Image Credit: The Vinyl Anachronist

Unlike slow cafe service there are some deals we can't just get up and walk out on.  Everyone relates to the frustration of Interactive Voice Response lines, the sense of impending doom when we hear, "press 1 for sales, 2 for billing enquiries, 3 for technical support…"  Once you've dialled in they've got you.  You realise your imprisoned in the IVR with no choice but to go where some incompetent operations planner behind a stupid Jordie accent playfully directs you.  Faced with abandoning your mission you press on, entertaining the idea that this time you might just get a result… 


Press 7 for a set of options that will lead you back to the beginning of the process so we can waste more of your precious time on our local rate we don't make anything out of it honest customer suicide, sorry, 'customer service' number!  These lines cause even the most placid of us to spit vitriol in the name of public utilities.  Why is it that after spending all those marketing dollars on persona workshops and focus groups to understand our needs our suppliers invariably screw us over with this parody of modern times?


Now dare I suggest that another, ever more familiar piece of technology could potentially provide a more effective means of managing our misunderstanding of the small print.  Well I wouldn't be writing this otherwise now would I.  The humble mobile app, aside from catapulting animated animals at ancient greek ruins, could indeed be used to pacify our pain if not resolve the conundrum at hand.  These apps you see are easily connected, unlike that Jordie pretender, to a database profiling our every interaction with the aspirational brand we were originally seduced by.  And if organised by capable developers (I profess to know few) can include everything from basic billing information to detailed how-to video's along with an unobtrusive "Everything OK?" follow up text post enquiry.  The benefits are clear:


  • Integrated with existing Customers Management System
  • Optimised for mobile devices
  • 121 direct contact whilst customers are on the move
  • Develops greater customers engagement
  • Resolves issues quicker
  • Socially integrated but moderated (offer the Facebook sharing if very satisfied)
  • Create an additional marketing channel
  • Allows up-sell to premium services in-app


For a great example of a customer service app see 'Backstage' by digital music distributor Believe.  The app enables artists distributed by Believe to view downloads, earnings and even upload new material, handling the question, "How do you get your music on iTunes?" with elegant simplicity.

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