Word Numbers, the company which offers "unforgettable phone numbers", generated by Telkom's SmartAccess service, has launched a service that allows people to call a single telephone number from anywhere in the country and be routed to the subscribing service provider closest to them.
The service makes use of Telkom's hosted network interactive voice response (NIVR) service with call steering ability to automatically reroute calls within the network.
This service is based on a Genesys VoiceGenie IVR platform deployed in Telkom's network to allow in-network call routing.The network IVR was supplied to Telkom by Intelleca, a division of the Bytes Technology Group.
A Word Number, or Call Word, is a telephone number that spells out a word, such as 0861-FLORIST, making it easy for people to call a service provider even if they do not know of one in their area.
The service was developed with the assistance of Telkom's SmartAccess service and Intelleca.
"Telkom's SmartAccess offering was the first step in directing callers to a service provider in their area," says Chris Cochrane, call automation and speech technology manager at Intelleca. "Using the basic SmartAccess offering, a client can call an 0861 number relevant to their needs, such as 0861 LOCKSMITH, and be routed via a simple selection tree to the closest locksmith."
Word Numbers encountered a problem when launching the service, however, when people called in from a cell phone. While the SmartAccess system works perfectly for those calling on a Telkom landline, it could not identify the location of the cell phone caller due to the mobile numbering scheme not being location-specific.
"Our product was severely restricted in terms of the service we could provide if we could not handle cell phone calls," says Word Numbers MD Mark Pratt. "Fortunately, Intelleca was able to come up with a solution that presents callers with a short menu to quickly determine where they are and then transfer them to the right service provider.
"This made the solution viable nationwide and we are able to route people dialling 0861 FLORIST, for example, to 190 florists based around South Africa."
The nationwide solution has seen Word Numbers increasing its potential customer base 19-fold, as each number can now be used 190 times. Companies subscribing to the Word Numbers facility can ensure they are the first company called in the region they operate in, even if the caller has never heard of that particular business.
Additionally, those companies with multiple branches can consolidate all their telephone numbers into only one Word Number that will automatically route callers to the branch closest to the caller.
The company's research shows that Word Numbers are 14 times easier to remember than regular phone numbers because people remember words much easier than numbers.