HearRo Using Self-Sovereign Identity to Smooth the Customer Service Experience
Startup to demo easy call center connection tool at demo day pitch event
The mission of the Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator (SSII) is to support early-stage startups creating self-sovereign identity (SSI) products and services. After reviewing over 100 applications from startups all over the world, the SSII was thrilled to see five companies accept invitations to take part in the intensive 12-week program. Based in San Francisco, the incubator is uniquely positioned as the world’s only incubator offering programming and workshops focused specifically on SSI technology and business.
SSI is a global grassroots movement addressing the all too common problems of security, privacy, and the tangled mess of logins and passwords plaguing digital identity. SSI does this by combining recent advancements in distributed ledger technology with new web standards called decentralized identifiers (DIDs). This powerful combination puts the control of digital identity back into the hands of the individual rather than a few large corporations.
HearRo is a Los Angeles based company participating in the incubator using the benefits of SSI to smooth the friction of the typical call center experience. With deep roots in call center industry consulting, we caught up with their CEO, Vic Cooper, who explained a bit about why SSI is the right fit for the job.
Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator: Thank you again for making time to answer our questions. Can you please tell us a bit about HearRo?
Vic Cooper: HearRo came about because of my frustration with the lack of real solutions to the problems faced by call centers and customer support organizations.
I’ve been a developer implementing call center applications for the last 20 years. What I have seen is that in spite of my best efforts to help these organizations, people still struggle to get good customer service over the phone and web. More often than not, the process is disjointed, time consuming, impersonal, and aggravating. At the same time, the need for companies to be able to easily connect with their customers in fully personalized, secure, and efficient ways has never been higher or more urgent. In the call center industry, it’s normal for every company to develop their own custom applications. And yet the core functionality they need to authenticate, share data, and manage multi-channel conversations with their users is really not something that they can develop on their own.
I looked at all the solutions out there from call center software vendors, but I didn’t see any that offered real solutions. They were all “top down” solutions that just tried to fix problems inherent in the existing phone network. So I set out to build my own “bottom up” solution that would offer a fundamentally different way for companies to communicate with their customers.
SSII: What motivated you to begin work in decentralized identity? What about this technology and self-sovereign identity made you think of integrating it into your work?
VC: My insight was that the reason it’s so difficult to communicate boils down to a lack of trusted identity. The phone system was never designed with identity and trust in mind. What if I could use the Sovrin Trust over IP protocol itself to establish and maintain connections that allow for effortless communication?
Imagine how different communicating would be if all parties are known and verified automatically without the need for passwords, codes, or time-consuming identity questions. Where you could interact directly with each customer in highly secure and personal ways without having to rely on elaborate CRM integrations or complicated omni-channel systems.
This is what we set out to do with HearRo.
SSII: We are so happy to have you join the Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator. Your deep roots in the field of identity and call centers seemed like a great fit for the program. What will you demo at the end of the program?
VC: We are working on what we call “one-click customer service”. The idea is to show off how HearRo can not only create secure connections between users and companies but also between users and the products and services they own. Then we use that 3-way relationship to enable a super simple one-button-click service interaction.
No need to lookup a phone number or navigate an IVR to get help for a specific product. With HearRo the context — who you are and what product you own — is sent along with your request for service. When a representative is available to talk, you are notified in the app. No waiting on hold and no traditional phone calls or texts are required.
SSII: Your combination of identity verification in relation to customer service with SSI sounds very exciting. How do you think this will influence other business-customer interactions?
VC: I think we are headed to a world where we no longer want or need to have phone numbers, email addresses, and other public identifiers that can be hacked or spammed. Why should I have to ignore robocalls and delete email spam? With SSI based communications, each connection we make is unique, and if we decide we no longer want to interact with that person or company, then we only have to delete that one connection.
For companies, this means they can communicate directly with each customer and offer them services that were never possible before. All without spending a fortune on setting up an elaborate “omni-channel” phone system to CRM integrations.
All business interactions need some level of trust. Rather than trying to establish trust on each and every call, email, and chat, it’s now possible to use digital trust that’s built into the underlying protocol of the network. More trust = more business. It’s as simple as that.
Learn more about HearRo www.hearro.com at the SSII Demo Day https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-future-of-digital-identity-blockchain-and-investment-in-ssi-registration-79279558293