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Tech glitch: How do you bounce back when your app goes rogue?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know about the app glitches that occurred last week in Singapore with Grab and McDonald’s delivery. Grab’s mobile app experienced a glitch which caused all fares regardless of destination to cost SG$6, while McDonald’s mobile app sent a spam of push notifications to users promoting its new burger.

This saw both brands rushing to publish online statements addressing that matter, while offering  compensation. For Grab this meant honouring all rides completed during the period for the price offered, and also compensating driver-partners who took bookings with lower fares than usual.  As for McDonald’s, the brand apologised for the error and gave promo codes for its Creamy Herb Chicken Pie for affected users. Although both brands were prompt in acknowledging the error and quick in offering compensation, the matters highlights how technology is not fail safe in a marketer’s playbook, despite the optimisation it brings.

Several marketers Marketing spoke to said that when such incidents occur, the first thing which goes through their mind is the extent of impact on the consumer. In a conversation with Marketing, Marcus Chew, CMO at Income, said that what is fundamentally at that moment is how the brand can mitigate that impact to minimise inconveniences to customers if such glitches occur.

“The initial fact finding and information sharing amongst all relevant stakeholders is fundamental to effectively mitigation [the issue] so that we can minimise downtime in our customers’ experience with us,” Chew explained.

Having clear processes and escalating procedures are also key in managing and mitigating mobile app/website glitches. For the case of Income, it has an Income Initial Response Team to kick-start the mitigating process involving relevant stakeholders. This is to ensure timely and appropriate information gathering, task management, and communications so that internal and external stakeholders are kept informed accordingly.

“Based on initial impact assessment of the incident, appropriate communications protocol and key messages will be deployed and disseminated to internal and external audiences,” Chew said. For example, an updated FAQ may be shared with frontliners to align on key information and to manage client/public queries. Where appropriate, a media holding statement and relevant social media posts will also be aligned to the content of the FAQ to update the public on the situation.

“This is to ensure that members of the public are kept informed about the situation that has an impact on them and is constantly aware of alternatives that can help serve their needs, when required,” Chew explained.

Echoing the sentiment, Laura Kantor, head of marketing at Foodpanda, said that on top of minimising impact, all marketing campaigns which re-direct users to its app will also be paused until the issue is fixed. In addition, Foodpanda would also leverage on its dedicated team at Delivery Hero which is available 24/7 to fix the glitch in a quick manner.

Kantor added that with the majority of the company’s communications happening in a digital environment, Foodpanda is flexible when it comes to adjusting scheduled activities and last-minute hold-on to any announcements. “In terms of communicating any issues, we always aim to create transparency and especially if this is a longer-term issue, we’ll make sure to communicate as clearly as possible,” she said.

As for whether or not compensation is always necessary in such cases, Kantor said it depends on the severity of the situation. “As we are one of Singapore’s leading food delivery company, we have a rigorous compensation strategy in place if, for example, consumers could not receive their order due to app glitches,” she added.

For Chew, compensation when made to users must be case appropriate and must be decided with care and sensitivity as the incident or situation must call for it. For example, the company can choose to make good of a promotion to a customer if the glitch caused the customer to miss out on the promotion.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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