I have a bit of a confession to make: I am not entirely sure what the Better Business Bureau (BBB) does. Well, at least I didn’t know until I spoke to Michael Schneider last week.
Schneider is CEO of Service, a one-year-old company that aims to give users a customer service experience that is respectful of their time. While Service may be the new kid on the block, especially compared to market incumbent BBB, it has accrued almost $4 million in seed funding from a handful of Silicon Valley Venture Capital firms — the same firms that have invested in companies like AirBnb, SpaceX, Uber, and more. So I asked myself: what exactly do these VC firms see in Service that they saw in other successful startups?
After speaking with Schneider the answer was clear, and it had something to do with Service’s potential to disrupt the customer service industry as a whole. Allow me to elaborate.
Like many other entrepreneurs, Schneider established the idea for his venture when attempting to alleviate a personal pain point. Sick of calling 800 numbers, navigating various phone trees, and suffering through phone transfers that resulted in hours of repeated dialogue, Schneider decided to shake up the customer service industry with a new mobile app. Enter the aptly named “Service,” stage left.
Service began in June 2015 and focused on the consumer side of customer service. The idea was simple: create a customer service process that was respectful of people’s time. To accomplish this goal, Schneider and his team used an x-factor largely absent across the customer service industry: newer technology.
Seriously, think about it: when was the last time there were any innovations in the customer service industry? If people are creating interactive tattoos that control cell phones, why on earth am I waiting over an hour to correct a mischarge on my internet bill?
Hardly any innovations have hit the customer service industry, but Service app is changing the game Tweet This
This apparent disconnect between technology and customer service has opened the door for Service. Now, when a customer has a complaint about a business, he or she can turn to Service and solve the problem in one minute. The process goes something like this: To start, you push a button and are greeted by a bot. The bot asks you the name of the company with which you have a problem, and then suggests concerns you may be having based off common issues customers have had with said company. If you’re having issues with an airline, they’ll ask for a copy of your itinerary, and if you’re having issues with Amazon, they’ll ask for a copy of your receipt. Then, based off your answer, Service asks what would remedy the situation (which is also based off of Service’s experience). Finally, the team at Service goes to work for you while you sit back and contemplate how to best spend all your newfound free time.
The benefits that Service provides to consumers are apparent: the app alleviates headaches and eliminates time wasted dealing with incompetent and insincere customer service representatives. In Schneider’s words, “The whole process goes from an unknown black hole that is deeply disrespectful of your time as a consumer, to under one minute.” So, it should come as no surprise when he describes his app as a “game changer.”
On the business side, Service is also changing the game, but these changes aren’t as glaring as they are on the consumer side. “For small or large businesses we’re doing a lot of things for them,” says Schneider. “We are calming their customers down, we are listening to them, and we are working to broker fair resolutions often avoiding cancellations or giving a restaurant another chance.” While seemingly intangible, these benefits are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg for Service, which is still developing its platform in an attempt to help businesses directly. Rather than act as a third party, Schneider and team want to offer businesses sensible tools that are easy to implement, make customers happy, and help businesses save money.
I asked Schneider to elaborate on what exactly these business services will be, but unfortunately he was unable to tell me specifics, since most of what they are working on is not yet public. Schneider did tell me, however, that some businesses have approached Service wanting to put Service’s green bell logo on the bottom of receipts to let customers know that there is a friendly, neutral third party available to solve issues.
And, perhaps, this is where Service’s greatest potential lies. As the social media age continues to evolve, and as kids increasingly sit behind their keyboards for hours on end, the ability to allow instantaneous feedback and receive immediate results will become increasingly important.
A world in which kids see a green bell logo on every receipt or in every storefront isn’t so inconceivable – especially considering young adults like myself are unfamiliar with the Better Business Bureau’s services. And when you consider the technological innovations that have altered industries as a whole, it appears Service isn’t far from a customer service takeover.
I guess, in the end, the fact I was unfamiliar with BBB is irrelevant, because it appears as though Service is poised to become a customer service incumbent of its own. The only question that remains is: can anybody stop them?
Interested in startup apps like Service and want to know more about how they raise capital to scale? Our startup funding page can help you out.