Hold-Free Aims to Improve Customer Service

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

Customer service has become a joke to most consumers, but not a particularly funny one. In recognition of that fact, many businesses are working to make improvements on this front. But that can be an expensive proposition. To help make better customer service more easily attainable, Hold-Free Networks recently launched SaaS (News - Alert)-based services that put “a pretty face on customer service”.

Wading through lengthy automated menus only to be put on hold for what can seem like an eternity may be the most dreaded aspect for customers in reaching out to organizations with which they do business. Hold-Free Networks takes that out of the equation by instead enabling consumers to tap into mobile applications from the businesses they want to reach and input personal data with one or two clicks. Individuals then get a screen pop on their mobile device as to when to expect a call from a business representative, who will already have their applicable personal data in hand. This way, consumers don’t have to dedicate significant slots of time to wait on hold, explains Lance Fried, CEO and co-founder of San Diego-based Hold-Free.

“We’re going to provide a more dignified solution for consumers when they need live service,” he tells Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

This service component is just one aspect of the four-module solution that Hold-Free can deliver. The company also offers sales, social sentiment and security modules.

The sales module allows businesses to send information and offers tailored to the interests of specific end users. For example, an airline could use this capability to send a customer a notice on her mobile phone that her flight has been delayed. A financial institution, meanwhile, might leverage the sales module to raise a red flag about suspicious activity on a user’s credit card. In the process, the sales module helps businesses build customer loyalty and offers them a channel through which to up-sell customers on addition products and services.

“We truly believe service is the new sales,” says Fried.

As for the social sentiment module, that enables end users to provide a 1 to 5 rating of their customer service experience, which they can easily also publish to Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) if they so desire. Hold-Free also is working on a social customer interaction management solution, which it expects to launch next year, that will expand social listening and better enable businesses to streamline and manage the influx of information available via social networking channels, Fried tells CIS magazine. He explains that context is the new thing the company plans to bring to the table with this offering.

Meanwhile, the security module is a REST-based service that offers authentication, which leverages voice biometrics, as well as encryption.

Wendell Black, president of sales and business development, says that Hold-Free delivers all of the above without requiring any heavy lifting on the part of the business. Instead, the Hold-Free software works with existing mobile apps and business telephony infrastructure – no integration required.

The solution is aimed primarily at financial services, insurance, service provider and travel outfits and targets businesses of all sizes, although Black says that large enterprises have the most to gain. He says early Hold-Free customers saw a 25 to 30 percent savings on call handling, and agents spent 20 to 25 percent less on calls. This is all while customers experienced a higher level of service, he notes.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi