Communication 102

“Focus, Speed, I am Speed”

In communication history, the first piece of technology – the telephone – was the first revolution. Now, people didn’t need to worry about how far their near and dear ones where, as long as they had a telephone installed at their home or offices. It reduced distances to nothing, and the latency was reduced to negligible. Along came mobile phones, and one didn’t need to even reach out to a phone to talk. It was always in one’s pocket. The dependencies were reduced to nothing and the mode enabled communications truly anytime, anywhere.

However, what it also changed was the whole nature of long distance communication. In many ways, long distance communication had a purpose attached to it during the good old days. One would reach out to the far ones, only if they ‘needed’ to. There was a sense of importance – “somebody is trying to reach me from so far away, it surely must be important.“

But with the ‘anytime, anywhere’, one could reach out to other whenever he/she ‘wanted’ to, not just whenever he/she ‘needed’ to. The cell phone could be rung any time, any where – important board meetings, movie theatres and where not. One just had to pick the phone. One couldn’t just ignore it, no matter where one was, or what one was up to at that time. Bring in telecallers and spam marketers to the mix, and one would slowly realize why this boon could also be the bane.

So, what is really happening here?

The communication could be theorized on a coordinate axis like below. The important and urgent axes are always competing with each other and the balance has seldom been there in history. The good old days had important on top, and the mobile phones came up with urgent. The phone just wouldn’t stop ringing until one picked it up.

The caller IDs would be of little help, as they could tell you who is calling. But is it an urgent call, which is worth stopping whatever one was doing?

The speed of the communication increased to the speed of light, but the focus was lost.

Time to bring balance between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Time to bring the balance between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’. Time to bring focus.

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Communication 101

The basic tenets of any communication can be summarised with a few questions:

  1. Who is communicating with whom?
  2. Why is he/she communicating with the other?
  3. When is he/she communicating with the other?
  4. What is he/she communicating with the other?
  5. How is he/she communicating with the other?
  6. Where is he/she communicating with the other?

We have come a long way, along with technology evolution, in what the answers to the above questions could be.

During the pigeon mail days, the who could be questionable. After all, anybody could sign the letters. And the when could be days or weeks. The how would be written.

Then came the post boxes. It added a little reliability to the transaction by having human touch all along. But the answers to the above questions essentially remained unchanged.

A certain Mr. Graham Bell, finally changed things. He came up with a device which would enable people communicate instantly with each other, no matter where they were, as long as they were within a walking reach of the device at their end. So, the when became immediate. The how became verbal.

Nearly a century later, this device came to be inside everybody’s pockets and the where did not matter anymore.

And as we have crossed 20% of the 21st century, the answers are probably follows:

  1. Who is communicating with whom?
    1. Rely on caller ID or trust the person on the other end claiming who he is.
  2. Why is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. You will know when you start talking. Trust it is something important.
  3. When is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Whenever he/she wants. The other party’s convenience may or may not come into consideration. Trust that the other party is free to take calls right now.
  4. What is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. You will know when you start talking. Trust it is something important.
  5. How is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Mobile Devices call apps
  6. Where is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Wherever he/she wants (as long as it is within network areas). Again the other party’s convenience may or may not come into consideration. Trust the party is at a convenient place.

If one really thinks about it, while the modes and speed of communication transactions have improved, these basic answers haven’t changed much throughout history. There is a lot of inherent trust built into these transactions (which has even been taken advantage of).

Communications 201 is waiting for some different answers to the above questions.

How well do we understand the problem!

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
― Albert Einstein

With the above statement as our guiding light, we at Patch have been working tirelessly to solve some of the communications use cases. Today’s blog is about one such use case of “conference calls”. Here we are providing a sneak peak in how we approached this problem.

One thing, which we established early on in our journey, was that conference calls are still a pain. There is a tremendous number of mobile app and web based solutions/products out there but the none of them seem to provide a hassle free end to end solution for this problem. This got us to the basic principle of problem solving. What exactly is the problem!

Here is our understanding of the problem

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-24 at 11.46.56 AM

After breaking down the problem and identifying key areas, we decided to build a solution for each of those and here is the product. https://www.patchus.in

We have solved the first 2 parts of the problem and the third is a work in progress!

My next post will be about the solution. How did we solve the first 2 parts of the problem! What are the key differentiators? Etc.

Part 3: Finding answers with Patch.

Its time to find answers to all the problems stated in previous blog posts.

Here’s what we at Patch feel will solve most of our communications problems

  1. Contextual calls
  2. Call scheduler
  3. Smart Calling

Let’s just take a closer look at the above-mentioned points with examples:

Contextual calls: We at Patch believe that the world needs Contextual calling. As in, one should always know “WHY?” is someone calling rather than just the WHO! The WHO has been addressed by products like trucaller and it helps to an extent but it’s the WHY which matters the most. Here are the examples:

  1. A HR person calling for a job interview while you are a bit busy in some mundane task, looking at the name you might choose to miss the call, but looking at the Context you can take a better and a more advised action
  2. A business calls you, trying to sell you something, while you are waiting for an important call. Only if you know the Context, will you be able to disconnect the call and keep your phone free from SPAM calls and be available

Call scheduler: Bigger the business, more the number of customers they will have and hence higher will be the wait time for you on their customer support IVR. We believe all businesses should have a scheduler in place, where the customer can just schedule a call at their convenience and businesses availability, there shouldn’t be any painful waiting in todays world. E.g.

  1. If I were to call my bank to request my KYC to be done, I should not wait on their IVR, instead I should be able to choose a time which suits me (is within business working hours) and schedule a call or a meeting by defining the context
  2. If I had a complaint about my DTH and wanted to call my operator, I should just be able to schedule a call with their CC and the system should then dial out and connect me with the right agent at once (someone who already knows the reason of my call and is qualified to assist me), instead of me waiting on their IVR to connect with an agent

Smart Calling: We strongly believe that a user should be allowed to do more than just being able to disconnect or pick up a call e.g. defer and redirect

  1. If you have read my last post you would remember how working parents promise their children that they will call them back, but somehow they forget in their busy schedules. Well we at Patch invented something called as “call defer” so say if you are busy right now, just defer that incoming call. Now if the caller was your daughter or son, they will see that dad is busy and he has deferred the call by 15 minutes (that means the call is scheduled for after 15 minutes) and Patch system will dial out and connect dad and child.
  2. When I go on a vacation, I set “out of office” on my mailbox, but I still end up receiving business related phone calls which isn’t good. So we at Patch invented something called “call redirect”, which helps a user to redirect any business or family related call to his colleague or a family member to attend, whereby ensuring the business doesn’t suffer and neither does your vacation.

We are proud of a few innovations that we have done at Patch as they don’t just signify our high technology prowess but also our high EQ.

Please feel free to post your comments and suggestions. We are here and we are listening. We are committed to making phone communications effective and efficient.

 

Part 2 of my smart phone is not smart..

Thinking about all the missing use cases related to communications, here are a few more:

  • I can set an OOO (out of office) for my mailbox but what about my phone?
  • Why to say please hold while I transfer your call?
  • Why do I have to ask and check with people which platform they use for a conference call! E.g. Skype, Zoom, Conference. Bridge etc.
  • Shouldn’t I know which all calls are still running – while I couldn’t join earlier I now can
  • Why should I add people in my contact book to make a call on a specific platform e.g. WhatsApp!
  • I think most of my business communications happen on mails, then shouldn’t I be allowed to schedule my business calls via my mail, with a guarantee that the call will happen!

Next post will be about finding some answers.

I don’t think the phone is Smart..

My phone is not smart – I do have a smartphone though!

If you are wondering about the topic of this article and thinking that the writer is confused – you are kinda right. I was confused when I first pondered on the question “is my smartphone really smart?” and then I decided to find out and list down the stuff, which in a way was bothering me about this device I was carrying. This article is about what’s missing in our smartphones.

Now since I can do so much with my smart-device that its nearly impossible to imagine a life without it, but still it so happens that whenever it comes to making or receiving calls, this smart devices seems to fail me almost every single time. Following are the reasons for me saying this.

I will put my problems as use cases:

  • I receive SPAM calls e.g. people trying to sell stuff now these calls are from unknown numbers off-course
  • I end up picking up all the calls as I am not sure which one will be of that delivery boy from my favourite app,
  • I call up the customer care of my bank and I am made to wait on their IVR for 10 minutes – its irritating to say the least
  • My 5 year old daughter calls me when I am in a meeting and I disconnect the call, but she calls again, now I have to pick the call (putting the meeting on a pause) and tell her that I am busy and will call back, to which she always says that u wont – yeah maybe she is right, it happens all the time
  • I ordered a cab for my dad as he is not that friendly with smart-devices and then I juggle between the driver and my dad trying to make them meet at the pick up point

This list can actually go on and on but I would like to save the rest of the use cases for other time. Thinking of these has got me exhausted as it is.

So today I am writing to seek answers and also opinions on how people handle these issues, are we all used to the way we communicate! Or do we deserve better and more out of our Smart-Phone?

This is end of Part 1. To be continued……..

Talk to me! Speak up! Voice your concerns!

Imagine in today’s world how everybody always is so busy, specially people in the 15-32 years bracket don’t want to speak much, research shows that this age group of people rely on text’s and messages rather than speaking with someone. This behavioural change although has introduced some good things for us, it has taken out more. People now a days are more introvert, they find it very difficult to handle a sticky situation as they cant talk themselves out of it, the urgency of completing a task weather or not it looks important to an individual has vanished because now people don’t get reminded by a phone call but by a simple text message, which one can choose to see, ignore or delete straight away. All of this makes people procrastinate, that lack of human touch through voice, that connect is depleting and we took it upon us at Patch to do our own research and find out about the reasons. Patch is a mobile app based communications system; it encompasses two (2) major modes of communication mediums Voice and Text. The reason Patch was designed; was to bring smartness to how we communicate in today’s world. We all make and receive simple one-on-one phone calls and group calls, wherein some of us do have conference calls there are few of us, who struggle to add that delivery boy in the same call with a family member whereby saving precious time and energy. Well, hence Patch! With Patch, one cannot only make phone calls, it can instantly add more people in a phone call, it allows a user to drop out and join a running call. It will help you find a suitable time to call someone so that you don’t have to worry about disturbing him or her and yes you can get the conversation as text written in a mail. So there you have a system, which is smart, is loaded with cutting edge technology but is designed by humans for humans to communicate with humans. Patch is very gentle, polite and is your communications workhorse for a long time to come.

Those were the days!

“Those were the days” sounds a bit nostalgic and it is! In a happy sense though.

Well the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of my corporate life days, is of endless no. of conference calls, how we used to fret that they were a total waste of time but still how important and irreplaceable they were.

Being in Sales/Account management and having to handle multiple customers and internal teams, it was a nightmare to schedule, invite or simply join a conference call. Having to pull out those PIN / Passcode from mail while traveling / driving or being a mute listener to a call not knowing who is speaking, managers asking who all have joined & why was someone not invited in the first place, to the tune, where you ask people to go to slide # so n so & also check if others already have the presentation open and they too are looking at what you are.

The worst was either taking notes during the call (shorthand writing) for sending MoM’s (Minutes of meetings) post the call or just being happy about the fact that today someone else is supposed to send the MoM’s to all. PHEW!!!! Still get tired thinking about it all. Hence “Those were the days”.

Today we are on PATCH – a mobile app based, call conference solution which has made life super easy. For starters it is voice activated, a simple : OK Patch” Schedule a call for tomorrow at 4PM, invite A,B,C…… from my contact list and VOILA! Patch automatically finds an open slot which works for all the participants and schedules the call. Well to join, I get a call and all I have to do is pick the call up, Hmm! I also get to see who all have joined, OH! I can drop, add, mute people in my conference call WOW.

So the biggest pain PATCH solves for me is that it auto sends (if I choose) the MoM’s to all the participants of the call that too clearly marking the action items.

At last all I can say is, I am happy to be in the future & using PATCH………..