Jawbone UP: How to create an awesome product, screw it up and then fix it

The Jawbone UP is one of those products I waited for, and really really wanted to have. I’m kind of a gizmo’s junkie; so every new, shiny, data-collecting device released must be in near proximity of my working area field.

What’s UP?

The Jawbone UP is what they call a ‘fitness band’. It is a wristband (similar to the ‘Livestrong band’ but thicker) that will help you measure three things:

  • Steps taken during the day. Pretty much like a pedometer.
  • Distance ran while jogging. Similar to the Nike+ stuff.
  • Hours slept and quality of sleep. What you will get with Zeo.

Nothing new, uh? But what got me is the idea of having three things in just one simple object that you get to carry around all the time, so is difficult to forget. It is very discreet because it looks like a jewelry accessory, and best of all: its battery lasts for 10 days!

On top of that as the band tracks how much you move, you can program it to remind you to move if you’re inactive for a while. This is very good for people like me who have sedentary jobs.

Another feature I like is that you can program your band to wake you up by vibrating: the band will figure out when is the best moment to wake you up according to your sleep cycle that day.

Quantify Yourself

This kind of devices are part of an idea/movement called ‘Quantified Self’: a group of crazy people (in which I consider myself) collecting all sorts of data about their daily lives: anything from calories eaten and hours slept to steps taken or kms run. It started mainly as a way to measure fitness stuff but I’m sure it will evolve to measuring more mundane and more vain numbers. The basis of the quantified self is similar ‘Taylorism’ or ‘Scientific management’, the idea that you cannot improve things that you cannot measure. And being myself a Business Intelligence consultant, I know that is absolutely true!

Back to the UP band

I patiently waited for the UP band release date, November 6th 2011. Being in Canada doesn’t always make things easy, but this time I was happy: Jawbone said they were going to release it simultaneously with the States, and that you would be able to get it from your local Apple Store.

To make a long story short: I had to call 20 different Apple Stores, explain what an ‘Jawbone UP band’ is (and let me tell you that it is not easy!), and finally get one at the Eaton Centre’s Apple Store the very next day, Nov 7th. For this, of course I had to go to the store the very moment they told me over the phone that it was available and get the two sole bands they had for sale in my size. Basically, after just one customer they were left out of stock.

Good UP

And so I was very happy with my UP band! I registered it, used it with my iPhone, did my first work out and everything was fine in ‘up-band land’. The app still had its shortcomings: the food part is silly/useless and it only works on iPhone (I don’t care, I love my iPhone). You cannot get your data out of the phone (not even on a website) and there’s no way to post any of your information online. Seriously? We live in a social-media world, don’t you guys know that? If I run and post it on Facebook, is just to show it off to my friends!

I was so sold into the idea of “wearing it all times” that I showered with the band every morning. My fitness buddy (who is much more careful than I with tech stuff) took it off every time he showered and was also very attentive of not getting it wet. I laughed at his face: you luddite! Haven’t you see the ad where the guy emerges from a pool with the band on?

Bad, bad UP

Fate made me eat my own words: after five days of using my band and exposing it to the water in the shower, it was dead and my friend’s was alive and kicking. So I started googling and tweeting about this problem and found that I was not the only one with this problem. If you go to the Jawbone forums, you can read the horror stories of hundreds of people that were totally disappointed with the product. I tried to be a little more understanding because I really like the product, and so I asked for a replacement of my band. I called Jawbone on the phone, they were very nice to me and told me they were going to send me a replacement. After a couple of days waiting I got a new band that works fine!

Does it live UP to expectations?

I understand there are people still angry at Jawbone about the way they handled things. In Canada, we even had to even endure waiting more days to get bands and do the “Apple Store chase” to get one, so I totally understand that. Also, buying a half-baked product and paying full-baked price is not nice at all.

I’m most happy with the band: still think is a hell of an idea and a very good product. Maybe execution on the release could have been better (lot better) but I totally understand that sh*t happens.

After all the problems they had, I got a very nice email yesterday, pretty much admitting all of the issues they faced and saying they’re willing to fix them. So Jawbone is giving your money back for any of the bands you might already bought and stopping production until they sort their problems out. I think there is nothing else they can do to get you totally satisfied.

Their refund program is no-questions-asked. You can keep your band, return it, do whatever you like with it, they’re just giving your money back! You don’t even need a receipt so even if you got yours as a present, you can still get a refund if you’re not satisfied. That is what I call a very smart (as in intelligent and elegant) way of handling things.

Please, don’t go!

Its kind of sad to read they’re stopping their production and don’t even have a come-back date planned; that just gives me the idea that they’re probably not going to do the bands anymore. That would be really bad. Please Jawbone, do not do that. I respect that you need time to fix things up, but please do come back. I really think you have a great product and still want to recommend it to my friends and family!

Update

I received and cashed my refund for the UP band. I also ran into troubles with the first replacement band I already had (the vibration motor suddenly stopped working) but I called Jawbone and they sent me another replacement in less than 5 days. I cannot say more than gratitude words for this company, they are really exceeding my expectations as a customer and I intend to keep using the band for as long as I can to track all of my workout and daily activities.

Toastmasters Project #7 – Reseach your Topic – We are what we eat

Being the rebel that I am, I did project #8 before projects #6 and #7, so here are my impressions on #7.
Research your Topic objectives are:

  • Collect information about your topic from numerous sources.
  • Carefully support your points and opinions with specific facts: examples and illustrations gathered through research.

All of this is something that can be plain boring, are just there so recite some figures or data someone else created? Kind of being a news host? I think here the goal, as with any speech, is to find something you’re passionate about, or something you have a good understanding, and de-construct it to its bare essentials and then support those essentials with data.

You might think this is very difficult. One of the greatest things is that you can support practically any idea with statistics, and is pretty easy to find studies, often contradictory among themselves, that will help you state your point.

My speech was about food and how the people I know an I relate to it. I called it “We are what we eat”. I liked to use the title as a punch line somewhere in the speech, but this time I felt like that was being way too corny and skipped it. It worked well, as I didn’t feel corny at all when saying it (as I used to, so I know I would probably never do that again).

Since my breakthrough with Project #5, I’m feeling confident and I did last night presenting this speech. I felt totally on control of the audience, my eye control got much better and hand gestures felt much more under control.

This is the feedback I’ve got:

  • You know how to make any topic fun, even weight loss and portion control is engaging and interesting. Excellent energy! Great body language and eye contact. Keep working grammar and language. Sometimes you stumble on certain words and phrases. Great speech!
  • Very good speech. You collected lots of information!
  • Very interesting – well researched – well engaged – very confident – enjoyed it!
  • I could see a big improvement in your confidence! Good job and nice attention to detail
  • Excellent presentation skills: I like the way you move. You did your research – well done. Funny – works well with the audience. Data- appropriate for the topic / objectives of the speech. Tips: good idea. Good ending – perfect for the audience. You barely used notes
  • Well researched / Well presented. Just a few grammatical errors.
  • Loved the way you also referred to your scale to provide statistics, not just american studies. Lightened your speech which already was full of humour. Well presented in what could have been dry and boring but never was. Well done.
  • Great speech. Very well researched. Good humour and well prepared. Keep it up.
  • Very informative and well researched. You provided good examples about plate and portion sizes. Some vocal variety would have made your speech more impactful. Overall, well done.

Overall I think I did a good job, I got the point of the project was that you will always find information to help you make your point more valid. Presenting your ideas through other’s data and figures can make it your presentation more powerful.

CRM & Customer Experience – How to ask for a customer’s email

How to ask for a customer’s email

I was planning a trip to visit my family and friends, so I had to go to the mall to get them some presents. I wanted to give them some simple but nice and simple things so I went to Aeropostale. I chose the items I liked and then straight to the cash register. I wasn’t surprised by the fact that the first thing the sales girl asked me was my email. I gave it to her, she just punched it into the register, scanned the items, I payed and that was it. Painlessly fast.

I later went to Gap to get some clothes for me. This one was even a little bit better. By the time I gave the sales girl my credit card she told me that they already had my email address and that they could send me the receipt there. I’m very good friend with electronic documents and I prefer them over paper all the time. So that’s how I got my receipt, just two seconds after I was out of the store my iPhone vibrated letting me know that I already had it.

How you do not ask for a customer’s email

I travelled to Buenos Aires a couple of weeks ago and was presented with the opportunity to deal with some more buying experiences. I had to get a keyboard for my mom’s computer, so I went to Compumundo, which is something like Best Buy in Argentina. The sales guy helped me pick the keyboard I needed, and then we moved to his computer to process the sale. He asked me all of my information (name, address, telephone number, postal code) for taxes purposes and then the email.

He started typing my email address (I was besides him so I could see everything he was doing). I noticed the application he was using was console mode (like in the old DOS days) and so I see how he couldn’t get to enter the ‘@’ symbol. One time, two times, three times. The ‘@’ was nowhere to be found. I was standing there for at least 90 seconds waiting for this guy to get his thing together, but it seemed like it was never going to happen. I tried to help him, suggested some alternative ways to enter the damn ‘@’. What annoyed me the most was that he couldn’t even get over the step where the system asked him for the email address. The system required him to put an email address. And not any email address, just something with an ‘@’ symbol. After seeing how frustrated he was, I suggested him getting some help from someone else. I could feel his embarrasement.

So another guy came, kind of making fun of “the guy that cannot type a simple ‘@'” and he typed in my email address. This is what he typed into the system:

the customer doesn’t@have an email address

You can clearly see that there is a ‘@’ in the middle, so the system was happy thinking it got a valid address.

What could have happened

I just imagine if this would have happened to someone that is not a social anthropologist like me. The guy would have tried two or three times to punch the email address, up to the point where the customer’s patience ends. The customer would have told the guy to put the keyboard where the sun doesn’t shine and went out of the store. End of story.

Consequences of this:

  • Customer gets annoyed, frustrated, angry. Doesn’t want to go to this store anymore. There are plenty of places where the customer can get his need satisfied.
  • Sales guy gets frustrated. He lost a sale, so he just lost money. And for something that wasn’t even his fault. He had to stand customer’s complain. To whom this guy would talk? HR? His boss? If this happens a couple of times, he would even consider switching jobs, given the case that he looses enough money out of this kind of nonsense.
  • The company looses money. The company have just lost a sale, and probably a customer for good, so even more money goes down the drain in potential sales. And what about if the company looses the sales guy? Wanna talk about money invested in the training and experience he got?

And all of this because just one guy, probably a programmer (nothing personal with programmers, I used to be one!), just thought and made the unconscious decision that forcing some validation on email address was good.

Customer experience is king

Customer experience, from beginning to end, is king in any kind of retail store. So it is very important that if you have some kind of retail store, you put someone in charge of this. Please validate the system, and by system I don’t mean the computers. Play the customer a couple of times. Do the mystery shopper thing. And please help yourself and your customers get things as easy as you can.