The other day I had one of those nightmare situations that only those who are similarly detail-focused (some would say retentive) as myself can appreciate.

Now I’m a stickler for detail – it really offends my sensibilities when things aren’t stacked in order, when things don’t match and, most of all, when the numbers in my accounting system don’t add up.

This post is a reaction to something I experienced with Xero, but could equally apply to anyone with an application that has to support the bane of all of our existences – end users.

Most of my consulting work is in international currencies and, as such, I find it easier to use PayPal to wrangle the vagaries of a handful of currencies, forex fluctuations and complex fund movements. Luckily for me Xero has an integration with PayPal which automates most of what I do.

Recently the PayPal integration went down – for some reason I was getting strange error messages in the PayPal bank account section of Xero. I flicked out a Twitter message to Xero asking what was up:

notworking

Seemingly a natural enough question – what was wrong, how long would it be broken for and can you tell those affected once it was fixed. Xero is great at replying on Twitter (the OG stands for OrangeGirl, Xero’s community manager and the nicest person you’re likely to find in tech) and I got this back:

reply2

Excellent – timely, honest advice and an indication of the intended course of action. Except of course that of the 15000 or so Xero customers, I’d wager that only a very very small percentage use the PayPal integration. I ruminated a little on that and, being one who likes to communicate my thoughts, flicked the ever-suffering Orange Girl another Tweet:

thinking

To which (did I mention she’s long-suffering) Oragne Girl decently replied:

reply

The most that Xero was able to do was to send a mass-Tweet to all followers:

og

Xero reacted perfectly to the situation and, after-all, it wasn’t anything critical. but the problem is that it’s inefficient and sub-optimal to send status updates to everyone that only affect a small proportion of users/followers. What we need is fine grained control over customer support – the ability to target status updates based on particular (and flexible) criteria…

It’s an opportunity just waiting to be fulfilled – a third party application that mines an application database to provide vendors with the ability to fine tune customer communications…. There’s the idea, now over to a keen engineer to seize the opportunity and build something!

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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