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Service is an AI chatbot startup that’ll be knocking on your door soon

Every business person is also a customer and, perhaps even more so than your average human, has very little time to spend trying to get cash back for poor service.

Service launched back in May last year to address that exact challenge and is now using the latest big thing, AI-powered chat bots, to mediate between brands and angry customers.

The journey started on a flight that the company’s now-CEO Michael Schneider was taking where he saw a fellow passenger struggling to make use of their paid-for Wi-Fi.

Watching the painstaking process of filing an online complaint using the last of their battery spurred Schneider to try to come up with a new solution.

What was first just @service on Twitter trying to track down people who might want an easier way to complain, in just a few months became a fully fledged chatbot complaints platform.

“Press ‘1’ for this, ‘2’ for that, is stressful for both customers and businesses,” Schneider explained at The Europas conference in London today. “Businesses want to do the best thing for their customers, but they sometimes fall short.”

He says that most people simply don’t bother complaining, but are inevitably put off your brand by their unresolved poor experience. Or they take to Twitter, with mixed results. Or, bravely, they go for the ultimate prize by actually calling to get their money back, but spend a huge amount of time getting their final resolution.

“Using a chat platform, there’s no call, no hold and in lots of cases, you can solve the issue without a human getting involved,” Schneider explains.

Not a bot for everything

He says there is not necessarily a ‘bot for everything’, as the headlines might have you believe, indeed Service uses bots only to the point where the complaint gets too complicated.

Using natural language processing, in most cases the bot will be able to spot key words, like ‘flight’ and ‘delayed’, and it knows next that it needs those flight details. And that’s almost that.

“It can take as little as 30 seconds to understand the issue.”

He says he’s made sure the bots offer “very empathetic” responses because that’s often lacking when you finally get through to a frazzled call centre worker.

If the bot is faced with a lengthy bit of text, Schneider also claims it knows exactly when to hand the issue over.

Complaints made to Service are all in-bound, you simply enter your name, email and the issue you’d like to raise on its website, naming the relevant company, and it does the rest. Service launched on iOS in December, meaning a complaint to your company is really only a tap away.

So far, the kind of cases raised most often are about travel, retail and telecoms companies.

If it’s a company that appears in the dropdown menu, Service may have already databased a standard resolution offered by the brand. That may be money of the next flight if one is delayed and a resolution appears in near-real-time.

The fledgling company has already won a People’s Voice Webby Award for services to service and it raised a seed round in October from Founders Fund.

It isn’t yet charging customers or brands for resolving complaints, building up users and training the AI are no doubt top of the list. But it’ll likely look to charge businesses for doing such a good job on their behalf.

Lots of people think this service is awesome and it will no doubt soon be knocking on your office door with an automated question about how you’d like to solve your customer’s problem.