According to Apple there is an app for just about anything and everything you could possibly want or need (and many that I personally still struggle to see the point of). You can use apps for everything from working out your share of a bill, checking something is level using the spirit level app and much more.
Increasingly now companies are launching apps that are intended to help their customers to “self-service” their accounts. The list is truly endless and the pace of development shows no signs of slowing down – if anything in fact it is increasing as more and more organisations jump on the app bandwagon.
Examples of apps that are being used to help customers access services and manage their accounts include things like the nectar app, various gambling apps such as Paddy Power and William Hill as well as apps for submitting meter readings to your energy supplier. Banks are slowly catching on and are very slowly releasing apps, which will help you to manage your bank account using a smartphone.
In principle this idea is a very good one with a dual benefit. Firstly customers can feel more in control of their own accounts and can perform a number of self-service actions without having to sit on the phone for hours on end and secondly organisations have to spend less time answering routine questions about customer’s accounts.
As a self-confessed gadget freak and also a person who values my time as a very precious commodity I am in theory all for this technological development and advancement. Anything that allows me to feel high-tech whilst saving me time is always likely to get a huge tick in the box from me.
In many ways the use of apps for self-service customer service is actually just an extension of the online facilities that almost all organisations currently offer. How long therefore will it be until instead of the message “we are experiencing high call volumes and most answers can be found online” is replaced with “check your app before calling us?”
The above scenario is obviously a little tongue-in-cheek however the point is that at the moment an app is a toy – a fun thing to use and an innovative and slightly off-the-wall way to manage your account. As long as it stays like that and companies don’t suddenly start to treat it as anything but a quirky additional service then we are okay.
The long term worry will be when apps become much more universal and 99% of people have a smart phone (it will happen) and Mrs Coggins, 89 years of age from number 42 will be expected to do all of her banking online or through an app as there will no longer be any humans left to speak to on the other end of the phone.
All of the above also assumes that the app you are using actually works and there are a lot of different factors that can influence this – quality of development, mobile signal and provider etc etc – but that is a whole different story.