The Vonjour iOS App

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Today We Released The Vonjour iPhone App!

The initial beta release is a ridiculously simple way to call out to your customers and prospects using your Vonjour business phone number. With the Vonjour App for iPhone you’ll never have to purchase hardware desk phones to make an outbound phone call. Simply enter the app and start dialing.

More On The Way

We are very excited about this new release, but it’s just the beginning. We have an exciting mobile roadmap planned for you. Next up is the release of our Android app early this fall. For now, visit the App store to download the new app. For help getting up to speed on the new app, we created an iOS Quick Start Guide, which is also helpful to share with teammates who are just getting started with Vonjour. And as always we value our readers input so let us know what you think.

How WebRTC and Vonjour Will Change the Way You Communicate With Your Customers

You might not know what Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) is, but you should. At Vonjour we’re working diligently on making WebRTC more ubiquitous and empower real time the voice and video communications across the globe.

WebRTC allows real-time voice and video connections between mulitple web browsers, without any plugins or third-party software—you’ll only need the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox.

Web browsers have been powerful channels to surf the web and communicate through text. However, the browser has lagged as a medium to power two voice and video streams.

The underlying the challenge behind browser based voice and video calls has been access to voice and video compression-decompression algorithms, more commonly known as codecs. Traditionally, codec technologies were owned by a few companies, and these companies would charge very costly licensing fees to utilize their codecs in a third-party application.

While codecs were limited in scope, there were also limitations in browsers to send two way communications in real-time. Browsers were capable of requesting or sending data, but not real-time two way streaming.

For web based real time communications to be more ubiquitious, everyone needed access to high quality codecs. Google pushed the RTC community forward in 2010 when it acquired the companies GIPs and On2. GIPs was the leading provider of VoIP codecs and On2 made a video codec. Google open sourced both projects, which had profound implications for IP communications and business VoIP services.

The WebRTC community has created a set of open protocols for browsers to expose to developers. As these standards become incorporated into browsers as a fully developed media stack, developers can write WebRTC applications with a few lines of Javascript.

WebRTC is a big deal for Vonjour. It allows us to make communication tools accessible on any browser and outside of the teleco network—making it easier to communicate directly with your clients.

Imagine a call center without having to purchase any costly hardware device. Where you can take a call on the same device you’re inputting data into a CRM or logging a ticket into ZenDesk. It makes for a more integrated experience.

Additional Resources:

LEAN STARTUP CASE STUDY: CHEF ROBLE GOES LEAN WITH POPUP RESTAURANT

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Elon Musk is famous for likening the path of an entrepreneur to “eating glass while staring into the abyss of death.” Sounds like fun right? It’s easy to think that the commitment and uncertainty that startup founders face in starting a new venture is unique to hackers cramped up in a garage and sustaining themselves on a ramen diet; however, launching a new venture is difficult no matter what field you are in.

For entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry, the unknowns of launching a new restaurant can be quite daunting:

  • Will there be enough of a market for my restaurant theme?
  • How will I secure financing (and how will I pay my investors and lenders back)?
  • How much will I need to get going?
  • Holy cow! Is it time to pivot?

With close to 60% of restaurants failing within the first year, starting a new restaurant can be a scary leap of faith.

What if there could be an iterative and approach to testing a new restaurant concept without going “all in?” Can the same lean startup principles that are common in the tech space also be applicable to brick and mortar restaurants?

At Vonjour we rely heavily on the lean startup framework. In launching, the founding team had a glut of ideas of how users could experience enterprise level communications tools in news. We had been talking to users for years in our previous roles at telecom companies and we thought we knew exactly what they would need in a solution.

However, instead of releasing with every feature that excited us, we designed an experiment to test our initial assumptions. We released with a functional product with elements of the features we were excited about. We used our beta release as an experiment to engage with customers and get their feedback before throwing some serious muscle into those features and marketing the platform.

Lean principles have become fairly standard with tech companies like Vonjour, but can these same principles be applied to a brick and mortar restaurant?

What makes a restaurant different than launching a tech startup are the many resources needed to get a restaurant started. A hacker can launch an app in her garage, while a restaurant requires a building, servers, chefs, and countless other investments. So does “lean” have any place in the restaurant industry?

Chef Roble, from the Bravo series Chef Roble and Co. showed us that it does. When it was time for Chef Roble to launch a novel restaurant idea, he first tested a “minimum viable restaurant.” Prior to investing the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to launch a full-fledged restaurant, he designed an experiment to test the viability of the new restaurant concept.

The experiment was simple: Roble invited approximately 30 guests to a temporarily staged “popup restaurant.” He invited guests that were in his target market and who had a higher propensity to try a new restaurant concept: fellow chefs, food critics, and potential investors.

Before products can be successfully sold to the mass market, they have to be sold to early adopters. In this case, Chef Roble was testing whether early adopters would see the value in his couple themed restaurant, even with its low budget and early imperfections.

Throughout the experiment Roble engaged heavily with his customers, gauging their reaction to elements of his menu and presentation. Traditionally, a chef’s role is to stay in the kitchen. However, as the founder of the restaurant Roble needed to interact heavily with customers to get feedback to improve the restaurant experience. The feedback from early adopters is critical to crafting a product towards a target audience’s needs.

In his case, Roble could suss out what aspects of the experience worked and those that didn’t. The customer feedback loop provided some guidance on how Roble could incrementally improve and align his menu and presentation with his target audience—what to emphasize and improve and what to let die.

The aha moment for a user can be much different than what the founders intended. Through these early customer interactions, it becomes clearer of what makes a product special for users.

This type of early engagement is critical to launching a product. The feedback you get from engaging directly with your earliest users will be the best you ever get. When you’re so big you have to resort to focus groups, you’ll wish you could go over to your users’ homes and offices and watch them use your stuff like you did when there were only a handful of them.

In the end, Roble’s initial assumptions were validated. The customers were more than satisfied with the menu and Roble had some data on how to improve the experience for future product iterations. The validation from this initial test group acts as a green light to take the next steps in the growth process—it becomes much easier to justify muscling up the product and transition into growth.

  • Roble can approach investors with data and validation of the couple’s themed dining experience. In the investor’s eye, Roble’s idea becomes more than an idea—it has traction and momentum. There exist some product/market fit needed for a restaurant to grow.
  • It’s no longer such a leap of faith to start muscling up personal commitment and investment in the idea. The product/market fit reduces the uncertainty of whether people will accept his concept and the user feedback provides Roble with some direction on how to improve the product.

Creating these early experiments of product market fit helps avoid costly mistakes. Investing hundred’s of thousands of dollars to an idea that no one wants seems reckless compared to the experimentation that Roble undertook. The idea of a pop-up restaurant is a great way for startup restaurants to validate an idea before going all in. Of course, once you validate an idea it is important to throw some muscle in the form of marketing and operations investment to grow the business.

Sean Ellis, the CEO of Qualaroo and lean startup marketing guru, created a survey question to objectively quantify when it is time for a startup to start muscling up. It is a fairly simple question. Present users who have used a product for at least twice with the following question:

How would you feel if you could no longer use our product?

  • Very disappointed
  • Somewhat disappointed
  • Not disappointed (it isn’t that useful)
  • N/A—I no longer use product

When 40% of repeated users indicate that they would be very disappointed if the product no longer existed, the product has arrived at a product/market fit or what Ellis describes as a “must have” product. The “must have product” or product/market fit milestone is critical objective metric in validating the initial founder assumptions.

If the idea has not reached that 40% point than it is important to continue to talk to users and refine your product. Otherwise, it is time to think about growth and “muscling up” by making the investments into operations and marketing.

Bringing a product or restaurant to market is clearly difficult. Experimentation like that of Chef Roble’s popup restaurant is helpful in mitigating some of the uncertainty of launching a new restaurant idea. Here are some additional resources that can be helpful in launching your next idea:

Bringing Your Customer to Product Planning Meetings to Build an Insanely Great Product

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Customer feedback and rapid iteration based on early user engagement is an integral part of creating a successful startup business. Engaging heavily with early users is a difficult task that many founders often neglect. For most successful startups, however, over engaging with early users is a necessary part of the feedback loop that makes a product great.

Many successful startups build great products with less than a handful of customers in mind. The goal is not to customize a solution for one particular user, but to focus a product development team on the pain point’s of actual customers. Most importantly though, becoming a customer’s consultant allows the founding team intimately understand the needs of a much larger target market.

Understanding the needs of users is one of the most important ways to prioritize feature releases. One of the hardest parts of being an early stage company is prioritizing what aspects of a team’s vision to build out first.

With limited resources, startups constantly have to say no to seemingly good ideas to focus on the most urgent needs of their customers. Talking to users, however, allows early stage startups to discern patterns in customer pain points and prioritize feature releases that are most aligned with their customer’s needs. When multiple customers have a similar pain point or need a specific feature, it’s a good indication that the particular pain point represents an opportunity that the market has yet to address. The net effect of these early conversations with customers is a sense clarity in how to address a product roadmap.

In addition, early user feedback can guide product development teams to fine tune an early and un-refined product to achieve a product-market fit. Through this process, the development team can tweak their products to create what Steve Job’s called an “insanely” great user experience.

Prioritizing user happiness is a difficult task. Paul Graham suggested that Job’s was referring to a pathological dedication to making users happy—to the point where an outsider would consider the team slightly deranged in their obsession of providing customer happiness. “Insane,” viewed in such a lens, is very much so fitting. Great companies take execution and making users happy to extreme levels.

When launching Gmail, Eric Schmidt challenged his team to get 100 happy users inside of Google before launching the product to the public. The team approached 100 users inside of Google and asked what they could do to make them happy. The team fine tuned the product until they made 100 Google employees really happy. The feedback loop with Google employees guided the product development team to delivering insanely great product and helped the team prioritize which features were most important.

While Google focused on making 100 users happy, some great companies focus on addressing the pain points of one single customer to make an insanely great product. The company in this situation becomes the consultant to its customer—building a seemingly customized solution for a client. In such a scenario, the product development team focuses on the customer’s needs by bringing the customer into product planning cycles. Doing so truly prioritizes the customer’s most pressing needs during a sprint cycle.

The consultant approach seems backwards considering that most startups are building products for more than one customer, but remember startup productivity is not about cranking out more widgets or features; it’s about aligning product development efforts with a user to create value for that user. By including the user into the product planning, the team knows that it is actually creating something that users really need.

The key of course is to bring in a customer who is representative of a much larger target audience. At Vonjour, we devoted our sprint cycles around the most urgent needs of less than a handful of high priority customers. In bringing these companies into our product planning strategy, we could discern overlaps in pain points in how they connected with their customers. We prioritized our product backlog on the most urgent needs. Most importantly though, engaging with these early customers allowed us to better understand the audience we were building our product for.

It’s important to note though, listening to users does not mean doing exactly what they request though. It’s up to founders to decode what users are requesting into the pain point that they are experiencing—the true message of user feedback is often buried on the surface of their requests.

It’s rarely the case that a startup becomes lured down a blind alley trying to make early users very happy. Sprint planning sessions offer a great opportunity to bring in a customer to collaborate on creating and fine tuning a product for a handful of customers that solves a real need.

This high level engagement is one of the advantages of still being small. Startups can provide an elevated level of attentiveness to a smaller group customers and make them insanely happy. The result is a product that actually adds value to customers and fuels the engine of growth for the business. It will be orders of magnitude easier to sell and market the product once a startup has built a product that users really need and could not do without.

Additional Resources:

Getting Started With Vonjour

Welcome to Vonjour! We designed the system to be simple to configure! This guide includes everything you need to get started with your account.

Activate Your Extension

The first thing you’ll want to do is activate your extension. To activate your extension, you need to do two quick things:

Assign Extension

First, make sure you have assigned yourself an extension number. You’ll see that in the example below, Paul is set to Ext. 704. In your own profile page, make sure that you have been assigned an extension number.

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Creating Your Auto Attendant Greeting

Your auto attendant greeting is the first thing your callers hear when they call your business. It’s the first opportunity to leave a good impression with potential customers of your business. The most important part of the greeting, though, is presenting the caller with directions of how to connect with the person they need to speak with.

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