GetHuman Hacks Through Customer Service Maze for a Fee


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GetHuman last week launched a service designed to help consumers with the tangle of customer service.

For between US$5 and $25, one of the eight-person company's five dedicated problem solvers, aided by bots, will call a customer service line on a client's behalf to sort things out.

The idea for GetHuman, which also offers a company phone directory service, goes back more than a decade.

The problem solvers service, piloted late last year, reportedly has served nearly 10,000 people.

"GetHuman exists and is expanding its services because a lot of customer service duties these days are handled by IVR (interactive voice response) and other automated technologies," suggested Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce.

"These solutions might make financial sense for large companies with millions of customers, but consumers can become very frustrated very quickly navigating through an automated tree to reach an actual person," he told CRM Buyer.

Trying to get in touch with GetHuman left me in the same customer service no-mans-land the company promises to help clients navigate.

The company doesn't list a press contact. On its home page, I typed in that I was seeking to speak with a GetHuman executive for a story, and was told that resolving the problem would take six steps and 15 minutes.

GetHuman offered two options: It would resolve the issue for $10, or I could do it myself.

Selecting the latter option led me to a page that listed a phone number and indicated the average hold time was 50 minutes. It also provided call center hours.

After further interaction, I received an offer for a custom guide at no charge, and was taken to a page that asked me to sign in using Facebook or Google Plus, or enter my email address and password for my GetHuman account.

Ironically, some customers might prefer using a service like GetHuman's to contact the company rather than having to jump through all the hoops it set up.

There are other companies that offer "to negotiate your monthly payments on phone bills, cable bills, etc.," said Nikki Baird, a managing partner at RSR Research. "They take the percentage of the savings they get you over a one-year period."

The existence of such companies "should tell you something if your customer service is so poor that someone's willing to pay someone else to get relief," she told CRM Buyer.

"But there are plenty of organizations out there who think waiting on hold, dealing with someone with a heavy accent or with a heavily scripted interaction, or dealing with a bot with no empathy are all OK things to do to customers," Baird noted.

Either they don't understand that such actions erode brand equity, or they "understand and don't really care," she said.

The existence of companies like GetHuman is "pathetic, funny and useful all at the same time," noted Paula Rosenblum, a managing partner at RSR Research.

"When customer service is so bad that we have to hire someone to do the call for us, something is terribly wrong," she told CRM Buyer.

"The frightening question is, will the GetHuman bot connect you with a customer service bot? If so, it's not going to be a very profitable enterprise," Rosenblum said.

Ninety-seven percent of 4,000 consumers in Brazil, Japan, the UK and the United States said customer service is somewhat or very important in their choice of, or loyalty to, a brand, according to the Parature 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report. Further, 62 percent said poor customer service led them to stop doing business with a brand.

Businesses are 14 times more likely to sell to an existing happy customer than to a new customer, according to Capterra.

"Successful companies use every customer touchpoint to build loyalty with their customers," Clarus' Caporaso commented. Companies like GetHuman "add another layer between the company and its audience, reducing the number of opportunities to do so."

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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