We first started with a phone lying around the office dedicated to the hotline. This is very easy to set up and is also cheap. The problem we faced: who answers the phone after office hours (a startup might want to support customers even on weekends)? No one it seems.
The solution to our problem was a DIY call center, based on Twilio: customers call a number hosted by Twilio, which forwards the call to up to 5 different phone numbers. The first one to pick up can speak to the customer immediately. This works fine for us right now, however, it also brings a few problems with it:
- It seems the lag increases drastically (varies from call to call though) because - I think - the call always flows through Twilios datacenter first.
- For the same reason (call constantly goes through Twilio) you have to pay although you're being called. No big deal as long as you only receive a few calls a day.
- Nobody knows if someone else picked up eventually (nor do you know who picked up). This can be solved using a separate internal chat of course, but it should be optimized in the future.
- If one of the phones forwarded to is offline the whole hotline is unreachable for some reason. I'm sure this could be fixed with some manual tweaking.
Setup is incredibly easy:
- purchase a phone number on twilio.com
- configure the "Request URL" to be the URL generated by the Simulring Twimlet
- wait for calls
- hopefully PROFIT