So I got a very interesting email last Saturday morning that really got me thinking, which I have to admit is the last thing I want to do on a bright beautiful Saturday morning, but I digress. I get this email with my name as the subject from a guy called Omer Perchik. First of all, that name doesn’t ring a bell in my mind and it seems pretty personal since my name is the subject of this email, so it got my attention.
Let me give you a bit of a background. Back in 2012 or 2013, in my second year of University, I came across this beautiful application called Any.do. Not only did I like the design work of the application, it was actually useful, a classic productivity tool. At a time where I had a lot on my plate, where there were so many things that I could easily forget, having an app like Any.do really saved me a lot. Not only was it a to-do list application, it was more of a personal assistant that really helped me get a lot done all in one app, especially when they developed Cal to go along with it. I loved it so much, that I would rub it in my friend’s faces and really push them to download it.
Well later on, my curiosity moved me to a Win 8 mobile device and that meant I left Any.do behind. Even when I came back to Android (no way I could stay on Windows for long) I simply forgot about Any.do. I didn’t even remember it existed, which is a shame considering how much I had advocated for it and for the most part, life moved on, shinier things caught my attention. Up until I got that email that morning.
Basically the email went like this. Omer and his team were trying to figure out why some of their users had essentially put their app on the backseat and what they could possible do to make users give their product a second chance. He concluded that for them to actually know why you left and what they could possibly do to get you back is to actually just ask you.
Here you have an application that has 10 to 50 million installs on Android (also available on iOS) with a user rating of 4.5. It was recently listed as one of the most used productivity applications in the US by SimilarWeb, an analytics company that periodically releases reports on the number of devices that have the application installed and its active and engaged users. They are doing pretty good actually, so why are they reaching out to me (and others who haven’t logged on for a while)? A user who is literally a drop in the ocean compared to the millions they have. I can draw a few conclusions from this.
Firstly and the most obvious reason according to me is that they actually care. They care about me the user. They care about my needs. They want to know why I don’t need them anymore, or if they disappointed me in one way or the other. Omer set out to solve a problem and he may just want to know if he is doing it right, if he is still solving my problem. I, as a user, actually matter to them. Secondly, they not only want to gain more users but also retain the ones they already have. It’s not just a race to get the most people on board, it is to actually grow and maintain some sort of relationship with the ones you already have.
I might be wrong here but there is a sense that all the team at Any.do do all day is to live, breathe and eat Any.do. According to Omer, they have spent hours and hours developing and making their application better. All this is done to not only be a useful companion for a user, but to also enrich a user’s experience. In the email he goes on to say that no ads or sponsored listings or cheesy special deals exist in the app. It just does what it is meant to do. It is a simple and fun app to help you organize all aspects of your life.
Now the reason I bring this up is because I believe many developers and tech startups might be getting this whole business wrong. You might have the best developed and most functional product out there with the most elegant of design but that isn’t your biggest asset. You might also have the most brilliant and creative minds in your team, so strong that you can literally build anything that you can imagine, but even that isn’t your most important asset. To be honest you can have all the resources in your hands but that shouldn’t be your most prized possession. I am your biggest asset. By I, I mean the user, not me personally.
I am your market. I am the user of your product. I am the one who keeps you in business. I am the one who grows your business. I am the one who makes you popular. I control you. Without me you have nothing. My opinions must matter to you. You should never be too busy or too proud or too important to help me out. You shouldn’t make something once and think that that is it. Make it better, change it as my needs change.
I believe that the market for a company’s product is essentially the most important thing to them. Without one then who are they making the product for? If you are out there with this amazing application or product that makes sense to you, find out if there is a market for it, or if you feel like there is a need for it, then create a market for it. Once you have done that, find out what more you can do for your users, keep updating and growing your product. Make it so that the user really finds proper value in what you give them. Make it something that grows with their needs and keeps up with technology. Well unless you do not care much and are just in for the money, then I think I have wasted your time by making you read this.
You know, maybe it wasn’t Omer Perchik who wrote this email to me, but that doesn’t matter. The fact is that they reached out to see if they are still doing what you expected them to do. They gave me the impression that they are putting me first, whether it was genuine or not, I don’t care, I feel important. So I as a user may not understand how long and how much you have sacrificed in order to make your product. I will probably not know what kind of wrangles you had or tears you shed just because your team doesn’t get along too well. All I know is that your product helps me do certain things and it would feel very nice if you cared about my contribution, if not I could easily just move on to something else. My life is not necessarily dependent on your application.
In short I think that you should care about your user, think about what they need and make your product as current and relevant as possible, not like one application I saw on Google Play Store that still had screenshots made on a phone running Android 2.2 Froyo, I mean, we are in 2015!