? Or do they throw in a short commercial before they connect your call? I'm pretty sure the companies whose phone "security" they're bypassing aren't paying them for the privilege.

Re:For free? (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540362)

I suspect the answer is ... "Fonolo places the call on your behalf, .." and charges at their rate not your normal rate ....

Re:For free? (5, Informative)

shaiberger (2300162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541020)

Hi there, CEO of Fonolo here.

Our consumer service is offered completely for free.

We make money from our enterprise product which you can read about at http://fonolo.com/ [fonolo.com]

Why do we offer the free service?
1) It promotes what we're doing (especially when we get slashdotted!)
2) It showcases our technology (the engine that runs the consumer service is also at the heart of the enterprise product)
3) It lets us try new features and learn about the best way to improve the call center experience.
4) We wanted it for ourselves!

- Shai

For Canadian ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540340)

That this service came out in Canada first is no surprise to me. Calling any corp here is painful at best.

Re:For Canadian ISPs (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540548)

Try calling a Canadian government number.. it's an endless maze of options with no real people

Re:For Canadian ISPs (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541422)

Soon both sides would just be AIs talking to each other.

And they might even be more intelligent than the humans they replaced :).

Voice 2.0? (4, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540384)

What the hell is a "voice 2.0 company"? Do I need to pay some type of a voice maintenance package to upgrade to voice 2.0? Where there any point releases to patch my voice 1.0 company that fixed bugs or maybe had some trivial new feature?

With 135 years between releases 1.0 and 2.0, they probably should speed up the release cycle some. Hopefully they don't pull a Mozilla and come out with voice 3.0 in three months and immediately EOL voice 2.0.

Re:Voice 2.0? (2)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540440)

Paul uses Voice 1.0, but Leto II uses Voice 2.0

Re:Voice 2.0? (1)

jensend (71114) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541036)

Yes, you do need a Voice Maintenance Package to upgrade to Voice 2.0 (tm). Please send in your old larynx packed in ice, $10.99 for shipping and handling, and 13 box tops from specially-marked boxes of Captain Crunch to receive your Voice 2.0 Upgrade.

I stopped reading at "Voice 2.0" (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540392)

because this is the first time I've heard that term and it sounds like marketing wank, therefore this is a slashvertisement.

Re:I stopped reading at "Voice 2.0" (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540544)

No kidding. The iPhone app the article mentions is rated 2 stars on the app store. Tons of complaints that it doesn't do what it is described to do.

Re:I stopped reading at "Voice 2.0" (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540612)

Voice 2.0 definitely sounds stupid. "Phones may be over a century old, but we need to make it sound hip and edgy, like the Web!"

Sounds like an awesome service, though. At least if they only call me once BigCompany actually picks up the phone. Because the endless waiting is usually the worst. So in what countries do they offer this? My fear is the US only.

Re:I stopped reading at "Voice 2.0" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541148)

Seeing as how it's a Toronto based company, I doubt it is US only.

What about companies that charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540402)

The article is lacking in some details, for example how do they deal with questionable practices like companies that charge you a per minute charge even when you are going through their phone tree or are on hold (like Microsoft customer support)?

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540438)

All they do is use the "shibboleet" backdoor.
http://xkcd.com/806/ [xkcd.com]

Should be an IP PBX standard (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540478)

Fonolo is providing an interesting service. By why not skip the middleman and make visual directory dialing part of the VOIP standard? Is it not already? It would save so much time and frustration by dialing with any smartphone and instantly be provided with a directory tree, hosted by an IP PBX.

Re:Should be an IP PBX standard (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541332)

The difference here at least is it looks like they navigate the phone system and stay on hold for you as opposed to directly dialing an agent. The visual directory as part of VOIP may be nice especially in an enterprise environment where they're not trying to screen people into hanging up.

Fonolo.. Toronto.. Trololo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540564)

Brain explodes.

Legality of recording the call? (1)

beschra (1424727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540572)

From TFA, this handy tool has an option to record the calls. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Re:Legality of recording the call? (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540786)

If the called party records the call, I don't think they can really argue if the caller does the same.

Re:Legality of recording the call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540916)

"This call may be recorded for quality control purposes" is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they're saying "we might record this call", on the other hand they could also be taken as saying "you're allowed to record this call".

Re:Legality of recording the call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540952)

No worries.. they give you explicit permission at the start of most calls:
"For quality assurance, This call may be recorded or monitored.."
Thanks!

That will cause delays (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540614)

That f*cks up the CRM caller id/customer record lookup that is automatically kicked off when an agent answers as its that canadian companies caller id that will show up. The agents will have to do a manual lookup and ask more questions to verify the customer identity.

Re:That will cause delays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540646)

Which they ASK and do anyway.

How many times have you called in. Punched in a bunch of numbers. Just to have the operator say 'what are the numbers'....

Re:That will cause delays (1)

protactin (206817) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540824)

Yeah, I'm sure they have never have thought of that problem...

Or, if you just read their website, it says that the company gets the customer's CLI as normal.

The Phone Wars Are On (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540780)

At least that's what it looks like to me. Of course some companies have a complicated menu and a (long) hold loop on a premium rate number, and that's where any technical solution will fail. $20 just to listen to some hold music? Unfortunately that is no longer inconceivable, it is actually quite common.

I like the idea but (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540810)

My local Phone company formerly known as SBC has a system where it answers the phone and asks you to enter your account number, the last 4 of your social, your phone number, the house or street number, then state your last name. After which it gives you a menu, press 1 for etc. etc. However, when it says "Please hold for the next available representative" It clicks a few times then transfers you to a busy signal. You are forced to hang up and call back and answer all the questions again. When I got hold of someone at the phone company they told me that a new study was done that showed that people felt uncomfortable when calling the phone company and getting a busy signal. Thus they created the system so that no one would get a busy signal when they call in. I wonder how the Fonolo system would handle having to enter all the user identifying data.

Re:I like the idea but (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541458)

I don't know about other people but I'd prefer a busy signal until something or preferably someone is ready to answer my call.

I feel more uncomfortable waiting for ages while hearing "your call is important to us", and eventually getting dropped with "sorry all <whatever> are busy".

Stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541160)

This is the stupidest business I have ever heard of.

Cloudy (1)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541382)

Fonolo's cloud-based visual dialing solutions

This might be the most egergious use of "cloud" I've seen yet.

How Original (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541446)

I've been using lucyphone.com to do this for a couple years, now.

Sitting in the menu costs them, too (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541608)

You're still using the company's phone time when you're sitting in their menu. Someone should design a system that takes the most obfuscated path through the menu possible, just so that the call costs more money to the company you're calling. Perhaps set it up to spend 5 or more minutes going back and forth needlessly through menus, just to drive up their costs so that they aren't saving money with the menu system anymore?

It isn't that far from what I've done to some unwelcomed telemarketers. If they leave me a voicemail with a callback number, I'll call that number anytime I find a payphone, and waste their time as much as possible just to drive up their costs.
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