Groupama iPhone app is customer self-service in the smartphone era


I am disappointed and somewhat ashamed.

In America, land of the iPhone and Android. The cradle of Facebook and Twitter. Home of prestigious institutions like the Harvard Business School and MIT. Here in the U.S. where countless SMEs and technologists on customer service share ideas and strategize using blogs, tweets, and newsletters…

Yet no company in the U.S. had created what Groupama — one of the biggest insurance companies in Europe — did to leverage all existing technologies to focus squarely on the customer self-service experience.

Have you heard of the Groupama interactive VISUAL Callback Response? Or better yet, have you seen it in action?

According to iTunes, version 1.0.5 of the app was just posted on November 29, 2010 so not many people have seen it yet. In fact, as of this posting date there has been no reviews of it in the App Store, and no indication of how many times the app has been downloaded. Granted, this app is very specific in terms of users (French customers of certain regions covered by Groupama), but the demo will blow your mind no matter where you are and what language you speak. As long as you’ve ever dealt with a customer service department through an IVR or directly to a live agent, you will completely understand the value provided by this iPhone app.

Visual menus? Done. No need to navigate via the telephone to find the right menu option. No more mis-navigation (well, except for those fat-finger moments).

Wait times for all available services? Done. On the app right next to each service selection there is an estimated wait time displayed right next to it so the user knows what to expect.

Forget waiting — call me back? Sure! The agent already knows your phone number and location because it’s an iPhone app. Ideal for insurance claims, especially right after an automobile accident. And all you had to do was use your smartphone.

Live alerts? No problem. App users can follow iGroupama on Twitter to receive alerts on inclement weather or other conditions which may impact the contact center service level.

Content to engage users? Certainly. The app also includes the company magazine in digital form just to provide some casual reading. Perhaps a bonus feature to keep you entertained while you’re waiting for that callback…

Clearly Groupama did not just settle with any contact center implementation. Today there are numerous well-oiled contact centers using the latest tech, but Groupama decided to go beyond the implementation. It decided to raise the bar with the application of an implementation.

I have seen the various so-called self-service iPhone apps in the App Store. I even use a few of them. But most of these are just reincarnations of the company’s website, except more dumbed-down and restricted. Why else would you need a link in an iPhone app that says “Go to the Full Site” of the company?

Genesys, SIP, Asterisk, Java, and even the iPhone… Those are the technologies which enabled Groupama to come up with the iVCbR app. These are common tech seen in enterprises today, but how many show the determination and inspiration to dramatically improve the customer self-service experience through all the integrated tech?

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