You pick up your cell phone to dial a number which belongs to your bank. You hear a message specifying that you should listen carefully as menu options have changed. So you pay attention as your fingers traverse the new menus, and after about four layers of them, you find the option you want. Then you’re put on hold. Still holding. Continue to hold. Finally, you hang up after listening to muzak for 40 minutes. But you try again, except this time you go straight for the zero key.
Without the pons Varolii you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all of that. The pons Varolii ties the part of our brain that controls motor skills to the part that learns and reasons. And Seattle-based Varolii Corporation aims to excel at learning and reasoning — or become the “decisioning engine,” as a representative described the core product — in the niche area of intelligent automatic multichannel notifications.
We used to call these systems simply as dialers, later on dressed ’em up some more as “predictive” dialers. These were the systems which notoriously interrupted your dinners and tried to sell you long distance service. But not just sales and marketing benefited from them as debt collection departments also used them to hound deadbeats. These dialers often just required a call list for it to make outbound calls, and the fancy types had screen-pops enabled when a caller is connected.
Fast forward to present day and what Varolii offers go beyond just dialing. The brain (no pun intended) behind its solutions is Varolii ID:
It automatically captures and stores the outcomes of each individual interaction, providing you with data on such things as customers’ payment histories, times of day they normally answer calls, language preferences, payment options, preferred device and channels (email, text message, etc.) and much more.
By capturing all this data the system can construct a detailed profile of the customer. And in this business, the more you know about a customer, the more profitable your interaction will be, inbound or outbound. In other words, cater to the customer’s preferences and historical behavior, then he or she would be more likely and more willing to help reach your goal.
The platform is offered in the cloud and can even throttle resources based on how busy the inbound contact center is. Currently the supported channels are voice, fax, email, and SMS. I know what you’re thinking — what about new channels like social media and IM? I’m told that’s being looked at. (But really, today’s social media all tie into email and SMS anyway.)
I also noticed that its Website lists no public sector customers — one area I’d thought would greatly benefit from notification technology. I think that’s definitely a market to sell more Varolii systems, as citizens nowadays expect more interaction from their municipal agencies. These government agencies can also realize cost savings and enhance their “brands” by proactively pushing notifications instead of waiting for citizens to jam its IVR lines during an event. Hopefully there were some ACCE attendants in the public sector looking to evaluate something like Varolii’s solutions.
As long as Varolii ID doesn’t evolve into something even more intelligent, gets rebranded as SkyNet and use killer robots as a new channel of interaction, I think I can live with it. After all, I do appreciate the moments when my airline calls to inform me of flight delays, even though it leaves out the part that it’s the airline’s fault.