24. A buffer against bad customer service. A lot of companies (to say nothing of government agencies) have appalling customer service. “Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us.” Doesn’t it make you cringe just to read that? Sometimes the UIs presented to customers are even deliberately difficult; some airlines deliberately make it hard to buy tickets using miles, for example. Maybe if you built a more user-friendly wrapper around common bad customer service experiences, people would pay to use it. Passport expediters are an encouraging example.
For today’s idea, I’m again taking inspiration from my lovely and talented wife. Personally, I’m horrible at dealing with customer service people, but my wife is ridiculously great at it. I don’t know how she does it, but she’ll get on the phone and within minutes we’ll have crazy discounts on our cable or phone bills, instant returns with no extra fees, etc, etc..
So today’s idea, my thought is to use a model similar to the insurance industry, where people can delegate their problems to a trusted agent who can deal with problems on their behalf. Users could purchase a customer service policy (i.e. up to 5 incidents for $25/month) and would be assigned a person who they could contact in case of any customer service needs. Users would then have the option to call or Email their agent whenever they needed something taken care of, provide any necessary details, and the agent would take care of it on their behalf.
Not the best idea in the world, I’ll admit it – but cut me a little slack today, I’m jetlagged! I love that excuse. If you have any thoughts on this one, post ’em in the comments below.