Mobile

Tello launches an app to rate customer service anywhere

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A new mobile application called Tello offers you a chance to weigh in on the good and bad experiences you have at a restaurant, retail store, or anywhere else.

Think of it as a chance to speak to the manager without actually having to speak to the manager. I’ve certainly had customer service moments when I really wanted to complain about how badly I’d been treated or praise someone who’d done an amazingly good job (okay, more the former), but trying to find the manager seemed like too much trouble.

Tello makes it easier. You just open up the app (which is available for the iPhone and iPad as a downloadable application, and for Android and other phones as a mobile website), select the location, then give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. If you want to put a bit more work into it, you can also identify the employee you worked with and write a little review.

It’s like Yelp, but all about customer experience. If you were reviewing a restaurant on Yelp, you’d probably spend most of the time talking about food. If you’re reviewing it on Tello you focus on how you were treated. The goal is to help users figure out where they’ll be treated well and where they’ll be treated treated badly, and also tell them about who to seek out or avoid at a specific business. (Honestly is another people-review site, but it’s more about reviewing colleagues.)

The Palo Alto, Calif. startup launched a beta test version of its app at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in September. But founder and chief executive Joe Beninato said that Tello has rebuilt the app for its full launch, adding features like the ability to share reviews on Facebook or Twitter, and to request a response from the business being reviewed. The new app looks and works better, he added, because it was taken off the cross-device PhoneGap platform and rebuilt specifically for iOS devices.

Another company called Gripe launched at the same conference, offering a slightly more attention-grabbing spin on a similar idea — users can take advantage of their social network connections to pressure businesses into treating them better. The Tello approach is less negative, Beninato said. In fact, 85 percent of the ratings were positive during the beta period.

Tello has raised $1 million in funding from Jon Callaghan of True Ventures, Ron Conway of SV Angel, Mark Goines, Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Eric Paley of Founder Collective, Shervin Pishevar of SGN, Naval Ravikant of Venture Hacks, Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures (who also invested in VentureBeat), and Russ Siegelman. The company plans to make money by offering businesses extra data and features that will help them improve their customer service.