The CoachAccountable Blog

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On How We Handle Bugs

This is kind of a quirky topic, I admit.

But in the story of how we make the sausage here at CoachAccountable, this a fun aspect that I’m proud to share about.  It’s one that very few of our customers will ever experience firsthand (more on that shortly); PLUS holy moly do we keep hearing about how other companies (including our so-called competitors, ahem) DO NOT operate in this way.

So, bugs in software.  CoachAccountable is software.  Conventional wisdom is starting to hold that all software has ’em, and they’re just a part of life.  The very tracking and cataloging of “known issues” is a class of software unto itself, with vendors vying to create the best tooling for teams to manage their backlog of bugs to be fixed.

We don’t use any such tools, because we don’t track bugs in CoachAccountable.

It’s not that we’re derelict in our responsibility to do so, there’s just nothing to track.

That’s not to say that CoachAccountable doesn’t have any bugs.  There are a few.  I fix about one a week.  With tens of thousands of users, you’re not likely to be the one who finds one this week.  You might be, but it’s not likely.

But it does come up!  Here’s what happens when we get a bug report:

  1. We look into it.  A genuine bug is ALWAYS news to us.  There’s no “Oh yeah, we know; here’s the workaround until we ship a fix in Q4”.  So we check.
  2. If it’s just a matter of confusion, we’ll let ’em know and clarify to get the person back to good.  (Even then, there’s a decent chance we’ll make some small change to the UI or in-app copy to clear that up for everyone.)
  3. If it’s a genuine bug (or could well be), I get tagged on it immediately.

Here’s what DOESN’T happen when we get a bug report:

  1. We don’t assume PEBCAK1.
  2. We don’t advise they clear their cookies, restart Windows, or whatever.
  3. We don’t punt and dodge with gatekeeper-like scripts, hoping the issue goes away and they never get around to escalating beyond “tier 1”.

Once I’m tagged in, it becomes my immediate priority to fix.

“Doesn’t that make for a terrible drain on your time and attention when you’re trying to run the company, John?”

No.  It would if it were common, or if the fixes took a substantial amount of time.  But happily it is neither: the discovery of a bug is rare, and they seldom take over an hour to fully iron out (the median resolution time is probably 5-10 minutes).

Here’s what happens next:

  1. We’ll acknowledge the issue, something to the tune of “You’re right, that’s a bug!”  No mincing words, no excuses.
  2. The issue is actually fixed.  Not noted for a resolution at a later date, fixed NOW.  “Reload the page now and you’ll find things working as they should.” is an instruction we delight in typing.
  3. More often than not, we’ll issue a small credit to their account.  $10, $20, maybe even $50 if it was a genuine nuisance. “Thanks for letting us know!  I’ve put a $X credit on your account as a small token of thanks, for both the heads up and for your bearing with.”  is another sentiment we love to type out to folks when wrapping up these issues.

I just love #3: when people clue us into a bug, it really is a gift that we appreciate.  It’s the chance to make CA slightly better and more perfect for all.  Platitudes are nice, but this for me is a delightfully real expression of owning my mistakes.

“Wow, issuing credits whenever someone discovers something wrong.  Gee John, does that cost you a lot of money?”

Not at all.  It would if, say, 100 users all found the same issue before I could fix it, but… that doesn’t happen.  Any bug found these days is pretty niche, and very seldom is even close to being a showstopper.

Here’s an example that came up just this weekend:

I’m trying to enter the Hex Code for my highlight color and I can’t enter the information because this phone image is blocking the location where I enter it. I am trying to enter #204699. Thank you.

This was to do with the orientation sequence that occurs immediately after the initial sign up for a new account, specifically the part that lets coaches set their branding.  The part of the color picker pop up that lets you type in a hex code directly was being occluded by the smartphone image to the right.  Whoops!

In the style sheet, I changed the z-index of that pop up from a 1 to a 3 and all was well again.

My reply:

Ah, I see what you mean!  I just changed that phone image and remixed a few things about the design on that screen just yesterday, and indeed I added that flaw in the process of doing so.

I’ve put in the fix and if you reload that page, assuming you’re still logged in and able to access that initial onboarding flow, you’ll find it’s now working as it should.  AND once you’re logged in, you’ll find you can set those branding colors in app as well, under Settings >> System >> Branding.

Thanks for the heads up!  I’ve put a $10 credit on your account as a token of my appreciation. :)

It made me smile to get back:

Woah!  I was NOT expecting such a fast response.

And that was that.

“Is that typical of the sort of bugs that do get found these days?”

I’ll let you be the judge.  Let’s look back at every bug that’s been reported so far in 2022:

1/5 – “Generate a different default avatar” link didn’t work for a coach modifying the user settings for a Personnel (2 minute fix, $10 credit).

1/6 – Button to reopen a past Company Engagement didn’t work (2 minute fix, $10 credit).

1/21 – If you were in a time zone sufficiently ahead of the server timezone, and set an invoice to send out to your client tomorrow at a time that was sufficiently early to make an effective sending time that came before midnight in the server’s timezone, the invoice would send immediately rather than at that time tomorrow (20 minute fix, $30 credit).

1/24 – Someone else’s rogue implementation of the iCal calendar data interchange feed was providing “Opaque” rather than the spec standard of “OPAQUE” to indicate an event time as busy instead of free, and thus CA was interpreting those event times as free instead of busy, leading to scheduling times erroneously showing as available (60 minute fix, $50 credit).

1/31 – The app exploration map, which registers what you have and haven’t already tried in the course of exploring CA’s functionality, was not properly registering the completion of a client agreement that included a signature by the freebie client (5 minute fix, $20 credit).

2/7 – ICS files were not being attached to the “Your appointment request has been accepted” notification emails to clients for those coaches that take client schedulings as requests that need to be approved (10 minute fix, $30 credit).

That’s it!  $150 later we have a CoachAccountable that is slightly better and more perfect for all.  AND we’re proud to have made a point of honoring and thanking everyone who brought even the least consequential of flaws to our attention.

Bottom line: if you find and report a bug in CA, you’re being a blessing, not a nuisance.  It is our joy to make you feel that way AND to get the issue sorted for good.

  1. “Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.”  Sometimes an issue IS just plain user error, but assuming as much is dismissive, rude, and unhelpful.

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