Some say that great ideas derive from coffee. When you drink your morning coffee with its welcoming aroma and smooth taste and you begin a new day, will this inspire you to think of great ideas? That's what I asked Ronald Knijf, the man who came to us with his own idea to create an app. In this case...not. Ronald doesn't drink coffee. And his great idea arose from the practical need of making his work more relevant and his clients better served. About 15 years ago Ronald started working in the family business of insurances. From 2008 he acquired the business, created an online branch by the name of E-polis, that later on became the main focus: to provide better service to the internet user. With an app he aims to provide even better service through mobile.
What was your great app idea?
'I like to keep thinking of new ways to do my business and work on new ideas. I have always been interested in online, so moving my business in that direction was an obvious choice. With E-polis I made that switch and narrowed down the focus to only scooter insurances. Since 2011 I had the idea of making an app as an alternative for a damage report form. This derived from the administrative hassle of sending paper forms by regular mail (and still, I send out damage report forms almost daily). Back then I could acquire the domain name of Schadeformulier.nl.
That should have been the beginning of this story, but a few days later a different website Mobielschademelden.nl appeared for digitally reporting car damage... Shit! Suddenly my great idea was unnecessary! I put a hold on the project until last year, when one of my customers explained that he had filled in a damage report form via his computer by using illustrator... It seemed that this other app wasn't really meeting people's needs. That inspired me to picking up on my idea again!'
How did you come across aFrogleap?
'I started working with a small software company but that didn't work out well. I needed a more professional approach, so I reached out to a number of mobile agencies. I met Bart because a friend of mine told me about aFrogleap. aFrogleap immediately had a strong belief in the potential of this app. Since my budget was not sufficient to realize the entire project we decided to partner up in creating this app. The fact that I still need to send out paper forms every day gives validation to our project. I'm happy to announce that soon this will be possible through an app.'
How do you think to create support for your app in the market?
'In general, you should build something that is easy to use, so focus on the user! Having car damage is bad enough already, so the procedure of reporting damage should be quick, easy and comprehensive. For an optimal user experience we should guide the user through the different steps of enclosing all the necessary information. If they're happy with the product, their positive experience will be heard by the insurance companies. That might be in a later stage, but it will also help them to assess a more detailed and complete report. From there things will set into motion.'
What makes that users want to use your product?
'We have recently tested a preliminary first version of the app by a small group of users. It's very useful to run a testing phase with potential users to get feedback on your product during the process. We want to give the user the choice of filling in the damage report form the way they want it. Sometimes you have to fill in all input fields in the form in order to proceed. That is annoying and can cause users to drop out. Imagine that you are having car damage, you are stuck in busy traffic and the other party is in a rush. You probably want to quickly write down the information of the other person and the damage to his or her vehicle first. Later on you will have time to complete the form with the rest of the info.
Most importantly, we want to change people's habit of using the paper form that they keep in their dashboard locker to the ease of opening the app. We want to make an app that ultimately will be much more than just the form. The name Schadeformulier.nl will not cover all the possibilities we have in mind with this app.'
How do you like working in a team?
'Having my office at home I've been working a lot on my own. But I prefer to have people around, so coming to Amsterdam every week and working on this project with you guys is really nice! It's interesting and fun to experience a dynamic company such as aFrogleap. It's great to be part of a team with enthusiastic people. I started this project on my own, but now that we do this together there are so many people involved who want to make something of it. Everyone gives input and I'm learning a lot. I am happy to see that I could sit back knowing that my idea is in good hands.'
Were you familiar with working agile?
'No, but I can see its benefits. We often come together to reflect and learn from each other's feedback during the process. The contact with the team goes well. When I'm working from home we have direct contact via Skype. Although, I also think it's goodto be out of my office. We also use Slack and JIRA. If you work on your own you don't slack :). But it works great!'
What challenges for mobile do you foresee for this project?
'There are two challenges in our project that we want to address. First, it's a pretty long form to fill in on a mobile device. The project has proven to be complex with its multitude of information that needs to be enclosed in the app. So we constantly think of what is the right way to display and document the information. Despite of its complexity from a development perspective the form has to be easy and accessible for the end user.
Second, we need to change the behavior of people. Move them in using an app instead of the paper document. People take their smartphones anywhere and mobile is their first screen on the go. The added value of our product is that it allows the user to take photos, determine the exact location of the accident, and send the form directly to their insurance company, etc. It should include clear call to actions, induce an interaction between the user and involved parties. We want the user to be engaged with the app to use it as full reference. The app should give them the feeling that it's all they need at that moment in that situation.'
Are there any apps that engage you at the moment?
'Yes. I like basketball so I use the NBA app. I listen to Spotify, and I follow the news through Nu.nl. I think the timeline scrolling in this app is simple and works well. I increasingly look at apps with a critical eye paying more attention to design and functionality, perhaps to see what could work for our app.'
When you think of afrogleap I think of...?
'Every time I come here I feel welcome. It's the kind of warmth that we have in the south (in Brabant) :). There is a personal and comfortable atmosphere, but it's also professional. You can feel that everyone is motivated, involved in what they do and give each other input. This positive vibe appeals to me. It's fun to do this project together.'