My estimated dispatch date for my New World Tourist is two weeks today. I'm so looking forward to getting the bike - it'll get some good use this summer if my plans come to fruition. It'll be used in the London Bike-A-thon, (I'm raising cash for Leukaemia research here). It'll be used in the London Freewheel. It should be used in Iceland, and I'm 'planning' to do an 'out the door and see where I end up' trip.
The suspense is unbearable - how's the bike looking, has it even entered the start of the construction process?
A thought occurs for something GreenGear might like to do as a good bit of PR. At every stage of the process, get whoever has been working on a bike to take a photo or two (a few seconds), and upload the photos to a page which the customer can access. Encourage a few words from the employee (e.g. "The spray job went well, the bike is now on the way to final assembly")
If customers are happy for their build to be public - which should not be a problem if the customer info isn't shown, then WordPress can be used for all of this (set the category to the stage of the process, set the tag to be a bike reference number). One could give the customer the opt-out by putting on the order form 'we will post information about the building of your bike at this address, http://foo.bar/tags/orderID - tick this box if you do not want us to do this' (doing this would print a message like 'NO WEB UPDATE' on the top of the tag used to track the progress of the bike in the workshop).
The site to do this could literally be set up in minutes. Styling it to look 'right' would take a little longer. Training people to use it would depend on the willingness of the staff (it'd need to be easy to take the photos from the camera)... though a text update ("I've just welded the frame" would be very quick).
In a stroke, several things would happen:
- The customer would be able to see their bike being made, this would be cool.
- Potential customers would be able to look at the range of bikes being produced.
- Existing owners would get a regular fix of "Bike Pr0n".
- It could potentially save responding to 'how's the build going?' emails.
- By browsing categories, people could look at a particular stage of construction that interests them (e.g. see all posts in the 'welding' department). By browsing a tag, people could track any particular bike. I would also add a category for the type of bike (e.g. New World Tourist, Pocket Rocket, Llama etc.)
- Most importantly, it further improves the relationship between customer and company.
The only downside I can see is that if the process isn't fast and easy for the employee, it'll get in the way - but if this can be addressed as part of the workflow it'd add a lot of value, and would be a distinctive feature for the company.
I know this customer would have loved it for his bike!