In February 2011, in the middle of an especially rough stretch for the commuters, I asked
(1) message volume – does this service generate “too much” mail for you?
(2) message content
is it helpful to know
– if trains are crowded?
– if the heat is on?
Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback. 40 people wrote back…and I plan to reply to each of you…even if it’s just to say “thanks”
The replies I got were thoughtful and the tone was constructive. I really appreciate it.
The stats are below..but I also want to address a few “themes” / good ideas I also received
At least for the next month or so, service on this line will be a challenge…so this is “the new normal”. You should not be surprised if a train is 5-10 minutes late. Certainly, context matters…but always ask yourself “am I sharing something that will help my fellow commuter plan their trip?”
More than one person commented that you should NOT send a mail to say things are OK…and I agree. if you’ve never seen our best practices (AKA “rules of the road”), please do…as this one is a guiding principle for Clever Commute (see http://clevercommute.com/blog/?page_id=22)
You want new features (prioritization of messages…make messages more custom to your commute…time of day).
Believe me, I want to give those to you. But I just do not have the resources to do that now…and I likely can not do that in a free service.
Message volume systemwide is through the roof…and we pay for that. Yes, advertisers offset some of the expense…but we need more revenue.
If you have been thinking about donating to Clever Commute…now is a good time.A really good time.
Finally, we hear people asking if Clever Commute can take a role in advocating on behalf of the commuters. My reply is to check out the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council (http://www.trainweb.org/ct).
They are doing great things on your behalf.
The info below is not scientific…but it does imply that we are generally hitting the mark. This should not really be interpreted as a mandate to change anything…but it is a level of transparency…which I think we all appreciate.
It’s also a rather a reminder that we each have different tolerances when it comes to information…and we need to continue to be sensitive to that.
I would advise you to take matters into your own hands and use the tools that you do have.
Think about building e-mail filters on “your” side (e.g., mails containing “SRO” can be sent to the trash if you don’t want them).
Consider using our mobile app (http://m.clevercommute.com)
Check out our Twitter feeds (http://budurl.com/clevertwitter). The feeds need an upgrade…but they WILL be back soon. Sign up now so you are read.
So without further ado:
Volume / Amount of messages
21 said “it’s OK”…at least for now
14 clearly said “we are getting too much mail”
…but 5 did not address it in their replies to us
Crowds / SRO 16 said they like to know about crowds
11 said “do not send SRO mails”
…but 13 did not address it in their replies to us
Heat 15 said they do want to know about heat on the trains
13 said they do NOT want to hear about it
…but 12 did not address it in their replies to us
In order to allow you to receive Clever Commute updates on your cell phone, we have formed a strategic partnership with a remarkable on-line service called Twitter. Please read on…but select the proper link…and then come back to this site for a few key points. So… are you
Clever Commute provides a way for commuters to use their smartphones to help each other by sharing real-time alerts & updates with fellow travelers. It started with a handful of commuters here in NJ…and has now become a part of the fabric of the daily commute in the top commuting markets.
Now serving CHICAGO…in addition to serving all of the NY metro area and Boston
NYC subways…did you know that 40% of the subway is above ground? Wireless is coming to the MTA…and people are signing up for our service!
What track is my train on? A new free feature and a great stress-reliever for riders of Metro North or NJ Transit Trains
An incredible place to advertise
– Local business can use our new “self-serve” model to create a local campaign. (clevercommute.com/client)
– Large advertisers like the New York Knicks, Carnegie Hall, and Ann Taylor get full service. Our advertisers kit: www.budurl.com/cleveradkit
An army of commuters: We are nearing the 10,000 member mark…and literally growing every day
A proven, 2-pronged business model:
– keep it free for commuters via non-intrusive relevant advertising
– Serve as the authoritative source of real-time data about the commute. (we license a datafeed to transit / news agencies)
Want to learn more about this exciting, patent-pending innovation? We’d love to talk to potential strategic partners, the press, and advertisers.
We are pleased to announce that we are phasing in new technology for our higher-volume communities. The overview:
If it is the case that multiple messages sent within a “time window”…our technology will identify the most suitable one(s) and immediately send those to the community.
If YOU are a sender whose message does NOT get selected, Clever Commute will send you a note with the status of your message…along with instructions on how to send your message to the community. (e.g., if you feel you have unique insight or a correction to information that has been posted)
Our intent here is to fully leverage the wisdom of the crowd…while also being sensitive to the amount of data in your inbox.
We don’t mean to frustrate anyone….or fail to share relevant information.
But also want you to understand that it is very difficult for technology to determine duplicates found among free-form messages such as those sent by Clever Commuters. Our approach will never be perfect. However, as time goes by, we “tune the dials” to improve the features and richness of this algorithm.
Remember: if your message was rejected, you DO have a way to re-send it (please read the instructions in the bounce-back mail you get).
Some Clever Commute communities are experiencing what we call “a good problem” as follows: when there is an issue, we may see several mails which effectively share the same update.
Here at Clever Commute, we’ve anticipated this challenge…and have a solution at the ready. We’ll be rolling it out in the next week or so, but here is an overview:
Our technology will seek to screen out redundant messages sent within a pre-defined timeframe. If YOUR message does not get sent to your fellow commuters…we’ll let you know that. Don’t despair! If (after seeing posts from your fellow commuters) you feel that you STILL have something unique to add, we’ll have a way for that to happen
We’ll be sharing more info soon…but we just wanted to let you know that we saw this day coming…and we are “on the case”
The idea: “What track is my train on?” delivered to your inbox! (for NJ Transit Trains from Penn Station and Metro North Trains from Grand Central)
How to sign up:
a. Go to http://www.clevercommute.com
b. Click on “Find your line”
c. Change “Select provider type” to “Trains (track numbers)”
d. Select your carrier and line
e. Fill in the required info…and you should be all set once we OK your request.
f. Sign up for as many as you’d like
It’s “beta”. We have given a lot of thought and time to the idea and the programming, but you should definitely verify that you are on the right train 😉 We will listen to your feedback and do our best to enhance it based on what you say
Overall, the Clever Commuters did a great job of helping each other. Our systems handled the volume well…and lots of new people have signed up. Overall – we broke all records.
What can I say when I see thousands of strangers helping each other? It’s awesome to experience this model working…and I am thrilled about the potential.
In the spirit of further improvement, I wanted to share ideas in the context of Tuesday night. I’ll try to frame them as “do’s” (to avoid focus on the negatives)…but i’ll be explicit where needed.
Send your messages to Clever Commute from the e-mail address you used when you signed up.
You’d be surprised how many messages came from people’s “other” account…and we could NOT automatically send those because only recognized addresses may send to the list
Share information (don’t ask for it).
We know you want to know. But an “ask” model will not work if 1,000’s of commuters each ask questions of 1,000’s of commuters.
Put your message in the subject line of your e-mail.Â (use the body only if you need to)
That makes it easy and good for your fellow riders as well as our advertisers. You have about 140 characters to use….you’d be amazed what you could fit there Advertise with us
With thousands of riders and so many messages sent, we have a great platform with excess capacity. We have great rates…and the ability to target your audience in several great ways (e.g., AM/PM). We are aggressively pursuing deals of all size. Here is our ad kit http://budurl.com/cleveradkit Yes…you CAN advertise to just your line…at rates that will pleasantly suprise you. Rates go down as you advertise to larger Clever Commuter audiences
Help us grow
Please tell your friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors about Clever Commute. I’m thrilled at the growth to date…but increasingly concerned about the future if we don’t “scale up”. We have some great ideas / enhancement in the pipeline…but we need more zeros on our numbers in order to get true economies of scale from them.
I think that’s it for now. My mailbox is always open. Let’s grow and get some new sponsors.