paul bennett

Archive for the ‘business’ Category

A few ‘shout-outs’ for some great service I’ve been the recipient of over the last few weeks. I’m mindful that it’s a human tendency to complain when service is bad, so here’s a few companies getting things really right:

  • Digiweb
    A client no longer needed the e-commerce service ‘d signed up for them. Digiweb cancelled the account and cleared the outstanding invoice within 15 minutes after I’d emailed them. Awesome.
  • Mackinlay’s Footwear, Dundedin
    I sent some hand made shoes from Wellington to Dunedin for for resoling. The package left on a Tuesday, would have taken two days to get there (Thursday) and the show arrived back on the Monday. Effectively this means Mackinlay’s must have repaired them and posted them back almost the same day they received them. The workmanship was fantastic – it’s like having a new pair of shoes that are already broken in. Oh, and they made another small repair to the shoes as well – for free.
  • 1-Day.co.nz
    When they say next day delivery they mean it. Amazing prices too.
  • My Palm Zire 21
    It’s about as low-tech as you can get for a PDA, yet it’s survived being repeatedly dropped, thrown and abused as well as having kids fighting over it and a two-year-old playing with it roughly and it’s never missed a beat.
    Three years on and still a great, usable OS, incredible battery life, no scratches, perfect clock, seamless syncing and a slew of handy software. Palm may have lost the PDA war, but they have a lot to teach other companies about how to build a solid product.
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boredom.jpg

Lets see, boring Australians, boring eBay, boring movies or boring DVD’s. Choices, choices…

As seen on this domain squatting site.

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Waiting for Newshutch….

Months ago, I stumbled upon Newshutch – an online RSS reader built by the same people who gave us the excellent Tiddlywiki.

Having struggled with RSS reader software both on and offline, Newshutch was an absolute joy to use. It was simple, fast, usable and well laid out. It made using Google Reader feel like driving a Lada after spending a week in a late model Mercedes. There were a couple of things I wanted to see changing but for me it was close to perfect. Newshutch was one of the few services on the web I’d have gladly paid a subscription to use.

Then it stopped working.

I was confused, their blog was little help, and, as you can see from the comments on this entry a lot of other people were less than happy.

The Newshutch response was:

“We had more downtime than expected yesterday and today as we moved to a new host. But we’re up now. We’ll post more about the move to Joyent after a few days of experience with it.”

That was September 30th.
Fair enough that moving to a new host will cause some issues, but this was a month ago. That’s a long time, especially given the amount of other services users can turn to in this age of web application proliferation.
The key issue that has frustrated users hasn’t primaily been the service, but the lack of communication shown by Newshutch developers.

People love using Newshutch so much they’re willing to put up with bad / slow service as long as they know that:

  1. someone’s working on resolving it
  2. it will end sometime in the (hopefully near) future
  3. the end result will be as good or better than what they were used to

It would be sad to see such a great service fade away due to lack of attention, but I fear that’s what is happening to Newshutch.

Lessons:

  1. Monetise your applications

    Would more developer attention be paid to Newshutch if the service had a business model? You bet. Having service problems negatively affect the bottom line certainly helps a business realise the impact of service issues. Newshutch has ample opportunities for advertising.
    Given the passionate user base, Newshutch could have also sold premium services subscriptions (similar to what 37Signals do with Backpack) to gain revenue.

  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

    Newshutch would have undoubtedly kept more users if they’d communicated with them. Notices could have been pushed to the front page of the application (to make all users aware of the service issues), new sign-ups could have been postponed (what’s the point signing up new users if their experience is going to be appalling?), and, at the very least, regular updates could have been posted on their blog (I’m talking daily – monthly is not regular).


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