End-to-End Mobile Service or Technology Facilitator?

My family’s recent ordering experience was straightforward and easy – 45 minutes after we placed a food delivery order through an app, our food arrived – the food I wanted was included while my wife’s food was missing completely. At that moment, our incomplete order made us part of an ongoing debate without our realizing it; are the myriad apps that deliver services to us merely technology facilitators or is their true goal to actually deliver the end services with which they are associated?

I can’t eat an in-app credit for dinner

Upon reaching out to the app’s customer service team, their stance was to quickly offer an in-app credit for the missing food without providing a further solution.  I explained to them that an in-app credit is not very filling, and that they needed to offer something to help us achieve our end goal of receiving food to eat at our front door. Their solution for this was to direct me to place another order in the app.

In calling the restaurant, I learned that the food was ordered and prepared but had been forgotten from the order. The restaurant apologized for the mistake and immediately embarked on the effort to deliver our missing food. The restaurant realized that they could potentially lose ongoing business by not resolving the situation, while an escalation with the app provider only brought me an extra $50 credit – their fundamental misunderstanding of the situation, their role in it, and how to resolve it were apparent.

Keep customers happy

Uber has been at the forefront of this debate ever since they burst on to the scene- are they a company that uses technology to play matchmaker between drivers and riders or are they actually a full-service product that provides transportation? Uber has often said that it considers itself an “information society service” but an EU ruling in 2017 cemented their position as a transportation company.[1]

While these myriad businesses continue to operate apps that they claim to be mere technology facilitating an end result for a consumer, these providers need to think through how to keep consumers happy, whether that involves food reorders or ride credits, while also providing a seamless technical experience.  Being thoughtful to the consumer experience and thinking through potential issues and their resolutions, not solely from a technical solution standpoint, is vital to the success of any mobile app. Consumers who have a bad experience in any facet of an app will not care about the app provider’s view of themselves as a technology-only solution- they will want a fair and timely resolution to the need that brought them to engage with the app in the first place.  Consumer engagement requires app providers and merchants to consider what end users are expecting to receive with any experience.

For further discussion regarding consumer engagement, contact Tim Radway tradway@wcapra.com.


[1] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/12/20/eu-rules-that-uber-is-a-transport-service-not-a-digital-company.html)