Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Real praise, long haul and delivering customer happiness


Last Friday was a “Black Friday” and I wasn’t sure whether to prepare a special Black Friday offer for my Nozbe customers or not… but finally gave in and sent out a Newsletter with a special. The response literally blew me away. I couldn’t sleep…

Real praise, long haul and delivering customer happiness

We are in a transition period

Transition periods are very tricky. We are in one with Nozbe where we are on the verge of launching our very own, new iPhone, iPad and Android apps… as well as a new Web app and these are all significant milestones. On most of these we’ve been working over a year now… we’ve poured our hearts and souls into these.

However, I totally understand if customers do not feel the way we do. They can go different directions… some will go away, tired of waiting for what we are going to offer next. Others will not upgrade, waiting for our next move, and others will support us all the way as they still get lots of value of our product even though some parts of it are “in transition”.

The latter is what I wanted to know and by sending the special offer I got to feel very “special” this past weekend. And it’s the best feeling ever.

Praise and awards are nothing in comparison to your customers rewarding your work with their hard-earned cash

Many Internet companies are focused on “startup competitions” and other forms of competing for awards and praise by “industry experts and investors”. In our case, our investors are our customers and we trust their judgement.

Recently, because of the transition period and many issues that surfaced due to us preparing major product overhaul, we were receiving less orders than we used to and not as many positive emails as we used to. The emails we got were no longer a “testimonial material” but more of a “book of complaints” material. And I misinterpreted these signals.

Here are some things I learned these past few months and the past weekend:

1. When customers complain, it means they care

This is the first lesson we learned - when the customers take their time to let you know why they hate what just happened in the app they’re using, it means they care. They really want this relationship to work. Thank them and get to work even more!

2. When customers still pay you, especially for a year up front, it means they care a lot

After sending the Newsletter with the “Black Friday” deal I realized there are many more folks out there who’d happily pay for another year of using Nozbe and they really care about us. They’re investing one more year of their time (and money) to be with us and use our service. They know we’re working hard on making this the best productivity app out there. And they vote with their cash. This was great. But there was more…

3. When customers who have plans valid through 2013 pay for an additional year on top of that, it means they love what you’re doing

When I started analyzing the new sales I realized in many cases customers paid for an additional year on top of their subscription! Some customers have plans valid through 2014 and beyond now! This is the best vote of confidence I could have asked for myself and my company. It means people are with us in this for a long haul and they are really getting some serious things done using our applications. And it’s way better than any “slapping on the back” or another kind of praise. This was the best compliment I could dream of.

Ask for the money and you’ll know what people are really saying

This is why my gurus, the 37signals are so right. People may not say what they mean. They can write you the nicest-looking testimonial in the world but these are just words. This weekend my customers complimented me and my team with the best they had - with their money, saying: “Michael, we get what you’re doing and and we’re with you in this for the long haul”

If you’re a small business trying to ask the potential customers what they think about the thing you’re doing. When they say they love it, don’t be afraid to ask for the money. They will tell you what the person really means.

If you’re one of my customers using Nozbe you have no idea how big of a compliment you’ve given me and my team this weekend. I’m so thankful for having you on board!

Now it’s time to roll out these great apps we’re finishing (completely new iPhone, iPad, Android and web apps!) and reward you guys for your vote of confidence. We will not let you down!

Question: How do you measure your success? Aren’t you afraid to ask for money? Why? How do you do it?