Digital proposition? Please don’t rely on analogue fallback

Originally published on Billing Views.

My top digital anathema is when the digital world falls back on the analogue world because the digital process is broken. I recently experienced an example of this with Barclays Pingit on my iPhone.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Barclays, maybe because I worked for them briefly many years ago, when banks were, well, banks. When Pingit launched I was both intrigued and impressed they’d come up with a person-to-person payment app in advance of the much trailered Vocalink product. Although not a Barclays customer I’m always up for something new in payments so I downloaded and setup Pingit. 

All worked well and over time I’ve made a few payments with no problems. Recently I had my iPhone replaced by Apple which meant going through a brief app setup again to get Pingit working on the new handset. I’ve done this before so didn’t expect any problems. However, this time it turned into a shambolic customer experience. The setup SMS never arrived and the app didn’t display any error message so I called the helpdesk. Despite a lengthy conversation the helpdesk was clueless; frustratingly they couldn’t tell me anything about the problem. Apparently I had to go into a Barclays branch with a call reference number. Why? No idea. 

Today I went into a Barclays branch clutching the reference number I’d been given. I spoke to Christa who was genuinely keen to help. She put in a call to the Pingit helpdesk but they were as baffled as the rest of us. Delete the app was the eventual suggestion. Christa patiently sat there while I downloaded (painfully slowly over 3G as I couldn’t connect to Barclays WiFi) the app and went through the setup again. Eventually I got to the micro deposit screen (after a couple of timeouts), thanked Christa for her patience and left the branch. The verdict seemed to be that I had probably tried to install Pingit on too many handsets but no one seemed very sure about anything!

What did that episode cost Barclays? Helpdesk time, branch time, more helpdesk time; hardly a digital experience. Anyway, I assumed that now I was setup and ready to pay. I duly entered the value of the micro deposits into the app and to my dismay received a message that I would have to wait for a letter with a code before I could make a payment. This would be the same letter I received a while back when I originally signed up for Pingit. Aaaaagh! Couldn’t Barclays see I had previously done all this? If I wasn’t a tenacious payments professional would I really have bothered with such a tortuous process?

The obvious lesson here is make sure your digital process works whatever the scenario and when it doesn’t, make sure everyone is joined up so you can get the customer up and running again with minimum effort.

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