What to do when apps go wrong

7th Nov 2012
In June Apple announced that there has now been more than 30 billion downloads from its app store. The Android market is fast catching up. There is little doubt about it: the app is big.
This is hardly surprisingly. Whether it is e-mail, social media, games, maps, news or some other function, apps have transformed our ability to gather information and interact with the world.
They are starting to have the same revolutionary effect on customer service too. Where a few years ago it seemed remarkable that we could go onto our computers to check balances, order products, track deliveries, make payments, and leave feedback, now we don’t even need to turn on our computers – now we just pull our phones out of our pockets and tap a button or two.
Not only does this vastly improve the customer experience, it also frees up contact centre agents from dealing with these run-of-the-mill calls. They can focus instead on resolving more complex queries, a much interesting role which provides greater value to customers.
But what happens when it goes wrong?
After all, apps do wrong. We’ve seen this vividly recently with the suggestion by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO that his customers give us up Apple’s map app and try those from his competitors.
When a customer service app goes wrong it inevitably results in a large number of customers calling the contact centre. This can become a problem in three ways:
1) If there’s no easy way for customers to contact the contact centre. They won’t be impressed if they have to dig around on websites that are poorly optimised for mobile for numbers that cost a fortune to call from mobiles. They will expect to see a simple callback facility, and they will expect contact centre agents to make it a priority.
2) If customers have to go back to the start of the process, giving their details all over again. They will expect the contact centre agent to know what they were doing on the app and to be able to access all the data they entered before the app fell over.
3) If customer find themselves in a queue waiting to speak to an agent. The company needs to prepare so it can rapidly scale up contact centre capacity as and when the app goes wrong.
So, apps are great, but they cannot replace the contact centre. Technology can go wrong – in fact it frequently does go wrong – and it so has to be supported by people who are easy to access, quick to respond and fully informed.

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