All too often, a foray into a “help” conversation with a representative of a retailer, manufacturer, or utility is anything but helpful. With so many companies outsourcing and offloading their customer service to third parties – often halfway around the world – customers often feel more confused after a conversation with a help representative than they did before they sought assistance with their problem.
To that end, Israeli start-up CallVU has developed a system where a help seeker can actually see what the person on the other end of the phone is talking about. Designed for mobile phone users, CallVU integrates the direct contact of a phone conversation with the clarity of images on a web site. And last month, the company won a major start-up competition.
Under the CallVU system, customers who call a help agent submits their names and wait for a help agent to answer. Instead of staying on the line, customers are offered the option of a callback. When the service call actually begins, the customer describes their problem, and the service person can respond not only verbally, but with text and images as well – sending pictures or instructions related to the solution directly to customer’s smartphone screen.
CallVU is one of those “of course” ideas – and has so much potential that the system recently won $25,000 in the second annual MasterCard Israel Technology Award. The prize is awarded to companies with innovative products or services that can help consumers and retailers alike, and CallVU, which takes the sting out of what many consumers consider to be a generally painful process, fits the bill.
Besides the cash prize, CallVU will join a financial technology accelerator program run by the international financial organization, Citi. The Tel Aviv-based accelerator provides mentoring and support from Citi professionals to enhance its product or service, market approach and more. In addition, CallVU will have the chance to develop contacts in the tech industry with a free one year membership in the Israel Advanced Technology Industry (IATI) association, which sponsors, among other things, Israel’s largest annual technology show.
CallVU was founded in 2012 by Ori Faran, Doron Rotsztein and Roee Halfon, and has raised nearly a million dollars from ExploreTech VC, BATM, private investors and the Chief Scientist’s Office. The company beat out more than 45 start-ups to win the prize. The competition was open to Israeli companies in the early stages of developing tech for financial services or electronic payment products and solutions.
“Events like this showcase the creative thinking and innovation occurring in the start-up community, not just in Israel, but all around the world – this is happening because these companies are using advances in technology to address real business challenges in new and interesting ways – they’re willing to try things, take risks and they can move at lightning speed.” said Garry Lyons, Chief Innovation Officer for MasterCard. “This competition celebrates and recognizes that innovative spirit. It will be very interesting to see how the participating companies’ progress in the marketplace.”