How great would it be if someone called you everyday, just to tell you how awesome you are? This is the question Awesomeness Reminders poses on their website, and their service let’s you purchase a month of calls to family or friends to do just that. What an awesome
While Awesomeness Reminders could use Twilio to automate messages, this would take away the special appeal of having a real human being call you and relay a personal, unique, one of a kind message. I had a chance to chat with the company’s creator Zack Burt, and here’s what he had to say about building the service.
Interview with Zack Burt, Creator of Awesomeness Reminders
Where did the idea for Awesomeness Reminders come from?
You never know where ideas come from, really. I had previously read this blog post by Tim Ferriss describing his experiences with the VISA Concierge Service… he wanted them to call him every day and tell him that he’s a good person. They refused, because they don’t handle requests of an emotional nature. Awesomeness Reminders is somewhat similar to that…!
How long did it take to build?
It took me a couple days to get the website built. Building the infrastructure to distribute hundreds of daily calls across a team took longer, and was something that I built as the website grew more and more popular.
How did you approach building it?
Very simple… before I built the site, I tested the idea by creating a simple “Coming soon! Give us your email address!” landing page using Unbounce.com, and I threw $200 of adwords at it. It converted well, so I built out the full AwesomenessReminders.com
website using PHP and MySQL. The backend infrastructure is all very simple LAMP stuff (linux apache mysql php), including the payment processing code.
Do you remember the first person you called with the service? What was that like?
It was a lot of fun. I made all the phone calls while I was high. I ended up staying on the phone and having conversations with many of them. A lot of them were people I knew indirectly because we both posted on the website Hacker News, which is where I “launched” awesomeness reminders.
Do you write call scripts? How do you train people on how to interact on the phone?
I wrote a training document – it’s a word document that I give to people and teaches them the basics of what we’re doing, and how to handle typical customer questions like “What? Is this a prank phone call?” and all that jazz.
When interviewing potential hires, I have them leave me a google voice (straight to voicemail) message using a script, and then also send me a resume. If the voice mail message makes me happy, then I will read the resume and then interview them.
All of our calling team has been through the “training process”, which involves them reading the training document and then going through some coaching.
How did you decide on $45/month as your price?
What’s the funniest thing that happened using your service?
Well when I started it it was kind of a joke. I had serious intent even though the original website’s design was filled with jokes, and people were making comparisons to the Saturday Night Live sketch featuring that guy who later became a politician. “Gosh darn it.. people like me”. That one. And then we started hearing stories of people purchasing it for people undergoing chemotherapy, and them looking forward to receiving the calls every day, and that was really touching.
What do you think it is about the telephone and the human voice (as opposed to automating it) that people love so much?
Well, if you use a pre-recorded voice, then you could send people a joke. And that could be funny. But some of the magic of awesomeness reminders is that all of our callers have a lot of emotional intelligence and know how to connect with people over the phone. Sometimes the people receiving the reminders are having a tough day and it’s important to calibrate to their mood and then elevate it :) and that’s something that robots can’t do yet.