Buffalo Interviews Startups

GripeO – Modern Customer Service Platform

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What is GripeO?

GripeO is a modern Customer Service Platform for Consumers and Businesses which uses mobile and social technologies to address growing frustration in how we provide companies feedback. Users submit feedback for any business from one consolidated app (GripeO) or website (GripeO.com), typically in under a minute. Verified businesses can respond to and analyze feedback. Unverified businesses are encouraged to verify and address the issue through social media encouragement, using GripeO. If feedback is completely ignored, it is offered as a highly qualified lead to competitors, in the Complaint Marketplace. Additionally, verified businesses are offered tools to improve their help desk experience. Playing on the concept of complaint feedback actually being an incredible opportunity, the GripeO Social Lead generation toolkit cross references competitive keywords with hashtags like #badcustomerservice, follows them, and reports if the user follows back. This allows businesses to then reach out with highly qualified leads, at just the right time. Our vision is to grow as a feedback aggregator by making it easier and more convenient to submit on one’s own terms, while still guiding and shaping that feedback in a way that provides value to businesses. We will continue to assess new ways to bring data into the platform, be it through new inputs like Website Widgets & Text Messaging, or data collection methods, like Scraping.

Who is your target user?

– Consumers who are frustrated with customer service, are short on time, appreciate convenience, use apps or the web services.
– Business who are concerned about their social customer care and are interested in the ways in which complaints can actually become opportunities for new sales.

Why did you build your product? What problem does GripeO solve?

We built our product because it’s a problem we ran into in our personal lives. Only 1 in 26 people currently submit feedback about an issue to a company, yet they go on to tell 10+ people about the experience. This isn’t good for you and I, and it’s not good for businesses. At the same time, studies have shown Customer Service “rage” is at an all time, all while customer service efficiency is actually better than its ever been. We need to innovate the model, not just the technology.

What makes GripeO different from what is already available?

We offer any data we collect to companies for free. However, if they ignore it, we reserve the right to offer it as a lead to competitors. GripeO is a complete platform, offering services to businesses, a web and mobile tool set to consumers, and it highly integrated into Social Media.

Tell us your founding story. Was there an “ah ha” moment?

GripeO CEO Mike Klanac was cutting a pizza with a so-called “quality” German steak knife. It snapped in half, and that initiated a 3 month customer service odyssey marked by confusion, frustrated, and disappointment. It lead to the idea that, using mobile and social media, somebody can make this better. Why not us?

Tell us about the founders and their backgrounds.

GripeO is comprised of 6 co-founders, Z80Labs, 1 senior advisor, and 2 other team members. We have authored thousands of websites and pieces of software throughout over 10 years of working together. Several of our sites have acquired large user bases, substantial activity, and press coverage.

• Michael Klanac – CEO: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mjklanac
• Nicholas Campanile – Finance: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nicholas-campanile/18/340/bb7
• Stephen Makula – System Architect
• Richard Panek – Product Manager: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richpanek
• Jim Proulx – User Experience and Design: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimproulx
• Mark Taylor – User Interface and Development: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markwtaylor

What’s next? What do your short-term goals look like?

We’re launching version 2.0 in March of 2015. This release will include our new Business Feedback Widget, the GripeO Complaint Marketplace, the GripeO Social Monitoring Toolset, GripeO Android App, and an updated design. Our goals is to convert our first 100 paying customers, to add to our already 110+ businesses using our free service.

Where can people find out more?