Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Next Caller, a customer service call center tool announced that it has integrated with Zendesk in a bid to expand its customer base. It also announced that it has acquired information on 180 million phone numbers, improving the dataset that it depends on to vend information to call centers.
Next Caller has a twin value proposition: For businesses, it saves them time – and therefore cash – per service call; for consumers, wait times to speak to a human are reduced to essentially zero, and the company called has most of their information on file, ready to go when they dial in.
Next Caller picks up consumer data in two ways, primarily through the data sets that it has acquired. This allows it to offer call centers a pingable service that can bring up information about the phone number that is calling in, saving time. However, Next Caller is also built for consumer opt-in: A regular person such as you or I joins Next Caller, providing it with our name and address, which it then links to client call centers. You the user are shot to the front of the line, and your call should end up taking less time.
The company has one other trick up its sleeve that might prove useful: A web form that pre-collects consumer information directly before they call in, lowering the friction of providing normal information once on the call. It’s better to type your phone number than repeat it 4 times to a rep.
The question is whether you are comfortable handing off your personal information to a third-party in hopes that the next call center you dial will have partnered with Next Caller. If you spend much of your time on such calls, it might make sense. Though, I suspect that Next Caller will do more of its business based on the database model it is also pursuing through the bulk acquisition of data as opposed to through any form of opt-in effort. Customer acquisition costs in the latter model will be material.
Next Caller charges $0.10 per database ping. Even if it only provides the limited information that its record database can deliver, it should be well worth the purchase for the average call center. Full costs of picking up a customer’s information can run as high as $2 per call, according to the firm.
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Next Caller is working in a pain-point heavy space with a number of ideas in hand to crack the market. If it can cut wait times, lower business costs, and protect privacy each at once, that will be an accomplishment.
Questions And Answers
Q: What about this is defensible?
A: We have a patent pending, so we’ll know about that in four to five years.
Q: How do already have so much information?
A: We license it directly from carriers, and have a data cleaning deal.