Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider

Founder & CEO of Service, LA native, eternal optimist, serial entrepreneur

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 17, 2015

Discussion

Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
I’m Michael, Founder & CEO of Service. Service is my fifth startup and I’m incredibly excited to help people around the world not waste time dealing with customer service ever again. Feel free to ask me anything!
Sohin Shah
Sohin Shah@sohinshah1 · Entrepreneur - www.sohinshah.com
Would you consider being the outsourced customer service partner for brands?
Aidan Lee
Aidan Lee@aidan_k_lee · co-Founder @VewNew_app
@sohinshah1 I am also curious about this too!
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@sohinshah1 yes. we are already experimenting in this place. I think our software is equally valuable for consumers to get efficient and successful resolutions to issues and to brands to protect their brand and resolve issues BEFORE their customer goes on the damaging tweet rant or 1 star Yelp review.
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
Thanks for all the questions, guys. Enjoyed this. Signing off now... if you haven't yet please support us on Product Hunt today check out our app. Would love to know what you think. Have a great day!
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@schneider thanks so much for joining us today, what is the hardest elements you have faced with Service in scaling the business? How have you tackled these issues? Always welcome on @twentyminutevc for our Founder's Friday Segment, would be an honour to have you on the show. Drop me a line at harry@thetwentyminutevc.com if you would be interested!
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@harrystebbings the hardest element in scaling Service is dealing with industries that are stuck in the 1960s... insurance companies are one example that come to mind - we actually have to *FAX* them things. We're writing software to automate and scale most aspects of customer service, but the older and more archaic an industry/company is, the harder it is to handle things efficiently. The good news is I think companies that stay stuck in the 1960s won't be around in 20 years, so time is on our side.
Junius
Junius@juniusfree
Hi @schneider How will you divide your time if a you've got one hour to solve a user problem? Thanks!
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@juniusfree most of the issues we see aren't "acute" meaning, for example, you aren't at the airport, at the gate, and needing to make a flight change where time is of the essence. That's not to say issues don't need to be solved in a timely manner - they do - and we frequently multitask. For example, in a given hour, we might be on hold with one company (that our software has identified that the phone is the most efficient way to get something done), filling out a web form for another company, and getting more information on a third case.
Vincent Ducrey
Vincent Ducrey@vincent_ducrey
@schneider where do you see Service in 12 month ?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@vincent_ducrey 12 months is a long time, considering I started Service just 6 months ago :) we have big plans for our app and our software in general. I think we have a real shot at reinventing the way customer service is done. Right now, it's really inefficient - it leaves both businesses and consumers upset a lot of the time, and there is a better way. We're hard at work building it.
@schneider what are you wearing right now?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@mootron a service T-shirt and a hoodie.
Derek Chu
Derek Chu@derek_chu
@schneider Hi Mike, thanks for taking time to do this today! I had a few questions: 1) Everyone I've talked to loves Service and would gladly pay anything since they get so much value from a recovered case - how do you guys think about something like a success fee? 2) I believe Service will redefine customer success as we know it, what do you ultimately see the product and service evolving into from here? 3) What do you look for in great potential hires and investors? ;) Thanks again and Happy Holidays!
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@derek_chu good questions! 1 - I think a success fee or % could be one model. But I'm not sure it's the best model yet - we need more users and data before we decide. I don't want to charge anyone (consumers or businesses) until I clearly understand the value we provide and what and how to charge. 2 - I agree - I think what we're building - our software & user experience - is the future of customer service. We have big plans to distribute it far and wide. 3 - I talked about hiring above - in investors, I apply much of the same philosophy. Will I like talking to this person frequently? Do they know enough to help but not so much that they'll interfere with the business? Do they truly "get" what we're doing? Do they use the service themselves?
Kingsong Chen
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Dev
@schneider Hi Michael. How did you learn what was the best way to negotiate complaints with companies?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@kingsongchen lots of personal experience + our software is learning every day. We're building up "institutional wisdom" to be able to solve any issue far more efficiently than the average consumer is able to - not because they're not capable of it - but because they only have the benefit of our own experience whereas we see thousands of issues across nearly every company imaginable. That experience + our software is a potent combination.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@schneider thanks for joining us today! 🙌 what's the best advice you've ever been given? Flip side, what's the worst?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@ems_hodge I had a mentor in college that told me the world wasn't really setup for entrepreneurs, it was setup for professionals. In the last 13 years since college I can now say I couldn't agree with him more. So the advice is - most people are going to call your idea "crazy" or tell you why you can't do something - the world has a built in pessimism - entrepreneurs have to overcome this to become successful.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@schneider what first inspired you to build Service? What were some of your first challenges and how did you overcome them?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@ems_hodge Earlier this year, I was on a flight and sat next to a guy who bought a wifi internet pass (for a 5 hour flight) and then proceeded to plug in his dying laptop to the power ports on the plane. When he realized that none of the power ports were working on the plane, he spent the last 20 minutes of his battery life going to the airline’s website, searching for the complaint form, explaining the whole situation, and then going to the wifi provider’s website, finding the correct form, and doing the same thing… and then his battery died. I found it very strange that in 2015 - the “on demand” era - where we can literally get anything from food to laundry to a massage on demand - we still have to waste our own valuable time dealing with customer service. I was sick of spending my own time on hold dealing with customer service - and I had to either do that, or just “take it” when I felt let down by a company. So I created Service, a product I wanted to use myself. Luckily, a lot of other people felt like me! the biggest challenge we face is convincing people that we're NOT too good to be true. We're free, and we get results quickly.
Sohin Shah
Sohin Shah@sohinshah1 · Entrepreneur - www.sohinshah.com
@schneider @ems_hodge Read the story of how service was conceived here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yo... and here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/they...
Matt McSpiritt
Matt McSpiritt@mmcspiritt · Founder & CEO, Squabble
@schneider GetHuman, as of recent, is one of Service's direct competitors. How do you think you'll combat their service that is generally the primary resource consumers use when attempting to resolve issues with companies (helping get rid of hold times)? They recently introduced "resolve it for me for $5". Thanks
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@mmcspiritt I think free is better than $5. Also we believe that most people don't want to do it themselves, they rather have it done for them.
Matt McSpiritt
Matt McSpiritt@mmcspiritt · Founder & CEO, Squabble
@schneider @mmcspiritt thanks for the response. If free to the consumer is what you plan on continuing, how do you plan on monetizing? Are you considering partnering with manufacturers like Bawte attempted to do last year? Or perhaps taking percentage of the compensation you get back for consumers?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@mmcspiritt haven't decided yet but there are many options when you're protecting brands and saving consumers time and money.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Michael! What's your hiring philosophy - how do you evaluate talent? Any litmus tests you use?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@eriktorenberg the first 20 hires are SO key, they set the tone and culture of the company. It's like building the foundation of a house. I've learned a few things in my 4 previous startups... No matter how talented someone is, I won't hire them if they're not a culture fit. I can't teach culture fit... but someone can always improve their skills. I'll only hire someone who we (minimum 3 people on my team) feel they are really in to what we're doing - because that's going to make the difference during the late night or weekend where you're working and might feel like giving up.
Aidan Lee
Aidan Lee@aidan_k_lee · co-Founder @VewNew_app
@schneider Hello Michael. What were your other four startups before this? What fields are you most interested in (e.g. e-commerce, IoT)?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@aidan_k_lee in high school - back when AOL screen names were THE thing - I got "Usedgame" and started selling video games and systems online. I went into retail stores in LA and told them there was this thing called the internet and I was going to put their inventory on it (they had no idea what I was talking about, this was 1996). After that I started building websites for others and that became "Fluidesign" a web design agency I ran for over 10 years, through college and beyond. While still running Fluidesign I co-founded Nesting.com, a "Facebook for Moms" - this was when Facebook was still just for college students. After that it was "Mobile Roadie" - a platform to build mobile apps quickly and with no code. Service is my fifth startup. I'm most interested in how tech can make the world a better and/or more efficient place.
Aidan Lee
Aidan Lee@aidan_k_lee · co-Founder @VewNew_app
@schneider @aidan_k_lee I like the fact how you always try to make things easier like in Fluidesign and Mobile Roadie. During the Gold Rush, more fortunes were made by merchants than by miners (e.g. Levi's, Wells Fargo, etc.) Your "Service" is the kind of service that was lacking previously that would help companies (miners) do their work more efficiently. We are creating a mobile commerce startup for hardware startups called VewNew and would definitely need great customer service in the future! Thank you for being inspiring and generous with your time. #LosAngeles #SiliconBeach #FightOn
Sohin Shah
Sohin Shah@sohinshah1 · Entrepreneur - www.sohinshah.com
Happy birthday, Michael. Will you release the app on Android too?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@sohinshah1 thanks :) Yes - an Android version is in the works, will come early next year.
Matt McSpiritt
Matt McSpiritt@mmcspiritt · Founder & CEO, Squabble
Hi Michael. What ideas do youhave and what ideas have you implemented to make service resolutions more automated in the future?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@mmcspiritt that's basically our secret sauce - our software automates much of the resolution of issues. The more issues we handle and more companies we work with - the smarter we get as an organization.
Matt McSpiritt
Matt McSpiritt@mmcspiritt · Founder & CEO, Squabble
@schneider @mmcspiritt this past summer I started creating something similar. I'm very intrigued. Is your secret sauce essentially tables within a DB containing broad issues and company information that connects to form scripts based on customers' criteria and past occurrences?
Sal
Sal@ovosal
@schneider Love what Service is doing. This isn't your first go at being CEO, what do you plan on doing different or the same with Service.
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@ovosal I think with each company you get smarter - you learn what to do and not to do. Service is the first company I've started solo - no business partners. So I'm getting to build it my way from the ground up. I'm also heavily curating our initial batch of employees to make sure the company evolves in a way I'm proud of. All of my app building and brand building experience from my past I think definitely benefits us, so using a lot of lessons there at Service.
Sal
Sal@ovosal
@schneider Awesome. I can definitely testify to your hands on approach to hiring. Emailed the info account not too long ago and saw that you responded. Good stuff.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What advice would you give to your 25 year old self?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@eriktorenberg are you 25 yet? ;) I think a few things.... 1 - slow down a little, it's better to have things done right than done a little faster 2 - momentum is the single most important factor in building a business - with it you can do anything, without it you're dead. If you feel the momentum shifting don't sleep on it - jump on it - figure out what's going on and fix it 3 - employees will burn out if you keep them in the same role for too long with no change or new challenges... always keep people moving forward 4 - your investors really matter - don't just take money, take smart money 5 - perhaps the most important - protect your energy at all costs... surround yourself with people that add to your energy, and cut out all energy detractors from your life.
Sohin Shah
Sohin Shah@sohinshah1 · Entrepreneur - www.sohinshah.com
How can I get a service T-shirt?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@sohinshah1 we have regular contests on Twitter where we give away t shirts - follow @service - our next one will be in the first week of January.
Brittani Allred
Brittani Allred@brittaniallred · Social Media Manager, HappyFox
@schneider Do you have any plans on utilizing Live Chat to help support your customers?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@brittaniallred yes - in fact, our app is a live chat. We believe a chat interface makes the most sense to quickly and painlessly resolve customer service issues.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@jacqvon I'd bet on any industries that aren't stuck in the past structurally. If you think about companies and industries, they evolve differently. For example, car companies I would argue have evolved significantly in the last 50 years - a Tesla is an electric sports car that is also luxurious. If you think about other industries - like insurance - things haven't changed much, and we're still faxing them a lot of the time! If you don't disrupt yourself you will be disrupted. Apple is quite good at this. Insurance companies as an example, aren't. That's why upstarts like Oscar Health will eat their lunch, and pretty much the same goes for any company/industry clinging to the past. Specific to media, I think content will be king and distribution is already becoming a commodity. Just like the iPod unbundled the album, your cable plan will also be unbundled. The idea of consumers being able to listen to or watch whatever they want wherever and whenever will be commonplace. Cable companies will become dumb pipes - despite their best efforts.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are you favorite hobbies lately?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@jacqvon lately I've been addicted to my bike. In fact - despite living in Los Angeles - I don't use a car much. I bike to the gym each morning, to the office, and even to meetings during the day. Except for hot summer days - where you don't want to arrive sweaty - it's a great way to get around, and no traffic. On the weekends I bike with friends all over the place.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
If you could change one thing about yourself instantly, what would it be?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@jacqvon I'd give myself more patience. But with more patience, I may not have started this company, so...
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@jacqvon I'd love to spend real time in places around the world I've only gotten to visit. I love Mexico - would love to live there for a while. Same with Japan, London, and Israel, among others.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Congrats on the iOS app! Any particular advantages/disadvantages to being in LA?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@andrewmettinger if you like a great lifestyle and warm weather, there are lots of advantages to LA! It doesn't have the same depth of talent as SF/the valley does, but that's OK. You also aren't competing with Uber, FB, Google and Twitter over engineers. 10 years ago I think it would have been difficult for an LA based tech company to raise money from SF and be taken seriously. Now it's a non issue.
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
What's the worst thing a customer service rep can do?
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@russfrushtick talk down to the customer. People want to be treated with respect. The second the rep gets condescending, they've lost their customer and it's only going to end badly.
Michel Falcon
Michel Falcon@michelfalcon · Customer Experience Coach and Speaker
@schneider Hey Michael, the tech customer service/support space is fairly crowded and continues to grow. How do you approach competition? Thanks.
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
@michelfalcon great question. It is crowded and it's also not very crowded... most solutions have been fairly incremental or not the different than what exists today. Consumers are sick and tired of waiting on hold and filling out web forms, and businesses have to change because the practices of the past don't work well when social media rules all. I think we have a pretty innovative approach to solve both. We approach competition by not approaching them - and staying focused on what we're doing. I believe the saying that companies die by suicide much more than homicide to be completely true.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Thank you @schneider for being here today and taking the time to answer every question! Awesome. 💥
Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes@lewishowes · CEO
Where do you see this app going in the future... will it be a paid service or will companies be paying?