The rise of the social web is changing customer service. Services like Yelp and Foursquare allow people to provide positive and negative feedback in a transparent way so businesses can monitor and make an effort to improve or acknowledge their offerings.
Joe Beninato, a serial entrepreneur with 7 companies under his belt, built the Tello app to let users quickly rate any employee, at any business while they are on-the-go. The goal is to push businesses to offer that Four Seasons experience to every customer. And, unlike other reviews sites that draw out snarky users, more than 80% of Tello reviews (during their alpha), were positive.
“Customer service is in my blood. My grandather came from Italy in the late 1800s, settled in Chicago, opened up a bar, survived prohibition, and later my father and his brothers took over. The Glass Dome Hickory Pit is our Italian family style BBQ restaurant and has been open for over 50 yrs,” explains Beninato, the CEO and Founder of Tello.
The Tello prototype was built in spring 2010 and the company raised a million dollars over the summer in a series A round of funding. They will be looking for a series B this spring.
The app lets users rate customer service experiences wherever they go in 30 seconds or less. Simply pull up the app, choose a restaurant or business and enter the name of your server. Tello lets you choose “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” add additional comments and share it to Facebook or Twitter. There is also a request reply feature that will be an incredibly handy tool for restaurants to interact with customers.
“The restaurant business is really hard but its where I grew to appreciate great service, but I was a technology guy so that is what I decided to pursue,” explains Beninato, who after graduating from MIT, moved to Silicon Valley and has been working on startups for the past twenty years.
Phase one of Tello’s plan will be to get people rating. Phase two will be to engage with businesses – airlines, hotel chains and retailers. In fact, Tello has already been in talks with 300-3,000 storefronts that you’ve definitely heard of and will be working with them to come up with new features that make sense such as “claim your business” (similar to Foursquare); a system for entering a list of employees; a way to respond to customers; and the ability to access metrics; e.g. an airport might want to see how all the gate agents stack up against each other.
The consumer app is free, but they will be charging for some of the aforementioned features in Q2 of this year. The service will likely not be entering the ad supported arena, as Beninato believes this is a grey area he’s not comfortable with entering.