A Simple Idea for 411

I’m sure that the 411 business has taken a hit since the adoption of the internet in consumer’s homes came along and enabled a self-service model for free. Since then there’s been an advance in 411 – enhanced 411, which gives interested parties more information (for a greater fee of course) for things like directions, movie times and even in some case restaurant reservations.

Today, it occurred to me that there is a pretty simple advance that could be made for all callers, especially now that mobile phone penetration is so high, as well as the continuing growth of smarter (not necessarily smart) phones which allow for richer messaging services. I think this idea could work for people whether they were calling from a mobile or landline and could be quick to rollout if the carriers felt they were interested in making a bit more money from something we already use.

Here it is — yours for the taking telecom industry!

Instead of just offering an option to have the number dialed, why not send the information as an SMS or even an email with vcard so you could save it for future calling from your phone/device. Landline calling would require a simple registration to identify where you want the information sent. I’d pay the additional fee (probably 25 to 50 cents) so I could have the information for future reference.

Just think of the number of times you’ve called for a number more than once. You probably didn’t have a pen which is why you called again… you do have your mobile, if that’s how you called and you can certainly grab the email later on if not.

From a carrier perspective, it should be a simple add-on. You know who we are, what number we are calling from and what the capabilities of our devices are to best send the information. Landline operators (most if not all offer wireless) and should be able to just pump more messages through the existing gateway. Receiving an SMS usually gets you paid… whether a number of messages are included with a plan, or on a per message basis.

That’s about it. Bring it on!

10 Replies to “A Simple Idea for 411”

  1. Good idea. In Italy it’s been two-three year that the 411 delivers information in SMS, due to the large penetration of cellphones in Italy. It’s very handy when you’re in the streets without a paper to take note.

  2. This is a great idea. AT&T wireless offers such a service when you call 411. I called a few weeks ago to get the number for a restaurant and I was given the option to have the number sent via SMS. Not sure if it cost more, but I won’t ever have to call for the number again!

  3. Good thinking. I just tried to invent this idea this morning for voicemail. Glad to hear it’s implemented for 411, now all I suggest is making it available from other voice-based services, such as getting a number from voicemail!

  4. Actually I recently activated a vonage account and one of the cooler things about voicemail notification is that you receive an email with caller ID info included. You can have this sent to a wireless device or your regular box. You can also have the actual voicemail message attached as a file which is a bonus as well.

  5. btw – if you call 411 from any AT&T Wireless phone (still works now after Cingular merger), not only can you request an SMS message, but you can also “opt in” to *always* get the SMS message automatically every time you call in the future — without having to take the time to ask every time. (and they don’t charge anything extra for the SMS)

  6. You should check our company’s free 411 text messaging service. You can send your search with the city and state or zipcode or areacode to 3109043113 to get your listings. There are several other companies that provide services similar to ours but we have added a lot of algorithms to make searching very very easy. For instance, you don’t have to put the city or state if you are searching in your home city and business listing search is format independent. In a bid to ensure that our users save money when ever they can, you can get the same results by sending via email to t411@411sms.com (for people who have unlimited email on their phones but not sms). I thought this information would be helpful to you. Thanks.

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