Jul 28 2010
The other day I had to call, like, my insurance company or something, and, well, you know how it goes. The rules of physics and logic made it simply impossible to talk to a human within a reasonable amount of time. Impossible! It was very frustrating, and I won’t dwell on it because a) it’s not healthy, and b) it’s not exactly news to you, loyal reader. But it really does make you wonder. Specifically, why do businesses intentionally try to avoid customers? Why do they create all these hoops and mazes and labyrinths? Perhaps it’s not my place to understand their logic.
The idealist in me, however, imagines there are a bunch of businesses out there, who, y’know, actually want to engage with their clients. I don’t know, maybe even make money, generate leads, and increase online sales. If you’re a member of this rare breed, then Fonize is just what the doctor ordered.
Fonize is simple. It’s a widget that can be embedded on any website to allow visitors to call the site owner or company. The calls are made directly from their computers (using their micro), and don’t require any downloads or installations. The basic plan is free, with options to upgrade for unlimited calls, more phone numbers, and longer talk times. They also have an industrial strength Sales+ package geared towards a team of people all responding to calls.
On the home page, I was prompted to preview it for myself. You just type in your company website and phone number and take it for a ride. I did that very thing, using SlapStart as my business; the proof is in the pudding. Check out the screen shot below- or, check out the bottom right of this page. I put the embed code in this article. It’s no different than embedding a Youtube video or pictures of Shirley Bassey. Note that I intentionally set it to leave a message, though if I were anticipating calls I could send them straight to my phone. As a user, all’s you gotta do is click it, and, if your microphone is properly configured, you’re calling. Talk about easy access.
The client can choose whether to use the “Flash Button” (pictured above) or a “Click to Call” button. The Click To Call button appears in a configurable pop-up window. You can change the logo background, logo title, the background of the body, and the text, to match your site design. On top of that, the admin menu has the following useful features. The first one is my favorite, though the third is a close second. (pun not intended…)
- Can specify working hours and timezone (so you don’t receive phone calls at 3AM in the morning!)
- There’s a call history tab, to keep track of who contacted you.
- The Click to Call and Flash call widgets can be configured from the admin interface without touching a single line of code. You install it once to your website, and can customize the button later.
Fonize goes after the Bermuda Triangle of online commerce: the web site visitor who goes to the site (so far so good), but doesn’t “convert” into a sale (not so good.) I don’t have the stats handy – my intern is at a permaculture workshop – but I’d venture to hazard to guess that the ability to increase online sales is an enormous opportunity for growth for online businesses. Small-to-medium sized businesses can both generate leads and increase their closing ratio by being able to connect with the customer before they leave the site.
There’s one noticeable feature too Fonize’s homepage- it has all the information about their service on just one page. No tabs, menu bars, nothing! It’s actually nice not to have to navigate around to look for details about the service. That said, I found myself scrolling a bit. Perhaps put the Pricing piece on a separate page, as well as the FAQs.
One elephant in the room must be mentioned about this service however. Fonize- pronounced “Phone- Eyes”, looks very much like Fonzie. Like, Fonzie from Happy Days. Aka, “The Fonz.” What a cool dude. Remember when he’d just hit the jukebox with his fist and it’d turn on? How’d he do that?*
* That said, I always considered him somewhat of a semi-tragic figure. Emotionally impenetrable, afraid of love, etc. Textbook case.