Improving the Customer Experience? Fonolo’s Shai Berger

Welcome to this special podcast. Why special? Well, this was actually a challenge from Xania who challenged me to a video podcast. This was actually much harder than I ever thought it might be. I made many mistakes in production as my workflow for podcasting was still under construction and adding video was, well it felt like the Olympic finals.

Interview right before Christmas then my end needed redoing while in Muscat, Oman from my hotel room. No idea what the cleaning crew thought of the equipment I had there. So here is the program. Great interview partner. We will hook back up again to see how they are doing. Thanks for visiting. /Andrew

Improving the Customer Experience? An interview with Fonolo’s CEO Shai Berger

Companies are having a hard time in delivering good service.

Berger: There is this growing gap in what is seen as the norm on one side but has not been met from the other. Many companies are hobbled by legacy call center equipment. Customers today using their phones, their smart phones it must seem like something from another era when they finally come through to an agent and have to repeat their answers to multiple agents. There is a huge potential here.

What part of this experience is Fonolo trying to address?

Berger:There are 3 main problems; phone menus, waiting on hold & repeating information to agents. We are working to solve these main problems across the web no matter how they approach the companies.

How does Fonolo fit into this mix? Where does Fonolo play?

Berger: We build on top of those processes already in place. There is a huge investment already in place and we place ourselves on top. the key to make that work is the simple callback. Fonolo sits in the middle to manage that process. One way this is done is by placing a widget on the website. the customer sees the contact us page and the visual interface  let s the customer chose how they want to interact with the company and ask for a callback when they are ready. Behind the scene is Fonolo making the inbound call to the call center. The call center sees the call like any other inbound call.  We navigate the IVR and wait in queue. The agent gets a regular inbound call, we place the callback then to the customer, bridge the two together and the customer has this great experience and nothing had to change on the call center side.

So there’s little change or no change on the contact center side needed?

Berger: Right, people have set up Fonolo in a matter of days. The customer adds the widget to the website and Fonolo navigates the IVR as a gateway to the call center. The same is the case for mobile apps. Lots of companies have mobile apps. This is a huge trend in customer service. You can add a Fonolo component to the mobile app it does the same process. It is a visual representation of the IVR. They tap the choice they need and some time later a callback is made to the customer.

So, this is a solution which does not sit on premise right?

Berger: It is a cloud based service which makes it easy to deploy and makes pricing very low. We have companies with 5 agents which use our solution at $100/month. This is nothing really new. There are solutions from Avaya “Callback Assist” and Cisco has “Courtesy Callback” but these have been totally out of reach for smaller companies. These are much too expensive for them and here at Fonolo we wanted to make this the “norm” for them as well.

Come back to the top, you mentioned this 2013 would be a watershed year in customer care. What do you think will make for change this year?

Berger: There are a few macro trends playing here and one of the big ones is the smart phone revolution. We’ve hit a tipping point with just a few months ago we’ve passed 50% smart phone penetration here in the US. So, when a platform becomes so ubiquitous it is hard for companies to ignore the kind of advantages you can have for your company by using this platform. I always cringe when I got to a mobile app which has all this functionality and then there is a “contact us” tab and they just have their regular phone number. You are throwing away all the functionality that platform is giving you. So my vision is that within a few years there should be no smart phone apps doing this anymore.

If you have a smartphone app it should be a lot smarter than just displaying the 1800 number

What is your wish for 2013?

Berger: We need a change in attitude among the larger companies. The bigger banks, airlines, retailer need to recognise this value, We have had a long trend of looking for the cheapest way to serve customers. We need to see a change to invest in the technology and enable the agents to better serve the customer.  

How we can find out more about Fonolo.

Video link on YouTube:




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