Founded by a former Google and Twitter engineer and backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Envoy aims to digitize office management. Its first and core product is Envoy Visitors, an iPad app that streamlines registration. The app handles everything from guest badges to NDAs and is used by the likes of Airbnb, GoPro, and Yelp.
The San Francisco-based team has followed up with Envoy Deliveries, an app that makes handling packages easier and mailroom management smarter.
Eventually, Envoy’s vision is to be a complete answer for smart offices, replacing outdated processes like booking meeting rooms, as well as offering innovative solutions for new challenges like tracking remote employees. Above all, the company cares deeply about making the lives of their customers easier and their workdays more delightful.
At Instabug, we’re proud to support Envoy’s journey by providing bug reporting for their beta and production apps to help them keep their customers happy with reliable mobile products.
We spoke to Wells Riley, Envoy’s Head of Product and Design, to take a peek under the hood of the company’s bug reporting process.
Can you tell us about Envoy?
At Envoy we try to make tech solutions that seamlessly weave into the workplace and make people happier and more productive and make the office a way better place to be. That started with our first product, which is a visitor registration app for iPad that makes your lobby beautiful, seamless, and fast. And then we’ve also built a project that handles personal packages and deliveries for the office.
For each product that we build, we try to think of different ways of taking old tired tech or workflows that no one has really thought about for a long time and try to make them 10x better.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
What do you like most about Envoy?
My favorite thing is our customers. Everybody works in an office, but you’ve got people who are there to support the team and the space, whether that’s an office manager or a facilities manager or receptionist, and they spend so much time supporting everybody that they don’t have people supporting them.
Since Envoy is that kind of product that turns them into a superhero, they absolutely love our products and they love that we care so much about what we do.
Working with our users, being on a first name basis with a lot of them, is the coolest thing because it gives you perspective about the work that you’re doing.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
That makes it so much easier for us to reach out to them, get feedback, do case studies, and learn about how people are using our products. It’s so rewarding compared to coming from a consumer space and you don’t really know your customers and aren’t allowed to talk to them.
With Envoy Visitors in particular, we guarantee to our customers that our product is solid, that it’s always going to be up, it’s always going to work, because with that great first impression that we promise with our product, they can’t then create a good first impression for their own customers if the thing that they’re using to sign them in is broken.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
How do you maintain reliability in your apps?
We use Instabug in production. I think it’s totally stupid that no one else that I’ve ever seen does because why do you want bug reports only from people that have agreed to send bugs?
It’s easy for the support team when they’re talking to a customer and they’re having a problem with the device, they can just tell them to take a screenshot, it’ll pop up the Instabug interface, and it’ll send us the screenshot automatically, which is really nice because if there are any errors on the screen that the customer maybe forgot to tell us about, we can see them there.
Then also we get all the metadata that we need to diagnose, whether it’s a problem with the network or a problem with the device or a problem with the app. We get lots and lots of logs, so it gives us a lot of data to go off of.
The nice thing is that customers seem to discover the bug reporting function on their own because the first thing that they do when they see a problem on the iPad is take a screenshot so they can send it to us, but then they see the Instabug pop up where they can report the bug right now.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
I’ve had plenty of apps break on me and I try to take a screenshot so that I can send it to support and I always get a little disappointed when I don’t see Instabug. It just like, ‘Don’t you want to know when your app isn’t working?’
We have found problems that didn’t show up in our analytics, that didn’t show up in our infra metrics. We didn’t see PagerDuty reports, we didn’t get bug reports from customers, but we’ve seen stuff come in through Instabug saying, “My iPad can’t sign in visitors”. And then ten minutes later, another customer will say, “My iPad can’t sign in visitors”. And then a third one. And then we realize there’s clearly a problem here that we’re not hearing from support, but some customers have identified.
We wouldn’t be on top of those things if we didn’t get those Instabug reports.
How do you handle bug reports?
We send all of our Instabug reports to Slack and we don’t just lump them all into a random channel, we put them in our mobile development channel, which a lot of people are subscribed to because we’re a very open company and people like to see what other people are doing.
It’s cool to see all of the bugs come in, especially over the weekend when there isn’t a lot of chatter going on, because it gives a lot more transparency to the problems our apps are facing.
For Envoy Visitors, since this is our core product, since this is the thing that everybody knows us for, we need to have confidence internally that the app is working and it’s really hard to do that without information.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
Instabug helps us remember that this isn’t a perfect product and there are some problems, but we’re transparent enough about the problems to show them to everyone so that they’re not just hidden in Jira somewhere that you never even hear about them.
And it’s nice because then the support team is aware of it and the sales team is aware of it and when we actually reach a resolution for something wrong, it’s much easier to share that context without turning it into some big post-portem.
It’s also nice that we can specify things to go into the custom logs that get submitted because the support team has requests. For example, they ask to collect logs on this or add more verbose logging for that, because if they have a lot of support requests coming in at one time, they’re all sort of around the same issue, but we don’t have visibility about it.
If our logs don’t adequately paint a picture of what’s going on, we can just push out a new update with Instabug’s custom logs that starts collecting the information we need. We don’t have to change our process, it just goes out in a new version of the app.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
Issues automatically get forwarded to Jira and once a week we do a bug prioritization exercise with the engineers and the PMs and the support team. Some things are fairly minor, some things we can’t reproduce. Sometimes, people send us logs because they want the support team to see something but it’s not necessarily a bug.
We prioritize everything including bug reports we get from other sources as well. It all goes into that queue and we knock out the biggest and most painful bugs as quick as we can.
How do you handle beta versions of your apps?
Everybody in our company gets beta versions of our iPad and mobile apps, so everybody in the company has Instabug installed on them. We also have some customers who have agreed to be beta testers and they just use the TestFlight or buddybuild version of our app in production.
With Instabug, it’s nice that we don’t have to worry about how to collect feedback, or having to set up a Slack group for feedback or anything like that. We communicate via e-mail and we just tell them that if they have any problems, if they notice anything weird or if anything’s broken, to snap a screenshot and send us a bug that way.
It makes it easier for us to handle the fact that we can’t have someone full time running a beta program. Instabug automates some of the feedback collecting for us.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design
Why did you turn to Instabug for bug reporting?
We found that we weren’t getting issue reports early enough. Sometimes it’s a problem with us, sometimes it’s a problem with the device or a problem with their WiFi network or something.
The problem we were trying to solve at Envoy, especially with a kiosk product like ours, is that you have one person set it up, and they go to a different floor or they go to a different job, but you have people constantly using our product. It’s 24/7 use of our product by people who are not too familiar with Envoy and are definitely not responsible for Envoy. For example, receptionists might not be the person responsible for tech support.
Lobbies are down on the ground floor and some companies have very delicate infrastructure set up, for example to bridge the gap between the 19th floor and the ground floor because they want to be on their own network and the building won’t let them do it. So they set up this weird cellular-based VPN and then they say, “The Internet’s not working”. Well, that’s not a bug in the app, that’s the fragile Internet set up.
And of course we have no way to diagnose that when someone sends us an Intercom message saying, “Envoy’s not working”. They don’t say, “Our fragile cellular-based VPN is not working”, they say, “Envoy is not working”.
So if they’re in San Francisco, we used to send people out to their offices, send an engineer with a Mac that has Xcode installed on it so that they can pull logs from the device. We tried to get people to send us crash reports and we tried using other products that send crash reports, but it was limited — we got crash reports, but we still didn’t know what was happening when the app was broken and it wasn’t crashing.
We wanted to get data from customers and the status quo just wasn’t working.Wells Riley, Head of Product and Design