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How Is Your Application's Customer Service Experience?

DZone 's Guide to

How Is Your Application's Customer Service Experience?

Implementing amazing customer experiences is a core part of web application development. Read on for three real-world case of wonderful UX.

· Web Dev Zone ·
Free Resource

[A Zone Leader asks, how is your application handling alternate flows systemmatically, providing three real-life examples he has recently encountered.]

When we think about the idea of customer service, probably the first thing that comes to mind is a group which supports some aspect of a business or service. By simply getting in touch with them, you can work through issues that were not expected as a result of your interaction.

This article is about an application's customer service and is that logic/layer in your application that handles tasks for the customer without the need to contact some form of customer support.

Amazon Prime Video

Not too long ago, our high school senior (daughter) wanted to watch the latest season of American Horror Story. Since she is more apt to watch episodes on her computer, she decided to use our Amazon Prime account to purchase the first episode from Amazon Prime Video.

We started using the DVR to record the episodes, but she was more apt to watch the episodes in a location other than where our DVR was located. So, when the second episode became available, she purchased it from Amazon Prime Video for around $3.

This continued until she reached one of the last few episodes. When she went to purchase the next episode from Amazon, the Prime Video service realized that it was now cheaper for her to simply buy the current season and converted her purchases of single episodes into one purchase for the entire season. While taking this approach only saved us a few dollars, it shows that Amazon was making sure to save us money without us having to contact a person in their customer support center. The purchase update was part of the planned purchase as well, which was very impressive.

QR Codes - Returns Made Easy

With the explosive growth of online shopping, such retailers have recognized a boost in returns from online sales as well.

Recently, online vendors have started to use QR codes to allow customers to simply box up the item and take it to a stated shipping service. Once there, the QR code can be presented from a mobile device, which allows a custom shipping tag to be printed and attached to the box at that point in time. No more need to warm up the home printer and find some tape to attach the printed label to the box.

There is even an option for the return to be picked up from the customer's home as well.

I have found that taking this approach has led to a faster credit being applied to my account, as well.

Automated Price Matching

With a toddler in the home, we realized our wooden staircase might be too challenging for him to navigate. After doing some online searching, we quickly found a provider that offered these perfectly-sized carpet segments that provided a slip-free solution to our problem.

They arrived a few days later and Nicole installed them that same day, before I finished working. The slip-free condition allowed our son to navigate the stairs without any fear of sliding unexpectedly.

A few days later we received an email from the seller, indicating they were having a sale on their products. The sale included the product we had just received and installed.

The price difference was enough to make us consider returning the items (there was a 90 day free-return guarantee) and re-buying them for the better price. So we decided to start the return process in order to see how much the shipping was going to cost.

To our surprise, when we started the process, we had to list the reason for our return. One of the options mentioned something about price matching. We selected that option and was taken to another screen where we provided the price difference — noting the current price for the product we received. When we pushed the next button on the wizard we were surprised to see a message that our method of payment was going to receive a credit for the difference in price. There was no need to return and rebuy the products.

We received the price difference credit without having to contact the seller directly via telephone or email.

Conclusion

Typically, an indicator of a successful application is providing a seamless experience for the customer. This can range from providing results that meet the customer's expectations and provide a flow that is easy to understand. Of course, not encountering any bugs is also a factor too.

In the three examples above, the applications themselves are focusing on ways to eliminate the need to contact customer support directly, by including common functionality for alternate flows into the application itself:

  • Monitoring purchases and providing a better pricing model when applicable.

  • Understanding alternate flows (like product returns) and automating them as much as possible.

  • Providing the ability to auto-approve price-matching credits instantly.

The three examples I provided are focused on customer-facing sites. The application-based customer service experience can just as easily be provided in your application as well, by understanding what alternative paths exist and how these paths can be resolved systematically without the customer having to pause and reach out to a customer support center.

In a world driven by new features and functionality, it might be a good idea to take that 15-20% of Sprint time (allocated for technical debt) to prototype and deliver this kind of functionality to your customers.

Have a really great day!

Topics:
web dev ,web application development ,development and design ,user interface

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