It's been a few months since I wrote my first conversation concerning the future of the roadtest program, which was followed up with another one on communication. These posts received a lot of comments and discussion. So, thanks to everyone for participating. I've spent more time lately communicating with suppliers and our account managers about not only the changes I've tried to implement in the program but also their benefits for participating in the program.
The reviews in general are coming in at a regular rate. The supplier who had received only a 13% response rate when I wrote my first conversation, now has a 50% rate. The outstanding ones are primarily from people who have not been active on the community for 6 months. I've discussed with the supplier that we can not expect a 100% response in every instance, but we have to shoot for more than 50%.
I've been surprised though that my second RoadTest update letter on communication continues to spur comments and conversations. Communication is always challenge. But I realize now (and more than I did when I assumed my role in the RoadTest program) that communication is more than chasing down RoadTest reviews. (I surely don't want to do just that.) But communication is an important way for me to get to know the RoadTesters. I feel I should understand them enough to get a sense of their individual and group interests so I can select appropriate products to roadtest. This is a key issue. The management and the suppliers may have their priorities, but I have to represent the RoadTest group's interests. The goal is to find a good compromise.
To take a moment of self-critique, I think I am better at communicating, but I'm not there yet. I've noticed sometimes I have not been as prompt at responding as I should be, especially when there are board failures as there were in the Cleo/Nero Roadtest. To correct this problem and to remove some of the administrative tasks from my duties, we have hired an assistant, danzima (Daniel Zima). He will be doing more of the shipping and data collection that are a necessary part of the program. Please welcome him.
Perhaps the biggest change in the past few months is the company's desire to place more emphasis on the RoadTest program. I believe they want to do more RoadTests. On the one hand, I feel this a good thing -- more opportunity for more people to participate in the program. On the other hand, I wonder if RoadTest burnout could result. I'm not sure. I'd be interested in your opinion.
Another more subtle change is the emphasis on IoT. This is a company-wide initiative. I think RoadTests have always emphasized IoT. So, I am of a mixed mind on how to improve the program in this respect. Thoughts?
- Email Addresses: Since I go through the applications before to sending them to the supplier, I sometimes have a hard time locating the applicant's profile. It would be helpful if an applicant uses the email address that's for his/her profile, or at least mention your profile email on your application.
- Multiple Accounts: I know we have people with multiple accounts. So when I see the same name under two accounts I have to go through both of them, which is a bit of a hassle. Here's my suggestion: please update your icon/avatar with your photo or unique image. That will tell me that that account is the "live" one.
- All Reviews Are Sent to the Supplier: I send all the reviews to the supplier. I'm required to do this. If I don't then I have account managers and suppliers contacting me until I do, which fills up my email inbox. I do offer my comments to the supplier. They range from "I like this product, let's do more of them" to "please promote this review on your social media channels, etc."
- Bad Boards: What to do when you feel you have a malfunctioning piece of hardware? Post a comment or message me. I will need to contact the supplier and either (a) get their support guy to work with you or (b) get you a replacement. We will want the failed one back for evaluation. It shouldn't cost you anything to ship it back. I will get you the info to charge our shipping account for the return.
- Changing Deadlines: If you are "on hold" because of a malfunctioning part, of course, your deadline will be extended. You should not be penalized for that. Dropping me a message, reminding me of it is a big help. Since there were 2 problems with the Cleo/Nero boards, I changed the deadline for all the roadtesters.
- Support Patience: We had another problem; this time with the installation of a software license. Some roadtesters had no problem while others did. It took a long time to resolve. In the end, it was resolved. It took longer than I had hoped.. Like my Dad always told me, 'Patience is a Virtue."
- Unpublishing Reviews: I had someone who inadvertently published a draft of a review and wanted to unpublish it. I contacted our developers. They said: Not easy to do. Seems like a flaw in Jive. In any event, I was told that he should delete the review and create a new one. I know that is a lousy way to do it. But unless someone has a better idea, that's all I can give you for now.
Have I missed anything? Feel free to comment if I have.
RoadTest Program Manager