by James Gaskin
Remote control software over the Internet revolutionized computer support for big companies. But, says Mrinal Desai, co-founder and vice president of CrossLoop, Inc., “normal consumers have never seen the magic of remote desktop sharing.” He plans to change that.
CrossLoop (.com) uses the slogan, “Everyone Helps” to describe the new service. Although remote desktop programs aren’t new (I did a roundup of them for Network World here), CrossLoop adds a twist: they make it easy for small businesses to find support help in much the same way eBay helps you find items.
Taking things one more step, CrossLoop asks support customers to rate their support person and leave comments. Those notes stick with the support person’s profile, so you can see them at a glance, just the way you see an eBay seller’s rating.
Designed strictly for Windows desktop sharing remote support, CrossLoop sessions can only be initiated when both parties run the software at the same time. The person who leads the session will get a 12 digit number from the CrossLoop service, and tell the other person that number over the phone. Once both parties input that special key number, the session starts. CrossLoop doesn’t want this to be used for connecting to remote computers that run unattended.
The phone requirement isn’t by accident. “People do business with people,” says Desai. “We make it personal and automatically push for people on our service to use their first names. A big disconnect with call centers is that you get different people over and over, but we let you connect with the same person every time.”
With a trainer’s voice in your ear, and their hands on your keyboard (at least via remote desktop support), you get a private help session. If you prefer your person speak Swedish rather than English, you’ll be glad to know that’s one of the 21 languages CrossLoop handles onscreen, and helpers list the languages they speak in their profile.
Currently, CrossLoop doesn’t have a billing system set up, but they will. Widgets saying “I can help” that link to the CrossLoop member’s profile page can be placed on their Web site, blog, or social network sites, including MySpace and Facebook. The big widget shows profile information, including how many sessions the person has conducted.
“You can just use the software without filling out a profile,” says Desai, “but we want to make this a marketplace of service. Support technicians and support companies will let us do their marketing, while they build their reputation and credibility.”
Network World story
James E. Gaskin writes books, articles, and jokes about technology and real life from his home office in the Dallas area. Gaskin has been helping small and medium sized businesses use technology intelligently since 1984.