Innovation That Matters

Automated phone system for small businesses


Automated phone systems tend to be found primarily in large businesses, owing largely to their expense and the technology that must be installed. FonGenie, on the other hand, targets retail and small businesses with a web-based system that not only handles routine calls but offers sales help and analytics as well. Companies that sign up with FonGenie get access to a website with graphical user interface that’s used to type in the automated responses they’d like the system to use to answer calls. The system uses text-to-speech technology so no voice recording is necessary, and menus can be customised on the fly to reflect things like daily specials—such changes can even be made via mobile phone or Twitter. Advanced analytics features, meanwhile, provide a data mining engine that continually monitors every aspect of telephone traffic. Callers’ behaviour is automatically highlighted, with charts and reports showing the number of calls during a particular time frame, the most-listened-to specials and more. The result, FonGenie says, is that businesses can make changes to better serve customers’ preferences. FonGenie is best used by service-oriented retailers that receive between 40 and 100 phone calls a day, company founder James Im told VentureBeat, and it typically produces revenue increases of about 15 percent. The California-based service is currently free to use for US companies. While there’s no doubt that a timely response by a real human being is still the best option for serving customers, FonGenie could provide a smart runner-up for small businesses that are short on staff. One to try out—or help bring to recession-beleaguered small businesses in the rest of the world? (Related: Online service cuts through phone menus.)



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