No one enjoys calling a customer service hotline.
"It's not a very dignifying experience," says Hold-Free Networks CEO Lance Fried, referring to a typical customer service call that involves listening to 10 different menu options before mashing your hand against the "0" key to get an operator only to then be subjected to 20 minutes of Kenny G tunes before an actual human addresses your concerns.
Hold-Free Networks' goal is to make this process less miserable by eliminating the need to wait on hold. How? By having customer-service representatives call you at your own convenience.
Here's the lowdown: If you do business with a company that utilizes Hold-Free, you'll be able to click on an icon on that company's website that will help you set up a time to place a customer-service call. You'll initially be presented with some simple menu options that will direct your call to the proper department and you'll also get to select a timeframe when you'd like to make a call.
As soon as a customer service representative is available, they'll receive a notification telling them to call you to address your concerns. This way, you can go about your daily business without spending long periods waiting for a customer service rep to answer your call. The service can also be accessed across multiple platforms so you can make call reservations over PCs, tablets or smartphones.
"The biggest trend we've seen is that consumers are more empowered," Fried says. "They now have smartphones and they self-publish and they demand a better customer-service experience."
On the enterprise end, Hold-Free provides call centers with a software-as-a-service that sits outside the firewall and doesn't require expensive integration or replacing old equipment. It instead comes in directly through the company's voice channel so customer service reps receive telephone calls notifying them that a user has requested time for a call. Fried says the goal was to make it as easy as possible for companies to adopt the SaaS no matter what legacy equipment they've deployed at their call centers.
Fried says while Hold-Free made its public debut at DEMO Fall '11 this year, it's actually been in "stealth mode" for the past three years and has run pilot programs with some Fortune 500 companies to fine tune its software. He says the company will officially announce its enterprise customers at CTIA this fall and will take the wraps off of some additional products that are still in development.
"We have compelling evidence showing this leads to happier customers," he says. "I feel like we're solving a huge problem and it's gratifying that the industry at large has not yet solved this because we believe we have a real solution."
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