What if an online business could make it easier for its customers to make contact, while at the same time saving itself money? Thats the premise driving Zingaya, a Moscow-based startup looking to bring its click-to-talk technology to market.
Founded in December 2009, the company claims a few thousand customers and says it has handled about 10,000 calls since launching its product in mid-summer.
The companys technology depends on a simple button that can be placed on any e-commerce site. With an easy install, the button can be referenced back to any phone number: Users hit the button and can be immediately connected to a customer service rep, a sales office, or other relevant party.
The technology promises to bring cost savings to big businesses, while boosting sales among small and mid-size users, said Alexey Aylarov, co-founder of Zingaya.
In Russia, the companys initial stomping ground, enterprise users are simply trying to save a ruble. "They are thinking about reducing costs for their business," Aylarov said. "If they put this widget on their site, some part of their visitors wont call the regular 800 number, so the calls will be cheaper for them and they will save money."
Thats a big part of the Zingaya pitch: The prospect of offloading pricey 800 calls onto a companys regular phone lines. (For those who do want to route calls through an 800 line, Zingaya charges2 cents a minute versus an average 7 cents a minute via traditional carriers, Aylarov said.)
While cost savings may also be an issue for smaller companies, the bigger picture for these businesses has to do with customer retention and conversion: Making it easier for people to make contact, to stay on the site and ultimately to make purchases.
"The main problem we are trying to solve is to help ecommerce companies keep their visitors and convert them into customers. When we allow these visitors to make an instant call to a customer service person, the difference is significant," Aylarov said.
The cost of those conversions is relatively low. Users can access the basic Zingaya service for free. That includes one widget, one line and call forwarding to fixed/mobile numbers, Skype, and SIP.
For $1 per day, users get up to 10 widgets and three lines. The premium service at $2 per day takes it to five lines and includes such features as call recording, voicemail, and also country control, a feature that makes it possible to disallow calls from countries not relevant to the business.
The per-day pricing is intended to give customers maximum flexibility especially the flexibility to bump up to a higher-level plan. "If someone tries the free plan and then decides to upgrade to another plan, we want them to do that instantly, without waiting for the end of the month or the end of the week," Aylarov said.
Ease of use is likewise top of mind when it comes to getting Zingaya up and running. As a cloud-based, widget-based product, Zingaya does not require users to do any kind of download or install. Aylarov estimated it takes about 30 seconds to put a button on a page and add a receiving phone number. "Its a product that you can get and use right now," he said.
All these factors have come together to win for Zingaya some prominent industry attention, despite the company being in its very earliest stages. Zingaya was one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the recent DEMO Fall 2010 event.
The company already is looking to expand its offering. Zingaya engineers are working to bring the service to the social networking world, likely starting with Facebook and Twitter. An advantage to using this technology in the social sphere would be its promise of anonymity, something Facebook doesnt offer much of.
"The benefit for the user is that they can actually hide their numbers. They can enter that number in our system and no one will actually know that number: They will just see the button," Aylarov said. But the company is taking it slow. "Were still trying to figure out what the right way is to do that."