• August 3, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Angel Voice-Enables Social Networks

Angel, a provider of enterprise-focused, cloud-based customer experience management solutions, today announced VoiceForTwitter and VoiceForFacebook, two free applications that bring Angel's interactive voice response (IVR) technology to Twitter and Facebook.

VoiceForFacebook and VoiceForTwitter are two of the first applications available at Voice.com, which will officially launch later this year. These services are designed to give users a more personal experience and provide hands-free access to posting updates on social networks.

With VoiceForFacebook, users can call a phone number to update their status via voice. VoiceForTwitter allows users to record an audio message that will be shared as a link to an audio file. To get started, users simply need to provide the phone number from which they will be calling, and sync this number to a Facebook or Twitter account by registering at www.voicefortwitter.com or www.voiceforfacebook.com.

In addition, users can create custom phone-enabled pages or feeds with unique phone numbers within Facebook and Twitter to allow anyone to post audio comments to their pages or feeds.

An expansion of the applications will allow users to post full text transcripts of their audio files along with the voice recordings. "The function is available right now but it's not turned on," says Dave Toliver, director of corporate marketing at Angel. "It's something we already have built into our Angel,com platform. We're waiting for more user feedback to see if that's something people really want."

These applications have many personal and commercial uses, according to Toliver and others at Angel.

"VoiceForTwitter and VoiceForFacebook each introduces a massive opportunity to evolve the way users connect and share updates over social networks," said Dave Rennyson, president of Angel, in a statement. "For consumers, each solution not only allows users to personalize their interactions with their friends, but also literally have their voice heard when communicating with companies. Additionally, as businesses continue to leverage social networks as a customer service channel, voice solutions like this can enable representatives to easily connect with customers and create a customized experience with the brand."

Don Keane, vice president of marketing at Angel, describes one scenario that he says is perfect for a voice update: "Being at a rock concert and posting a short text message to a Facebook wall is much different than leaving an audio post where friends can hear the excited voice and ambiance of the concert in the background," he says.

Beyond that, he says companies can use the applications to spread the word about upcoming contests and promotions. Sports teams and celebrities can use them to highlight upcoming events and engage with fans. And CEOs can use them to share information with stockholders.

"Hearing it has a much different feel than reading text and interpreting how it would be delivered," Keane says.

The technology that went into these applications also powered a recent online town hall forum that President Barack Obama held in early July on Twitter using the handle @prezhotline. Angel supplied an interface that let users post voice messages for the president. More than 300 voice tweets were posted during the event. "It extended the 140-character limit to something more meaningful," Toliver says. &"It was an engaging way to submit your thoughts to the president."

The applications are currently available for free, but Keane says they will likely be advertiser-supported in the near future.

Angel also has waiting in the wings a VoiceForChatter application that "takes what we did with Facebook and Twitter and puts it to work in Chatter for Salesforce.com," Toliver explains. Integrations are also on the way for SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics, and other CRM solutions. Other social media site integrations are also possible. "LinkedIn is on our radar, and we believe voice-enabling it would have a lot of benefit," Toliver says.

Angel is also working on a capability that will allow users to record and send updates to Facebook and Twitter over data channels without having to make a separate phone call.

But for now, overcoming the traditional norms of social media is a daunting enough challenge. "It's still so foreign for people to see an audio link on a site where they usually see text," Toliver says. "It's a very different experience, and it's very compelling.

"Voice brings a lot more personalization to social media," he concludes.

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