The Revolution of Customer Service Phone Systems
Beginning around 2008, there was a big push to "automate" customer service stalwarts such as call-centers, help desks and the like. These entities came into existence in the first place because when you need help, you tend to go to someone. But websites offered the opportunity to simply post FAQs––which are often very helpful––but are not a replacement for customer service. To make matters worse for consumers, companies began making it difficult to even find their customer service or other direct phone numbers. The result was that websites like Dial A Human and GetHuman sprang up. These sites collect, track and catalog not only phone numbers you might need if you want to speak to a real person––they offer tips such as "Press the 0 key 3 times to bypass the company directory".
Where there is a need, there is a solution.
A quick query in Google Trends of "customer service phone number" over time clearly shows that beginning in 2008, across the board, the public was increasingly struggling to find out how to talk to a real person in customer service. This marks the beginning of trouble.
I Robot: The Future Arrived, and It had an Attitude
The next phase of customer service automation was to program chatbots and voicebots to do it. But this hit a wall in about 2017. One thing became evident: chatbots and voicebots have definite limitations in their ability to interact with humans. In 2018 people found out that if you ask Siri to define "mother", she responded with profanity! Siri's response was no doubt linked to her interpretation of the question, based on her artificial intelligence (or obvious lack of it). Wow. So what went so wrong with AI? Now it was not only the problem of the unpredictability of AI, but of course that certain something that's really creepy everyone has noted about voicebots: Their inability to deliver the right inflection to avoid seeming: curt, flippant, saccharine, patronizing, sarcastic or just plain bitchy. OK, let me tell you, when I need a simple question answered or real customer service, the last thing I will tolerate is someone coping an attitude with me. Voicebots are chatbots with a load of bad attitude, just by the tone of their voice.
Innovations in handling Inbound Calls
So we've come full circle: Human beings once again are answering the phone to help other human beings solve problems, make appointments, or buy stuff. This has put front and center the importance of not only handling inbound phone traffic smoothly and efficiently with nice, friendly people, but the importance of realizing you can be marketing to them in the process. PhoneNetix is a suite of two products: Auto Attendant with SmartAds, and Smart OnHold. These two products can be integrated with most business VoIP phone systems, and while the term SmartAds and Smart OnHold might suggest Artificial Intelligence, no AI is involved. With PhoneNetix, simplicity and logical application is what makes it future-proof. PhoneNetix allows companies to market to their inbound callers simply by placing produced but quick ads in both the auto attendant and message on hold system. This allows companies to promote their latest products and services, or even answer questions, before the call is connected to its destination, all with a friendly voiceover and the right music to throw a vibe. And the fact that PhoneNetix utilizes the superior functionality of VoIP systems makes it a great add for business that values its inbound phone traffic.
The PhoneNetix Smart Components
First, let's visualize a simple inbound call to a restaurant. The caller would like to order take out, but because their driving, using the mobile website menu won't work without pulling over. A click-to-call button bypasses the need to fiddle with ordering via a menu. The call is connected, but instead of a waitress shouting "Would you like to try today's special, blah blah?" over the noisy background clatter of the restaurant, a short 4 second ad plays, featuring a professional voiceover, groovy music, and the restaurant's audio logo. The ad is for this week's special––something the restaurant is eager to move. In a flash, the ad is over, and the call is forwarded to the live order taker. The restaurant no longer has to worry if the order taker can be understood clearly because she's rattling off the "today's special" line so fast the caller doesn't know what she actually said. And with a live order taker doing a sales pitch, forget about any magic happening in that noisy environment––she's likely shouting, which kinda kills the vibe the restaurant wants to present. PhoneNetix auto attendant ads are branded SmartAds, and are a much more elegant, and controllable way to promote this weeks special. And in the event the staff is momentarily too busy to take the call, the caller is placed on hold, where instead of a pop music track, another vibey ad plays. More about that in a moment.
PhoneNetix auto attendant SmartAds can work for any type of business that feels it will benefit from marketing to its inbound callers. The ads are produced like any other, and can be customized for specific lines within a business phone system. Meaning that if you have a sales line and a customer service line, separate ads can be placed in each line that pertain to why people call, and what they are looking for when they do.
Music On Hold becomes Marketing On Hold
The second element to PhoneNetix is a new spin on the old "music on hold" and "message-on-hold" systems. PhoneNetix brands this Smart OnHold. Old message-on-hold systems use either hardware players to inject an audio stream into the phone lines for people waiting on hold, or music received via satellite or internet. Muzak is probably the oldest recognized name in the business. These systems are cumbersome, expensive––and completely unnecessary in the new age of VoIP business phone systems. VoIP operates via the Cloud, so content such as commercial ads and music require no hardware to function. The VoIP host provider simply uploads content to a server, where it does its thing when calls are connected and/or placed on hold. The efficiency of cloud-based content also means that content can be easily updated. In fact, many VoIP companies allow customers to log into their accounts and add their own content at will. And of course, there's never the worry that a hardware player injecting music into the on-hold system will fail, and callers hear nothing but silence, only to wonder if they're still connected.
The content for your business's on-hold system should be much more than piped-in music, of course. This is an opportunity to prep callers for inbound sales. Short, fun and to-the-point ads are what PhoneNetix produces and intends you to drop into your on-hold system. And while your customers might experience a very short hold time, even a mere 15 seconds is enough to play them an ad with a sizzling CTA (call to action) that can drive your hottest product or service. PhoneNetix Smart OnHold can also embed FAQs, meaning a customer service line has the chance to answer the question someone is calling about before the call is even connected––reducing caller engagement times and lessening the burden on your staff or call center.
PhoneNetix lets its customers choose the musical genre they feel creates the best vibe for callers waiting on the line. The music is entirely instrumental, and not what you hear on the radio. While companies like Muzak have traditionally pushed pop music, it's impossible to predict what flavor of pop a given caller will love––or absolutely hate. PhoneNetix Smart OnHold doesn't focus on music, but rather music to enhance the vibe of the ad and information content callers hear. That's because PhoneNetix's is a marketing tool––and not a reseller of pop music, which makes is what makes their products much greater value to business.