With the rapid increase in consumer review websites and apps like Wherespresso, Trip Advisor and the like, businesses are now exposed to the full range of instant consumer feedback.

This feedback can often be made on the spot when the consumer’s experience is most fresh in their minds, be it a great experience or poor one.

This can tend to amplify emotion and the type of review as time does not pass between the patronage and review therefore there’s no chance for emotions to temper over time.

Sometimes this can lead to very poor reviews. For me, a poor experience is a poor experience regardless of when I review.

It’s sometimes the case that owners don’t react well to poor reviews and as the founder of Wherespresso, I’m very mindful of building a credible cafe review platform so that owners and consumers can be sure that everything is above board.

Maintaining credibility includes

  • Preventing opinion SPAM – this is usually flagged where a review doesn’t fit into one of the below buckets or isn’t obviously a true review. Opinion SPAM is usually pretty obvious and uses flowery and over the top adjectives (this will occur in some self reviews too).
  • Preventing malicious SPAM – if a cafe’s opponent decides to start writing harsh (malicious) reviews, these reviews are able to be flagged (by anyone), reviewed (by an admin) and removed.
  • Flagging self reviews – I’m not silly; some cafe owners will of course have friends leave favourable reviews of the owner’s cafe to paint the cafe in a positive light. That’s acceptable as long as it’s not too spammy. If however, someone is continually abusing this, then I’ll flag reviews as self reviews and the scores are removed.
  • Forcing all reviewers to have an account (no anonymous reviews).

In my experience cafe owners generally react really well to poor reviews – but sometimes they don’t.

I suppose when you see criticism (even if it’s objective) our natural reaction is to get defensive. It’s easy to nitpick the reviewer and look for holes in the review rather than look at the bigger picture and take the opportunity to get feedback from the customer (this is why I built Feedback for cafes!)

There are two clear ways to handle poor reviews.

How to handle a poor review

The guys at Outpost contacted me to apologise about a less than awesome experience I had a while ago (I honestly must sound like a d!ck in my reviews sometimes, but it’s Melbourne’s coffee scene’s fault – everyone is making outstanding coffee!) and asked me to come on back in.

Now that is mature, proactive and reasonable and I am likely to go back (I did!).

How not to handle a poor review

A couple of years ago Kate and I were holidaying in Eden and stopped for coffee in Pambula.

Here’s the review I left at the cafe and to save you clicking, it’s also below.

Kate and I were punching through delightful Pambula when we happened across this spot.

I put the brakes on as it looked so good from the front (a great start).

Walking in, I did not hold much confidence. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by the cover, but in coffee, I find it’s usually a pretty good guide.

Anyway, I ordered a soy latte (So Good), and despite asking for it to not be too hot, it was too hot. To be fair, the guy making it did ask if 55 degrees was ok, and I am now aware it is still too hot (I like 45-50).

Coffee was ordinary, and I ended up tipping it out in the gutter.

I didn’t notice what beans they used. The inside is nice, though. Very nice. Front of the cafe is below, it does present very well. You’ll note the smiling photo assassin who jumped in from the side as I was taking this yelling “surprise infidel”. Shocking.

I think you’ll agree that’s fairly balanced.

The review was done a few hours after the visit – this is before I had the Wherespresso iPhone app finished – but was pretty accurate (I made notes in my iPhone).

I recently noted an overly positive review of the cafe that got borderline nasty (and definitely condescending) toward my review (perhaps I need to have a Respond to Review system!).

I personally don’t agree with the first review, — More than half the aspects listed as being terrible, were actually not.

Allow me to elaborate…
1. You like your coffee 40-45 degrees yeah? Well listen here sweetie, I make coffee all the time, it’s my job – and I know for a fact that 40 degree milk, is basically barely lukewarm. It has to be at least 65-70 degrees for it to even create cream.

2. You say you don’t know what the coffee beans are — well, the oblivious individual strikes again! — if you haven’t noticed, the lame photo you took outside, was in fact right in front of the obvious big yellow coffee bean sign!

and 3. You can’t honestly say that you had to tip it out into the gutter — someone who has a preference for a 45-50 degree “soy milk” coffee cannot possibly know what good coffee really tastes like anyway

This sounded like a self-review so I reached out to the reviewer (as I always do) to explain the original review.

Here’s what I sent via email.

Hi XXX,

Thanks for your review of Cafe XXX in Pambula.

Quick question – are you connected to the owners?

By the way, I actually did the original review, so I was interested to read your comments. Let me quickly touch on some of the comments you made.

1/ With regard to milk heat – yes, I did like it cooler. I was really sick at the time and couldn’t handle hot milk. I still don’t like it too hot.

2/ With regards to the bean type – I actually did the review after leaving, and didn’t note the coffee bean sign out the front (possibly as it was obscured). You’ll note I’ve since updated the bean type (which anyone can do).

3/ As for your comment “You can’t honestly say that you had to tip it out into the gutter –someone who has a preference for a 45-50 degree “soy milk” coffee cannot possibly know what good coffee really tastes like anyway” – I’m not sure what you mean by “soy milk” but the inference seems to be that someone who prefers soy milk doesn’t know about coffee? I’m not entirely sure that’s correct, as I know a lot of high end roasters and retailers in Melbourne (Market Lane, Proud Mary, etc) all drink soy in coffee. I guess it’s the case that lots of people are lactose intolerant, and drink soy in their coffee, or drink it out of preference.

And unfortunately, I did tip it out; something I never like doing.

I suppose that it’s unfortunate that I come from Melbourne – I’m spoilt by high end coffee and drink coffee on a daily basis from the likes of Market Lane, Proud Mary, Seven Seeds, Dead Man Espresso, St Ali and the like – all titans of the industry that I’m sure you’ll have heard off (especially since you make coffee all the time).

Thanks once again for your review, I really appreciate it!

Here’s what I got back

Hi Tim,

For your first question, Yes I am connected to the owner — In fact, I am the owners daughter — I may only be 17, but I know my coffee

(previous owners now that the cafe has recently been sold — for the reason of my parents looking for something different after 8 years of successful, award winning Cafe XXX ownership)

I worked in the Cafe for 3 and a half years since I was 14, and I only noticed we had a negative review on the wherespresso site when I googled “Cafe XXX” a couple of months ago.

I simply can’t say your original comments were reasonable — but now that I’ve been informed you’re from the supposed “high-end” coffee areas of Melbourne, it’s understandable.

“2/ With regards to the bean type – I actually did the review after leaving, and didn’t note the coffee bean sign out the front (possibly as it was obscured). You’ll note I’ve since updated the bean type (which anyone can do)” <— as for this comment, you should probably think about your review before writing it and posting it — I suggest you make sure you make more detailed observations of certain aspects for the future — the coffee bean sign “obscured?” hmmm, and the big piles of pre-ground coffee bean packs on the front counter as well? All of which clearly state the coffee bean type you supposedly could not state

So far, I must say you are the only truly “negative” review we’ve had in our 8 years ownership, and as far our our methods of baristing goes, it’s obvious that there would be some form of a negative comment from a typical Melbourne local. You should never expect the coffee to be the same standard as these “high-end coffee roasters and retailers” you are apparently spoiled by. We are a small town, and a small cafe — do not compare us to high end Melbourne coffee –

No need for a reply to justify your comments, we are no longer owners of the Cafe and I most likely will not reply back anyway.

Thankyou for your review.

I don’t know where to even begin with this response but to most reasonable people the flaws and inconsistencies are obvious.

This is a good example of how not to handle poor feedback.

Want to prevent poor feedback?

If you want to mitigate and even prevent poor feedback you could check out the Wherespresso Feedback buddy.

Posted on by Tim M | Comments Off

New Feature – Cafe Owner Registration

New to Wherespresso – Free Cafe Owners Registration

Last week Wherespresso launched Cafe Owners Registration.

This is a free service that lets owners identify themselves as the owner of a cafe listed on Wherespresso.com.

Benefits of Registering

As the registered owner of a cafe:

  • You can be notified via email whenever there’s a new review of your cafe on our website (and of course in our iPhone app).
  • Get notified if you receive any private feedback; Feedback is a paid service – read more about Wherespresso’s Feedback here.
  • Download some “We’ve been reviewed on Wherespresso” posters for your cafe.
  • Make changes to your cafe listing at any time

We have a bunch of more features on the way for owners, so don’t think this is it!

How to Register as the Owner

Visit this link and find your cafe. You can alternatively simply search for your cafe on the Wherespresso home page.

Once you’ve found your cafe, look for the pink “Are you the owner of this cafe” button in the header.

Click the pink button

Once you click this link, enter the information and we’ll get you approved asap – usually within the hour. We do go through a very quick check to make sure someone isn’t registering as the owner, if they’re not!

What to do if your cafe isn’t listed

That’s not a problem. Simply ask one of your customers (or you can do it yourself but keep it non spammy) to submit a review of your cafe and we’ll get it listed.

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Mayday Coffee – March 2012

Remember When You Were a Kid And…

You put a packet of Pop Rocks in your mouth, and they started fizzing, crackling and snapping like there was a party in your mouth?

Remember how awesomely fun that was?

Now we’re adults, such carefree hilarity is frowned upon. Well, phooey to that I say! Any world where I can’t have all kinds of intense chemical wizardry going on in my mouth is not a world I want to be a part of!

Mayday’s March Shipment is…Nicaraguan Pacamara

If you’re similarly inclined to such awesomeness, prepare to relive the outright rad-ness of your childhood with Bean Drinking’s Finca El Limoncillo Pacamara from Nicaragua. Bean Drinking are a sister company of Hario Gear (remember, if you need a grinder or other gear, hit me up for a deal) and run a cool cafe and roastery in Sydney.

I am going to have a hard time properly describing the sensational liquid delight that will bombard your mouth when you drink this coffee. It is by far and away my favourite coffee ever. I would love to play with some shots on a Slayer or commercial machine. Even on my home machine, it is an absolute CRACKER.

“Line 10 of those suckers up!” I say!

The Pacamara is a giant bean. Like, giant. Here’s a photo, next to a bean from another roaster we hope to have on board soon.

Giant Bean

Giant Bean

REGARDEZ! That is a giant mofo bean. As such, we need to treat it a little differently to eensy-weensy normal beans (the tasting notes cover all that stuff).

==> CHECK OUT THE TASTING NOTES HERE.

Importantly, this is a magical coffee. The whole beans last a very, very long time. I am still getting great coffee 1 month after receiving my batch, and it’s been at least 25 deg every day (and usually 30), and very humid.

“How do I get this Nicaraguan madness, Timbo?”

Well, that is a sterling question.

Toodle on over to the Mayday website, and either:

SIGN UP FOR A SUBSCRIPTION – this is the best idea if you just want us to send you coffee once a month, and charge you for each shipment automatically. Remember, you can cancel the subscription at any time, or even pause it if for instance you’re going on holiday (I just realised I keep pushing this point; this must mean it’s really very clever). This is also the cheapest way to get coffee from us.

OR

Buy the Pacamara as a ONCE OFF – this is a one time purchase via PayPal, so is good for a sample, or if you want to buy it as a gift.

Remember, if you have a Wherespresso login, you can create an account on Mayday with that.

Order Now

There are only 20 days until orders close, so buy now, set your calendars or subscribe for a monthly coffee subscription.

Posted in Coffee | Comments Off

New Version of iPhone App – Feedback

Version 1.3 of the app is available

It’s been a few months in the making, but the new version of the Wherespresso iPhone app is here!

A few things have been fixed in the background but the main thing is the new Feedback button in the cafe listing both in the Wherespresso iPhone app and on the Wherespresso website. You can see the Feedback button in the app on each cafe detail page, and on the website as a button to the right of the header.

Feedback Button

Feedback Button

Feedback button on venue page

Feedback button on venue page on website

Cutting to the chase – get the new version now

You can get the new version of the Wherespresso iPhone app from the Apple ® App Store or from our App page.

Please note, we have not yet sync’d favourites between the app and your account on our website, this is slated for our next release.

What is Feedback?

As opposed to reviews, which go into the public stream, Feedback allows you to send feedback directly to the cafe owner’s inbox; Feedback does not appear in the cafe review stream with the other reviews, rather, it gets emailed to the owner directly.

“Why Should I Use This?”

I designed Feedback predominantly as a way to let cafe patrons tell cafe owners something directly. Whilst I envisage it will primarily be used for negative feedback, it can also be used for positive or neutral feedback. It can also be used for situations where you spot something and want to let the owner know about it.

From personal experience, I know how uncomfortable it can be to tell someone that something has gone wrong or the service is/was bad, even when you know the owner well.

I wanted to give all of us a way to tell our favourite cafes that something went wrong, or, tell them if something goes right.

Because if the owner doesn’t know, they can’t fix it for next time, right?

When it Would Be Used

Feedback will primarily be used for situations when something goes wrong. Why punish a usually-awesome cafe with a bad review (or by telling your friends) when you can let the owner know directly.

So, I recommend using this if you have an experience at a cafe that is not up to scratch. Maybe you got a bad coffee. Maybe a staff member was rude. Maybe the service was way too slow.

Hey, maybe you want to let the cafe owner know how awesome their service or cafe is, but want to keep it off the record. Positive feedback is as useful as negative feedback.

How it Works

In the Wherespresso iPhone app and on each cafe venue listing page on the Wherespresso website, there is a Feedback button which allows you to provide feedback on your visiting including:

  • How often you visit
  • The type of feedback (negative, positive, neutral)
  • Whether you’ll return
  • Date of your visit
  • More details about your experience
  • Whether you want your name/email passed on. If you choose yes, you enter your name/email. If you choose no, your feedback is anonymised.

If the cafe owner is signed up for the Feedback service, they’ll receive an instant email notification of your feedback.

If the owner has not signed up for Feedback, or we have no registered owner of that cafe, we store the feedback for whenever the owner registers in the future. So it is still important for you to give honest feedback to cafes if something goes wrong.

Can the Cafe Owner See My Details?

If you choose to anonymise your feedback, the owner will **NOT** be able to see ANY of your details. You can choose to pass your name and email on to the owner in case you wish the owner to follow up with you (you might want to provide further detail of your visit, or give the owner chance to follow up a bad experience) – the key thing is, the choice is yours.

In our database, we do stamp every Feedback with your Wherespresso username, but the owner cannot ever see this (we collect this information in order to protect against spam). We will NEVER give the owner your username or name/email if you anonymise your Feedback – not even if pirates have us on the plank, with sharks circling below.

Your privacy is SUPER important to us.

Anonymised Feedback

Anonymised Feedback

Pass on your details

Pass on your details

Who can leave Feedback

Only registered Wherespresso users can leave Feedback – this is to protect against spam.

Will the owner get back to me?

We can’t speak for every owner, but we believe they should, especially for negative feedback.

Don’t despair if they don’t though. They might not have signed up for the Feedback service yet.

Get the new version now

You can get the new version of the Wherespresso iPhone app from the Apple ® App Store or from our App page.

Please note, we have not yet sync’d favourites between the app and your account on our website, this is slated for our next release.

Posted in iPhone App | Tagged , | Comments Off

Wherespresso iPhone App V1.02 – freezing bug fix

Wherespresso V1.02 Bug-fix

With downloads now approaching 800, the app is pretty solid now. The bugs we’re finding are the edge cases that the original beta testing didn’t pick up.

The latest version, 1.02, fixes a freezing bug whereby when you entered optional information when Adding a New Venue, then pressed “Back”, the app froze. Thanks to users Shannon L, Dan M, Chrizzle, Vadim and others for taking the time to give me the heads up.

We’ve pushed an update to the AppStore, which you can now download.

V1.03 News

V1.03 of the app will enable syncing of your favourites between the app and website. Whilst I really wanted to include it in the first version of the app, sometimes you have to make hard choices to exclude things in order to get something shipped. Given the app was 18 months late, I made the decision we could live without syncing.

This has unfortunately meant each new version of the app has caused the saved favourites list on the iPhone to be deleted. I know this is an utter pain, so this is the first thing I want to get fixed now all the bugs are pretty much fixed.

V1.03 will be released soon so stay tuned.

V1.04 onwards

There are multiple functionality sets and interface improvements slated for the app, and as usual, I’ll release those one by one to minimise the risk of new functionality causing an issue with the app.

The cafe rating input will be improved, opening hours entry fixed to be much easier; these are just to start with!

Posted in iPhone App | Comments Off

Reader and beta tester madman Chris had a great feature suggestion for Wherespresso which led me to think: what other great ideas have you Wherespresso-philes got that are worth considering.

Before I throw open the floor, I’d like to highlight the Wherespresso Design Philosophy, which can be summarised thusly (yes, hugely inspired by our heroes 37Signals):

If you have an idea for Wherespresso (the site or app) I’d love to hear it. I can’t promise it will get implemented, but, if it’s a good idea, is in keeping with the Wherespresso Design Philosophy and makes the Wherespresso experience better for users, I’ll definitely consider it.

Some things to keep in mind.

  1. Features cost money. Each feature costs money to implement on the web site and in the app (2 sets of costs). Additionally, each feature causes feature loops (increased complexity). If I can’t remove a feature I generally won’t introduce one.
  2. Each feature request has to earn the right to be included (each request is met with a “no” at first).

And in case you’re worried that your request has dropped off the radar, I forget about each feature request until I keep seeing it get requested. Or, unless someone makes a really good case for it. So, don’t be upset if it appears as though it’s fallen on deaf ears; I am just making it earn its place.

So, Got a Request?

Drop your requests below in the comments.

Posted on by Tim M | Comments Off

The Wherespresso site and app experience (UI and UX) has been hugely influenced by the guys at 37Signals. There’s no one who influences my thinking more than these guys (apart from maybe Seth Godin).

I wrote a case study on the Wherespresso Design Philosophy on one of my sites Get Implemented (GI is my small-business consulting business).

I think it makes for interesting reading – the WDP can be summarised thusly.

  • Have One Big Idea – Our big idea is to help you find and share the location of the best coffee. That’s it.
  • Build Less – We’re all so time poor these days that the last thing I want is to complicate things further. Keep it simple.
  • Perfection for Wherespresso will be reached not when everything is added, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • Less Mass – this means simple and clean interfaces, making mistakes (but less of them) and everything else that goes with being lean and fast moving.
  • Embrace Constraints – Wherespresso has real constraints; constraints on having loads of money to be spent is the big one. I use my wages to fund development so funding is a good problem as it focuses the mind on what is truly important for end users and sustainability of the site.
  • Our Site and App takes sides – by building less, I remove decisions for users. Whilst this might piss some users off – “Oh why can’t I do such and such” – in reality, less decisions for users means more decisive action and a simpler user experience.
  • Build what matters – my first consideration with any new feature (suggested by someone else, or even that I think of is): “does this really matter? How will it make the user experience better”.
  • Feature Requests – are forgotten and met with a no, until the call for their implementation is too hard to ignore and I have to consider their worthiness.

This is a brief summary of a more in depth explanation, which you can read on GetImplemented if you’re interested.

Posted on by Tim M | Comments Off

Why Isn’t There an Android Version of Your App?

I’ve had a lot of people Tweet and ask why there isn’t an Android version of the Wherespresso iPhone app.

Mobile Development is Expensive!

Mobile app development is expensive – mobile apps cost a lot of money to make. Think in order of $3,000-$5000 for a product you will essentially give away. On top of that, adding another platform means any changes to the site then have to be rolled out to two mobile platforms which makes things doubly expensive.

The feature roadmap for Wherespresso over the next 6-12 months is so strong and intense, that I would prefer to implement these features and get everything to where I want it to be, then implement an Android (and pure mobile) version. These development priorities will drive revenue, so they naturally crowd out a significant investment in a product that won’t directly drive revenue (yet).

Android Marketplace a Bit Flakey

Compared to Apple’s closed garden environment, the Android marketplace isn’t as clean and cohesive for users and developers (for those interested, I encourage you to read this article about the problems with Android).

Whilst this obviously is a result of Google’s choice to have a more open marketplace, it contrasts with Apple’s decision to concentrate on user experience above all else.

When the Android marketplace and the app ecosystem becomes a little cleaner, it will help the decision immensely.

Android Still on the Roadmap

Having said that, I definitely have an Android version on the roadmap, so I encourage Android users to show their support by signing up to the “Please Give Us an Android Version” mailing list here. By signing up, I’ll get a clear indication of the level of support for the Android version.

At the end of the day, Wherespresso has a clear revenue model that will see the iPhone app remain free forever and an almost total lack of monetisation through advertising – because really, when you think of features you’d like to see on a site, do you really say “I want more advertising!”? No way. So the planned features will help drive revenue, which will help support the rest of the site in a sustainable manner, which will see it grow for years to come, so we all win.

Posted in iPhone App | Tagged | Comments Off

Wherespresso V1.01 Bug fixes + new feature

Wherespresso V1.01 Bug-fix

Well, after over 500 downloads, I have been pretty chuffed at the lack of bugs. We’ve had some, but our core group of beta testers (6 people) caught 80% of the bugs (Pareto’s Principle in effect once again!).

However, thanks to a few people who took the time to send emails and screenshots (Steve H, DrMitcha, @ThomBrookePhoto), we found we had two bugs.

We’ve pushed an update to the AppStore, which you can now download.

Bug Fixes

  • Users were having difficulty signing up with a WSP account in-app – this is now fixed
  • Users were having difficulty signing up with Twitter (token issue) – this is now fixed
  • Cafes with long names had their names chopped off – this is now fixed

New Feature

Directions from your current location to a cafe is now included in cafe detail screen.

We’re in Constant Beta

As an aside: Wherespresso will never be done as a web-app or mobile app. Wherespresso is in constant beta.

Got an Idea for the App?

Drop a comment below or email me from the contact page. Most ideas won’t get implemented (you learn what you truly stand for when you say “no” to things), but some ideas might. Start throwing ideas at me and we’ll see what sticks.

Read more here for my philosophy on feature requests.

Posted in iPhone App | Tagged | Comments Off

We’re in Constant Beta

As I continue to evolve the website and iPhone app, it might occur to you that Wherespresso is in constant beta.

What this means is that I will never have a perfect product. Rather, I’ll be constantly improving and refining the app.

The benefit of this approach is that you guys can throw ideas at me for the app, and help make the app better over time.

I’m already working on V1.5 of the app, which is going to have some cool new features.

They won’t be huge, just small incremental changes that incrementally improve the usability of the app.

I’m a big fan of constantly shipping. Read more here about this philosophy from the masters, 37Signals.

Get the Wherespresso iPhone App

Get V1.01 of the iPhone app here.

Got an Idea for the App?

Drop a comment below or email me from the contact page. Most ideas won’t get implemented (you learn what you truly stand for when you say “no” to things), but some ideas might. Start throwing ideas at me and we’ll see what sticks.

Read more here for my philosophy on feature requests.

Posted on by Tim M | Comments Off