“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
At this point, Tinkerdash was a rough concept. It was just something that I had been doing personally for about 7 months with help from a few virtual assistants (find out more here). Tinkerdash would need to become something that could be launched to mass market.
To help get there, I first I wanted to understand how well it would work for other people in its current guise, and what would need to change. I figured that the easiest way to find this out, and the safest because it felt too soon to launch, would be to run a trial with friends and family.
By sending out a series of personalised Whatsapp messages to people I thought might be interested, I recruited two couples to take part in a month-long trial. The first were a friend and his girlfriend aged 26-27, trialling through November 2016. The second were my parents aged over 55 (just), trialling through December 2016. And, staying true to how I used the service, I remained hands-off and let their virtual assistant cater for all of their requests.
The feedback from both trials was positive. Here’s what they wrote:
“Customer service is fantastic…we chose our favourite style of cooking and requested routine items like toiletries, and along with cooking instructions they arrive at the front door each week. Fantastic for us leading busy lives!” – Graeme
“Unbelievably easy, fantastic healthy recipes and the ingredients delivered to the door…easy to follow with the end result being a delicious meal…without all the fuss of the planning and shopping” – Janet
However, neither couple chose to continue using the service after one month.
When I dug deeper, the first couple said that they ended up with surplus ingredients each week, which started to pile up in their cupboards. And whilst this was rectified in the second trial through December by meal planning on a four weekly basis instead of weekly, they still said that they preferred to shop around for ingredients, especially at discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl. While time-saving and convenience were paramount when it came to my food shopping, it clearly wasn’t for theirs.
What I took away from this experience was three-fold:
- Meal planning works better over longer periods of time. One month seems to be a good balance between minimising waste and maximising flexibility.
- Tinkerdash could not be launched as it was. Any virtual assistant would require support from me and/or a team to deliver the desired quality of service.
- I would need to dig deeper to understand the intricacies of people’s supermarket shopping pain points and adapt Tinkerdash to help them, linked to point two.
All-in-all, I’d say it was a useful exercise. Getting early feedback from people who are actually using the service provided both encouragement to keep going and constructive feedback on how to improve.
Onward and upwards!