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Patent shields customer support from customers

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A US patent granted to SNAPin details a process for spotting when a user is trying to call support, and presenting them with a self-help package rather than connecting the call.

SNAPin provides operators with customer support applications - pre-installed on operator-variant handsets - to help punters use their shiny new smartphones. But these are normally triggered by the customer at their own instigation, not when they're trying to find a human to talk to.

The new development watches every number the punter dials and, if it catches them trying to call support, steps in and displays a self-help menu (titled "SelfService Care") rather than connecting the call.

The company's own publicity makes it clear who gains most from this: "With SelfService Care embedded on the mobile device, mobile operators can stop three out of four calls from ever reaching the contact centre, avoiding expensive live-agent calls and saving millions every month."

The patent (US Patent number 7,353,016) isn't limited to displaying self-help support, and the possibilities are endless. Calls to companies could be redirected to their web pages, and calls to friends could load up their Facebook presence, avoiding that wasteful human interaction users seem so keen on. ®

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