Re-examine your business model


(Solardave1) #1

And start listening to your customers.


(Chrisb) #2

I don’t think it’s that easy. First of all, the company is still very young… less than two years old.

Second, what are the customers asking for? They hear from perhaps 2 dozen people here, maybe 3? They can’t drop everything and only work on one issue even if there was 100% unified voice (which there isn’t) on these boards that that was the most important thing. We may be a vocal bunch, and it would behoove them to pay attention because we’re vocal and will recommend or not-recommend their product based on experience. But we are still a vocal minority.


(Cory S) #3

I think that’s rather harsh solardave. They seem to listen a LOT more than any other company I have ever done business with. They have fantastic communication on the beta forums, and even help track and fix things that have nothing to do with that beta program.

No, they can’t make every change you personally want overnight or maybe at all, but that doesn’t mean they don’t listen. They are still reliability proofing their current features, they can’t go out releasing new ones like mad until that is complete.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #4

I agree that @solardave1’s perspective is rather skewed. There are already a few thousand users, and only a few dozen active folks on this forum.

Who are the “customers” that SmartThings should listen to? The few of us here?? (well, we are putting some effort in, but still, we are “the few”)…?

Personally, I really would like to see UserVoice (or a similar) system used, such that it would encourage more feedback and voting on the prioritization of features and bug-fixes.

http://www.uservoice.com

You need to collect, manage, and prioritize user feedback when building new products or improving existing products with a system that can scale as you grow.

SmartThings would not HAVE to listen… but then we would have a larger sample set.


(Solardave1) #5

OK, you’re all right. (No, I didn’t realize I was pledging a KS project that was going to be delivered to backers as a beta version of anything – I pledged for a product – show me where in the campaign it says “you will be receiving a Beta version of what we eventually hope will be a working product). It was “sold” as a multi protocol device, Z-wave, Bluetooth, Ethernet and in all fairness, maybe cellular. Bluetooth just never happened. @CS tells me at today’s “office hours” they’ve back burnered native Ethernet. ST tells me they have developed support for dropcam and Foscam cameras and then I get a long email from one of their guys at the CeO asked to help me in getting it running basically saying, meh – not really, not yet, eh…. So I have a Z-wave cloud based HA controller that periodically arbitrarily unlocks my doors and disables my security system and turns off a bank of ir illuminators because of a flaky presence sensor that falls apart on a daily basis (like spontaneous combustion) But you’re all right – I’m just a negative guy. I’ll shut up from now on.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

@solardave1:

Part of your frustration should be directed at Kickstarter.

Being a pretty negative guy, myself, I have mentioned here and many other places that Kickstarter is a piece of nonsense in so many many ways. Some number of folks really do understand the concept of being a “Backer/Funder” and they fight me tooth and nail on this.

My premise has always been, that for technology projects with specific gadget rewards (i.e., anything to the stuff that even remotely resembles the highly publicized Pebble Watch), most contributors on Kickstarter consider themselves to be “Customers” and they consider the rewards to be “Purchases”. They are participating in an pre-sales system.

Kickstarter has made some effort to change this perception, and they do things like limit quantities of Products in each Purchase, etc., but, in my opinion, they don’t do enough. Furthermore, Kickstarter refuses to take responsibility for Projects that fail to deliver (e.g., InstaCube: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1084349160/instacube-a-living-canvas-for-your-instagram-photo?ref=live … $600,000 gone up in smoke). I am also quite worried, frankly, about the very far behind schedule “The Ubi” project.

But I’ve learned fast that I can’t get Kickstarter to change, and I can’t protect every “Backer/Customer” of every “Project” … I can only remind myself that every dollar I throw at Kickstarter could disappear, or end up in whatever state we name this enterprise called SmartThings.

Other community commenters here are quite accurate to say that many Kickstarter Projects have turned out a LOT worse than SmartThings (or, to put it positively… SmartThings is doing things pretty darn well, considering even their team had and have all the best intentions…). Did SmartThings belong on Kickstarter? Solely IMHO – absolutely not; not when a company gets $4,000,000+ in VC funding. Does anyone care… no. More and more companies are being started (and many will fail…), through Kickstarter.

(If SmartThings is low on supply of kits, perhaps they should offer refunds for those folks that are dissatisfied for any reason, particularly if they believe they were misled by the Kickstarter campaign. A “refund policy” is actually an official requirement in new Kickstarter projects! Will I be asking for a refund from ST … doubt it. The system is working within my expectations, actually – if not within my HOPES).

…CP.


(Jason D) #7

I think part of the issues here are that there are two disparate groups in interest here. I believe SmartThings is trying to go for an easy to use, easy to setup, but highly extensible consumer market. Yet the backers and even more so, users of this forum tend to be techies who are trying to shoehorn ST into a certain idea they have for their own home system, perhaps hack it, or have it talk to lots of current devices they have.

Personally I think ST is doing a much better job than others on KS, but I think whats bothering the KS backers is that the group is basically a beta group. I’m not sure how people get different ideas about expectations, but I fully expected this. I expected the software to be a work in progress, and for them to be asking for feedback (which they did recently) and continuously apply this feedback. I expected them to build a community they look to to foster ideas and come up with new systems they can interface with.

Apparently others didn’t and feel that ST promised a completely finished off-the-shelf system. I’m not sure why I didn’t get that impression, but I think mostly its my impression of Kickstarter that gives me that impression. Now if I was a pre-order customer, I WOULD expect a semi-mature product, and I think by the time the kits are available generally, they will get that.

Personally - I’m all for refunds, because it would allow those who feel “ripped off” to get their money back and get something else.

You can always go down to Lowes and get an Iris or get Verizon Home, or Vivint. But you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription for those. Kickstarter by its very nature is full of unfulfilled promises and I’ve gotten used to that risk. There’s always the option to not back something and wait until it hits the consumer market.

I am actually kind of proud to be part of the emerging community around ST, and I think unlike many other products, ST IS listening to us.


(Jason D) #8

I think we can all agree on one thing though… This forum/community software based on Word Press, royally stinks.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

Definitely agree, @jason3fc

I think we can all agree on one thing though… This forum/community software based on Word Press, royally stinks.

Forum software is not in SmartThings’s mission or core competency, so why don’t they use any number of much better options (many are free)? PhpBB… User Voice,… Tapatalk,… List your favorite here, I guess.


(Chrisb) #10

@solardave1

Dave, I don’t think it’s so much what you are saying as how you are saying it.

For example: “Hey SmartThings: I think you’ve got a nice start of a product here, but I find that as I work more and more with it that I’m running into road blocks. I also see others on the forum stumbling with some of the same issues. Specifically I’d like to see: X, Y, and Z. Is this something that’s on the radar? If not, can it be put there?”

Okay… yeah, that might be a little too nicey-nicey. But on the other hand, compare it to:

“Re-examine your business model and start listening to your customers.”

Not exactly the sort of thing that makes a company sit up and go: Oh, hey yeah! We should definitely scrap what we’re doing and change things to meet solardave’s needs!

As I and others have pointed out, the people in this forum are just a small subset of the actual SmartThings users. Further, this small subset doesn’t even all agree on where the emphasis for new features/products needs to be. Beyond that we know that SmartThings is reaching out to it’s user base. They recently sent out a survey and got about 1K responses back. So they are interesting in what their customers are saying.

So again, it isn’t that we don’t believe that SmartThings should improve or that there aren’t issues with SmartThings or that we don’t want specific things. We think and feel all those things. But boldly and callously state that SmartThings is doing things wrong and that they need to turn it all around according to what a small percentage of users want… further to even state that they AREN’T listening to their users… that’s were at least I (and I suspect others) are having issues with your post.


(Solardave1) #11

God bless the 1st amendment and thank goodness for the 5th.


(Chrisb) #12

Just for the record, the 1st amendment does NOT give you the right to say what you want on a forum. SmartThings isn’t the gov’t. If they want to shut someone down they have every right to do that.


(Cory S) #13

And with that I’m writing solardave off as a quack.