Talking with customers
Don't cram plenty people on Zoom fluorescent lighted office all day long.
You know, you probably are going to work from home.
Hello and welcome to No Office, a podcast about work technology and life from a remote company perspective.
My name is Rafal Sobolewski and as always, I'm joined by CEO of our No Office company and my good friend Michael Sliwinski.
Hello, Michael. How are you today? Good. We're back. We're back recording our No Office podcast.
- Yes, yes, I miss recording.
You with Magda made some great interview
with Mirek Burnejko, a Polish entrepreneurship
in our Polish podcast, and I got jealous.
So here I am, I asked you to record this episode
because we have some things to share.
- Yes, so we are back recording in English as well.
Probably we'll try to do like at least one episode a month.
We'll see how this goes.
We'll see how much we'll do in summer.
Well, when we might take a break,
but I want to be back to podcasting
because we have so much more to share.
People have been asking me on LinkedIn about it,
about our podcast and they resonate with such content.
So I think we should keep going
and especially tell everyone how Nozbe has been going
as well, 'cause it has developed
and it's being developed very well.
- Yeah, yeah, because the topic of today's episode
is about having meetings with customers,
listening to customers' feedback,
which we've done a lot during recent months,
even though some quantitative data showed us
that our podcast doesn't have much impact,
qualitative data from people showed us the opposites.
So yeah, that's interesting.
As I said, we talked to customers during recent months
much, much more than we used to before.
And our company is changing,
our app is changing, it's evolving,
and I'm really proud of it.
We launched Nozbe teams in 2020,
And there's the saying in product management event.
If you were proud of the thing that you launched
then you launched too late.
- Yes, that's correct.
- And now we've got to the point that like last year
when we switched the name from Nozbe teams to new Nozbe.
Then I think was the moment that we were like proud
of our app.
If we had this process like this
that we just launched the thing and don't iterate it
that would be the app, yeah?
But we don't do that.
We want to move fast.
to break things and improve, improve ship updates almost every week. And now we are focusing on
listening customers feedback, because I think we implemented all of the features we need for
our internal use. There are maybe some more that are in our portfolio of options still, but yeah,
more or less for us, the app is good. But yeah, now we need more feedback, more input data,
qualitative data to figure out what to do next?
Yes, especially that we are cursed by this success in many industries.
That many companies, in many industries, many small business and medium-sized
businesses are using Nozbe in completely different industries, which means
they have different needs, they have different workflows, and they have different
features or ideas that would work for them or that would help them get stuff done.
And our goal is to be shipping a very simple yet powerful app with many flexible options
to be able to adjust and accommodate to your industry.
So we have to listen to many customers, diverse customers, to figure out what we want to implement,
we want to do it and how we want to see this go through.
So by talking to these customers and asking them good questions and
just figuring out how they work, we are able to identify cool new
features and cool new ideas and cool new implementations that could
help them and not as much us, but it could help them and still make
a valuable product for everyone.
That's a good point because recent updates to our app in this year,
they are mostly features that we don't use that much as a team internally.
Yeah, that is a great indication that we are now focusing on the features.
Their goal is to resolve the problems of customers
that we learned from talking to them during the meetings.
Because normally we hate meetings.
Meetings are bad.
But if meetings are well prepared and you have meetings with a customer who cares about the app,
these meetings, I love them. For example, you record those meetings. You are the person who
has the most meetings with customers. And you record those meetings because we can learn from
it. We can rewatch it, for example, with 1.5 or even 2X speed. So that's more efficient.
that's productivity hack and turn from it. And they are always so energizing because my brain
already generates idea how to solve problems the customer is talking about during this interview
with you or with me or with Magda. Because now we, there are the three people in company talking to
customers directly. - Let's talk about meetings. As we discussed in our pyramid of communication
and our previous shows, we try to avoid meetings, have fewer meetings than possible.
I mean, as few meetings as possible.
And we believe that meetings should be well-prepared, should be regular, and should be optional.
And this is what happens also with the customer meetings.
It's regular, so I have scheduled between one and two-hour window on Tuesdays, Wednesdays,
and Thursdays for my customers.
So it's regular.
I know that in these time frames, at these times, I am ready to talk to my customers.
So it's regular.
Then it's well prepared because whenever there is a meeting with the customer, I see the
task with this customer.
I see what plan they are on, how they've been using Nozbe, what customer support has written
So I'm prepared and I'm prepared to talk to them.
And then optional, because some of these days customers don't sign up for meetings.
So sometimes I don't have a meeting because nobody signed up, for example, for a Tuesday
or a Wednesday.
It's exactly how we like it.
And it's fantastic if you can use a tool like we use currently, for example, that you can
just specify, "I am available only in these times and you can just book a meeting with
these customers are doing that and they're happy to be talking to, you know, not just to me, to the
CEO, but also to you, to the chief of product, to also to Magda, our marketing executive. So it's
great. And they can just tell us what they feel, how they like using our app, what they don't like.
And for us, the most important thing, we can ask them how they work, what they try to accomplish,
and how they are accomplishing it using our app.
- If they say they want a feature X,
we can uncover, we can ask more questions
to figure out what the real problem is,
what they are trying to accomplish
by having this feature X.
And then with having a lot of those interviews,
we can find the common ground,
like the most repetitive patterns.
And then we can figure out from that
what features to implement,
but also for example,
of things that are our competitive advantage because customers like to share why they've
chosen Nozbe over other solutions. Because we're a small company, we cannot compete with Asanas
and ClickUps and other Mondays.com with marketing budget, with all of those ads, aggressive marketing.
We cannot burn those money like they do. We need to figure out what's our competitive advantage
and focus on that, elaborate on that,
have a marketing communication about that.
Yeah, it's so cool to listen to customers
because our customers are really smart.
They're some really smart people
because just by searching for a productivity app
for them or their team, it shows that they're smart
because they know that by using just email and stuff,
it just doesn't work anymore.
So that's one thing.
And they are making a conscious decision.
They are checking different apps. It's not like they just see Nozbe and that's it.
They don't know anything else exists. So by listening to our customers, one of the things that
resurfaced again is that Nozbe's strength
is that it's just simple to use. As I mentioned, it looks like a simple
to-do project management app, which is very powerful, but
its simplicity, its focus on tasks makes it also easy to get started.
So they say, look, we checked Asana, we checked Monday,
but they're just too bloated,
they're just too many features.
We want something that our team will use quickly,
that we can quickly create projects and tasks
and just start working on them without much training
or really setups or anything like this.
And we can just go as we go.
And then another thing is that what they highlight
is that in Nozbe, you can also have both the work life
and the private life.
So we can have also private projects and just be a private task and deal with them in the
same way, in the same easy to use way.
And also, they highlight that, for example, our mobile apps are very powerful and very
So they can really have their whole company and their whole life in their pocket and just
manage it from their smartphone.
So all these things that just help us figure out where our strengths are and build on these
strengths and figure out how we can serve them better using these strengths.
- That's interesting because it's not like Nozbe is like
just a basic to-do app that has no advanced feature.
It has a lot, but they are not in your face,
like in other apps like this, like Asana, et cetera.
And customers liked it because they can discover them
already during using the app.
Learn as they go.
- It can start very small.
Like the cost of entry for Nozbe is very small
and this is what they were highlighting.
Inviting a person is very easy.
Creating a project with them is very easy.
creating a task, delegating a task, no completed forms, no complicated features, and bells and whistles.
Later you start discovering them. But as you go, it's just easy to use.
And we need to make sure that we keep on keeping on doing that and delivering a great powerful app that seems very simple and in practice is very simple to use.
That is true. And another interesting example about data is that we learned from quality data, so talking to customers, that they are
quality data, so talking to customers that they value a lot our mobile app
because it's very powerful. It has like almost 90% of features of web app and desktop apps,
and it works offline. It's super fast, but the quantitative data shows us that like majority
of use is of course desktop. Yeah. But it's important because you don't use mobile app often,
But when you do, you really need those features.
You really need that it works offline, for example, if you don't have coverage.
And it's very crucial.
And I'm really happy with how our mobile app works right now.
And I'm using it more and more, actually.
And when talking to customers, the cool thing is that I get to convert into a child again.
Like, I'm curious.
You know, I think we always say that with children, the best way to teach them things
is to cultivate their curiosity, to make sure that they are curious about things.
They ask questions. They ask how things work.
Yeah, they always ask why and you respond. And there is another why.
And that's how you should talk to customers because you need to uncover what they mean.
That, for example, "Oh, it's just easy to use. What do you mean that's easy? What is easy?"
And so on and so on.
Because they're from various different industries, I really get to learn about them
and step out of my comfort zone and also out of my bubble.
The IT and just Apple geek who's just into computers.
I can talk to completely different industries
who are building things, who are serving different customers,
who are just having completely different workflows.
And I can ask them about it, how you do what you do,
how many people you have and how they are distributed,
how they work, and all that stuff.
And only then, once they start talking about themselves,
and it's really cool because they like talking about themselves,
like everyone does, so then I can just guide them to asking some questions.
Okay, so how do you use Nozbe for this purpose?
Or how do you use Nozbe for that?
Or how do you achieve that with Nozbe or with some other tool?
And this way, I can see the patterns, I can see their workflows,
and I can see where we can be even better or maybe improve it somehow.
those interviews are kind of a training for a customer because very often we can show them how they can use like feature X to accomplish something similar they wanted to accomplish but didn't know how.
Yes, very often. And for us it's indication and okay, so this feature should be more discoverable in that context, in that scenario.
- Also, for example, the value of use cases.
I think we will be publishing now on our blog,
more use cases and also on our help page and in our app,
more use cases, how we use Nozbe
or how other customers use Nozbe,
because they want to mimic how other people use it,
because there are many best practices that we already know
or that we've learned from them
that other customers could benefit from.
So this very often, as you mentioned,
turns out that I can just jump on a quick screen share and show them, "Look, you can
do this like this and this like that."
And also, it's very cool that the customers usually are very comfortable with sharing
So I'm like, "Show me your screen.
Show me your Nozbe.
And this way maybe I can help you and I can just help you optimize this."
And they are willing to do that.
All these things that people don't want to share, people don't want to talk to you, and
they will not reveal anything is not true.
and they are willingly talking to somebody who is providing them with a tool that they
In my experience, I've never had a problem with first of all recording the videos.
Nobody said that they wouldn't want to do it, especially I would tell them it's just
for internal use.
But second, very often they would be happy to show me their Nozbe, their screen.
I had once a meeting that I couldn't record it.
No customer could show the screen.
But yeah, that's understandable because very often
they have their customers data in tasks.
So I don't want to see that.
- Yeah, but as you said, this just happened to you once.
Usually it's not a big deal because again,
they are not revealing something really confidential
or even if they are, they trust me that I'm not gonna
abuse it because we are here for a different purpose.
- Yes, exactly.
And from our power part, like when we are showing something,
we can always have, I have dedicated workspaces,
test workspaces, but I can easy switch to so I don't reveal any our data that we have about our customers. So that's very convenient.
I sometimes do. And now that we've learned after talking to so many customers, we there will be a need for us to kind of have like a one click setup of a fictional, you know, Nozbe account. So where we can show so show off different features to a customer and how these work.
Yes, that's that's the portfolio of options like many, many things are
- Yeah, but we will be working on that for our purpose,
for our, to have like kind of a template
of how we want to show them an ideal or a Nozbe account
to show them how things work.
So we are improving that,
but really sometimes just showing your stuff works
and people don't mind.
- Yeah, and as you said before,
you can manage both private and your work life in Nozbe
thanks to multiple workspaces.
And that's very important to us because we want to learn,
for example, from many customers we talk to,
they are like they used to use Nozbe personnel
for the private staff, and now using new Nozbe
for both the private and work staff.
So that's our ideal scenario,
but there are still many customers from Nozbe personnel
who tried new Nozbe,
went back to Nozbe personnel for some reason,
and we want to discover reasoning behind it more.
So if you are one of those customers,
please feel free to write at Rafa@NOSB.com
and we can schedule a meeting.
I want to learn more about what you were missing in Nozbe
or what problem did you have?
Because we learned that this is not only great value for us,
but for all those customers
that they can have separate workspace for private life,
for private task projects and for work stuff.
We want as many users to take advantage of that
because that's really cool to have it all in one app.
"Yeah, it turns out that we are a work-life balance company."
What you do?
"Oh, I provide an application that helps other achieve
or maintain, better said, maintain work-life balance."
So I think, you know, I remember when it was always hard
for me to explain what I'm doing.
So like, you know, I have this time management,
project management, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,
Now I can just tell them, I help small business owners
get their work and life organized in a simple way.
And I think the answer is good in that sense that it's,
it addresses exactly the benefit, the goal,
the ideal state, but also it's vague enough
that people want to ask more.
Like, how do you do that?
How do you mean?
What exactly is that?
So I think during this year, our pitch for Nozbe
will improve a lot and be more concrete
and be more understandable for people
and will be more coherent with our mission.
And it's all thanks to talking to customers
and I agree asking them how they use Nozbe.
- That's true and we will continue on that.
And I think we can go to the part
when we can brag about some new features we listen to.
- Yeah, let's talk about cool things
we've developed in Nozbe.
- Just today I recorded the video screencast
about the features we shipped in January, February,
and early March.
And there are actually two features that we shipped
like this week, this week.
So as we speak, it's March 16.
So long-waited time needed task parameter,
and also we added time spent.
So now you can specify in the task
how much time you need to accomplish that,
and later how much time you actually spent on it.
So you can compare it.
There are of course counters in sections,
in project and in calendar.
So you can really, and other tasks, please,
like priority, incoming.
If you use this feature, if you plan your day
based on the time effort, you plan on each task,
and that is the feature for you.
And we know that many users ask for this feature,
especially former Nozbe personnel, customers.
And we just introduced it, but we didn't want to have it
in your face, in task details view.
So you can enable it per project basis,
but you can also enable it from task details view.
We've in task menu, there is option to enable it
for the project that task belongs to.
It's very simple to enable it for a project
and then use it where you need it.
And for those of you who don't need it,
it doesn't blow the interface that way.
- This is one of the features that our customers told me,
told us that they really need it.
And in many industries, because in some industries,
People just charge per time spent,
or want to calculate their effort.
Or for example, when they're manufacturing,
it's something they want to see
how much time it really took to manufacture that,
or prepare that, or create this project.
So in many different sets of circumstances,
tracking time is important.
Not important enough to have a separate time tracking app
because then it's just additional administrative thing
and it's just more work, but important enough
to have time tracking in your choose your app
that you're currently using.
So that's why we introduced this, you know,
quite simple time tracking, but more, more already more,
I mean, better than the personal version.
So you can have, you can track both time spent
and time needed.
And I'm sure this will lead to other developments,
other improvements in the future while listening
to customers, how they use this feature
and what is it that they really need there
and what's missing there.
Again, we don't want to be a fully bloated time tracking app
but we want to enable time tracking when necessary
and in projects where necessary,
in circumstances where necessary.
- That's the idea.
All right, moving on, our brand new Windows app
is already shipped in Microsoft Store
and available on Nozbe.com/download.
We are finally at this point where we have apps
for four major platforms like Android, iOS,
Windows and macOS, and of course the web.
And I think that's also like the lessons learned
from talking to customers, they value a lot like desktop apps.
- Oh yes.
- It's so much nicer to use desktop app,
but web version, even though they are very similar,
but desktop app can have more features on top of it
because we control the window,
we control keyboard shortcuts, et cetera.
Yeah, that's really cool.
And speaking of those features,
There is actually one very nice, very useful feature like multiple windows in our desktop
So by hitting Ctrl+N or Command+N on macOS, you can enable, like, just open new window
For example, that's very useful during weekly review.
I can open in separate window my weekly review task with the checklist, and in the main window
I just go through projects and tasks I need to review.
The same is when I, for example, write summary of development cycle.
I prepare a long comment in one window and in the second window I just go through
those projects and see if it's done, if it's accomplished.
Or would it require more appetite for the future?
How we cut scope and etc.
The cool thing is that our windows are very flexible so you can really make Nozbe very small or very big depending on your screen size.
So you can really have multiple windows open. Some of them can be just containing one task.
Yes, even on a small laptop screen.
Yeah, exactly. And then have the bigger window somewhere else.
So it's really, really cool how it works.
So Nozbe can be like a big app on your desktop or can be just a companion on the side with a checklist or with just current project open.
So this way Nozbe is out of the way, but it's being helpful.
It's there and you can use it.
And this is one of the reasons people wanted a Windows app and a Mac app. They wanted a desktop app because they don't usually fiddle with windows of the browser.
So normally the browser window is big. And with that, they can just move Nozbe around.
And the Nozbe size doesn't depend on the Chrome of the browser.
Also, another thing is that it's just more dedicated.
So you know that if you wanna get stuff done,
you just open Nozbe and it's a different application
and you don't open it within the browser
and then you start clicking and searching
and checking things on the web
and you just, you know, your productivity is gone.
- Yes, exactly.
- Yeah, it's very important.
Now we are only waiting for the Mac App Store
to be published.
So we hope hopefully we'll get
the Mac App Store version as well.
- But what we prefer if you use our Mac version
that you can download from our website,
- It supports automatic updates.
So if you download our Mac application,
it will update automatically anyway.
So the main benefit of Mac App Store
that you have the updates,
it's not there because it's still there in our application.
So feel free to get it from Nozbe.com/download.
- Another feature that you are the most excited of,
but I'm also, it's assigning tasks to email address.
So sharing tasks via email.
Yes, I love this feature and we are constantly improving it.
For me, the most important thing here is that you can basically create tasks for anyone in the world.
And they don't need to be using Nozbe.
So from Nozbe, I can create a task for somebody and just assign it to their email address.
They will receive an email with the task link and they'll be able to open the task
and just see just this one task.
They can also choose, of course, to sign up for Nozbe, which would be great, but they
don't have to do it.
They can just reply in the comments to this task, and this way, this comment goes directly
to my Nozbe, where it's important for me.
And this way, we can interact through Nozbe, even though we started off via an email conversation.
That's pretty cool, because you stay in Nozbe in your task.
You communicate through comments.
And the other person on the other end, they receive notification every time you mention
them or reassign this task to them so they can easily click on the link, open it in the
browser and respond in a comment.
So that's pretty cool because you just don't need to switch to email.
Later during the day check if they responded to you.
You will see that in Nozbe.
These were three main features I wanted to share, I think the three most important ones.
The last one we will link to the blog post with my screencast so you can check them out.
Let's wrap it up.
Thanks for listening and remember to have a weekly review on fly day because fly days
are for weekly reviews and for personal development to learn something new, checking out new tools,
for example, new Nozbe.
And if you want, you can follow us on Mastodon.
I'm at email@example.com and Michael is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to help support this podcast either by sharing
it with a friend or leaving us a nice review in our podcast.
So that's it for today.
So Michael, say some closing words.
- So first of all, yes, we are on Mastodon
and we have our own Mastodon server.
That's why my handle is just like my email.
So my email is email@example.com
and my handle on Mastodon is @firstname.lastname@example.org.
So that's one thing.
And what just Rafo said, when you do a weekly review,
take advantage of the new feature
of getting the new Nozbe desktop app
and put it to work in multiple windows
and make your weekly review even more productive
to go through all of your projects,
of your tasks and make sure to use these two workspaces that you can have the
private tasks only for yourself and the business tasks to work tasks and in the
other space so make sure to take advantage of what Nozbe offers you the
simplicity the sheer art of getting things done and of really managing and
maintaining your work-life balance.