Driving Directions, Seller Surveys, Appointment Reminders

It’s been another busy month.  Here are some of the bigger improvements introduced to BoxCycle since the last post.

Buyers Can Get Driving Time and Directions Prior to Ordering

Location information is crucial for buyers.  Distances and zoomable map of seller locations provide much of what is needed, but there are a few issues.

Distance is direct ‘as the crow flies’, not driving distance.  This problem isn’t specific to BoxCycle; very few sites display the driving distance.  Direct distance is generally a decent enough estimate and is much faster and simpler to calculate.

However, sometimes it can vary significantly from driving distance which can catch buyers by surprise, especially when they aren’t familiar with the area.

In addition, some buyers are uncomfortable with ordering without having seller’s exact address.  Since locations are provided with accuracy of about a block, I don’t see a logical reason for this, but I have a few explanations.  For one, some people are simply uncomfortable with uncertainty.  Second, some people do not understand the level of information that is provided to them.

It seems that some people ignore the map, miss the relationship between markers and listings, or do not use zoom features to get detailed information on seller’s location.  Making the map work better and making the relationship between listings, map, and distance clearer has been a focus point for the last few months with a number of important improvements as a result.

But offering driving distance, time, and directions can solve these problems automatically.  By seeing directions buyers get a level of certainty about seller location, how long it will take to get there, and what time they may want to make the trip regardless of whether they understand how to interact with the map.

To get driving directions to a seller, click on the distance in their listing.

Seller Surveys

We think up ideas to improve BoxCycle all the time, often in response to something that isn’t working as expected.  Some ideas seem likely to work and are simple enough to implement that we just do it and see if it works.  Others are more complex or can be disruptive to our existing model.  Some contradict each other.  And when guessing customer needs, even ideas that feel certain are often wrong.

To help us decide which ideas match customer needs, we’ve introduced seller surveys.  Existing sellers can tell us what they think is missing by checking a few check boxes. 

Of course, there is a lot of reliability issues with surveys as well, so it’s just another tool among others, but an important one.  Not only does it give us early feedback, it tells us who may be interested in beta-testing the feature or providing more information on how it should work.

Appointment Reminders

Forgotten appointments isn’t something we expected to deal with much.  And perhaps we haven’t dealt with it that much, but it nevertheless feels like too much. 

To help with the issue, we now send buyers an email reminder on the morning of their appointment.

However, we are quite wary of sending too many emails, making too many phone calls, and otherwise annoying buyers and sellers.  We want the process to be as efficient and unobtrusive as possible.

So we only send one reminder in the morning of the appointment and only if order placement and appointment are a few days apart.  I doubt anyone wants to receive a reminder on Sat morning about an order they placed on Friday night.

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