This is a copy of a post originally posted on my LinkedIn account.
Time flies, I almost forgot to write something this week. Id tell you why I’ve been busy, but it’s a secret, basically working on yet more cool things for our customers. This week, as we near the 100-day mark of when the vast majority of our lives were changed forever, I take a look at one of the features which I am most proud to have worked on; one that arguably made a real difference.
Within a few weeks of people being told to socially distance, we created something which meant jobs and deliveries could continue to be signed for by customers. The difference here was that the customer wasn’t handed a device to sign on, they used their mobile phone or computer.
I am of course talking about the excellent work our lead and senior developers Johann Levy, Johan Kirouche and Laurent Jacques did in creating our very own ‘NoTouch Signature Capture’ software that integrated seamlessly into @BigChange.
As always, no hard sell; just a bit of background as to the problem which we tried to solve that is now being used hundreds (if not thousands) of times a day.
The Coronavirus came out of nowhere and hit us all in one way or another. For me, not unlike many, it means I can’t hug my loved ones and have gone over 12 weeks without seeing my parents face to face which is unheard of.
For businesses, it meant uncertainty, not just in terms of business, but how would they get the business they obtained to sign something off? We have customers in all types of sectors and the idea of some delivery companies dropping £100k worth of equipment and not obtaining a signature, or a plumbing company not getting sign-off on a three-day refit simply was unimaginable.
The likes of DPD, Amazon, and UPS were quick off the mark saying “it’s fine don’t worry we won’t ask you to sign, instead, we will take a picture of you with the item in your doorway”.
Whilst I haven’t needed to call out a plumbing company, as someone who has sent an item of high value by courier, I’m not sure I would accept proof of delivery as being some blurry photograph of a box near someone’s feet outside a nondescript house.
We needed a way of capturing that ‘sign off’, whilst remaining distant at all times. We couldn’t pass a device between to parties anymore, and whilst taking a photo may have worked, it’s no substitute for a signed docket saying work has been done, or a package has been received undamaged.
That was our problem, oh, and that wasn’t our only problem, we needed to solve it, and fast!
Everyone has a phone, and so the natural solution seemed to be to get the customer to use their phone and sign on that. One question answered, quickly gave way to another one needing the same treatment. How do we get the job information to their phone, and get their signature back after?
At first, we thought of developing a sister app to JobWatch. As any app developer will tell you, developing an app from scratch, regardless of how simple it is, it takes time to not only test and code, but also review so it gets into the stores of Google and Apple.
Thinking that option through further, the process didn’t exactly work either. You can just imagine the scenario:
“Right that’s it, the jobs finished Mrs. Smith. Can you please just open up your AppStore and type in JobWatch Signature and download the application that appears. When installed I’m going to give you a job reference for you to type in, then sign it and we are off.”
It just doesn’t work, not only because it’s long-winded, but all of this communication needs to take place verbally, face to face, so pretty much no difference to what we already had.
We didn’t want our customer’s customers to have to download anything, we wanted them to click on something, sign and that be it. For that, we needed to use the only common thing available to everyone, and that is a web browser. They could use their finger or mouse to put their signature inside the webpage displayed, and as they say “jobs a good ‘un”.
But how do they get the address for that website?
Well, that’s the cool bit. When a resource who uses JobWatch wants to get a signature they have three options for getting this unique website address to their customer.
- A QR code can be generated that can be scanned.
- A link can be shared in any supported application such as email or WhatsApp.
- An SMS can be sent via our servers and attached to the job – so you don’t need a text message plan, just a data connection.
The links are unique, generated only when initiated via the resource, and expire once the job has been completed, and because of the methods they are communicated to the end-user, they can be behind a closed door, other ends of the depot, or in a different city.
Clicking on the link opens up a beautiful (white-labeled) mobile optimised website containing some basic job information and a big signature box. As soon as the signature is submitted, the tablet receives notification of this, and the job can be completed as normal.
We got this from concept to reality in less than a month, and I’m exceptionally proud of everyone who was involved and helped us make a difference.
If you want to see it in action, you can do as we made a video to show it off:
For those of you who made it this far you can have a little treat…we have some plans to add something really cool to this feature, all being well by the end of summer!