With Swisscom’s investment in crowd customer service startup Mila, founder and former Mila CEO Manuel Grenacher will transfer his responsibilities to Christian Viatte. Previously Head of Service Experience and Innovation at Swisscom, Viatte (40) will immediately take over operations and push Mila internationally as an on-demand service provider. We spoke to Chris to find out what he’s up to with Mila.
Why did Swisscom decide to invest in Mila?
Viatte: With increasing digitization, telecommunications providers like Swisscom are faced with the challenge of offering their customers service in real-time. If you have an Internet outage, you won’t be willing to wait two days for a technician to fix it. TV, music, and accessibility – everything depends on connectivity. Moreover, with the Internet of Things (IoT) more and more devices at home or in the office are smart. This, again, fosters the development of the home network and thus increases customers’ expectations. This is why on-demand service models are necessary. With Mila, we have found a strategic partner that has already successfully implemented such a model with us.
And this project is called “Swisscom Friends,” where customers help each other. It’s been going for two years now. What’s been the outcome since the introduction of this additional service channel?
Viatte: This service channel has been well received by our customers. On average, Swisscom Friends are rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. In 80% of our cases, customers are receiving support within the first hour. And with the launch of our new Mila app, the service community can now react to customers’ requests even faster and more conveniently from anywhere. Swisscom can extend its on-demand field service force and deploy it directly to the customer, on-site. As the technical possibilities in our everyday lives continue to expand, many issues can be better solved on-site, when customers want, and at a price they are willing to pay.
What are your future plans for Mila? Are you seeking to attract more partners in the telecoms sector?
Viatte: We want to be the Uber for services. The customer should always have the possibility to decide which service he needs and when, taking into consideration the price and desired quality. This is why we also make sure our crowd -currently consisting of more than 1,500 people – is also available to other companies. In particular, businesses that want to offer their products with additional services or businesses that are already doing so. They can use our crowd to expand their service offerings and increase customer satisfaction. By tapping into the power of the crowd, which consists of small businesses and private individuals, companies can react quickly and flexibly to customers’ requests. We are currently targeting telecommunications providers, but also retailers and energy providers.
You’ve also launched a new partnership with the online retailer BRACK.CH. Can you briefly explain what the project is about?
Viatte: The Integration of Mila on BRACK.CH allows customers to purchase a suitable service in addition to a product. For example, if I buy a TV on BRACK.CH and go to checkout, I will be asked if I need someone who can install the TV for me. Depending on the price I’m willing to pay, the installation can be performed by a private individual who lives nearby or a professional. The professional service provider will even deliver the TV to my home and then install it. We let the customer decide what services they need and at what cost. This on-demand service will be offered through the Mila Crowd.
Is this the future of customer support?
Viatte: We believe so, yes. With the proliferation of the Collaborative Economy we see that people like to buy from or exchange goods and services with each other. In a U.S. survey, “Crowd Companies” has found that consumers share because it is more convenient and often cheaper for them. Companies that miss this trend will fall behind. With Mila we give businesses the opportunity to use the Collaborative Economy as a service model and to react to customer needs.