Airlines & Airports
Tech of the Week: Service Takes All The Pain And Heartache Out Of Customer Service
Photo courtesy of Service
Let’s harness our inner Morpheus and ask, what if we told you there was an infinitely better way to deal with your customer service issues?
The answer is a new company aptly called Service and it only seems too good to be true.
At this time it might be prudent to explain a bit what Service does. Essentially, those of you who have a particular complaint—your flight is delayed five hours, the hotel lost your reservation—can now go to the Service website and tell your woeful tale in what amounts to a literal minute of your time.
Now the next part is important: you can then get on with your life.
Continue your travels. Call a family member. Go have a fantastic meal. Meanwhile Service is hard at work for you, solving your respective issue or at the very least working towards a resolution.
Now it’s important to remember that this, um, service is good to handle any issue outside governmental agency dilemmas: Cable providers, automotive, the list goes on and on. However, it’s invaluable as far as we travel enthusiasts are concerned.
TravelPulse had a moment with Michael Schneider, founder and CEO of Service, and he relayed a great many things including how Service started.
Schneider expounds on the turnaround time once he had that “Aha” moment: “It happened very fast. The whole company is about six months old.”
As for the impetus behind the creation, Schneider shared an anecdote to which most of us can relate: “I was on a flight in late March of this year and I saw this guy next to me struggling with his Gogo Internet and the power plugs weren’t working on the plane. He was just having a rough time. And getting assistance wastes about a half hour of his time going to Gogo.com (GogoAir.com), AA.com—it was an American flight—and filing complaints. And his battery died from the power plugs not working. And I just felt his pain and thought there had to be a better way. So I built the first website myself on Squarespace in about a day, launched it and started tweeting at people in late May that were complaining about companies, offering them help for free.”
Now we encourage you to give it a go, because Service is for the moment free—absolutely. The company doesn’t charge, ask for a credit card, take a percentage of what you get from solved complaints or anything. The only thing you spend is the time to type out what your issue is, which may take all of a minute.
From there wizards behind the scenes whisper incantations and solve your problem—at least that’s what it seems like.
Schneider shared that this wasn’t the case: “Behind the scenes there’s a mix of people and software. The company is essentially divided into half of the company dedicated to solving people’s problems and the other half of the company is engineers building software to make the first half of the company’s life easier.”
As for the office infrastructure, the founder continued: “I have zero interest in building up just a big offshore call center and so we are doing everything right here in our office here in Los Angeles. And I think because our software is making our reps so efficient, especially where we are going is going to make them so much more efficient, we have a shot at not off shoring anything and keeping everything in house.”
As for the businesses that deal with Service, Schneider explained the reaction has been “mostly good.”
“There are some businesses that I would say are stuck in the '60s and have hated us, but mostly it’s been very good,” Schneider continued.
When you look at things from a business’ point of view, you would think the reaction would be positive across the board.
Schneider makes a point that a great many consumers take an awful interaction with a business and instead of issuing a formal complaint trash the respective business to family and friends.
Now there is a simple outlet that takes the sting away from waiting forever on hold. And it’s not like Service is taking every single complaint, which is important to remember.
Another customer service issue handled with patience and professionalism! Thanks @service - how did I live without you! ??— jon vlassopulos (@vlasso) December 3, 2015
Schneider continues: “It’s a lot better for them (companies) to come out and get a fair resolution. And the fairness is actually one of our values (to the business). Because we don’t take on every single case. Sometimes consumers are unreasonable and businesses are perfectly reasonable. We will actually protect the brand just from having to deal with the person. If the case does have true legitimacy we will fight like hell to get a resolution. But that fairness factor and neutrality is really what we do and I think businesses respond really well to it.”
The emotion, yelling and screaming is taken out of the equation. And the results are rather remarkable: “It’s been very successful for legitimate cases. I would say about a quarter of the cases we get we just don’t help on.”
Schneider explains you will still get communication in those cases, but it’s the legitimate grievances that will be taken to the next level: “Of the ones we actually take on our hit rate is well north of 50 percent. We have software that helps us navigate companies; we have data now, so we know what to expect from a particular company when something specific happens.”
And again, it’s free, for the moment: “I want to do a few things first. I want to learn a lot more. I want our software to mature a lot more. And I want to see how we can be useful to businesses. If I can figure out a way to build a sustainable business and have a business model without charging consumers that’s my preference. But at the end of the day if we have to charge consumers we will charge consumers.”
When asked what the greatest difficulty has been, Schneider explains that it’s convincing consumers that there is no catch.
He relayed an anecdote that took place just this Thanksgiving. Schneider’s father-in-law, after some coaxing, used Service for an issue that arose over airfare. After taking the problem to Service he was rewarded with a $200 waiver on a now-voided upcharge and 12,000 miles.
When asked what it would have taken to use this on his own, Schneider’s father-in-law explained, “A friend would have needed to tell me.”
In the end, Schneider wants you disgruntled masses to know that, “it just works. It’s not too good to be true.”
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