Thursday, February 18, 2016

SerCle opens direct links to service providers


Gizmo Editor Review

Our home and the small business that I run from it always seem to need some sort of service. The house needs a cleaning service and a handyman to repair some storm damage. The business could use a tax accountant, a computer consultant and occasional legal advice.

I found access to all those services plus a lot more through SerCle, a new web and mobile platform that quickly connects service providers to people who need them.

The platform incorporates both a website and free apps that work on Android or iOS mobile phones. SerCle says it's working on a version for tablets). Users can browse through the SerCle categories to find services grouped under more than 20 topics. The categories include personal services such as spas, massages, health and beauty professionals, tutors and housekeepers. Topics aimed at business managers include travel managers, delivery services, computer repair and event planners.

App users are presented with a list of categories, each containing individual profiles of service providers. Each entry typically display a gallery of photos, a location map, business hours, and contact information including a phone number, street address and email address. Profiles also include reviews, with comments and star ratings, from people who have used the service and some listings include discounts and special offers.

Other online indexes offer similar packages, but SerCle goes a couple of steps further. For example, app users can book a service directly from the app. If the reviews and posted prices look good, you can schedule a rug cleaning or an oil change right from the app.

Another useful feature is SerCle Messaging, which lets consumers chat directly and quickly with companies. The business is notified when a consumer posts a question. I tried the chat feature by posting a question to a tennis instructor (because Lord knows, my game needs help). I got a detailed reply in less than 10 minutes. That’s a better response time than what I often get with a phone call.

And about those user reviews, all of them that I read were posted by people who used their full name. SerCle says it makes a special effort to insure that reviews are legitimate and to protect businesses from being bombed with paid reviews or negative comments generated by competitors. My attitude is, if someone has an opinion to share, they should be willing to put their name on it.

My one disappointment with SerCle was not finding a lot of listings for services in my part of the country. Most of what I found were businesses based in western or southwestern states. I That’s not surprising, given how often new digital business ideas sprout on the West Coast. This is one I hope will keep spreading.

Both consumers and businesses can get more details about SerCle in the video below and on the SerCle website. The mobile apps are available for free in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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