If you’re a credit card issuer, a cell phone carrier or an airline you use IVR (interactive voice response) phone trees to resolve calls and avoid sending what you deem to be unnecessary calls to your call center. Live agents are expensive. But almost every consumer hates dealing with IVR systems. They’re often frustrating, don’t resolve issues and delay what consumers ultimately want, which is to talk to a live customer service agent.
Now comes a deliciously subversive “click to call” service called Bringo. You select the category and then the company you’re trying to contact, enter your phone number and they’ll connect the call when the service has bypassed the phone tree and reached a live agent.
I tried two calls: one to Sprint and a second to Chase (credit cards). Each took about 35 seconds to connect and I was connected to a live agent. One thing I didn’t test is whether the agent was the right one for any particular issue since I was just testing the system and not actually calling with a problem. (Corporate reps would tell you IVR helps them route calls properly.)
This service would be especially valuable in a mobile context, when there’s even less tolerance for waiting and phone trees. Regardless it seems to be effective in connecting calls to live agents.
And now to the inevitable: “what’s the business model?” I didn’t speak to company representatives so I don’t know their plan. One could imagine (beyond AdSense) that advertisers might want to be in front of consumers with alternative offers (e.g., Verizon seeking to get Sprint users to switch, etc.). If there was enough traffic to the site there might be some monetization potential here.
Accordingly, I wanted to find out what the annual volumes were of customer service calls in the US but could not find it on Google, Yahoo or MSN and so I went to ask ChaCha’s human guides but the site appears to be having technical problems and I couldn’t get through to anyone . . .