As part of our ongoing support of the account, Absolute were approached by Brompton Bike Hire to undertake a large-scale update to the app and infrastructure that supports it. We were tasked in making it more robust to support the new bike types BBH are offering to customers, as well as facilitating the communication between the app and the new docks users will interact with when following the bike hiring process.
Due to the nature of the bike hire, making sure that customers are genuine is extremely important and a number of checks are made to ensure that the information gathered during the registration process is accurate and valid. This had made the registration a lengthy process and while earlier work had helped reduce the friction and improved usability, we were still seeing some customers not complete their registrations fully. We could, however, see at what point they had stopped and the BBH marketing team wanted the ability to be able to contact those customers and see if they could help resolve any issues that might have faced at that step. We were asked to look at providing a means of then helping to jump start those customers back at that step in the registration process so they didn’t have to start from the beginning again.
Fortunately, native apps can look out for unique web addresses and then open at the relevant screen. Android refers to these as ‘Deep Links’, while Apple calls these ‘Universal Links’, but they both work in the same way essentially. We created a number of these links to the steps in the registration process that a customer may have got to, and made sure that the app could pick up the previously entered information. This meant that a customer who had exited registration at the initial payment screen for whatever reason could be contacted by the customer support team and sent an email with a link that would open the app directly and allow them to pick straight up where they had left off.
With a website, launching major changes is usually fairly straightforward in that both the backend that communicates with the database and the front end that presents that information to the customer can both be updated simultaneously. With app development however, while we can update the backend part at any time, the front end part - the actual app - has to go through an approval process with the app stores, and even then a customer may not update for some time after that. This meant that during the initial launch of this new version of the app, there would still also be customers using the single bike type version.
We could require the customer to install the new version, but we were reluctant to force that on a customer who just needed the app to release the bike from its dock and be on their way. So we needed to make sure that both versions of the app were able to communicate with the central data system in the short term, and this meant additional logic and new communication points had to be created and carefully tested. It would have been a lot simpler to just update the existing communication points and force the user to update their app, but we wanted to give the customer that choice and more pleasant experience using the app.
iOS App Store Compliance
Significant user data is required during the registration process and is processed by third party identity verification systems. Because of this, the app had to be compliant with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework to be submitted to the App Store. Another requirement that has been introduced is that a customer must be able to request that their account is deleted and all information removed. We had to work closely with BBH on this requirement as we couldn’t let someone take a bike from a dock and then delete their account, as there’d be no way to trace them to ensure the bike’s return. After finding the right balance between business requirement and customer experience, we were able to implement that into this release of the app seamlessly.