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.”