Reporter with Silicon Hills News

gI_122597_steponelogoEver call a customer service center about a product and get lost in a time consuming maze involving pressing buttons, entering information and getting nowhere?

StepOne, an Austin-based startup, seeks to solve that problem and make customer service better.

This week, the company released a new product, StepOne Care Profiler to act like a primary care doctor for a company’s customer relationship management system. The software diagnoses the company’s customer support operations and provides information on how well it is doing and areas that need improvement.

Alex Mitchell, StepOne president and co-founder.

Alex Mitchell, StepOne president and co-founder.

The goal is to improve overall customer service. The software can provide insights quickly and replaces the tasks that used to take an in-house data science team months to perform, said Alex Mitchell, StepOne president and co-founder.

StepOne also offers its Contextual Care software as a service product to provide better customer service through a company’s existing self-help websites and apps.

Initially, StepOne is targeting customers in the telecommunications and cable industry. Telstra in Australia is one of its first customers as well as an unnamed cable company in the U.S. StepOne wants to make the self-service customer experience more useful and effective for consumers. Studies show 75 percent of people with a question or a problem about a product or service would actually prefer to find content online or in an app rather than calling a call center, Mitchell said.

“But that information often is not very good and they end up having to call the help desk anyway,” Mitchell said. Bad customer service experiences can lead consumers to switch to a different company or brand and result in a loss of sales.

“Customer service experience has a direct correlation to revenue,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, Bill Gravette and Erik Noren founded the company in 2011. They have extensive customer relationship experience in building, selling and service software products. They previously worked together at Motive, which Alcatel-Lucent bought in 2008.

StepOne has 20 employees and has raised $4 million in seed stage investment and a Series A round of funding. The company is actively hiring developers and data scientists and plans to ramp up its sales and marketing early next year.

LiveOak Venture Partners invested in StepOne because the founders have “incredible domain expertise and understanding of the market,” said Krishna Srinivasan with LiveOak. StepOne’s latest product, Care Profiler provides insight into how to diagnose the customer support problem, he said.

“It’s a large problem area that everyone can relate to,” Srinivasan said. “Customer care is just terrible for a lot of products. And a company’s sales and marketing doesn’t work because of customer support problems.”

Diagnosing customer care problems and fixing them could be the next generation of customer relationship management solutions, Srinivasan said. StepOne brings big data solutions to tackle this specific problem, he said. The StepOne founders are “great buys to work with who embody the Austin entrepreneurial spirit.”