Saturday, August 31, 2013

My job is worthwhile.

When people ask me what my company Relay Network does, I tell them we're trying to make it easier for businesses and customers to communicate over smartphones. I then give a few examples of the products we offer, and they get it, but I suspect this is a case where a concrete example could bring them to the "grok point" faster.

I had an experience like that today and I thought I'd share here. The headphone jack on my home laptop broke, leaving most of my music inaccessible to me because my dumb iphone can't talk to my Linux box. It's under warranty, so I called the Lenovo 800 number to ask them to service it. I had a few observations from that experience:

- I really hate waiting on hold. We have a product that allows a company to send you a text while you're on hold that will link you to a web site where you can schedule a time for the company to call you back. I was really wishing that Lenovo already made use of it.

- The whole call took 45 minutes. If I had been disconnected during that time (which happens all the time on a cell phone!) my entire time would have been wasted because I would have had no way to reconnect with the operator with whom I had been speaking. I would love to have been given a text during that call with a tel link or at least information to take me directly back to him in the event of a disconnect. Relay could do that.

- He had to send me a document to print off and mail with the laptop to the service center. We had to spend 10 minutes making that transfer because I first had to spell out my e-mail address, then we had to wait for the message to arrive, and the first couple of times it didn't arrive because he heard a 't' where there was a 'p' in the address, then we had to slowly go through each letter in detail to find the mistake, and then finally wait again for it to be delivered. It was painful, but it wasn't the operator's fault; difficulty spelling words is an inherent limitation of the telephone medium. This is the kind of exchange that a product of ours called the Wire could make a lot easier. There would be no need to spell anything out. They would just text a link to me, and that link would take me straight to a private connection with Lenovo where the document would be waiting for me.

These kinds of interactions between individuals and corporations are quite painful as a rule, and I do believe there's a lot our company has to offer in utilizing smartphone technology to improve them.

This kind of thing isn't all we do. We are also developing tools to make it easier for customers to complete transactions with all of the businesses in their lives, things like placing a reservation or an order or refilling a prescription. The Wire is the tool for doing that, and it is already open to the public. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!