Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Vonjour: Turning Your Phone Into A Customer Support Center
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
For many employers, all those employee smartphones are a huge IT headache. However, what if you could take advantage of those ubiquitous smart devices, and turn that into a huge asset for your company? Vonjour (www.vonjour.com), a Los Angeles startup, has developed a cloud-based customer support and phone system which, in addition to handling all of a company's usual enterprise phone needs--also lets employers harness employee smartphones to deal with customer support issues, make calls, and interact with customers directly from a mobile app. We spoke with co-founder Daniel Tawfik about Vonjour.
What is Vonjour?
Daniel Tawfik: Vonjour is a cloud-based phone system for enhanced, customer support service. With Vonjour, someone can get a Cisco-level, enterprise phone system within five minutes, and have it accessible on their smartphone. They can manage all of their customer contacts, create customer profiles, and be able to message their customer through SMS and web-based push notification. It's really a service to orchestrate all of a company's customer support and inbound inquiries.
Why would a company need your service?
Daniel Tawfik: We found, from our own experience at our previous company, we ended up with four different customer support channels. We found that we were really providing our customers with a discontinuous conversation, as they might have come in through chat, through SMS, or phone. However, each time they engaged us through a new channel, they might have to repeat their conversation. What Vonjour does is it ncorporates those multiple channels into a very holistic, customer support platform. Rather than having a system for your phone, one for SMS, and so on, we've put all of those into one solution, which really enhances the experience of their customer base.
Can you talk about your background and the background of your other founders?
Daniel Tawfik: We all come from a telecom background. We started a company called CallFire, which made SMS and voice automation tools for sales and marketing teams. We saw this need while we were there, trying to support our own customers. That's what inspired us to make our own contact center solution, which is able to handle voice, SMS, email, and chat in one solution--so we could have our own system to support our customers.
What's your customer sweet spot?
Daniel Tawfik: Anyone who has a customer support team or operations team. Our biggest customers have an operations team which is taking inbound phone calls all day, and they need to manage those customer contacts. Ideally, it's a web-based business with a phone number on their web site, where they need to constantly engage with their customer, field customer inquires, and need to create a ticket around each customer contact.
There are a lot of other systems out there for handling customer support calls, what advantage do you have?
Daniel Tawfik: We really have taken the approach of providing an enhanced, customer support experience. We have not simply created a commoditized solution around voice and around the telephone call. What you really can do, is manage the customer. In our system you can create a customer profile, and you can fill out data on how well your team is engaging with customers. It's more of an intelligent system and customer management tool, built on top of a phone system. It's a contact center solution.
How are you funded and backed?
Daniel Tawfik: We've taken some funding recently, and are continuing to close our round. We should be done in the next month or so, and we'll discuss that more when we close our investors.
Finally, what's next for you?
Daniel Tawfik: We just released our iPhone app, and we're going to be releasing our Android applicatoin as well. We're truly enabling customers to get rid of all of their hardware, so that employees can come into work, turn on their app, and manage all of their customer support calls, conference calls with sales prospects, and more, all from a mobile app. It's aimed at enabling the next phase of Bring-Your-Own-Device.