The ZOL mobile app and good customer service from internet companies

   

Accept certain inalienable truths – Prices will rise, politicians will philander….and your internet service provider will frustrate you with bad service.

That might be considered by most people as a not-so-smart play on the Baz Lurhmann late-nineties single that carried some doses of realism on life, but it definitely reflects the general impression created by local internet services.

I can’t speak on the premium internet packages that are well beyond the reach of the average Zimbabwean consumer, but anyone trying to get internet on a sub-$90 budget will have some story to tell on disrupted service, billing issues, slow connections, delayed reactions to any challenges on a network and inadequate feedback when a problem is being addressed.

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Some service providers are, however, trying to make an effort to create a better impression of themselves. Take ZOL, for example. The latest effort from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) in this respect has been its myZOL mobile app.

It’s been designed to be an interface between the ISP and its subscribers, offering a pack of services that in one way or the other sell the promise of a more concerned and engaged ZOL.

After turning a blind eye to the aggressive campaign that’s been mounted to promote this app to both ZOL and non-ZOL customers,  I eventually downloaded it, after experiencing a problem with disrupted service and looking for an alternative channel to vent my frustrations. (This was with a Wimax connection and I’ve been told by most people to accept that sort of status quo for anything that isn’t fibre)

Among its different functions which include a news aggregator, a survey, product list, and ZOL spot finder, the app has a function for submitting a ticket outlining the challenge you might be experiencing with your internet service.

I managed to get feedback after a day, something which shows that ZOL does respond to the complaints raised through the app, but could do a lot better with its response time.

Features like the ZOL products tab and the knowledge base represents an all too familiar play at advertising its inventory, something which ought to work well with users of the app that aren’t ZOL customers.

The biggest omission from the app is of course the options for payment, though ZOL has been quick to highlight that it is already being developed and prepared for the update of the app.

A hit for ZOL, but a lesson for all of them

There’s a lot that can be said about the myZOL app. Some customers at the recent Econet Beyond The Phone Expo that we spoke to weren’t too sure what ZOL wanted them to use the app for, especially in the absence of an easy to use payment feature. Like all new apps, aspects like the user interface and user experience also create divided opinion.

However, ZOL seems to be making the right move, at least in reaching out to the market. Any new, easy to access platform and channel for communicating with new and existing users is always worth exploring. The fact that ZOL wants to use a mobile app for this strategy in a market that has its internet experience largely defined by mobile devices also makes a heap of sense.

However, beyond the use of a clean mobile application with a lot of bells and whistles, and more along the way, this is a customer service tool. As such, it can only be as good as the service and care that ZOL provides.

The same should be realised by any other service provider keen on harnessing mobile apps as a communication and care extension. The technology just enables it, it doesn’t define it. This logic is what extends to effective social media use and it is also the same paradigm for any breed of call centre technology.

It’s hard to say whether ZOL will transform into the one ISP that offers a new truism on life and internet in Zimbabwe.  But with the use of extensions like mobile apps, its going to be a whole lot easier to keep track of that.

You can download the Android version of the myZOL app by following this link


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