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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Business through missed calls

November 2010 update: NASSCOM is using missed call feature to collect feedback from the participants of NASSCOM Product Conclave in Bangalore.
Refer to the two image on the left. (When Nasscom tweeted that one can give feedback by calling these numbers, I asked if feedback can be registered through a missed call...In their reply, NASSCOM confirmed that that feedback can be registered via missed call

Original post

Some of us give more missed calls than paid calls. Its often used as a cost free way of passing a specific signal (like I’ll give a miss call once I reach home). It’s not just individuals- even business houses have started adopting the idea of miss calls. This post shares few observations and thoughts in this regard.

Saw the below display in namma Bengaluru's DVG road few weeks ago. While we're used to services of JustDial (or Getit helpline or the likes) and the likes who give you business information on telephone, wherein we spend money on phone call, this board suggested that we just give a miss call for any information (assumably they'll call back). I'm out of touch with Bangalore to some extent-not sure how popular and effective this particular service is. Tried calling (I mean miss-calling) the number, but it was engaged. Wanted to know if they directly give away the requested info or force people to listen to some ad first. They need to provide more lines if they really wish to receive more miss calls and serve people. (Their website is also not working)
business through missed calls
Long back, I remember reading about a tea vendor in Chennai, who takes orders through miss calls. If you need tea at your office, you need to register with him first, and then give a miss call whenever tea is needed. The vendor would see your miss call and send his boy to deliver tea. Very effecient system.

Smart people (Or people who prefer not to spend on phone calls) use missed call feature in different way to communicate different messages. Simplest one is to give the signal (like I've reached safely or start now or the result is positive etc, something mutually agreed upon between the two parties). Advanced usages can vary depending on creativity of people and how kanjoos they are to make a phone call. Some possible combinations:
*Different meanings based on number of missed calls: 1 miss call means "book only 1 ticket", 2 miss calls means "book 2 tickets" etc
*Different meaning based on time of missed call
*Different meaning based on combination of miss calls-landline+mobie or mobile1+mobile 2

Person to Person calls: Long back, there was a concept called Person to Person call. If you wish to make a call to Mr.X in US, operator would make the call, check with the receiver if Mr. X is available and is ready to take a call from you and connect you to him only if the receiver is available. The idea was probably not to make people spend money on international calls when the recepient may or may not be avaiable. Call will be charged only if you talk-else no charge. This system can be very well termed as landline version of missed calls- not sure if clever people misused this service those days.

Toll Free numbers: Sensing that customers/prospects do not wish to spend money on phone calls, lots of companies have set up toll free numbers. Anything that comes free, many are good at misusing. Several times people call these toll free numbers without any serious business-their intention will be to have time pass or to flirt with call centre girls receiving the call. Despite this inconvenience and financial burden most of the companies continue to provide toll free numbers for the benefit of few genuine callers.

I think it can be expensive trying to give miss call to Virgin Mobile users. As they earn for incoming calls, chances are high that they'll receive any call at this first opportunity and try to talk as long as possible.

Another use of miss call feature is to listen to caller tunes of the other party. Have an understanding with him/her when not to receive the call and listen to nice songs for free

Earlier only mobile phone users used to get miss calls. Now with caller IDs very common in landlines, anyone can give miss call to anyone...

I'm sure mobile companies are very much aware that customers are misusing missed call-Hope they won't start charging for it one day.

Clear understanding between the two parties is very critical for effective use of miss calls. Else a mis-communication can happen and the cost of the same will certainly be much more than cost of calls saved. How to give missed calls when a person has switched off or is out of range? Several service providers give miss call alerts for such instances. At times it can be tricky to differentiate a failed call attempt and an intentional missed call.

One thing I seriously wish about missed calls is that all reality shows should use missed call facility for voting, instead of overpriced SMSs. (assign one number to each candidate and count which number receives highest number of missed calls) But I know that's gonna never happen.

Please use this opportunity to share your thoughts on miss calls. Have you tried any innovative ways of using the miss call feature?

Update: 2007 December I'd seen a taxi in Bangalore, with a writing- MISS CALL TAXI xxxx xxxx (Number to call) Not sure if they also meant-"give us a miss call if you want a taxi"

Update: October 2012: Huggies has launched an ad in which they're asking people to give miss call to a number 08800144444, to get free samples (they'll call you back to collect your details)

Related posts: Ladies who used to call me daily * SMS and Win??? *

17 comments :

Mohan said...

Certainly a very good business model can evolve though missed calls. But the fact is all these media companies or channels miss out out making money, so they opt out :)

Interestingly, for many it is more of a protocol to establish a communication. I am pretty sure, everyone has such protocol... just that haven't put their practices in words!

Mridula said...

We all use this feature (my nephews would give me missed calls that means I need to call back) but taking to a business idea is new for me!

Shank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shank said...

Wow, the chennai tea vendor was a smart chap. I have not used missd calls much but sure looks like an interesting idea. I am starting to think

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Mohan,

Can't agree more.

Mridula,
Wherever money savings is involved, businesses will be quick to grab it.

Shank, All the best.

All: Adding few updates. Check the post again.

Namratha said...

My fiance n me used to miss call each other for 'started from home-be ready', 'reached office', 'reached home safely' and sometimes as reply for 'yes/ok', 2 mc for 'no' :D

But its surprising people use it for business. Would work really well if used in the right business situations (like the tea vendor). I don't think it wud work with 'bangaloredreamz' kinda situation where the people would outnumber the mobile connections. They need to make money too, perhaps placin an ad before the dialtone, but then how many ll call again ??

Anonymous said...

Your mention of overpriced SMSes brought one thing to my attention: I sent some SMSes to 139 (railways enquiry number) to enquire about PNR status. In my latest mobile bill, I have been charged for some "international" SMSes. I was a bit surprised since I never send international SMS in this age of IMs and twitter. guess what, the SMSes sent to 139 to enquire about PNR status were billed as international SMSes. Ba*t*r*s.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Namratha,
Thanks for sharing. I guess lots of friends, couples use missed calls for such communications.

Yes, maintaining quality and revenue while responding to everyone who gives miss call can be tough.

Anon,
thanks for alerting us on that. Try writing to railway officials and mobile operators seeking an explanation.

buvanesh said...

Nice Business trick!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

:)

vinod kumar said...

Using missed calls for Voting may not work out well. As in practice, one can just send a message and forget about it. But if one tries to give a missed call to a number as a vote, its very likely that the number would be busy\engaged as people all around would be trying to vote. It would just be a matter of patience until one aborts the idea of voting itself.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

may be some technology should allow only 1 missed call per number...?

N. Nagajyothi said...

Yeah, miss call feature is a very popular one. I remember back in college, during summer break, my best friend used to go off to her place Delhi. We used to miss each other a lot. So when ever one of us misses the other, we used to give a missed call stating that "I miss you" :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Jyoti

repala kavya said...

I like usage of different exampls in this article
can u please elaborate "How this MISSED CALL facility helps to government"

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Repala:

Calling 100 times itself won't help the govt... How can we expect them to work based on missed calls?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Repala:

Calling 100 times itself won't help the govt... How can we expect them to work based on missed calls?