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

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.

 

 

 

Progress, roadworks ahead.

Company Update:

We are now in what we believe are the final stages in getting the company properly formed. Heres a brief update on where we currently stand.

Completed issues:

  • We’ve sorted out the Notary and got the official founding documents back from them
  • Got the company bank acct sorted out. Thank you for Fidor bank for making this as painless as possible,  Company bank accounts can cost you alot of money, who knew.
  • The Companies Nr has applied and payed for (we’re now only waiting for the official reply together with our company nr )  Without this we can’t trade. 
  • Filled in the Questionnaire for the inland revenue.
  • Created a dev account for apple,

Open Issues:

  • Enrolled in apple development program (as soon as we have our company nr)
  • Register the company with the responsible authority (Need to check if this is done automatically through all the other paperwork)
  • Get VAT Nr. from Inland revenue
  • Find a Tax advisor – take tax advice

Each step of this is taking time. Not because we work particularly slow, but because this is done in our spare time and we want to be really sure of what we are doing.

I hope that by the end of the week we will have our companies nr and then the fun can begin.

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.

The next big thing….

The key for our next project came from two instances that happened within a week of each other.

Sitting down with Daniel and talking over a couple of beers, we started to talk about simply visual (although we didn’t have the name yet) and what we should be doing. As usual for what tends to happen in such conversations, you start talking about the great successes and ask each other, whats going to be the next big thing?

Now I don’t have a crystal ball, otherwise I – like millions of others would have invested in amazon, apple, Facebook, google & co over a decade ago. On top of that, In the mean time disruption as a word seems to be now so commoditised that I have to physically stop myself from rolling my eyes whenever I hear it now being mentioned. But disruption still happens. Every. Day. So whilst sitting down with Daniel we’re talking about this and that and I say the standard sentence, that all these things are obvious in hindsight – so what really we need to think about is the obvious. What is sitting in plain sight, what do we do every day, and just don’t see?

Ha! A simple throwaway comment in a conversation with a good friend over a beer. Nothing special, everyday occurrence, no longer thought about.

A few days later something else happened. I got into an argument with my wife. But before I go any further a few things.

First and foremost:

  • I love my wife and my children to bits, have done, still do, will continue to do for all my future.
  • I travel, a lot, Currently this means i’m away from home one week in two
  • I’m not an easy person to live with. I have issues (alot), like everyone else.
  • Somethings drive me nuts and others I simply can ignore. Even with the people closest around me.

So this particular argument, like arguments often do, began about something small, but escalated quickly.
It starts about cleaning something away, probably a throwaway remark from either my wife or me. The remark though is taken with offence and deviates into how little the other does in the house. Ending somewhere around how not enough respect is given for the amount of housework done.
Knowing I should be better, but still not able to keep my mouth shut. I repeat the stupidest sentence in worlds history.

„I do just as much as you do!”
Oh – God! No!! I didn’t just say that now out loud did I?
Its a miracle that I wasn’t thrown out onto the pavement right there and then.
Afterwards when cooler heads prevailed, I went to the kitchen whiteboard and created a list of things that are our household chores. With a simple afterhought added the days of the week to make columns. The idea was simple, if you do a household chore, add your initials to the board. So make what you do visible for the others to see. Count up the initials at the end of the day and you can see who did what, important for my wife, and who did more (a big ego thing for me.)

Then looking at the board, satisfied with such simple solution, I knew this was an ‚obvious thing’. I think lots of partnerships suffer because of what people do, or do not do around the house. A quick call to Daniel was all it took to confirm my theory. Subsequent conversations with other partners gave me a real insight to how widespread these feelings are shared.

A couple of weeks and 100 iterations later we’re getting ready to produce our first app. The name has changed repeatedly, before getting something derived from my wife. I can’t wait to show you all and hope that the understanding for what housework actually is, and who does what is finally visible for all.