Lehigh Valley Entrepreneurs Create Curbside Communication App for Businesses, Customers
By Colin McEvoy on July 24, 2020
For the last three years, Lehigh Valley entrepreneur Val Arzunian and David Bougard have been helping regional businesses and their customers connect with each other through UBMe, the free proximity-based smartphone networking app that they created.
But once the coronavirus crisis hit, they realized the software technology they had already created could be used to help companies better operate during the pandemic, and to help customers feel comfortable soliciting regional businesses during the crisis.
That led to the creation of a new product called Curbside Communication, which allows customers arriving at a business to check-in from the safety of their own cars using the free UBMe app.
“This is by far the most difficult time for local businesses in anyone’s memory, and we sincerely hope that our new product helps businesses keep their employees and customers safe during the pandemic,” Arzunian said.
When customers check-in, their user profile is displayed to the business on the Curbside Communication Dashboard. Customers are updated in real time by the business, and they can privately message the business to let staff know that they are outside.
From the Dashboard, staff members can easily reach out to the customer to initiate communication or be contacted by the customer via direct message. Businesses can also use the dashboard to provide real-time updates, collect forms via the UBMe app, ask customers for direct feedback, and accept payment.
Arzunian said the app is a better alternative to driving to a business and simply calling from outside, because companies are often fielding multiple calls and can be difficult to reach via phone. This leads to customer frustration, which can in turn cause them to leave, or risk entering the building unnecessarily.
“Our customers see UBMe as a way to take control of what’s happening at their business by having people stay in their car and directing their movement around their business,” Bougard said. “The staff at retail businesses are afraid to come in contact with the virus while serving customers and UBMe has been able to help relive some of that tension.”
The original UBMe is a free proximity-based networking app that allows users to connect with other people using the app, not just within a nearby radius, but who are physically located at a specific place, whether it’s a business, bar, college campus, concert, festival, sporting event, or something else entirely.
Arzunian said it was easy to transition into offering Curbside Communication because it uses the same technology as UBMe; it was simply a matter of expanding the radius used by the app. Several regional businesses already use UBMe, so Arzunian expects the rollout to go smoothly.
Curbside Communications has already been used in a few companies in various states, including New Jersey, New York, California, and Texas. Arzunian said they wanted to test it at a small number of companies before releasing it widely in Lehigh Valley, which he expects to begin doing this week.
A one-month free trial is being offered to businesses that sign up for use of Curbside Communication by July 31. For more information, visit the UBMe website. Arzunian said webinars will also be offered on upcoming Mondays and Wednesdays, offering companies a chance to see how the app works.
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