There are few chores dreaded more than calling a customer service hotline to resolve a travel snafu, a late bill payment or a delivery gone awry.
Now a Los Angeles start-up called Service says it can save you the hassle by making those calls for you, pledging to secure the best outcomes in the process.
The company, which announced Tuesday that it has raised $3.1 million in seed funding led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm Founders Fund, is offering the service for free until the end of the year.
The goal is to accumulate enough data to bolster its software. That way the company can whittle down the time it takes to resolve problems and better predict outcomes – where to draw the line in asking for compensation for mishandled hotel reservations, for example.
Founder Michael Schneider said the service also benefits merchants as it helps settle customer-relation issues before they spiral out of control. The start-up’s data can also one day be useful for informing businesses on what they do right and wrong, he said.
So how does Service get results? Just making the call is a start, Schneider said. Many people are so turned off by the call center experience that they choose not to do anything about their consumer-related problems.
Second, Service’s agents say they get better results by taking emotion out of the equation. They are impartial, third-party actors, which tends to make customer service agents more amenable.
“That neutrality, calmness and sense of reason is actually a huge benefit,” said Schneider, 34, a native Angeleno.
Service will introduce a mobile app later this year, though the platform is available on mobile Web browsers. Users are urged to provide supporting documentation such as a receipt. Some businesses require verbal approval through a quick conference call to allow a Service agent to proceed on your behalf.
It takes an average of 15 minutes to get a case resolved, though Schneider hopes to drill that time down to under a minute with enough data.
Travel takes up about 60% of the company’s caseload, and of that, about 70% is with airlines alone.
Don’t expect Service to call the IRS for you, though. The company draws the line with government.
“We only work with companies with an incentive to improve – cultures where customer service matters,” Schneider said.
Service isn’t the only company in the problem-solving/concierge business attracting investors
Fixed, a San Francisco start-up that helps people fight parking tickets, has raised $1.85 million, according to CrunchBase.