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Apparently I'm Now Skype's Corporate Receptionist!

Receptionist - Tempe
It has happened twice this morning. People calling my phone number looking to talk to someone at Skype. For quite some time now (months), I have received occasional random phone calls from people looking for Skype and when I've asked it was usually because they searched in Google and ultimately somehow came up with my number (which I publish freely here on my blogs).

This morning, though, I asked the two gentlemen who called how they got my number, and these were there responses:

"I was calling MasterCard to report a fraud and they gave me this number for Skype."

"Capital One told me to call this number." (Capital One is a US credit card issuer.)


You see, here is the fundamental problem:


Don't believe me? Visit and try it yourself. Find a regular PSTN phone number... I dare you to try! (And if you do, please leave a comment here!)

The closest you may get is to the "Where is Skype?" page that lists Skype's Luxembourg address and an email address, but no phone number. Their press pages have a contact form, but no phone number. (Even Skype's news releases don't have contact info.)

This is not a new issue. People have been complaining about it in the forums for years (example 1, example 2). Tom Keating wrote about this issue back in 2005 on his blog - with lots of comments from people. And today people are filling up the comments on third-party sites like ContactHelp looking for a contact number.

And apparently some people are calling me.

I've asked people in the past and it has always seemed that: 1) because I write about Skype and show up in Google search results; and 2) because I list a phone number on my blog site... because of that people in their desperation call me to reach Skype.

Now it seems some of the largest US credit card companies are helping with that. (Probably because someone there went the search route, found my number, and entered it into some database.)

So now the question is ...

what should I do?
Should I start taking the calls and invoicing Skype? How could I monetize this? Or have a bit of fun? ;-)

The good news for me is that the number they are calling is my Google Voice number and so if the calls start to come frequently (there haven't been many... but 3 now this week), I can just redirect it into an IVR application that can redirect callers looking for Skype to Skype's email address. (Gee, I know a great platform on which to write such an app :-)

At the moment I'm more amused than annoyed. Skype's a rather large company these days and it's amusing to me that they would make it so difficult for customers to interact with them that those customers wind up using the web and ultimately reaching out to little old me sitting up here in New Hampshire in my home office.

Now ask me that in a week or two if MasterCard keeps sending calls my way... :-)

Oh, wait... there's my phone... should I answer it "Thank you for calling Skype"?

P.S. And, oh, Skype... if you don't want to staff up a call center to handle customer phone inquiries, there's some really amazing technology out there that let's you have a phone number people can call you on and you can give them "self-service" options. You know, those "IVR" thingies... with many options. Lots of companies offer this technology, including, oh, my employer, Voxeo. We even let you build those self-service portals across multiple channels, like voice, SMS, IM and Twitter- and we give you all sorts of cool analytics and other integration. In fact, we even let people call into our apps using Skype, so you could set up a self-service app that could be reached from either the PSTN or Skype... and we're all SIP at the backend so we could interconnect with your backend as well. We'd be happy to talk to you about it... OUR phone number is prominently displayed on our web site... and you also know how to reach me on Skype ;-)

P.P.S. It has been pointed out to me that Skype does offer support via live chat and email if you login to their website and visit - No phone support, though.

Flickr credit: Phil Sexton

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