By Marcus Lavergne
A 2014 Gallup Poll on cell usage, reports from a 2012 Time magazine tech article and data provided by the 2011 Pew Internet and American Life project all have one thing in common: in recent years the art of phone calling has sharply declined as the main form of communication among millennials. The evidence of this change in human interaction can be seen everywhere and the popular coffee shop Starbucks is a prime example.
Walk into the location at the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada, Reno, and watch as students and faculty alike slump down in their chairs with coffee in one hand and a smartphone in the other, eyes hypnotized by a constantly flowing stream of information behind their LCD screens.
According to tech site How Stuff Works, people are relying much more on their QWERTY keyboards for communication because of accessibility, privacy, speed and comfortability. That’s why UNR graduate Brian Szady decided to break away from old customs with his new app, GetClose.
Szady, who graduated with an economics degree, says GetClose is an app that makes communicating with businesses across the country through text messages simple. He’s found that when people are trying to find out “if there’s room for four” or if a business is closed or open they don’t want to be put on hold or dig through websites. Essentially, customers just want a quicker, more direct way to communicate.
“The average person sends about four messages in a thread to different businesses,” Szady said. “We’re seeing that people are using it three or four times a week. They use it and they’re blown away that it works.”
Szady plans to work on outreach with UNR’s business school in a few months, and he’s looking to spread the idea that simple is better. He said when you make a product the right way, all of the technology falls into the background. Szady believes it’s the best way to make a product that people love.
“The small business, the large business, us and our fellow users, our fellow customers don’t even have to think about how this all works,” Szady said. “I learned something from one of my professors when I was at [Nevada] — it’s really hard to make a product simple, it’s really simple to make a product hard.”
GetClose’s network spans across the country and caters to hundreds of businesses like restaurants, bars and retail shops, among others. Through the app, those businesses are given an original phone number that customers can contact through their own cell service. Szady says that through GetClose, customers can also expect quick replies.
In 2013, a Forbes article titled “People Do Business With People They Like” said “the most powerful tool you have in creating success in your life is to appreciate other people.” Szady uses the same mentality and suggests that through GetClose, people will feel more connected to the businesses they contact from week to week.
He says that companies need to build more personal connections to succeed and that texting delivers a more personable, casual feel that people enjoy.
“What we found is that the businesses that are most passionate about this are the one’s that have a very loyal following,” Szady said. “Whether they just opened up or have been around for 50 years, if they have customers and fellow users that are extremely passionate about their brand or product, they’re very excited to work with us.”
GetClose is a service that opens a more personal line to businesses. In its first two weeks, the app has gained thousands of users according to Szady. He says in a time where texting has quickly become the most used form of communication, especially among young adults and college students like those at UNR, it’s all about time and convenience.
“It’s a natural extension of how you connect with your friends and family,” Szady said. “It makes our fellow users think ‘this business isn’t just a business, it’s a part of my friends and family connection now.’”
Marcus Lavergne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @mlavergne21.