Recently, a well respected member of the community and someone we admire fired over an email to us, notifying us of some bad talk about Frogbeats and myself personally.
He asked us how it was going, and I wrote this response for everyone to see.
In one word:
It has been an uphill battle since the beginning to get our Customs off to a good start. Since our pricing tier is a bit higher than most start ups, we had to make serious sacrifices to allow any sort of progression. We felt like we got over that initial bump, and that things would run smoothly from then. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Several factors were taken into account with these rocky past few months (or whatever you'd like to call them).
1. We underestimated the leeway between receiving impressions, processing and shipping the CIEMs out. Hence we quoted some build times which were not correct (5 week build times were not achievable). It's not an easy process when you have part of that process based in China - especially when you have to make sure that shipping goes smoothly (which it doesn't). So of course, you promise a build date and then can't deliver. That is possibly the most frustrating thing for us. I came in to this business to attempt to provide a better service, and I feel we failed the customers in that sense. I do believe that these bad times are now getting behind us and we're able to process to a 6 week build time (excluding shipping to and from). I know it's not perfect, but then again we never claimed to be.
2. Chinese New Year hit us slam in the middle of the biggest batch of order processing, so that added another week of build time. Our error here was not notifying the customers in advance, of which I take full responsibility for not being more communicative with our customers. That is my fault entirely and I am working hard to improve the system used so that we can reach out to all the buyers quickly and efficiently. I know this can sound like an empty promise, but I really do want to deliver on this.
3. Although our main mistakes were ours, I do believe we've come under serious scrutiny when other companies like us have not. For reasons I do not know. As a customer having CIEMs built for me, if I am told 6 weeks build time, I expect that (in this case we've not delivered on the promise, which is the problem I highlighted above), however we've had several, if not nearly all, customers constantly ask us where their CIEMs are and what the status is. Between the point where we receive them and the point where I get visual confirmation of them being completed - they are in "progress". Unfortunately for some that isn't a good enough answer, and I am not aware of a better way of putting it. We don't have an exact schedule of build times at hand at all times, and we specifically do not give out queueing specifics so that we don't get hounded by emails.
4. Our information on the site hasn't been abundantly clear and I am working on that this week to ensure a smooth transaction with everything. I want to make it my main priority to have customers fully informed before they have to email us to ask further questions. It won't be easy, and I know that it will take a few weeks to get that content perfect, but I want it to happen.
5. UPS has held up shipments. They are renown for being assholes at security checks when passing customs, and boy have they managed to be assholes with us. Several times, when we have been receiving 5 orders at once, UPS has decided to hold the shipment on security terms in India. I do not know why, and I won't get any sort of explanation from them.
6. I've also been personally criticised (I have noticed this on forums, but with my time constraints it has been hard to keep track) for not answering emails in a timely manner. For that, I sincerely apologise. Apologies cannot become routine, so I will only do so once - afterwards it's just a poor excuse. However, the main customers who have not received a speedy response are the ones who are asking on a status of their build, when they are well aware that their build is within the 6 weeks period and there's nothing more I can tell them. I have spoken to my colleagues and they have agreed to take a partial work load off me once I explain to them the process (the CIEMs part was mainly dealt by myself because my colleagues work on the other sides of the business).
I do not blame the customers for putting the Frogbeats name down, and I would have done the same to a company that did it to me. It's a fair game and I do not ever ask for special treatment because we're a smaller company. It's no longer an excuse for us (nor was it ever). I sincerely apologise for the shitstorm that some customers would say has happened with their orders. Some orders seemingly taking at least 1.5 weeks over the build time.
Frogbeats has gone from a small start up to a rather ambitious project. Mainly because I am ambitious and because I love sound and music. However the road to this ambition has led to many sacrifices by the entire team, and anybody who has any sort of knowledge of this field and what the mark ups, overheads and costs are, will know how unbelievably hard it is to compete with the main companies who seem to have no issue getting consistent orders through. We have not gotten a steady stream of order, not even with our discounts. I hate beating around the bush, and I prefer that the customers know exactly what is going on behind the scenes with us. We made zero (lets put it this way, a loss was made) on the first big batch of sales, and we're only now starting to come out of the darkness with some orders. Frogbeats and myself are determined to push on and make the most of what we have accomplished and make sure that we can continue our work, but it's going to be a long and hard haul for us to become a real contender.
There's so much that I would like to explain face to face with customers and have them understand it from my view - but I am aware of being a customer myself with other companies, and I don't like slip ups. Hence why I am very frustrated and annoyed that we've let these mistakes happen. However we have been learning from our mistakes and we've been progressing well. All I can say to future buyers is that we can still deliver a killer product, and we're working on delivering it in a better manner with an easier system. I'm embarrassed that I've allowed certain mistakes to occur, and I extend my sincerest apologies for everyone that has been involved in the fiasco.