Let’s do better phone calls

The way we make phone calls has been broken for a while now. It is inefficient and disturbing most of the time.

Original post Nov 20th, 2017

The solution could be a system that matches the availability of both individuals and permits a call only when both parties are ready to talk. A system like that, is a bit complex, so I decided to start simple with a bot that can assist you.

Let’s start with a system that contains of three parts:

  1. A phone in ‘do not disturb’ mode that does not mute calls from contacts that are on the ‘favourites’ or ‘VIP’ list.
  2. An auto reply text that responds to calls and texts including a url to a bot or form where you can do a request for contact. Use the Android app Automate for the replying, for example. You can also mention the url in your voicemail message, your out of office email message, your email signature, etc.
  3.  A bot or form online where people can do requests and are able to indicate the urgency. The bot will send emails, texts and place phone calls depending on the level of urgency. Put the bots number on your ‘favourites list’ so the urgent calls will not be muted.

Voila:



I understand that it seems that the person who is trying to contact you or me is not benefitting a whole lot from this setup. So that might be part two.

When I’m working I need to be focussed and will put my phone in dnd mode. I think this is better than having to leave a voicemail. At least now the caller can reach you when you are really needed.

This is an experiment. My hope is that people start doing requests with the bot instead of trying to call me. 😬 We’ll see, I’ll update this post if my findings are interesting enough.

Update January 5th 2018:

I’ve learned a lot. A couple of findings:

  • A chatbot might not be the best medium, because people don’t know what to expect when they see the chat screen.
  • A dynamic form works a lot better.

This is the current situation:

Next steps would be to pre-fill the form or don’t have fields presents that are already known.

In the end it (codename vurze) should work similar to the illustration below:

Update Feb 7, 2018

vurze is where I’m going with. The experiments are successful. A couple of times vurze is used instead of being called directly.

An impression:

The latest change is a better form because people don’t indicate their urgency well: