MindStream You Should Read This.

robbyg

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I have been an Electronic Engineer for over 30 years now and worked for several companies as well as owned three of my own. I recently placed an order for the MindStream and am eagerly waiting to get this exciting product to be in my hands.

My worry is that I see some problems already with the company that have me a bit worried, as they are falling into traps that I have seen some of my previous employers fall into.

I tried today to call the company to inquire about a PDF copy of the manual as I see none listed on the website. While I wait the 8 weeks I would love to know a bit more about setup, operation and maintenance. To my surprise after 4 hours and over 20 phone calls I was never able to speak to a single person in any dept.! All I got was an answering machine. Now I know what a product launch is like and its all hands on deck trying to get the product out the door but I have seen this backfire on one of my previous employers when they let the sales and support section get undermanned.

Just some friendly advice, you need to have the phones being answered because as they say there is only one chance to make a good first impression. If a potential customer cannot even reach the sales dept for the whole day it's a really bad sign. My advice is to seriously beef up your sales dept with temporary employees until the roll out storm passes. Secondly if you cannot afford or do not have the time to train staff for lower Tier support you might want to do what one company I saw do. That is to ask members of your Beta Team that are maybe retired if they are willing to work in customer support from their homes. Then get your tel-co service to setup a routing system that directs calls to cell phones that you send them. Most guys will do this for a couple of months for a small sum and some free supplies. Give these Tier 1 guys direct numbers for your Tier 2 and Tier 3 in house support personal so that they can give them the names and numbers for customers that have problems beyond their ability so that the higher Tier guys can concentrate on the hard ones.

On a final note if you do not have someone writing a troubleshooting database for your tech support you should start doing it now. It would really be helpful if you end up using work at home employees for Teir 1 support as they can log in and get answers to problems in real time and if possible think about giving them limited access to some aspects of the customers accounts so they can acces it while they are talking to them.

I really want you guys to succeed, so I hope this is post is taken in the spirit that it is written.

Rob
 
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ReefMadScientist

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@robbyg

That is how I felt a few years ago when MindStream had their GoFundMe promotion going. I contributed $1000.00 to help the company get off their proto-type phase and into the production phase. Unfortunately, communication was lack luster along with any updates for their supporting parties. I backed out of the contribution list a few months after.

I would suggest the company learn Conscious Capitalism and the meaning of Servant Leadership. I too have seen and been a part of companies that miss crucial important steps that are easy to accomplish. Although I do support the live testing idea, I always wait for a few versions to come out before I invest.
 

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My wife and I both work full time corporate jobs in tech industry - and we operate an independent business from our home.

Our business phone calls go straight to my cell phone and I do my absolute best to answer my cell phone whenever it rings. Even though 75% of those calls are spam calls.

If a business can't figure out how in the world to get someone to answer a phone - I don't understand how they can provide any type of support.

You don't necessarily even have to provide immediate support by the person answering a phone - just answer the phone.

If anyone in management really cared about anything other than extracting money from your wallet - those phones would get answered.

I love this tech - and I really, really want one - but 2 things are stopping me from purchasing. 1 is the inability for me to control my data and 2 is all the calls for support I see on here going unanswered.

It's a real shame and I wish someone that cared about more than just profit percentages owned this technology.
 

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Interesting. I had my call returned in less than 30 minutes. Then had several follow-up emails. Having run a $150 million dollar company, I can honestly say that my customer experience with them has been the best I have had in my over 40 years in the hobby.
 
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robbyg

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----SNIP---

It's a real shame and I wish someone that cared about more than just profit percentages owned this technology.
I honestly do not think that this is the case. I see no evidence that this is purely a profit driven company. Listening to the owner and employees interviews on YouTube they seem to be very passionate about the technology and what it will be able to do for the Aquarium Industry.


I can tell you that at the company I worked for that had this problem it was not really greed that caused it. All of us in the company felt like we had been getting a free meal every week and we knew that the owner was just withdrawing thousands of dollars of his own money every week to keep us going. So when we finally had the final production product ready to go we all got so excited that we even put in tons of free overtime in order to get those devices out the door. We were ecstatic to see the company finally putting money into the bank and ecstatic to feel like each week we were truly earning our pay checks. We all knew those phones were ringing but we felt the need to get the product out the door as fast as possible to make those who had been waiting be able to finally get one. We even Joked, stop calling us we are working on getting your device to you.

It was not until a couple of months had passed that one of the bosses golfing buddies was out on a Sunday playing with him and said you know Keith I was trying to reach your service dept to ask them a question about that thing you gave me and I could not reach anyone after several days of trying. Well that was when he came in and started to look at what was happening in support and sales and realized that maybe only 1 in 10 calls was being answered. The Internet was not very useful back then so we did not realize how many people we had alienated until the (now being answered) phones stopped ringing as much and the orders and support calls started to decline rapidly. We did somewhat recover but what we saw was an initial spike of units going out the door followed by a trickle that never really truly recovered to what I think it could have been. If it was happening today I would say that the word had gotten out that the service was terrible and even though it was not that way anymore we could not shake the stigmatism that had developed around our company name.

Rob
 
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robbyg

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Interesting. I had my call returned in less than 30 minutes. Then had several follow-up emails. Having run a $150 million dollar company, I can honestly say that my customer experience with them has been the best I have had in my over 40 years in the hobby.
I personally think Answering machines are only used in a business that are poorly run. You either have a Queue with waiting times or enough people to answer the phones immediately. Especially when it comes to the sales dept.


In past dealing I have had with companies that use answering machines my experience varied a lot. Some returned the call within minutes. Some by the end of the day and others never got back to me.

The problem always was that most of the time when ordering I was on the ropes about pulling the trigger and a nice sales pitch would have gotten them the sale. The fact that I got put on hold in a long Queue or worst got an Answering Machine is typically a sign for me that I probably should not bother, especially if the item is expensive and I am trying to justify the purchase to myself.
So sales should always have quick pickup and support can have a Queue.
My other issue with answering machines is that you have no idea as I stated as to when they will call back. Should I sit in front of my Satellite TV box all day waiting for DirecTV to call me back? If I leave home and they call me while I am driving how is that going to help me? If my network won't connect with the MindStream servers I need answers while I am in front of it, not while I am on the road or at work.


Rob
 
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robbyg

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I Called Mindstream again today and got through on the first phone call.
I had a great conversation with Alex and I explained to him my frustration with the previous day of calling. He said they will be looking into the situation and someone should be responding to this post within the next 24 hours. I look forward to some constructive conversation as to how they can improve their customer support.

Rob
 

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I have been an Electronic Engineer for over 30 years now and worked for several companies as well as owned three of my own. I recently placed an order for the MindStream and am eagerly waiting to get this exciting product to be in my hands.

My worry is that I see some problems already with the company that have me a bit worried, as they are falling into traps that I have seen some of my previous employers fall into.

I tried today to call the company to inquire about a PDF copy of the manual as I see none listed on the website. While I wait the 8 weeks I would love to know a bit more about setup, operation and maintenance. To my surprise after 4 hours and over 20 phone calls I was never able to speak to a single person in any dept.! All I got was an answering machine. Now I know what a product launch is like and its all hands on deck trying to get the product out the door but I have seen this backfire on one of my previous employers when they let the sales and support section get undermanned.

Just some friendly advice, you need to have the phones being answered because as they say there is only one chance to make a good first impression. If a potential customer cannot even reach the sales dept for the whole day it's a really bad sign. My advice is to seriously beef up your sales dept with temporary employees until the roll out storm passes. Secondly if you cannot afford or do not have the time to train staff for lower Tier support you might want to do what one company I saw do. That is to ask members of your Beta Team that are maybe retired if they are willing to work in customer support from their homes. Then get your tel-co service to setup a routing system that directs calls to cell phones that you send them. Most guys will do this for a couple of months for a small sum and some free supplies. Give these Tier 1 guys direct numbers for your Tier 2 and Tier 3 in house support personal so that they can give them the names and numbers for customers that have problems beyond their ability so that the higher Tier guys can concentrate on the hard ones.

On a final note if you do not have someone writing a troubleshooting database for your tech support you should start doing it now. It would really be helpful if you end up using work at home employees for Teir 1 support as they can log in and get answers to problems in real time and if possible think about giving them limited access to some aspects of the customers accounts so they can acces it while they are talking to them.

I really want you guys to succeed, so I hope this is post is taken in the spirit that it is written.

Rob
Hello Rob,
Thank you very much for ordering a MindStream Monitor and for taking the time to give us your views on how our service can be better. We appreciate your ideas and can tell by the tone of your comments that you are sincere in wanting to help. Thank you!
We are indeed an early stage start-up company with a sophisticated device and we endeavor to provide a high level of service that matches the amount invested by customers in the product. We are working to respond to all sales and support inquiries within 24 hours and are doing our best to answer calls in real-time (point well taken). We implemented Salesforce CRM years ago and are refining our customer service practices. Yes, we have internal customer support articles/FAQ's for addressing customer issues and will make them available to customers on a support website at some point down the road. We have already implemented an Internet-based VOIP phone system to enable us to set up remote service reps as needed. And we are actively assessing call volumes and response times to scale our support operations and staff to ensure timely response.
It might be helpful to know we have already received a lot of customer feedback regarding how pleased they are with our responsiveness, chemistry/technical expertise, and follow through. But we hear that we fell short of your expectations and could do better.
We are very grateful for your patience and understanding as we scale all aspects of our business operations to meet the very enthusiastic response we have received from the industry about the MindStream Monitor.
All the best, Brian Degen, CEO
P.S. I'm glad you spoke with Alex today and it sounds like he was able to provide the PDF you were looking for and help with your questions. Also, given that you were interested in learning about set-up, you might find this video interesting: .
 
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robbyg

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Hello Rob,
Thank you very much for ordering a MindStream Monitor and for taking the time to give us your views on how our service can be better. We appreciate your ideas and can tell by the tone of your comments that you are sincere in wanting to help. Thank you!
We are indeed an early stage start-up company with a sophisticated device and we endeavor to provide a high level of service that matches the amount invested by customers in the product. We are working to respond to all sales and support inquiries within 24 hours and are doing our best to answer calls in real-time (point well taken). We implemented Salesforce CRM years ago and are refining our customer service practices. Yes, we have internal customer support articles/FAQ's for addressing customer issues and will make them available to customers on a support website at some point down the road. We have already implemented an Internet-based VOIP phone system to enable us to set up remote service reps as needed. And we are actively assessing call volumes and response times to scale our support operations and staff to ensure timely response.
It might be helpful to know we have already received a lot of customer feedback regarding how pleased they are with our responsiveness, chemistry/technical expertise, and follow through. But we hear that we fell short of your expectations and could do better.
We are very grateful for your patience and understanding as we scale all aspects of our business operations to meet the very enthusiastic response we have received from the industry about the MindStream Monitor.
All the best, Brian Degen, CEO


P.S. I'm glad you spoke with Alex today and it sounds like he was able to provide the PDF you were looking for and help with your questions. Also, given that you were interested in learning about set-up, you might find this video interesting: .
Hi Brian

Thanks for the kind words and the speedy reply, it is really appreciated.
I am very happy to hear that you are already fully in the process of transitioning from the development stage to a sales and customer support model. This transition is an area where so many new companies fall short and why I was worried at first. I was really impressed with Alex and the way he dealt with this on the phone. I am also thankful to him for emailing me the PDF manual so promptly. I am really looking forward to receiving the Monitor and getting some real time data from my Aquarium. Also as I mentioned to Alex I am also an Avid Scuba Diver and am looking forward to using the MindStream to do a full battery of tests of the water along the reefs on the coast near my house. The reefs have been decimated over the last 15 years by what I figure is high acidity levels due to GW and higher CO2 levels but surprisingly there are some areas that are still pristine and that baffles me. I would like to map out the water with samples from various points and find out what is going on. If I discover something I will be presenting it to the local marine park authority.

Anyway I know how busy you are at this point in time and how challenging this stage of the business is, so I won't take up anymore of your time. When things settle down please keep the Nitrate monitoring in mind. I know Phosphate is pretty much impossible but Nitrate would be a real bonus for us later down the road.

All The Best
Rob
 

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Hi Brian

Thanks for the kind words and the speedy reply, it is really appreciated.
I am very happy to hear that you are already fully in the process of transitioning from the development stage to a sales and customer support model. This transition is an area where so many new companies fall short and why I was worried at first. I was really impressed with Alex and the way he dealt with this on the phone. I am also thankful to him for emailing me the PDF manual so promptly. I am really looking forward to receiving the Monitor and getting some real time data from my Aquarium. Also as I mentioned to Alex I am also an Avid Scuba Diver and am looking forward to using the MindStream to do a full battery of tests of the water along the reefs on the coast near my house. The reefs have been decimated over the last 15 years by what I figure is high acidity levels due to GW and higher CO2 levels but surprisingly there are some areas that are still pristine and that baffles me. I would like to map out the water with samples from various points and find out what is going on. If I discover something I will be presenting it to the local marine park authority.

Anyway I know how busy you are at this point in time and how challenging this stage of the business is, so I won't take up anymore of your time. When things settle down please keep the Nitrate monitoring in mind. I know Phosphate is pretty much impossible but Nitrate would be a real bonus for us later down the road.

All The Best
Rob
Thank you Rob! We are fortunate to have you as a customer. And thanks for the comment re Nitrate and Phosphate. We have done some initial exploratory research into a Phosphate sensor for the MindStream Monitor and believe there is a reasonably high probability of being able to develop one. Nitrate however is looking more elusive at this point but we will certainly be pursuing it when we are able. In either case, the MindStream Monitors we are shipping now will be capable of reading new sensors as the sensor disc is replaced every month.
 

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You have to remember on smaller business startups that all the hype might look like its a established company. A lot of times they are run by a handful of people with multiple tasks to handle. They may not always have time to answer phones and such. They may be working 18 hours a day to fill orders and setup shop.

Until a company gets enough revenue rolling in for a dedicated operator and then they might have tasks sometimes that keeps them from answering phones.

On top of that, they still have a family and home life.

I'd rather have a solid product delivered on time, then someone to answer the phone on the second ring overtime I called, if I had to choose.

I'm sure as they get caught up on demand, they will have more time for phone calls and such.
 

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Thank you Rob! We are fortunate to have you as a customer. And thanks for the comment re Nitrate and Phosphate. We have done some initial exploratory research into a Phosphate sensor for the MindStream Monitor and believe there is a reasonably high probability of being able to develop one. Nitrate however is looking more elusive at this point but we will certainly be pursuing it when we are able. In either case, the MindStream Monitors we are shipping now will be capable of reading new sensors as the sensor disc is replaced every month.
In the past, Mindstream said that Phosphate was likely impossible but Nitrate could be possible. Has that thinking changed now?
 
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robbyg

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In the past, Mindstream said that Phosphate was likely impossible but Nitrate could be possible. Has that thinking changed now?
I am also confused! I could have sworn that in one of the old MACNA videos on YouTube they said they already had a working Nitrate system but that the results where not as consistent as they needed to be. Then I think he said there was no way in the scientific community to read phosphate without reagents.

The Rep probably had a mental burp during the interview and got the two mixed up. I suspect it’s something as simple as that. Lord knows I have done it on several occasions.

Anyway Phosphate is also a very good one to look forward to. It might even be better as I can get some real time data on how the different foods and amounts are impacting my tank.

Rob
 
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robbyg

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You have to remember on smaller business startups that all the hype might look like its a established company. A lot of times they are run by a handful of people with multiple tasks to handle. They may not always have time to answer phones and such. They may be working 18 hours a day to fill orders and setup shop.

Until a company gets enough revenue rolling in for a dedicated operator and then they might have tasks sometimes that keeps them from answering phones.

On top of that, they still have a family and home life.

I'd rather have a solid product delivered on time, then someone to answer the phone on the second ring overtime I called, if I had to choose.

I'm sure as they get caught up on demand, they will have more time for phone calls and such.
If you read my previous posts you will see why that is a bad idea. By time you finish getting all those pre orders out the people that have been trying to get sales and customer support with no success will decimate your reputation on the internet.
By time you are finished with pre orders the sales line will have stopped ringing.
It’s a rookie mistake that a lot of small companies fall into.

Rob
 

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