Of all the unpleasant tasks ever-willing tech companies take on for consumers, Michael Schneider might have tapped into one of the most onerous.
Forget walking your dog, doing your laundry or moving your stuff from your ex’s place. Schneider’s Service Technologies Inc. deals with customer service issues, using an algorithm and a human touch to get refunds, track down lost items and otherwise deal with time-consuming, often-frustrating interactions that can suck time and energy from even the most patient consumer.
“You are seeing a number of services … that allow consumers to outsource the waiting and time-consuming aspects of certain day-to-day tasks in order to free up that precious time for consumers to focus on more important tasks in life,” Dan Chen, managing director of Santa Monica’s Siemer & Associates, a boutique merchant bank that serves the tech community, said in an email.
So how does Service accomplish so quickly what it takes everyone else so long to do?
“Really, really smart software. We are not just a call center,” said Schneider, who declined to go into more detail other than to say the platform operated by his seven-person company is far more efficient than going it alone.
Depending on the situation, customers submit pertinent information such as a customer identification or product number as well as supporting documents such as a proof of purchase or previous correspondence with the company. All information is then encrypted, said Schneider, who added that the company never stores sensitive information such as credit card or Social Security numbers in plain text. Once contact is made with the vendor, a Service employee informs the representative they are assisting a customer in resolving a complaint. So far, companies have been willing to work with them.
One happy customer is Michael Jones, chief executive of Santa Monica’s Science Inc., who turned to the 2-month old Beverly Hills company to help get his money back after a bad experience with an airline.
“The most powerful services people can produce for me are things that save my time,” said Jones, who formerly served as chief executive of social media platform Myspace.
Service is seeking a foothold in a crowded corner of the tech industry. While a number of on-demand, task-oriented firms have entered the market, venture capital firms haven’t slowed down funding, looking for the next unicorn that will spread like wildfire among users desperate to simplify their lives.