March 7, 2021

Bucks Blog: An App That Makes Customer Service Hold for You

Have you ever wondered, while you wait on hold for a customer service representative, if there was a way to get your problems resolved without spending your time listening to Muzak?

FastCustomer, an app for use on both iPhones and Android phones, aims to provide the answer. While it clearly has some bugs to be ironed out (particularly the Android version, which is in beta and will be upgraded later this month), it seems to be a promising tool.

Aaron Dragushan, FastCustomer’s co-founder and a self-described “computer science dropout turned entrepreneur,” says he got the idea while waiting on hold for customer service at Comcast. “After 20 minutes, I thought, ‘We live in an age of technological innovation, and yet we sit on hold!’”

Why, he wondered, couldn’t a company’s computers “hold hands” with another computer, and put the live people in touch when they were both ready?

Thus was born FastCustomer. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: You download the app onto your phone. When you click on it, a menu of companies appears (there’s more than 2,500 currently listed, including all of the Fortune 500, he says). When you select one, the app tells you to go about your business while it calls the company for you.

When FastCustomer’s automated phone call reaches a customer service representative, Mr. Dragushan said, it tells them, “Please press 1 for your next customer.” Then, assuming the representative presses the button, the app calls you back and links you to the representative.

Sometimes, he admitted, because the service is new, or the representative doesn’t want to wait even briefly, he or she hangs up. But in the vast majority of calls, he said, the representative presses 1, and your call proceeds. (Plus, if one representative hangs up, he says, the app calls back until it gets one who will play ball.)

It happens that I’ve been meaning to call two companies: Netflix, and Cox Cable. A bad electrical storm knocked out our Internet service a while back, and I hadn’t gotten around to resetting the wireless link with our Wii terminal, which allows us to watch Netflix shows on our television. I’d been dragging my feet in part because I wasn’t sure which company to call first for advice. Plus, I couldn’t seem to find the time to locate the proper customer service numbers. So, FastCustomer seemed well worth a try.

The app downloaded quickly onto my Android phone, and the service worked smoothly after I selected Cox from the list. Within three minutes, my phone rang; it was a live Cox representative, asking (somewhat suspiciously, I thought) if I had called. (Why, yes, I did!) I described my problem. She suggested a solution that I agreed to try. Pretty painless.

The Netflix call didn’t go as well. It started out the same way. I got a quick call back. But the voice on the phone was automated. The recorded voice asked me if I was satisfied with Netflix’s service, and directed me to press 1 if I was. I thought that it wasn’t Netflix’s fault that lightning zapped our router, so I pressed 1. Big mistake. “Thank you for your feedback,” the voice said. “Goodbye.” Then it hung up.

Mr. Dragushan said he was not sure what the problem is with Netflix, but he took the company off the app’s menu while he investigates the situation. In some cases, he said, as with Comcast, for instance, the company’s computers block calls from FastCustomer. He said he didn’t believe it was because the company didn’t want to take calls from FastCustomer. It is more likely because the computers see hundreds of calls from a single, toll-free phone number, and register them as some sort of nuisance attack. The company plans to switch to a non-800 telephone number, he said, which should help things go more smoothly on the receiving end.

E-mail inquiries to Comcast and Netflix weren’t answered.

So far, the app has been downloaded about 20,000 times. Ultimately, Mr. Dragushan said, he thinks companies will welcome FastCustomer’s service. “We’re providing such a clear benefit— handing them a caller who isn’t furious for waiting on hold.”

FastCustomer aims to earn revenue by eventually selling premium services for a fee, or by selling analytical data to the companies it calls, so they can better evaluate their customer service.

You can try out FastCustomer with a test call (which features a message from Mr. Dragushan’s 4 year old, urging you to “Never wait on hold again!”), or with a real company, as I did. If you do, let us know how it goes.

Article source:

Speak Your Mind