I’ve heard people call it “phone tree hell,” the experience of trying to call a company and an automated voice tells you to press “1” for this and “2” for that, then enter your account number and get stuck on hold. Or worse, when a live agent finally picks up, she asks for your account number again. Grrrr! A Silicon Valley company is trying to rescue you from phone tree hell.
Moxie Software, based in Sunnyvale, today announced a partnership with Microsoft to integrate its Spaces by Moxie platform, which offers customer support in various ways, with Microsoft Lync, which is an business phone system. What Spaces by Moxie means for you as a consumer is that it allows you to interact with a company via, not just phone, but chat, e-mail, social media, online self-service and something called “cobrowsing,” in which a customer service agent can take you through the company’s Web site -- you watching on your computer, he or she watching on theirs -- to help find what you’re looking for.
To alleviate phone tree hell, companies are trying to find other ways to communicate with customers than just phone, either to sell them something or provide them with post-purchase support to either figure out how their product works or to get it repaired. Gradually, companies are embracing these new ways to communicate but they’re not all there yet. I have had a good experience communicating with my bank via chat to ask questions about my checking account. But I chronicled a bad experience trying to go online to cancel my Skype account. And I’m sure many of you have stories to tell about customer service nightmares.
Spaces by Moxie is a platform for delivering the whole range of contact options for a company to offer to its customers, including on social media where you can “Like” a company’s Facebook page and comment on posts about a particular product, just like you would on a friend’s page. Supporting chat, e-mail, phone, or social media options gives customers a choice depending on their situation, said Tara Sporrer, chief marketing officer for Moxie.
“At one point with this one company, you may have to call them, even though normally you chat with them,” Sporrer said. “You might need to send an e-mail. There may be a situation where you want to communicate differently with a company based on your need.”
I'm personally annoyed about being directed to FAQs that make you scroll through pages and pages of frequently asked questions to see if your problem has already been solved by someone else. I prefer to e-mail the company my specific question and get an eventual reply.
Moxie announced its partnership with Microsoft at a Microsoft conference on customer relationship management systems called “Convergence 2013” going on this week in New Orleans. Spaces by Moxie also integrates with competing business phone systems from companies such as Aspect, Genesys, Avaya and Cisco Systems, but Sporrer said Lync is a more cost-effective alternative to those older systems, many of which are coming up for replacement.
Many of the gadgets that you and I buy – a laptop for instance -- are becoming commoditized, meaning that different brands have nearly the same features, capabilities and price. That being the case, “service is the differentiator,” said Sporrer, and offering a variety of ways to interact with the company becomes more important.