August 05, 2005

A New VoIP Service

A week back somebody tagged an old news item in The news item talks about a service offered by a company called thinkingVoice. A customer of thinkingVoice will place a specially scripted link in its web page. When a visitor clicks on the link, thinkingVoice serves a specialized form that can be filled by the visitor. The form collects the phone number at which the visitor can be reached and the collected information is delivered to the customer. In short, the idea is thinkingVoice connects a visitor to a human operator. According to thinkingVoice, this service provides personalized service, creates repeat customers, inspires buyer confidence, without the need for costly toll-free numbers and works with any phone.

After a free trial period, there is a monthly service charge of $7 and $0.15 per minute. This fee is more than double what I pay to AT&T as a consumer ($0.07 per minute). On top of this, the visitor can select a privacy option under which thinkingVoice will not deliver the phone number of the visitor. I don’t think this is possible for normal toll-free calls. But the biggest drawback of this scheme is that it requires the visitor to fill out the pop-up form with the phone number. I would imagine the user might as well punch in the number on the phone.

Now VoIP service providers (especially PhoneGnome and other “fixed location” providers) can offer a similar service at a much better price and that does not require the visitor to fill-out a pop-up form. This can be done very simply, but at this time I have to leave out the details for obvious reasons. (Hey there has to be a business model for this blog at some point.) Since this call is a normal “Out” call, it needs to be charged accordingly, which will be comparable to the favorable toll-free calls. Or, following the model of thinkingVoice, a premium can be charged. Then probably Mr. Cuban may even be interested in investing in the service provider.

Posted by aswath at August 5, 2005 01:44 AM
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