* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!

Links:

» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)

Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Responding 24/7 when working elsewhere

I have a business idea that really needs 24/7 attention to run for the fastest turnaround for the customer (which they'll prefer), but as I have a day job, I can't be at home all the time to respond to their orders immediately.  Therefore, when I get an order, the customer may have to wait up to 12 hours for it to be fulfilled (ie. I have to work my shift, get home, fire up the PC, start fulfilling).

I'm thinking if/when I go live, that the service should just be advertised that any requests are fulfilled within 24 hours at the latest.  Is that unreasonable?  Most orders would be fulfilled within 10-12 for sure.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
It obviously depends what the service is, so it is a bit hard to answer without knowing, or at least a clue.

In general, if you set appropriate expectations and keep to them, people are happy. If possible, "under promise and over deliver".
Scorpio Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
It's an email-based service where certain info is sent to them that they can't otherwise obtain themselves.  I thought they might get peeved waiting up to 24 hours for an email, because email is meant to be fast, not slow.

Anyway, I think (read: hope) advertising as getting their email within 24 hours, but then delivering in 12 or less, should be okay.

Sorry that I can't give more info right now.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
The exchange is set out like this:

Buyer:  Sends email requesting X data.
Me:  Gets home from work after 8 hours, processes it, emails it.
Buyer:  Receives data at that time.

So, a bit of a delay, yes; especially if they want it in a hurry.  But if it's advertised as not real-time, I should be right.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
From my experience if they send you an email and also expect to get a mail as answer they often reply like "Thank you very much for your quick response!" when I send them my mail a few hours later.

So it seems people are actually not expecting to get a response on the same day.
xmlbuddy Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
As you describe it, it looks like there is some manual work involved from your side. If that's the case, I think that it is normal to have some hours delay. If that's not the case, if the data can be fetched automatically, then better you put up  a service or something that will automatically compile the needed data and email it as soon as possible. Yes, we are all used to wait on support emails, but if it is a purchase of digital goods, most would except to get it immediately after the payment is processed.
ThistimeAnon Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
To keep the communication going, you can also send an automated email thanking them for their request and that you will attend to their order promptly.

This is also an opportunity to add value perhaps with a PDF (white paper/tutorial etc) or video link.

This allows you to acknowledge/confirm their order, provide some communication so they know their order is being processes and build rapport.

All the best,
Marcus from London Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
Responding immediately is dangerous.

Firstly it appears as though you have literally nothing to do.

Secondly it stops people thinking for themselves and "Reading the manual"

Thirdly it interrupts what you are doing, causing a loss of productivity.

In my experience, most people do not expect an immediate reply .... and in fact a lot of them seem to be grateful for any reply at all!
TomTomAgain Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
The issue of scaling really comes up with this scheme. Much depends on how much you can make per "fulfillment". Do you have a sense of the time involved to fulfill one request, and how much you'd make for that time?
Racky Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
"Responding immediately is dangerous."

This is correct.





Exception: first response to an inquiry from a new customer can be in under 12 hrs.
Scott Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
Thanks for all feedback.

There is no app involved; this is a service that I personally provide and email the results back.  It's not something the lay customer can do for themselves either (unless they're also a programmer), and not something that can be automated by a web app or such.

I think the plan of attack will be based on all your answers above: have an auto-reply set up so that when an order comes in, it responds by stating the order is being processed and will be complete within 24 hours.  The purchase page will also state that, so they know what to expect in advance.

I don't envisage any problems fulfilling within as little as 10 hours, though.  From the time I read their email order to the time I reply with the requested results, would normally only be about 5 to 10 minutes.

Thanks again.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, November 07, 2014
 
 
Okay, here's the idea: I've created a service whereby I can email any executable to any email address without rejection, such as to a Gmail account, or to a PC that doesn't let you bring executables onto them through normal means (like a blocked USB port).

So, if you badly needed an executable on a PC but currently can't, how much would you be willing to pay to have it emailed to that PC without rejection, so you can run it?  Just trying to work out what sort of price I should be asking.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Saturday, November 08, 2014
 
 
With Dropbox and all the clones I hardly believe this is an issue nowadays.
ThistimeAnon Send private email
Sunday, November 09, 2014
 
 
It's mainly for situations where Dropbox (or any other website) is not available, ie. where email is the only internet access.  What would you do in that case if you needed an exe?
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, November 09, 2014
 
 
If dropbox isn't available (or any other website) then how are they going to know about your services? Also, if we're taking about PC's in a secure environment without net access, then they are also likely to be locked down / monitored to prevent applications from being installed.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Sunday, November 09, 2014
 
 
Primarily, it's a solution to this common problem:

https://www.google.com/search?q=send+exe+with+gmail

But it would equally apply to anyone who can't send an exe somewhere.  The plan is to get it found with a Google search for the phrase above, so that it leads to my site and people can consider paying a small fee to do it.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
If they can Google and find your site for a solution, are you targeting only people that can access the net but specifically have access to file sharing sites like DropBox blocked by company policy / firewalls?  I think this might be a bit of a niche market, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
> If they can Google and find your site for a solution

I meant Googling from home, not at their workplace where websites are locked-down or firewalled etc.

Here's the elevator pitch that I'm currently toying with:

"Do you work on a PC that has email but doesn't let you bring executable files onto it from any external source? You've tried a USB stick but it was blocked, file sharing sites like DropBox were firewalled, and emailing the executable to yourself failed because your mail was rejected. Annoying! Or maybe you're just one of the many Gmail users who want to mail an exe to someone but can't, because Gmail blocks it. Product XYZ is your answer!"
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
Well, if that's even really doable, I suspect your product will very soon be marked as malware at least. If you get big enough maybe also banned from Google. Don't do it.
ThistimeAnon Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
Typo above: it's not a product, but a service.  Nothing to download.

It can't be classed as malware because it's just an email with the exe modified so it's not recognized as an exe.

And yes, it's doable.  Gmail sends/receives the exes fine, and a friend who works in a government job received a test exe fine where they're normally rejected.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
But you can email .exe's to gmail by changing the file extension from .exe to .exee. Is this really a basis for a business?
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Monday, November 10, 2014
 
 
Andrew, no you can't.  Gmail checks the file now and not the extension.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
 
 
The Google search seems to indicate a good market for it, though, otherwise there wouldn't be so many hits asking how to do it.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
 
 
On second thought I'll abandon the idea.  The thought of my website being branded as malware is too risky.  Thanks for bringing that thought to my mind.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
 
 

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
 
Powered by FogBugz