We have an app that connects a user to a consultant via a video conference. This conference is pre-paid.

Now, in the case of a disruption on the side of the consultant and the connection is lost, the user will be alerted along the lines of:

“Hold on, there’s a connection failure. The video conference will automatically resume once the connection has been established.”

My question is, how long should the app keep retrying to establish connection? Meaning, if it cannot establish connection within X minutes, it will already let the user know that the connection has been permanently lost and they will be reimbursed the amount they have paid. Then close the session.

  • User test this? See what people say? – Majo0od Feb 27 '17 at 19:11

I would give them the option to continue holding, or disconnect to get reimbursed.

For example, after 30 seconds of trying to secure connection, an alert can be presented: "Sorry, things are taking a little longer than expected. If you'd like to try again another time we will fully reimburse your wallet".. or something along those lines.

After another specified time period, present a similar question, or just shut it down and tell them that they will be reimbursed. I wouldn't give them more than two or three opportunities to continue because then it really is just wasting their time at that point, in my opinion. Poll your users for a better idea of the specifics here.

The real key here is to just keep the user updated continuously. People are usually understanding of things like this and appreciate the transparency and honesty.

There is no standard for this.

The amount of time the user will tolerate depends pretty completely on how important that session is expected to be. Most people will wait longer for something important than for something that's not, and the amount of patience they display is the product of their personality type x the importance of the session.

Since there's no way of knowing each person's tolerance, poll the person frequently (e.g. every 2 minutes) reporting that the link is still down and would they prefer to wait or cancel out for a full refund. AND if they choose to wait, ask them how often they would like you (the software) to check in with them if the link continues down.

Measure it

But I believe that as long the video conference window is open, the user is interested in re-establishing the connection or allow the user to "manually" cancel the connection request and if he does this, show a message saying that they will be reimbursed.

Both these options allows you to measure how long does the user wants to wait for the connection to come back.

This will be subjective to:

  • The user
  • On screen feedback
  • The price they have paid
  • The importance of the conference
  • Previous experience
  • Unknown factors

Approaches similar to Slack seem to relay a good amount of user information, where they tell you there is a connection problem, they tell when they are going to retry the connection, you can override it and click retry now and you can, of course, leave. The timing period increases after each attempt, my guess being that if the connection hasn't established after 2, 3, 4 etc. times, it's unlikely to ever be salvaged.

I think this could be a good candidate to do A/B testing and survey how your users felt after the event.

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