magicJack Inventor Plans Linux Support, Improved Customer Service, and More

Last week, we took a second look at the magicJack to see what new features found its way into the device since our initial magicJack review in the fall of 2007. Today we pick the brain of magicJack's inventor, Dan Borislow, to talk Linux compatibility, number porting, customer service, and much, much more. LAPTOP: How has the public taken to magicJack? Have sales met expectations? Dan Borislow: The sales of the magicJack have proven just how much the public has taken to it. Since launching Version 1.0 in January, sales have grown 25% week over week and totaling over 250,000 so far, and we expect to hit 350,000 by the end of April. Who is magicJack's core demographic? DB: Anyone who wants to eliminate their monthly phone bill. Pretty big demographic, huh? But seriously, I designed the magicJack to have mass market appeal for the budget-conscious consumer. That’s why you will not see us “tricking out” the magicJack with a ton of bells and whistles that will make it complicated to use. Anyone from your grandmother to your five-year-old nephew can use it to make free phone calls. Also, its portability makes it appealing to mobile professionals, travelers, etc. And once again, because it’s so easy to use, those on the go can be making phone calls within minutes from anywhere in the world where they have a computer and broadband connection. Are there any new features planned for the magicJack? DB: We have made optimizations to the software and hardware to improve OS compatibility, enhanced auto-run functionality, and superior echo-cancellation controls. This did not demand a new version, but is available in the latest magicJacks being sold, and older magicJacks receive an automatic software upgrade when they are plugged in. And we are pushing forward to further expand the network in the United States and Canada, with plans to push into Latin America and Europe. This will further enhance the voice quality of magicJack calls from and to anywhere in the world. We are adding to our inventory of area codes. Remember, customers can select their area codes and aren't limited to those in their physical location (Currently they have 135 available and plan to add 74 within the next 45 days). In this way, people in locations where area codes are not yet available may still utilize the unlimited calling benefits of magicJack. Improved customer support is something else you can expect to see. I told you earlier how fast our customer base is growing and as it continues to do so, customer support is a top priority and something I am managing very closely. Currently we offer 24/7 tech chat online, supported by over 130 people with an average wait time of seconds. Our customers can rate these agents on a 1 to 5 scale (5 being the best) and those that do not receive the highest grades possible are replaced. At the end of April, we will dismiss the bottom 15% of agents. I am finding that what we are doing is working. Our agents are learning and improving rapidly and this week, approval ratings of the agents doubled what they were the week before. We have six 5s for every 1. We have also recently created an elite group of Super Techs to which concerns can be elevated. I do plan to keep online chat as the primary means for customer support because our customers are already online, and who wants to call and wait on hold for a telephone support agent? Also, for magicJack to work, it needs Internet access. If your Internet is down, nothing else matters from a customer service standpoint. If the issue is with the Internet provider and MJ customers are calling us, it will bog down our customer service efforts. We also run a quick system check called magicFix as a first step to any support inquiry which can catch and fix many issues automatically before the customer even has to chat with anyone. Mac OS X support has been added to magicJack. Could Linux compatibility be coming down the pipe? DB: Yes, and because the of the similarities between the Mac and Linux OSes, we should be able to support Linux fairly soon. Some users on the Unofficial magicJack Forum have asked for the ability to plug the unit directly into a router; is this a possible future addition? DB: The magicJack was not designed to plug into the router. One of the main benefits of the magicJack is its portability. By being able to plug into the USB slot, our customers can take it anywhere in the world and use it with any broadband-enabled computer. If it were designed to work with a router, the magicJack would lose its portability. So no plans to add this functionality. Are you planning on offering number portability? DB: We do plan to offer number portability. It is not available yet but in the coming months, you will be able to port your number for a nominal fee. How much will porting a number cost? DB: $10. Will you implement the ability to record calls? DB: No plans to implement this. Trying to keep this very simple to avoid too much customer service for the good of the whole base.