Neil Flynn on TADHack Dublin

Neil FlynnMy Customer Service Hack by Neil Flynn (@_neilf)

Over the weekend of June 13-14, I attended TADHack 2015 Dublin, held at the NDRC in Dublin, Ireland. For my hack I developed a Customer Service Application that allows customers to communicate with a Customer Service agent via instant message and at the end of the conversation log a record of the conversation in their own personal cloud storage.

I am a Software Developer in the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG), an ICT research centre based in Waterford, Ireland. During my time at the TSSG I have worked on various research projects, most recently the OPENi project. The OPENi project is an EU funded project that focuses on consumer-centric personal cloud storage, giving users more control over their personal data. The work I have done on this project has given me an appreciation of the importance of personal data and ownership of data in the times we live in. With this in mind I went to TADHack with the intention of combining the OPENi platform with some of the technologies available for the hackathon.

After some careful consideration of the technologies from all of the sponsors I finalised the idea for my hack. My idea came from a problem I see often in the Customer Service sector, while there is quite an amount of logging and recording of interactions between customers and customer service agents on the customer service side of the interaction, there is a very limited amount of logging done on the customer side. The purpose of my hack was to address this imbalance and give the customer the opportunity to store a record of their conversations with a customer service agent in a location that they have control over it.

This enables the user to review conversations any time they please in the event of a dispute about what was or was not said in a particular conversation as well as affording the customer some protection from agents attempting to renege on any commitments made during a conversation.  From the enterprise point of view using this application for customer service interaction would demonstrate to their customers that the company has consideration for the customer and their personal data, which would shine a positive light on the company in the eye of the customer.

To demonstrate how my hack works I used the Messaging module of the Forge by Acision Android SDK to develop an instant messaging app. I chose Forge because their documentation, video tutorials and SDK allowed me to setup a fully functional instant messaging app in the limited time I had to complete the hack. I found the Forge platform quite easy to use and I was impressed with how quickly I was able to get a chat app up and running. For the storage of the chat logs I used the OPENi android SDK to collect and store the records in personal cloudlets where access to the data is controlled by the user. Due to the time limits of developing for a hackathon I decided to focus my efforts on getting a messaging app developed to demonstrate the concept of my hack. In the future this could very easily be expanded upon to include audio and video calls, allowing the user to store all types of customer service interactions.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at TADHack 2015 in Dublin and I would recommend anybody with an interest in getting creative with technology to get involved in future TADHack events.