No more hellish sessions on hold: Apps like Hero let you message questions directly to restaurants, shops, cinemas, gyms & hotels.
Next time you want to check if your favourite restaurant has a table free; whether that stylish shop has those shoes in stock; or what times the latest blockbuster hit is screening at the cinema, you won’t have to spend valuable minutes of your life listening to Coldplay on hold.
Now, in the age of smartphones, businesses are supplying convenient customer service through new messaging platforms, and we found one app that could definitely be your Hero, baby (thanks Enrique).
Hero, is a pioneer on the scene in London, answering both the straightforward questions you might put into Google and more complicated queries. (It’s weeks away from launching, but you can join its beta test using the code MEMO1).
With a quick tap on the app, we not only looked up prices and availability at the plush St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, but found out about hypoallergenic pillows at the Sanderson Hotel, Oxford Street (they have them).
When it came to fitness, we swatted up on what high intensity equipment is available at Covent Garden’s Nuffield Health Gym, as well as the availability of vegan protein shakes at Better Pancras Square Leisure (they’re sorry but they only serve shakes from cows).
We’re also now familiar with the gluten-free menu at Honest Burger, and the baby-friendly facilities at Dishoom (yes, they’re happy to heat up your baby food for you).
In fact, Hero’s able to help you connect with tens of thousands of businesses spanning categories including ‘Food & Drink’, ‘Stores & Shops’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Nightlife’, ‘Fitness’, ‘Health & Beauty’, ‘Attractions’, and ‘Hotels’.
You can expect every question you ask to be responded to in seconds, and to receive helpful answers in a matter of minutes.
For Hero – and so many other burgeoning businesses – it’s a case of making luxury accessible.
“We want to democratise the good service that the 1% see from the best establishments,” Hero founder Adam Levene told The Memo. “We’re for people in cities with busy lives that need a convenient way to make their to do lists happen.”
Apps are no longer just for millennials any more either, with Hero’s core audience falling into the age 25-45 bracket.
At the moment Hero prioritises human-to-human interaction (although the app might include AI to assist with simple requests like opening times in the future).
“We’ll always have a team that’s London-based because people ask for suggestions and recommendations about the local area and culture,” said Levene.
“You’ll always either be speaking directly to a business, or you’re speaking to one of our team who will seek the response for you.”
Indeed Hero has just partnered with MADE.com and has further collaboration announcements due later this month.
“You can send photos to the MADE.com team asking what furniture they’d recommend and you’ve got this team of experts at your finger tips waiting to help,” explained the founder.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hero is entering a world where the helpline is already on its deathbed.
Last year Facebook Messenger unveiled plans to launch M, a personal digital assistant that will be able to purchase items and book deliveries, restaurants, holidays and appointments.
Other apps have already ventured into this kind of service, with Dispatch pretty much able to source and send you anything under the sun.
“Having a company of the size of Facebook validating what we’re doing is fantastic”, said Levene, “I do think it’s the death of the phone call”.
“It just doesn’t feel conducive to wait on hold any more in this day and age.”
Eventually Levene hopes to support Hero’s freemium business model by allowing users to buy, or book through the app.
“Now everything is so mobile-centric, it’s the starting point whether consumers are shopping, buying, or booking,” the founder explained. “We want to be closing the loop on that conversation, and really bring to life the concept of conversational commerce.”
The death of the helpline might be in sight, but that doesn’t mean call centres are about to go out the window, they just need to evolve.
“It’s about a rebirth of the call centre,” says Levene. “It’s about using technology in the right way.”
“We want to make messaging a business as easy as it is to message a friend.”
Join Hero’s beta trial using invite code MEMO1 and find out more over on Hero.cx.
Kitty Knowles is a Senior Features Writer at The Memo. Kitty previously worked as an online journalist for GQ. She can be found tweeting @KittyGKnowles.