Quite a few changes coming up. And for the better! We have put in a lot of effort to finish the iStripper, to develop the iFermenter and iMasher. But product is only half of the story that needs to be told.
The other half is about service.
Due to development, due to production, we feel we have not given enough attention to service. So we will change that. Immediately? Yes, indeed. And because service is not just a short term, but a long term all important goal to iStill, we will take more than just short term improvements. Here we go:
Short Term Changes
As from today, we offer first and second line support. That’s for existing customers, off course. First line of support is where you can drop your support question. And if the question becomes too technical or needs some further research, first line support will relay your question to our Tech Team.
If you have a support question, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a question about our products or services, please email us at: email@example.com
Do you want to call us? Please know we have someone from our support team available for you every Wednessday from 20h00 to 22h00 Central European Time. The number is: +31 6 1400 3745.
If you call us with a support question that needs to be looked in to, that cannot be answered by our first line support, we will establish a Skype call with our Tech Team. In general, they will be available for more in depth technical questions for existing clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 20h00 to 22h00 Central European Time. Calls on appointment only.
We aim to respond on support mails in 72 hours. Real Tech issues will be addressed within a week from the moment your question is handled by Support.
More things? For sure! Many of our pro distiller clients want a set of spare parts, just so they can keep production going, even when something accidentally breaks down. We are currently developing a spare parts ordering form for that. The procedure goes like this: you email Support and ask for the ordering form. You fill in what you want to order. We give you a quotation. You pay. We ship. Easy does it.
Long Term Changes
Let me start with a metaphor shared with us by an iStill Partner, when we discussed some of the challenges we face. One of that challenges is that our stills are such a radical break with traditional design, that some of our clients find it hard to wrap their heads around. They see the pictures, watch the movies, read the articles and instructions, and talk to us. We think they understand, they think they understand. And then the iStill arrives … and sometimes they are at a loss.
We have seen people welding pipes over the top vent hole, just because they are sure that’s where product comes out. We have seen people trying to connect water hoses to the carbon filter, just because they were sure that it is no carbon filter, but the product cooler. “Liquid Management? What’s that?” We have even had someone open up the electrical system and wanting to weld inside.
Not sharing to mock anyone. Just sharing because we feel we want to help change that.
When we dived in deeper, we found out that anyone (literally!) who visited the iStill Center and did a few runs together was always able to 1. assemble the iStill without any problems; 2. run the iStill without any problems. Things only go wrong (if they go wrong) with people buying our stills and not taking the opportunity to do a few runs together.
So … onwards with the metaphor one of our iStill Partners used when we shared this newly found insight. This is what she said:
“That makes perfect sence. I know even I had trouble to understand what you guys were doing and how far your design has evolved from traditional stills. Most distilling equipment is based on 19th century designs and you think you can intoduce 21st century design just like that? Imagine doing the same with transportation. Imagine rural America or Europe by the second half of the 19th century. Everybody had horses and everybody rode a horse. You learned that at a very young age. It came allmost automatically. That’s the distillation landscape today: everybody riding horseback. Now these happy horsemen see a picture of a BMW M5, just because that’s what you provide them with. They see some flashy movies about the car and know: “This is so much better than my horse, I want that BMW M5!” Next thing that happens is that they actually buy that BMW M5. And when they get it in, they put a saddle on top of the roof, mount the BMW, take out their whip, say “giddy up go!” … and nothing happens! Disappointment. They call you guys and you explain to them they have to step inside the car, turn on the ignition, put the engine in gear and push the pedal to the metal in order to get going. And if they succeed … they will probably end up hurdling themselves (M5 and all) over a cliff or on a tree!”
“Okay,” we said, quite flabbergasted, after listening to that story, “We think we understand. If only you would change the BMW M5 in the above story by a Porsche 911 …”
Any metaphor has its limits. But you can’t put a horseman in a car and expect him to be a great driver without any proper training. Automation? Yes, that Porsche or BMW has ABS and an automatic gear box and automatic airconditioning … but what does that mean to someone used to horses?
So that’s what we will offer. Training as well as the training facilities that go with it. And, the more we think about it, the more we feel we should take the “optional” out of that equasion. Shouldn’t any pro distiller wanting to take advantage of the technological progress we offer at least have a few runs under their belts, guided by a more experienced “driver”? We feel they should. And we feel we should make this a feasible possibility.
To further develop that possibility, we are currently planning to open an iStill Showroom on the American East Coast. The iStill Showroom will be a fully functional distillery as well, so people interested in purschasing our products can do real runs and get real experience and get real feedback from a real master distiller. We expect to open the iStill Showroom on the East Coast still in 2014. For 2015 the aim is to open another iStill Showroom on the West Coast. And if you want to fly over to Europe, that’s always possible. The iStill Center is at your disposal as always.
And then there’s the factory. We need more space and more head room. We want to integrate production, development and the service department. The plans for the new factory are finalized. Building will start in a few weeks time. Grant opening is scheduled for the summer of 2015.
Thanks for reading!