Every minute of every day, somewhere, someone is pounding on their keyboard, or screaming at their computer, “How do I contact the people behind this web site, or this blog?” Too many web sites make it difficult for viewers to connect.
Later that same day you might become frustrated because the emails you sent to a business associate or friend landed in the black hole of a SPAM folder. Or maybe you were away from your computer and the screen on your phone is just too small to read, but you need to check on the delivery of the sofa you just ordered. If you call the sofa company they will put you on hold, forever. You just want to know the date of the delivery – why should this be so hard?
All of these examples are easily solved by better utilizing the everyday, plain old telephone. Telephones are everywhere today, at home, at work, in our pockets. Phone mashups combine the intimacy of the telephone with the efficiency of the web. In the examples above, you could provide a web site visitor with a Click-to-Call that connects the viewer’s telephone to your telephone. You could use an automated Voice Broadcast to send messages to your customers. With an Interactive Voice Response system, the sofa company could provide you with instant customer service while saving on staff and reducing costs.So why doesn’t every small business, web site creator, or blog author integrate their web world with their viewers’ telephones?
While the VoiceXML and CCXML standards have driven down the cost of custom IVR, these solutions are still too complex and expensive for many independent developers and small businesses. Many Click-to-Call solutions now available in the marketplace tend to be limited in flexibility. Phone mashups require flexibility.Phone mashup APIs need to be usable by any web developer with basic web form coding skills. In essence, the phone mashup API should replace web forms with voice forms.Ifbyphone provides a very flexible family of APIs (we call them Ifbyphone Glue) that includes the ability to:
- Initiate a traditional Click-to-Call between two parties
- Initiate a Click-to-Virtual Receptionist
- Initiate a Click-to-VoiceMail
- Initiate a Click-to a full featured interactive voice response system
- Initiate a Click-to a Find Me with full recording capabilities
Ifbyphone APIs also support the scheduling of voice broadcast messages, reminder calls, and wake up calls.In addition to initiating telephone connections from a web site, the communications facilitated by the Ifbyphone hosted platform may be activated from a telephone call. When someone calls into an Ifbyphone provisioned telephone number their call can be:
- Routed based on the caller ANI (caller ID)
- Routed based on the time of day and day of week
- Routed to a voice mail account
- Routed to a find me
- Routed to a virtual receptionist
- Routed to an interactive voice response application (IVR)
Ifbyphone IVR applications can be thought of as voice forms. If you know how to build a web site that uses a form to collect information, processes the information, and then displays another form, you know how to build a phone mashup.
SurVo Voice Forms\*\* are created at the Ifbyphone web site and then invoked by an API or telephone call. A voice form consists of prerecorded or text-to-speech prompts and questions that are played for a caller, and then allows their responses to be recorded or converted into text.
When the caller reaches the end of a voice form, the Ifbyphone platform passes control to a web page you create. This web page can be hosted on any server, coded in any language and secured or unsecured. Your web page will receive the data collected via the telephone dialog (voice form) as a post or get in the same way you would collect information from an HTML form.
Once you have the data you can write it to a database, use it to query another web source, or process it in just the same way you would process information collected from any other form. After processing, your web page outputs an XML file which tells the Ifbyphone platform what to do next. The next step can be another voice form, a find me, a virtual receptionist or even to just hang up the telephone. Data provided by your web page can be read to the caller or can be used to determine the next set of questions asked.
There is no limit to the number of voice forms or the number of transitions between your web pages and the Ifbyphone infrastructure.
To summarize, the Ifbyphone Glue (API) supports the combination of information accessible from the web for presentation via voice on any telephone. All Ifbyphone services use real telephones and do not rely on desktop computer based VOIP services.
\*\*The name SurVo comes from the fact that initially this technology was built for creating customer surveys.