I’ve been a user of the TellMe voice portal (1-800-555-Tell) since its inception. I mainly use it to call the airlines, because one can be connected to any airline without having to find or look up the number. But I’ve also used it for news and sports scores on occasion. (I obsessively called it to hear election results updates from a hotel room the evening of the 2000 presidential election.)
This weekend, I casually called to confirm seats on a United flight to Washington DC and was prompted to do a “business search.” This is automated local category search. It’s a version of what the company is doing on TellMe by Mobile, but it doesn’t require a download (also no SMS or visual information back).
Even more suprising was the availability of reviews. These are star ratings with a self-recorded narrative. In other words, people are recording reviews in real time using their (mobile) phones. I quickly went through the process myself.
In recording over the phone you’re prompted to provide a star rating and then record your review. Thus I could come out of a restaurant, call the number and record my review literally seconds after having eaten there. Or I could scribble some thoughts and read them later.
The recording process makes it very easy to log a review. However the current process of browsing reviews on TellMe is cumbersome — a “multi-modal” experience is ultimately required (voice in, text/visual out) — but this is the next step for directory assistance-based mobile local search.
When I can call a number and verbally provide a street name, intersection or neighborhood and get a restaurant referral by category, and then “sort by rating” — that will be a powerful moment.