Ifbyphone does something very very simple. They automate phone calls. The process of automation can be done with pretty much any phone call.
“Lets say for example you wanted to have a toll free number, an 800 number or even a local number for your business, and when your customer called that number, you wanted to take their caller ID and automatically look up if they have any orders outstanding with your business and if they did, you wanted to tell them when those orders would ship,” said Irv Shapiro, CEO & CTO of Ifbyphone, in response to how the automation works.
Previously companies were using a call center to do this and it was costing them $20, $30, $40 an hour depending if it was onshore or offshore. Any company can do this using automated technology for about $3 an hour. So from the very first month, you save money.
But let’s say also the company wanted someone to say “Operator,” “Agent,” “Help Me” at any time, and then you wanted that call transferred to your office or even better yet, transferred to people at home because one out of 10 Americans is looking for work today. All of this is possible and furthermore you could build a home-based call center very inexpensively.
What is Cloud Telephony
In today’s world of cloud computing, we have a concept called time sharing, people sharing large computer resources. By sharing these large computer resources, a company is able to save everybody money.
So in today’s world of cloud computing there are a couple different models we could simplify it by saying there’s the model where you rent computer time but you bring all your own programs, that would be the Amazon Model. And then there’s the model where you rent programs and you can customize those programs and integrate those programs with your business, Salesforce is a good example of this method.
Irv Shapiro goes on to share that “what changed was in the last three decades, more and more people bought equipment and they put that equipment in their businesses. And it was attached to the telephone system and maybe your business was big enough that there was the Telephone Guy who was the only one in that business that knew how to maintain the telephone system.”
One of the major advantages of replacing a networked phone system with a system in the cloud is that software updates are automatic, your system does not become obsolete, there are engineers on call 24/7 so it’s a totally different level of service. Irv Shapiro stresses that this is where Ifbyphone excels in service.
When asked how Ifbyphone ranks differently from other VoIP companies, he responds, “Ifbyphone allows small to medium sized businesses to do the things with the telephone that very large businesses routinely do. So if you call your stock broker or if you call your airline or if you call a very large mass retailer in all likelihood they are using some kind of automated telephone system to process your order. It’s more cost effective, and work works more rapidly for you.”
Getting Over the Fear by Saving Dollars
One of Ifbyphone’s customers is an organization called Go Configure. They are a small to medium organization that most people have never heard of. If you go to a big box retailer and you buy a bicycle and you say to the salesperson “I don’t think I want to put this together, can you have somebody put this together for me?” they will say “sure, we’ll send somebody to your home once you’re bicycle gets there.” Go Configure is that company that no only fields the customers calls, but also has the second side, the installer calls.
What they found that on average they had to make 5 phone calls to make sure the consumer was going to be home at the right time and that the installer was going to be there at the right time. And they have replaced that all with automated telephone applications from Ifbyphone. So they expect within their first year that they will have saved $70,000. They will be able to take two people who were just making phone calls all day long, on average 5 calls to set up every appointment, those 2 people will be able to do other things for their business.
“Saving money and resource is what is important to companies today,” responds Irv Shapiro when questioned as to what is the most important factor of moving to unique services such as these.
What is the broader vision of the industry itself? Is technology growing with the customer’s need?
Irv Shapiro seems to think that there are two parts to that answer. The first part is of course technology is moving faster. Google is a 12 year old company with hundreds of billions of dollars of market value making billions of dollars every year. They’ve done it for a dozen years, that’s unheard of in the history of commerce.
Technology is moving faster, the challenge is that when tech moves quickly it usually leaves people behind in its wake because not everyone can move at light speed. Some people need a little time to absorb things. Things have to be put in their perspective.
Ifbyphone’s goal is to make it so easy that if you know how to use email, you now know how to set up your own phone application; you know how to route phone calls; you know how to set up interactive phone dialogue; you know how to do voice based phone messages; because we’re going to make it as easy as reading your email.
So you do have to be computer comfortable to use their technology, but the challenge is not the rate of changes in technology, its taking that technology and making it so easy that anybody can use it.