Fonolo, the Web service that helps you reach the inner depths of even the largest company telephone directories, has put out a big update that adds new tools for users and companies alike.
The biggest new feature of the bunch is call recording, something I pined for in previous looks at the service. You're now able to record the entire call for playback later, something that can be helpful when citing good or bad customer service experiences. It's honestly one of the most fantastic features I've used in a long time.
The best part is that call recording is free and does not require any special phone equipment. To record any call you're on, you can just hit a big red button as soon as it's connected. It then saves it to the cloud where you can either listen to it in your browser, or download it as an MP3.
Earlier this morning I did it with a call to Amazon.com, and it connected me three levels of phone menus deep to the right person. The only downside was that they such a strong accent, listing off my personal information became a game of trying to remember letters in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
Along with call recordings, Fonolo has another new trick up its sleeve called Quick Tones. This is basically autofill, but for phone menus. So say you know you're calling Comcast; you can add any account, order, or phone numbers into Fonolo's system as bookmarks. Then, when you're on the call, you can choose to dial one of those bits of information into the call, without having to do it all on your phone. Honestly, this is only helpful for frequent users, but if you anticipate having to enter a lot of that information, saving it once can mean not having to enter it on future calls.
For companies, there's also a new way to embed their own phone trees on their site using a special widget. This lets users peruse the entire directory, then make a call without having to register with Fonolo. After the call is done it pops up with a customer service questionnaire that asks how their call was, which the company can then monitor back on Fonolo's site.
Fonolo is still only available on the Web and on Android phones and limited to around 500 North American companies. There's not yet a version for iPhone, Symbian, or Windows Mobile handsets, but the service has a way to add Fonolo quick call links to a company's mobile site that will let users jump to that part of a phone directory without having to use Fonolo proper.