321-CALL-LOG

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Before Jason and I started Wesabe, I talked for a while about starting a company called GripeJuice, which would be a “call-center tool for the other side of the phone” — that is, a tool you could use as a consumer to keep track of your interactions with customer service centers. Basically, it would be a web site where you could go and create a log of customer service calls you make, and record those calls so that you could play them back later. Whenever I’ve had a big dispute with a utility company like the phone company, I’ve always found that keeping a log makes it much easier to get a resolution. “I’ve called you six times and sat on the line for over two hours trying to get this resolved. Isn’t that costing you money?” When things get really bad, sending a log like this can add a lot of weight to a written complaint. I also thought that aggregating which customer service centers did the best for people would be great — if I could see that Sprint hangs up on its customers more than any other cell phone company, say, that would really matter in my decision to use them. (Yes, Sprint has hung up on me more than once, and refused to do jack about it when I’ve complained.)

I decided not to start GripeJuice because I was very excited about Wesabe, and because I thought there were some potential problems with the GripeJuice idea. (Now, I use that analysis as part of my talks for entrepreneurs, because it’s great to have a real decision to explain evaluating an idea.) Nonetheless, I thought there were a lot of great things about the idea, too, and have wished such a service existed.

Fortunately, three Stanford grads have come up with a very similar idea, and have implemented most of what I wanted to do, and things I never thought of. Their site is called 321-CALL-LOG (found via The Consumerist), and it looks like they’ve done a fantastic job making this a real service. Here’s their report on Sprint, for instance, which doesn’t yet show any data, but does show what they’re tracking: number of calls, length of calls, customer’s rating of the call, and how often Sprint disconnected the call. They also provide you with information about getting through the company’s phone tree (like gethuman.com), and a way to create email logs, too. They’ll notarize your logs, so if you’re in a legal dispute, you can have very authoritative records as evidence.

I’m really happy to see the service appear. They’re currently in beta, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has given it a try. I’ll probably use it the next time I have to deal with a call center. If you do, remember to start off the call by telling the call center employee, “For quality customer service, this call may be recorded.”

4 Responses to “321-CALL-LOG”

  1. Brian Schack Says:

    Does 321-CALL-LOG cost anything? I noticed on their website that they play a recording for the service rep everything three minutes. Wouldn’t that get annoying?

  2. Sam Quigley Says:

    321-CALL-LOG seems like a great idea, but I’m not sure how they get around the authenticating questions problem. Most companies I end up calling — not just banks, but also phone companies, insurers, etc — make me answer some fairly personal questions to authenticate myself. Since 321-CALL-LOG records the calls users make, those recordings are going to contain people’s social security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, credit card/account numbers, …

    The privacy policy is just a template at this point, and I couldn’t find a contact email address on the site. I’m sure they’ll address this problem eventually, but for now it might be wise to not use the service if you think you might have to mention anything you consider private…

  3. Marc Hedlund Says:

    That’s a good point, Sam. When we’d been talking about GripeJuice, we focused more on the webapp side of it — where you could enter your own notes about calls you made. Their approach is more automated but has the downside you mention.

  4. Elise Says:

    Do you know if 321-CALL-LOG is still in existence? Their web link now takes you to someone else’s site. I have some great calls recorded on there and would like to download them to my computer.

    Thanks!

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