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

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…

Its all in your head

We did it, finally, It feels like the first proper step into becoming a company.

Okay so today we were at the notary and set ourselves officially on our way to becoming a legitimate company. Our next official steps are:

  1. Create Bank account:
  2. Get money into bank account
  3. Pay everyone -except ourselves  (Notary, Bank, Handelsregister – Companies House)
  4. Wait for companies Nr.
  5. Sort out tax questionnaire
  6. Sort ourselves out with a tax advisor
  7. Get a trade certificate (Gewerbeschein)
  8. Get a tax id Nr

But in reality our next steps were

  1. Coffee!
  2. Lunch
  3. Take in the the sights
  4. More coffee
  5. talks about the current issues with the app,
  6. talk about future marketing steps
  7. Wonder in gods name how the finances are going to work

Seriously. Today was a great day. But not for the reason above. Even though we are business partners, we still live about 200 miles apart. Seeing each other outside of the office doesn’t really happen at all. In fact it takes an incredible effort to come up here and get this company on its way. For that we were given sunshine, 24°C, great food and funny company.

One of the comments that did come out of our conversation it that I seem to be my own greatest enemy. I tend to be quiet to people I don’t know very well , whilst I think about things that are said and the interactions of the people around me. So on the surface, it doesn’t look like I do very much, but then every so often I will come out with a complete firework display of ideas tailor made to include a personalised pitch to the person infront of me, before then retreating  back into thinking about the next set of steps. Again when creating a business, the thought of doing something like that was far more intimidating than the actual steps which in reality were needed. Although were not completely there yet -it now feels like crossing of the t’s and dotting the i’s. The first step, which definitely was the hardest only really meant leaving the comfort zone of my own head.

 

Things go quickly, till they don’t…

Ok, ok, we managed to miss all of our own set targets and while it may look like nothing much is happening up front, we’ve been working hard on the back end  keeping things moving.

So , whats been going on?

  • Get permission from current employers to set up new company? Check!
  • Settle on a company name. Really? Really really?? no more changes after this??? Check!
  • Set appointment with Notary? (Gods this is getting serious.) Check!
  • Stick with final design and no more changes? Che.. Shit. Well maybe a tweak or three, here, there and ….No no stop it, we’ve got to finish this thing.
  • Make it ready for android – HAHAHAHA nope, well not yet…. won’t rule it out.

Well whats left to do then?

The answer is, not that much.

There is always polishing that can be done on the UI front.

There are some bugs, but nothing major. The biggest issue that we currently have is user Privacy. Now we don’t mind who sees what we’re doing in our households and when, but we understand that there are (not insignificant) amounts of people who have a different opinion. So we really need to set up a proper privacy system for those who want it. Then need to make it perfectly clear, understandable and usable.

Once we’ve got this done. we should be ready to publish. I can’t wait.