We love our community!Jan Heine
When we put together our 20th Anniversary Bicycle Quarterly over the last few months, this was also an opportunity to reflect on what is important to us. It was a good to think about our focus—not just where we are coming from, but also where we are headed. We love riding our bikes, and these last 20 years have been a lot of fun.
Rene Herse Cycles exists today because we couldn’t find the tires and components we needed for our rides and adventures in the Cascade Mountains. Starting from the perspective of cyclists, community has naturally been a big part of what we do. We love community in the real world, whether it’s on rides or races we attend, or at the BQ Un-Meetings we’ve organized over the years. We also love the virtual community of the Internet. First there were online forums. Then we were early adopters of social media. We really enjoy following the adventures of our readers and customers via Instagram and other avenues. It’s a wonderful way to share our joint passion for cycling off the beaten path.
Unfortunately, social media has become less hospitable over the years, especially once your visibility extends beyond your immediate friends and acquaintances. Actually, that’s not really true: I’m always amazed and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response, even for things like our Nivex derailleurs that are pretty far outside the mainstream. It’s just a tiny, but very vocal, minority who spoils the fun for everybody else. And with close to 60,000 followers on Instagram alone, it only takes 0.01%…
There’s definitely a place for disagreements, satire and maybe even ridicule, but after 20 years we don’t feel the need any longer to constantly justify ourselves. We feel that our work has stood the test of time. We are still interested in informed discussions of how bicycles really work—we just don’t need the negativity of Internet controversies in our lives. Neither do our customers and readers, who come here for inspiration to ride their bikes.
That’s why we’ve turned off commenting here and in our social media. There are many forums and websites where that small minority can take their discussions and comments. We have no problem with that. Nor do we mind if those who don’t like what we do simply ignore us and don’t buy our products.
We support a vibrant Readers’ Forum in the pages of Bicycle Quarterly. This is the place to question our test results or add information to historical articles. But the Readers’ Forum isn’t just for comments about articles we’ve published, but also for more general questions about our bikes and way of riding. We can’t publish every submission, but a large portion do get into the pages of Bicycle Quarterly. And you’re more likely to get published if you disagree with us (and have something to back up your claims) than if you simply tell us how much you like the magazine. (We appreciate those letters, too—they make our day!—but publishing them would feel self-congratulatory.)
We’ve always placed a high priority on customer service. If you’ve placed an order and wonder why it’s taking longer than expected to ship, if you want to return something you’ve bought in error, or if you have a warranty request—we want to hear from you. A few customers told us that our contact information was a bit hard to find in the past. We’ve listened, and we’ve put a new ‘Contact’ link front and center on our website. It puts all contact information in one place, where it’s easy to find.
Why don’t we list a phone number or email? We use forms so that your request immediately gets associated with your order. That way, our customer service can give you a timely response without a lot of back-and-forth to ask for more information. The forms also route your request to the right person, whether it’s a question about an order or your Bicycle Quarterly subscription, a wholesale application or a warranty request. If the request is handed off to somebody else, which happens all too often in these Covid times, the new contact can see the previous conversation. This means you don’t have to wait until the original employee you dealt with is back. We think this makes for better customer service.
We understand that some customers are reluctant to use forms in general, because many website forms don’t seem to connect to anything, and you never get a reply. Rest assured, our forms work. We test them regularly. When you contact us via our website, you’ll immediately get an email acknowledging that we received your message. After that, you usually get a response within 2-5 business days. (Please also check your spam folder—unfortunately, many messages end up there.)
What if you’ve got a question about our products? We’ve put all technical information, instructions and more on our website, so you can get answers right away. What if you need to know something that isn’t on our website? You’re probably not the only one, and so we have created our ‘Suggestions’ form. If there’s a spec you can’t find on our website, you’ve got a suggestion for a new product, or there’s some other suggestion you’d like to pass along, we want to hear from you. Due to the volume of messages we receive, we can’t answer each individually, but we read them all. And we incorporate many into our website and product development.
We greatly value our customers, and our first priority is to take care of you if you have a concern about an order you’ve placed or a product you’ve bought. We also value our community of cyclists. While we need to make a living, our company exists first and foremost to share the wonderful discoveries we’ve made. That’s why we do things that few other companies do—things like publishing Bicycle Quarterly, developing Nivex derailleurs, and sharing our best routes in the Cascades Mountains on our website. Let’s celebrate this vibrant community!