Customer Satisfaction

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to see my parents. As they live in a very beautiful if not slightly remote part of the uk, I decided I needed a car. Nothing easier than that, a quick look through the internet showed my a promising site with some nice deals. Having quickly found what I wanted, the car was reserved, and I looked forward to having a roadtrip with my son up to scotland.

Well the day arrived  when we were due to fly out. We arrived at the airport and checked in, only to find the flight then had a 60 minute delay. As it was late in the evening I was concerned that the reception might close and rang the rental company and told them that I was going to be roughly an hour late.“No problem!“ was the answer. „The desk is open till midnight. But you can also enter your flight Nr in our app, against your reservation id, and we will be able to see if there are any further delays.“

Well having now been given another hour, what else is there to do? Open up the App Store, search for the app, download the app, setup a user account. All the usual stuff. After running through the standard 10- 15 minutes of „lets get started“ I was able to enter the flight ID against my reservation. Perfect. Nothing more to worry about.

Well the planes delay grew by another 30 minutes, but I no longer cared, it had all been taken care of. When we landed, I optimistically called from the plane to order the shuttle bus, but was told to call again once I had got through to arrivals. -As if they knew what was coming.

We got stuck waiting for luggage, by another 45 mins. 30 Seconds before the luggage belt came on, some tinny voice, which sounded like an extremely poor recording (perhaps worn out through such frequent use) apologised to no one in particular about the delay, for which there also seemed to be no reason given.

Finally after what spent like forever, we walked into arrivals and the shuttle bus came to pick us up. However long the trip had been, I was still severely unprepared for what happened next. All documentation in hand, I was told that the car rental firm I was going to was about 3 miles of site and in fact had no direct connection to the website where id rented the car. Furthermore since I had a delay longer than two hours they no longer could hold the car and had to let it go. Let it go? They made it sound like it was an animal in a cage, 30 minutes longer and would it have eaten somebody? I wanted that car…

But wait, aha, I had entered in the flight details in the app? „Well Sir, because we’re a sub contractor and not directly connected to the car rental site of the internet we don’t get that information passed on.“ They are only a few miles away from the airport and the magic of the internet seems to have circumnavigated this warehouse completely. Its become a blissful information free oasis, except by bliss you mean cheap office space and a monkey behind a keyboard was definitely free of any further information.

It got worse, Yes I had paid upfront to set the insurance down to zero, but that was for the other company. If I did have any damage with their car, I would have to take it up with them first and try and get it back. „You don’t mind us putting a blocker of 1000 Pounds on your visa card do you sir?“, Er. Yes, I bloody do mind. Was there any  alternative? Sure, this was such a forward looking and dynamic company that they had already set up an alternative for me, I only needed to pay a waiver of 250 Pounds extra, no sir you dont get that back when you return the car. Talk about hard rock and a high place. „Its all written in the contract sir.“ As well as paying the extra for getting a smaller car, for the bargain sum of another 50 pounds per day.

Suddenly the (mildly) cheaper alternative had become extremely expensive, I felt as if I was being taken for a ride, except not the one that I had ordered. Whilst wondering on what to do next, I watched the same show happen to the next two customers as well, which more or less decided it for me. I gave my parents a call, explained the situation and got a lift with them to their house.

Reflecting on this on the way back to Germany, I was shocked. This had been the first time where I had really been misled through the internet. Up until then I felt fairly invincible, I read up on the tech blogs and keep up to date of whats going on in the web, because it interests me, (and i feel its part of my job too.)

Customer satisfaction created through a web presence is intended to make you the customer feel great and reassured. Its supposed to tick of all the boxes, Modern, Fresh, easy to use, intuitiv and welcoming. Only It gets  broken into a million pieces by the actual people who are relies upon then delivering the actual service.

Everything that I was told was correct. The terms of agreement as well as the sub contractor and insurance ’scam‘ were all written into the contract. Not one  piece of this single part was shown anywhere upfront in the UI. All placed into the Terms and Conditions which you have to agree to before getting the deal somewhere around page 3.

Seriously, does anyone expect any long term business, by putting „Mein Kampf“ into the second page of their terms and conditions? Its like expecting huge business referrals by being place 51 on a google search.

But I was the idiot, I didn’t read them, and I got bit in the bum. Argh. I hope never again.

If you have any issue with our software, write me a mail, or call me. It’s my business and please believe me when I say I take your satisfaction as my customer very, very personally.

 

Paul

New News

Having finally got the first version of the app through the door, its time to take a look at the small things that got put off. At some point you have to make a cut and say this is it, lets finish Version 1 first. Even when you know Version 1.1 has already got its head peaking round the door.

A few things from the current backlog that we want to address:

  • Improve the stability of the backend
  • add 3D touch to the putzich icon.
  • make swapping between friends and partner more seamless
  • Slight improvement to the comparison chart
  • make the email registration more robust
  • Unicorns???

That sounds great, but what exactly does improve the stability of the backend mean? Well personally I would like to have everything run a tad quicker, I don’t want to see status messages pop up every time I click on an action, So we working really hard on eliminating that and giving the user a real fluid experience.

We also changed the app listing from entertainment to productive, not because we are taking ourselves now seriously, rather because the chances of being seen in the app store when you competing with the likes of Flappy Unicorn III are slim.

We now have english texts for the app in the app store, for all those who naturally would have bought the app but just didn’t understand German. Now the translations are done in the back of my head so its more than possible that I got something messed up, or that there is a typo in there somewhere (of course I meant to write it like that! Sure sure…) But 5 € bounty to the first person who finds the typo and tells me about it.

The whole process of getting the app into the store now runs a lot smoother, so I am looking forward to getting regular updates in there and keeping you all posted on our progress.

Putzich is now in available in the AppStore!

Today is a very special day for the both of us here at Simply U+I. We have released our very first App: Putzich.

Please feel free to take a look at our website and download the app.  You can find us here : http://putzich.simplyui.de or on the appstore as Putzich (in both English and German).

Putzich: It was always about competition. Take the politically correct brigade and shove it. The idea was simple. I get shouted at when I don’t pull my wait around the house. This was a way for me to make everyones work transparent. The app has squarely resolved that problem – at least for me, and shown a couple of  interesting side effects, such as the virtual competition. I now find myself doing another couple of jobs at the end of the day, not better my wife’s score, but to have a bigger score than my brother, who, lives 500 miles away on a different continent. I smile every time I realise i’m being socially pressured into doing something, that has no relevance in my actual family life.

Looking back It has been almost a year since we started development on the putzich app. In fact here is the picture with the original concept – taken from my kitchen wall on 23.10.2016

We have gone through several iterations, the first of which was a simple list like it was shown from the board. This is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of app development, taking a rough idea and quickly developing it into something I could touch and get a feel for. Then constantly pushing it further, integrating the ideas that came from using it into newer working prototypes. Even realising when we’d run down a rabbit hole and have to wind the whole development back.

The backend has been refactored at least three times that I know of. I hated every single one. At that particular moment it always feels like time is lost and you’re standing still. After each rewrite I loved the product even more for what it had become. As you might guess, patience doesn’t come easy to me. So suffering refactoring is a particular type of torture. Then again I am no believer in hanging on to code. Especially when Daniel says its got to go.  I really do believe we are all the stronger for it today.

Getting the first feedback from beta testers was the next hurdle. This gave use a far broader picture of what others expect and how they actually use the app. Often completely different than how we’d originally thought it through. One such part was decided after the first round of testing That the app could be better done with pictures instead of the accountant like excel sheet list feeling. Which made us go back to the drawing board again, and again. Refining, polishing and cutting away until the product began to feel right.

It has been an amazing journey. The app development was completed within 4-5 months. What then happened was a long pause while we had to refocus on setting up a company and getting all of the paperwork done. Something of which both of us have had no experience with. This allowed through the next phase to happen and get an idea about the longevity of the product. This is just as important as the first look and feel. If we want to ask money for the app. Which of course we do. Then I want to deliver something that has a value, not just for today, but something that will keep me engaged as a user for the weeks and the months to come.  This part I can’t wait to dig further into. After using it regularly since its conception, We have amassed a mass of data from myself. That given a bit of mining will provide valuable insights, not just to me, but by following the same general principles for others aswell.

So what comes next? Well this is the unidentified territory that excites me and makes me the most nervous. How to market the app. How to get broader appeal. I’ve come to realise that App development is about 40% of the job. Now we have to learn marketing, blogs, instagram tweeting what not and running a business. I especially would like to hear from anyone who takes the time to download the app and use it. What do you like, what annoys you and what would you like to see next? I would love to say ratings are unimportant to us, but thats a half truth. If you like what we’ve done, we’d love to have your rating, yes it really helps. If you have an issue, get in touch with me directly. I want to hear your pain and where we can, make it better for everyone for the future.

Whatever happens I can’t thank everyone involved enough. its been a real rollercoaster ride. My first thanks to our long suffering families. Thanks to Daniel for putting up with all my shit, and thanks to all the testers out there, without whom the product would be a far, far poorer experience then what it is now.

 

stuck in an age war

Goddammit, Finally! It looks like we have got everything together. Survived the inquisition like questions when it came to setting up agreements between apple? Check.  Fill out and understand the tax questions forms for business between the Unated States and Germany? err. wait a minute….. CHECK!

So why aren’t we there yet?

Age restrictions. were 17+ and seem to be holding.

This might be the dream for a few people when they pass 35, but this is a problem for us.

Initially we though because the app is always connected to the internet that it requires a 17+ rating. The truth is though there are many, many games (clash of clans anyone?) that require the internet and don’t have a 17+.

So we have to retract the current submission. Update the age status, wherever that might be and submit it again.

Lets hope this goes a a lot more quickly than the past 3 months…

Apple Special Event

Wie viele andere auch sind wir sehr gespannt auf das Apple Event. Viele Gerüchte wurden verbreitet und vermutlich wird das ein oder andere auch zutreffen.

Persönlich hoffe ich auf neue Updates im Macbook Bereich, da ich dringend ein neues Gerät benötige. Mein Air leistet gute Dienst aber stößt sehr oft an Grenzen. Vermutlich werde ich aber bis Oktober (?) warten müssen.

Wir sind aller voller Vorfreude und Erwartung. In diesem Sinne allen ein schönes Apple Event…

 

Going live in 5.4.3.2.

So having uploaded the app and got the approval from apple, what more could step between us and instant riches, fame and jet setting of to the Caribbean for the weekend, because, seriously, what else would you do. Well we missed a small detail that has far reaching consequences.

A small trivial detail,  like the tax authorities should know what we’re doing. More importantly I suppose, is that we want the tax authorities to know what we’re doing. We want to trade and for all our intents and purposes, we need a VAT  Number. With this number we will be able to set up proper contracts  bill correctly.

Well both of us have had very limited experience with the tax authorities. Heck working through my tax forms (hoping for a nice return) simply feels like a months worth of work. But company taxes, wow,  we were faced with the choice of getting a tax advisor,  an outlay that frankly we don’t want, or do it ourselves. My current understanding of the tax rules is like giving me a greek dictionary and 10 minutes in dark room, with the expectation that I can speak greek afterwards.  I have the feeling that learning it all might sound like the fast and the furious, but the output is more the speed of continental drift.

So long story. Short. Finance forms are at the tax office waiting for approval. When we have the VAT Nr. we will be fiiiiiinaaaallllyyy ready to go. Watch this space.

 

Sommerloch

Seit dem letzten Update sind einige Tage vergangen. Was soll ich sagen. Das Sommerloch ist da. Wir waren zeitversetzt im Urlaub und haben es uns gut gehen lassen.

Zugeben müssen wir aber auch, dass wir auf ein wichtige Unterlagen warten ohne die wir quasi noch nicht aktiv werden können.

 

Wir haben die Zeit genossen und kommen so langsam wieder in den Alltagsmodus zurück.

That escalated quickly !

Es ist nun soweit. Der Gründungsprozess ist durchlaufen und nun beginnen die Restarbeiten um alles auf Firmenkonten umzustellen.

Ehrlich gesagt hatte ich nicht mit so großen Schwierigkeiten gerechnet, aber es kommt ja immer anders.

Die wohl größten Probleme an diesem Abend waren kein Zugriff mehr auf unser EMail Konto und Probleme mit dem Entwicklerkonto bei Apple.

Aber der Reihe nach.

Vom privaten Testaccount die Builds auf den Firmenaccount zu ziehen kann ja nicht so problematisch sein. Mit einem Namenskonflikt habe ich am wenigsten gerechnet.

Nachdem ich die Freigabe für den Namen (an mich selbst) beantragt hatte, fiel mir eine triviale Lösung ein; ich kann noch nicht freigegebene apps zwar nicht entfernen, aber ich kann den Namen ändern. That’s it!

Danach war dieses Problem behoben. Die externen Tester wurden aus der Beta entfernt und benachrichtigt, wie weiter vorgegangen wird.

Zwischendurch hat unser EMail Konto den Zugriff verweigert, was kurz für hektisches Treiben gesorgt hat.

Nachdem wir den Support kontaktiert hatten, konnte das Problem aber schnell gelöst werden. Auch hier ein herzliches Dankeschön.

Was passiert nun als nächstes ? Der Release Candidate ist fertig und wird intern nochmals intensiv getestet bevor wir dann putzich auf die Menschheit loslassen.

 

 

 

So, wheres the App?

We’ve been busy focussing on getting everything done which is required to setup a business, which has sort of pushed the development of the App to one side. On top of that we picked up a side project which is keeping the coding side busy. None of this is particularly bad per se, but it does give the feeling that the putzich development has slowed down somewhat.

What is has allowed me to do is to resharpen my focus on Putzich. In the times of stability where there are no major changes , I can get a better feeling for the long term use. Since Putzich is now well over six months old since its initial conception, I can think about what is there that I still like – a lot, and what feels off, stale or not quite finished.

So the good news is I’m really happy with the interface and how we gain user interaction. Its still feels simple and fluid. There is nothing that gets in the way and its all just where it should be. Great.

Where i’m not so happy is putztichs medium to long term appeal. I don’t feel there is enough coming back from the app to keep a persons interest for longer than a week. So this is the area we need to focus on. What is going to make it enjoyable for the user, and enriching enough for me to ensure that I want to come back and open the app each day.

Here’s our dilemma then. The App as it stands is ready. We could publish today and start marketing it. However the feeling is that this is not at its true potential. Even though the app is still fun to use,  we want to invest time in it to make it the best we can. If putzich is our showcase model, then of course it needs to be with all the bells and whistles. This takes time, but only then, when I think we’re happy, should  it be published. As a reader and a potential user, you deserve nothing less.

Ein wichtiger Schritt aber noch viel zu tun

Man stellt es sich immer so leicht vor,  eine eigene Firma zu gründen. Es sind viel mehr Schritte notwendig, als man anfangs denkt. Zudem haben wir uns auch zum Ziel gesetzt, quasi zeitgleich mit unserer Gründung auch unsere erste App zu veröffentlichen.

Wie Paul bereits im letzten Beitrag geschrieben hat sind es noch einige Punkte, die wir erledigen müssen. Aber wir haben es bald geschafft.

Da wir an unserem Notartermin ein wunderschönes Wetter hatten, haben wir es uns in dieser herrlichen Location gut gehen lassen.

Der Mensch muss ja auch etwas Essen um Leistung zu bringen und das haben wir getan bei leckerem Flammkuchen.