We (Almost) Got Fired by a Web App

About 5 months ago when we were in the planning stages for launching Sparkcast, the InspirED School Marketers podcast series, we did research on the tools people use and found everyone had their own solution, and none of the solutions were easy. Most people were using 4 or 5 or 6 different tools to record, edit, and publish their podcasts. Then our son, Noah, mentioned that he had seen a brand new web app called Cast that was an all in one solution. We definitely had to try it out.

After researching Cast we saw some limitations to the software. The first limitation was it only worked in Chrome, which a lot of people don’t use, so people would have to download Chrome in order to be a guest on Sparkcast. We also discovered that the sound editor was weak and we would probably need to use sound editing software like Audacity (which is one of the things we were hoping to avoid). But we decide to give it a try and at first Cast was great. Liza even blogged about it, saying it seemed like a great solution. Then the problems started to crop up.

We found out soon after starting to use it that in spite of the fact that both Liza and I have Mac laptops, Cast worked on hers and not on mine. Then Liza had problems recording the podcast with one of our planned guests who used Chrome, but was on a PC. Next a published podcast ended up with a truncated ending because of bad encoding that resulted from us having to go outside Cast to do the editing we needed. With each issue we would email Cast support and they would either get back to us with a proposed solution or tell us they would look into it. We were very courteous and so were they. Friendly, in fact. We were trying to be patient to make it work, and so were they. Then one day Liza sent an email voicing her frustration with the product when the all the irritations piled up and she deleted a file by accident (which was much too easy to do).

Cast retrieved the file for her and then fired us. In an email they told us, “I'm also going to suggest that we refund your most recent subscription payment and you find another podcasting software solution that you're more comfortable with. I can see from our support records that we've answered more emails from your account than any other Cast user, ever, and if you're unsatisfied at this point I don't think Cast is for you.” Ouch.

Our response was that we will cease our customer service requests and deal with any future issues on our own. Unwritten of course is that we will do this until we find a less buggy solution.

So what can we all take from this? It could be that we’re too demanding. It could be that their software is not “ready for prime time” and was released to the public too soon. It could be that we’re not tech savvy enough to use this app. (But isn’t this app for those who aren’t tech savvy?) I’m certainly too close to the situation to know which of these, if any, is correct.

But the one thing I know is that I agree with what Bill Gates said. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.“ Each of us, whether we work for a school or a software company or a design firm or whatever, can learn from our customers, but only if we are willing to listen.