Some of your top priorities
Happy Monday, folks. A few of our team members have been chatting with you guys in threads about “big topics” and many of you have asked us to consolidate everything into a blog post. So we’re going to talk through some of those highly requested product engineering (dev) items today in order to share clarity around those.
As many of you know, it’s a goal of ours to be as transparent as possible with you about what’s going on behind the scenes. Some of you will read that and nod, and some (at least those not in our KitKat thread) will think—well, where have my updates been then?? I want to know more! Well, we’re going to make a change as relates specifically to dev projects so that we can better keep you in the loop. To do that, we’re going to be focusing on sharing with you what we’re working on now, as opposed to what we’ll be working on in the future. Check out a recent note by laura.s here to get some deeper insight into why we can give you better insight by sharing what developers are actively working on vs. our expectations for future delivery items.
And we’ll start that process—today. Remember, today we’re laser focusing on some of your top requested dev items. We’ve talked a lot internally about reviving and expanding the State of the Republic, so that we can start to give you guys broader insight into projects going on across the teams, and also give some mentions to completed projects that aren’t as “big” as these ones (like the voicemail bug fix for the $5 plan, completed and going out this month). Thoughts on that? In the meantime, we wanted to make sure we addressed these top requested items in a cohesive way...so without further ado, let’s dive in!
The big dev projects
A top ask from you guys, with good reason, is reactivations. This, accordingly, is the #1 priority for us here. Our dev team is heads down working in this. And has been for a while! Why is this something that requires so much work? The launch of Moto X (and all of your great feedback) did cause some delay, but what are the existing hurdles? Honestly, though the technical innards aren’t simple, the biggest challenge is building an effective UI. UI, for those unfamiliar with the term, stands for “User Interface”, and it refers to everything we design that you can interact with. Because a lot of people don’t read directions, and some aren’t technically savvy, we need to create an on-phone reactivation experience that has no rough edges. Ensuring that easy, seamless reactivation experience means extensive user testing and QA to make sure we double, triple and quadruple check for any bugs or glitches in the experience. We’re solidly in the QA phase now, and are excited (maybe as excited as you guys ) to get this to production. We’ll certainly let you know here when it’s ready.
The Next Phone
Even more important to some of you—a lot of you—is having the option to get the “better phone” as opposed to the more expensive “best phone,” aka the $299 Moto X. We can’t say yet what it is and what the price is due to contractual obligations, but we are very aware that you guys are anxious for a less expensive phone and we can confirm that it will be. This is particularly popular with our DEFY XT users (the number one ask, even surging ahead of Reactivations). But, perhaps unexpected to some of you, it is also a top ask of Moto X users. The fact is, many families count on Republic to save money, and we know that you are looking to add in the rest of your family in order to do that. But we also know and understand that footing a $299 bill doesn’t suit that goal as well as a less expensive phone would. So, we’re working very, very hard to get this phone out as fast as possible. We won’t go too deeply into the details of why this one is such a big project, because our GM @jimm covered the ins and outs of it pretty extensively here. Give it a read if you’re curious, otherwise know that we’re moving this forward as fast as humanly possible given how many variables there are.
Now some of you may be thinking—ok, so a new phone is coming. Are your support teams ready for it? It’s a good question to ask when it comes to new phones, and is directly linked to the last project, which we’ll list separately.
Internal Support Tools
There was an important silver lining to some of the Moto X post-launch craziness. Though it was a truly challenging month for our support teams, and for the group of you guys who needed them, it did reveal some really important areas of improvement for us and we didn’t leave those learnings on the table. For example, we could see that our teams didn’t have all the tools they need to most efficiently answer questions and access information to get you what you needed quickly. We’re aiming to give them better tools and more access to things they need in order to improve their communication and communication times with you guys. Some recent feedback from you guys showed us that though generally you’re happy with support (we’re about 85% today)—sometimes you feel like “no one’s there” or “no one’s actively working on my issue”. These tools are geared towards improving efficiency and should help on both counts, in addition to helping prepare our teams for the new phone.
So, those items are the big dev projects we’re working on right now. The former two are the biggest bites to chew, but the third one involving tools is an important requisite for launching the next phone. What’s next on our priority list? Right after these big projects, we’ll be focusing on launching KitKat for Moto X and getting our Refer a Friend program back in your hands; also, our parent company, Bandwidth Inc. is working with their industry partners to get the groundwork for Shortcodes ready (this project, for those who are curious, will need to follow a similar two part process to MMS).
Some concluding thoughts from us
We’ll finish with a general question some of you might be thinking about, which is: why prioritize things this way? This is in and of itself the most challenging part of what we do—choosing which of the many, many features you guys want, incorporating the wants of those who share opinions in community and those who don’t. What helps us prioritize, and helped us prioritize the above, is identifying which ones seem to be most wanted. While some members, for example, are gungho for KitKat, others haven’t heard of it and just want to add their family to their plan without breaking the bank. Some have tons of referrals lined up and are chomping at the bit for us to get the better program in place, while others have never used it and are instead anxious that reactivations aren’t in place yet. To that end, southpawkb recently put out a great survey that highlights some of these things—while you ‘ll see the items we’re working on in the top requested lists, you may have also noticed how varied the responses are. It’s a great example of how even a small group of individuals (the 150+ active community members who voted) are varied in their thinking even over a short period of time.
What does that mean for us, as a product team and as members? It means that some will read this post about these top requested items, and wish that we had prioritized one project above another project. By our data, most members (regardless of the phone they have) won’t, but we are equally certain by the data that some will. We can’t say it in a more straightforward way than that, though we can say that we are always, always looking for ways to best understand what you want. We read and react to surveys we send, and analyze ticketing feedback carefully. We pay close attention to the ThinkTank and votes, and listen when our community team shares feedback about what you want. We can’t always pivot on the dime if your feedback changes, or produce something right away (shortcodes is a great example of that, since it’s something that our parent company needs to tackle first before we can). BUT - we can promise to listen and accommodate you guys as best we can, and work as hard as possible to meet your needs.
Going forward, we hope to continue to share with you what we’re working on, and what we have prioritized next, so you can continue to guide us and join us for the ride for these big engineering projects. We’d like to also include some of the smaller projects we’re working on, and include updates from across the org that you may not know about. We’d love to hear your feedback about these new ideas, and your general take on our thought process in general. We hope that you guys have found this informative (and not too dry….!) for your Monday afternoon.
All the best, and have a great week,
As always, please feel free to leave your questions and comments here.