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We have an app that allows users to connect to a consultant. This is paid beforehand, that is, you pay by credit card first, before you're able to connect to the consultant and have a video chat for, say, 20 minutes.

Now, in the event that during the video conference, the app crashed or the connection is bad, etc. wherein by no fault of the user, the conference is cut off, what is the best course of action when the app is re-opened?

Should these be correct?

  1. Scenario 1: The user opens the app within 15 minutes after it crashed / got disrupted: There would be a screen that says something like "Your session has been disrupted. You have N minutes remaining on this session: [button: CONTINUE]"

  2. Scenario 2: The user opens the app 15 minutes after: There would be a screen that says something like "We're sorry but your session has expired: [button: OK]"

The 15 minutes here is not the same as the 20 minutes they have for the video conference. It's a timer / countdown before the entire video conference session expires (whether there's still 10 mins, 15 mins, etc. left in the video conf).

The thing is that the user won't be aware initially that in the case of the conference being disrupted, that there's only 15 minutes for him to re-connect else, the conference session will already expire.

Is there a better way to handle such case?

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Trust and clear communication: In cultivating trust through UX design, it comes down to your persistent efforts to provide a sense of stability. User must trust the system before he use it and to help him you need to inform to user about all the conditions.

A well-designed interface will explain the purpose of your product unobtrusively, in such a way that the user has clear understanding of what it is that you’re offering

I purpose:

  1. Before connecting call: Inform to user about total call timeframe
  2. Before connecting call: Inform to user about crash situation before and after the timeframe
  3. Connect the call and show a remaining time counter
  4. In case of disconnect/crash, mail/SMS him about the situation occured.

Since, it is a paid feature, user would like to know available balance in case of abrut operations. You need to make it clear before hand.

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    Hi, I think your answer got cut-off (no pun intended)? – catandmouse Nov 3 '16 at 6:13
  • Thanks it looks like some issue.Updating the answer again. – Hemchandra Nov 3 '16 at 9:24
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If a user has paid for the time, he should be flawlessly taken into the conference if it is still running.

The idea is the user should get the best experience when s/he has pre-paid for your services. That increases the responsibility on your shoulders to the point where you might want to give some benefit of doubt to the user for disruptions.

I am reluctant to introduce another 15 mins counter. While the system sets up the call, the system should,

  • Inform about the total time of the video conference.
  • I would not add disruption related information upfront, assuming the platform is stable.
  • In case the platform is not stable, users should be informed about the negative scenarios.

The errors can be on two sides, either the system messed up or the error is on the user's side. In either case, when there is a disruption and user attempts to open the app again, the app should flawlessly take the user into the ongoing conference. Here we are only discussing app crash. In the case of network failure or failure on the side of the consultant, a relevant information should be displayed to the user.

I only highlight the flawless reconnection because, in case of paid and timed events, users are anxious about the value for money they get. Disruptions and app crashes are taken very negatively. The system can proactively increase the stipulated VC time by offering an extra time and clearly informing the user that since there was a disconnection (because of system failure) an extra certain amount of time is provided as a compensation. This will go long way in building customer satisfaction. When the system acknowledges issues and tries to compensate/rectify right away, it is taken as a positive sign (purely experience, no data to back up this statement)

I am thinking about the way online exam servers work. If there is a failure or disconnection, the system attempts to reconnect when the app is launched again. The attempt is to minimise the stress of the user when unforeseen things happen.

If the user fails to connect back in the stipulated time of the conference, the system should notify the user with an Email and additionally, an in-app notification about the last conference status.

Furthermore, it is imperative that the crash/error is analysed. If is is system failure a compensation/refund or an opportunity to reconnect at a later suitable time should be offered.

Additionally, the system can take precautionary measures by measuring the signal strength and reliability before making the call. This can help notify and warn users that there is a chance of disruption and we may and may not be responsible (depending on the nature of risk). As the platform matures, the app crashes will reduce but the signal strength issues will continue to trouble. So there should be a permanent solution to address that sort of a thing.

Wrote a little too much! I hope that is helpful.

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Looking at your case, its very important for the user to know that that he has to reconnect within 15 mins to avoid loosing his pre-paid money, when something unexpected happens during the session.

Lets look at those points where we can communicate this message clearly to the user.

  1. Like @Hem suggested, communicating clearly in the beginning, before the session actually begin is a good place to start.
  2. You can add this message in your event confirmation emails too
  3. List down all the possible scenarios like (data connectivity, Low battery, app crash, etc.,)

    a. In scenarios where the user will be still in app, but will not able to connect, show clear message that the user has to fix and rejoin within 15 mins.

    Foursquare's message when there is no data connectivity

    b. When the app crashes and user is no longer in the app, try to reach out to the user immediately via mail,sms.

    c. Suppose, when you are not able to detect that the user has lost connection. Then consider some options like giving some credits that they can use later. Its worth considering, because users will trust your app more and be comfortable while paying that money before the session.

Communicating this message clearly in multiple channels/points is very important considering that users rarely read text in intro pop ups, alerts, etc,. So, make sure you have this message in more than one place.

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