Call me, maybe?

To give or not to give your phone number—that is the question all singles encounter when they start dating, whether they are meeting at a club or through an online dating site.

Five years ago, eHarmony became the first online dating site to offer a private calling solution. Despite an innovative approach, however, subscribers found the solution difficult to use. The solution forced them to use their computers to initiate phone calls to their matches, which customers found cumbersome. As part of a wider site redesign rolled out this spring, eHarmony sought to offer a calling solution that provided a better customer experience.

Giving online daters control and anonymity

eHarmony examined a number of telephony providers and ultimately chose to implement Twilio’s anonymous calling solution based on Twilio’s reputation in the industry for reliability and its mature set of APIs. “Twilio’s technology was robust and well tried by many companies in the technology industry, and so we felt confident in aligning our brand with Twilio’s,” said Arvind Mishra, vice president of product management at eHarmony.

It took one developer only a matter of hours to implement a working prototype, giving eHarmony an idea of how easy the implementation would ultimately be. In the end, a team of four developers completed the full integration of Twilio and the new Secure Call feature within about 30 days.

“Because Twilio’s APIs are so well developed, we were able to get to the market faster than we expected. It was a relatively painless process,” said Mishra.

The new Secure Call experience allows users to connect with matches by phone without revealing their personal phone numbers. When subscribers use Secure Call for the first time, Twilio assigns a private, virtual phone number to them. This virtual number is linked to a personal number, like a cell phone. For example, if Mike wants to contact Liz by phone, he sends her a request. If she accepts, eHarmony forwards Liz’s private phone number to Mike. He can add her private number to his cell phone’s address book, and so long as both Mike and Liz are ok with it, they can call each other at their leisure.

This improved Secure Call experience came at the same time that eHarmony introduced a site-wide redesign. The new redesign features fresh, magazine-style profiles, and Secure Call has a prominent place on the new profiles. Since launching the new redesign eHarmony has seen Secure Call usage double.

In the near future, eHarmony plans to add Secure Call to their mobile platform along with secure text messaging. “Real-time interaction is key to getting people offsite and onto date, and having Secure Call on our mobile platforms will definitely help to make that happen,” Mishra said.

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