“No longer interested in this. Please give me a refund and let’s part ways”

I just lost a customer. He purchased Duet, ran into some bugs, and festered in silent frustration for almost a week, before sending me an angry email demanding a refund because the software is broken. Having any customer demand a refund sucks because it means I failed, but the most interesting part about this particular case is that the bugs he encountered had already been reported and fixed, he just didn’t have the newest version. So I apologized about the inconvenience, directed him to the version with the fix and BAM he’s hit with another bug – the download page apparently doesn’t work in Firefox anymore. There was nothing I could do to save this customer, he was exhausted, and rightfully so. I had no choice but to refund him and learn what will probably be a very valuable lesson:

  • I probably have more customers than I realize sitting in silent frustration. Perhaps something is broken and they haven’t reported it, or something doesn’t work as smoothly as they would like, or there’s just a feature that they don’t understand how to use. Whatever the case, many of these customers probably never reach out because it’s too hard. They have to stop what they’re doing, find my email address, and send me an email. Unlike SaaS apps, there’s no way for me to automatically track where customers are getting stuck, or if they’re abandoning the app.
  • I need to make it easier for customers to contact me. There’s a feedback form built into that app that some customers use to report bugs, but I bet most customers don’t even know that it exists; It’s buried in the settings page. It’s needs to be easier, more obvious, and require 0 steps.
  • The update process needs to be simpler. Right now you have to go to http://duetapp.com/latest, download the new version, unzip it, upload it to your server, and then re-run the installation script. For most people this is a 5 minute process, but if you have slow connection, this entire process could take 20 minutes. That’s way too long, especially since I’m releasing updates much more frequently now.
  • The app should notify you whenever there’s an update. Right now, the app only checks for an update once every 3 days. It should check every day

I can make it better

Fortunately, these are all fixable problems and I think addressing them will greatly improve many customers’ experience with Duet, and provide more consistent access to the type of customer feedback that enables me to continue to improve the app. So here’s what I plan to address each of these issues.

  • I’m going to build an omnipresent help button. It will probably located in the sidebar, and it will provide a direct line to me.
  • I need to have some kind of walk through when customers first install the software and the help button needs to be one of the things it highlights to make sure everyone is aware it exists.
  • Automatic updates need to be a priority on the roadmap. There’s still quite a bit I need to do before this is possible, but I can accelerate that process, so I will.
  • The app should check every day for new versions. Once every 3 days isn’t enough

Hopefully this helps more customers get help exactly when they need it, so they don’t have to suffer in silence. And it will have the added benefit of helping me learn more about where people are getting stuck, so I can continue to make the app easier and more useful.

My next article is going to be even better!

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  • Tim

    Great to see you’re constantly seeking to improve; don’t be discouraged, you’ve a great product. Here’s another one for you though – the “Want to read my next article?” button seems to be broken.

    Also, is there a way for us to download the versions of the app up to the point when subscription has expired? There seems to be no way for me to download it now, unless I renew subscription.

    • 23andwalnut

      Hey Tim. Thanks for letting me know about the form. Just fixed it. Shoot me an email and I’ll help you download the previous versions.

  • Mac Gurus

    Great article, I also am happy to see that your seeking to improve your product. I would love to see an automatic update feature. The upgrade instructions you have are good but this step should be broken out “Unzip the package and upload the new files to your server (overwriting the old files).” as it can overwrite custom logos, images, or other theme overrides. I noticed that all my customizations had been lost, it wasn’t a big deal for me, since I had made a backup of my entire install, but perhaps it could be a big deal for others. Automatic updates could solve this but also it may be worth considering a hosted path for a monthly fee.

    • 23andwalnut

      Thanks! Automatic updates are going to be great. It’s going to make life a lot easier for a lot of customers. At some point , there needs to be a formal plugin system so people can add functionality without fearing that their code is going to be overridden.