Click-to-call has long been touted for its promise of bringing together the targeting efficiencies of online and the familiarity of traditional phone customer service. For the vast majority of Web marketers, unable to install expensive proprietary systems, however, as Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone, discusses below, the promise of synergy between these two powerful direct marketing channels has remained unrealized.
Behavioral Insider: Click-to-call or click-to-talk is something we've been hearing about for awhile. What are the prospects for developing enhanced targeting for mid-market companies? Large enterprises can mine CRM data, but that's really expensive and been out of reach for most marketers
Irv Shapiro: We think of ourselves as an instant telephone application service. There's an incredible amount of money being spent by so many mid-market firms to drive traffic to their Web sites -- but once customers get there, consumers have one big question that so far hasn't been addressed. And it's ‘who can I talk to?' Click to call was meant to address that, but what's been lacking is an easy platform to deploy telephone technology in a way that's truly fast, customizable and dynamic, bringing Google speed to the phone. Among Web developers, the telephone has been the Rodney Dangerfield of mediums, so it's remained a backwater.
BI:How does your platform work?
Shapiro: People see an ad on a Web site or click a search term and then click a call button on the site and put a phone number in a pop-up and the platform immediately calls them. Based on their interests and intentions as inferred from the search terms or where they clicked on the ad, they're asked specific questions about location, demographics and interests. Using the click to call feature, customers get connected to an IVR (Interactive voice response) and prompted with questions. Based on these answers, they're offered very detailed and customizable pathways to further content and offers. Another option is to customize the messaging by whatever's the most comfortable mode, whether it's speech to text to text to speech. The telephone and the Web have been on separate developmental tracks, but the two together can be far more powerful than either alone.
BI: And this can be tied into other data?
Shapiro: Yes. The data is stored and profiles can be built on variable segmentation criteria. You can also tie call data into back-end CRM systems in real time. And it doesn't take advanced programming skills.
BI: Could you give me an example of how a customer could be targeted based on responses and interests?
Shapiro: You could have a caller who came in via a search for a Chevy. You can immediately initiate a line of questioning based on that knowledge. If you learn they are a mother of two, you can call up information about 4-door vehicles with child safety features, or mini-vans. Where this becomes really powerful is when the user id is tied to a database. With a repeat customer, once you obtain their customer ID. you can post that back to your Web server and look up the customer's last order. You can see that the mother calling in my example is a long funnel shopper who needs a lot of information and hand-holding. So she'll need to be routed to a dealer not only on the basis of geography but one that represents and knows how to sell minivans.
BI: What short-term goals do you have for the platform?
To marketers the telephone has been a black box, consequently not very creatively used. The goal is to help redefine the way marketers look at the call center and its potential.