Yesterday was my Customer Day

Customer Day is the day that I spend once per quarter answering support questions and problems. First problem I had. There isn’t enough problems to keep me busy. I really struggled to find and grab cards that I could solve. Second problem was that the questions that were coming through were for the most part about store transactions and nothing to do with our products and all about how they bought and paid for them. And the worst part was to resolve these questions it typically involved multiple confusing steps and they sometimes crossed multiple people involved in the chain. The third big gotcha for the day was our lack of process for support. We are not repeatable and as such we can’t improve. We have to focus on process. Definitely not what I was expecting in terms of lessons learned, but mission accomplished for customer day! I absolutely learned something I didn’t know before.

Now the rules of customer day are that you can have up to three observations from the day. I only have TWO “groups” of observations. Yes, a bit of a cheat...

First Observation: WE NEED MORE PROCESSES. In particular;

  • The introduction to Customer Day for the person signing up for it has to be way tighter, scheduled, and with explicit instructions. It is far too loose and vague. I’m the founder and if I can’t follow it how is the brand new person going to get it?
  • At the start of the day we need one defined process that everyone does to confirm that nothing was missed in Intercom, Community and Zendesk from the day before. A simple start of the day method and check list that is proven, and everyone follows, and by everyone doing it there is no possible way that anything goes longer than 24 hours past the time it should have been followed up on. Right now everyone has an ad hoc process.
  • If someone requests priority support services; call, remote, etc. we have a standard process for confirming that they are subscribed, or not, including how to verify if their conversation isn’t authenticated and as such not flagged as priority support. Right now it appears to be ad hoc in application, and how done.
  • We need more defined clarification about what we will and won’t support. We are spending time trying to help users with very old hardware, who don’t have priority support, and it is very unlikely that we will succeed to make it work, and in either case there is no business model to support this effort. We shouldn’t be doing this.
  • We have a process whereby once per month one person reviews all online help, top to bottom, word for word, and we make any corrections or changes. Our documentation should never be out of date due to mistakes by more than one month ever. I found a fairly obvious error.
  • We have a process each month that reconciles all questions received from Users about that’s month’s recurring invoices and we determine how we can proactively, not reactively, answer them for next month. The number of questions received should be continually declining.
  • We need a process, an automated way for booking training. There is a lot of back and forth for scheduling and it looks like some things get missed in the shuffle. We need an online calendar of some form that a User can directly book their own training times in. We get notified. If they aren’t confirmed as paid we let them know and put the session on hold till cleared.

Second Observation: The overwhelming majority of traffic and noise is due to Store transactions, questions and friction. Almost all of it can be eliminated by doing the following:

  • Invoice links require no authentication. Accounting departments can’t get to our invoices to pay them.
  • Invoices have a link on them to get our W8. They should never have to contact us. The W8 should be available on the account page and checkout cart as well.
  • Invoices have links to “more info” on the products on the invoice. The user can find out what they purchased. They don’t have to ask.
  • From the cart that User should be able to apply for on account credit and if they complete the online form we immediately give them a low dollar limit. The form is then queued for review and their credit can either be increased or closed if we don’t feel they are credit worthy for further purchases. Or, if what they purchase exceeds the low credit limit we let it go through but hold shipment till approved, or reject.
  • Using the same method, Users can upload their tax exempt form, and their transaction is immediately exempt. We review all forms submitted once per day and if a form is rejected we reject the tax exemption for that account for any further transactions. If the purchase exceeds a certain threshold we hold it till approved but we don’t block it from completing.
  • From the account page the User can request a refund of a particular invoice, they enter the reason, and hit submit. It is queued for review by a designated person once per day and if approved the person hits refund, full or partial, and it is automatically refunded, User notified, and noted on their account page. No going to Stripe. No Intercom conversations.
  • The above means that one person, in non-interrupt mode, reviews on account applications, then tax exempt forms, and then refunds, once per day, probably for at the very most 30 minutes, and all of those interruptions for all of the above are eliminated from the day.
  • If a credit card fails we show everything we know, everything, there is absolutely no reason to go check Stripe. And we further include a note that we are Canadian and they should confirm if they can buy from Canada.
  • We include a note on the cart check out and on our invoices for those clients paying by credit card that we are Canadian, and some US credit card companies will charge an International Fee, and that we can’t do anything about it.
  • Recipients of invoice notifications and invoices can opt out of receiving further notices. We don’t manually do it for them.
  • The customer is able to manage and change which credit card they have on file with no assistance from us.
  • The customer is able to use fixed billing, by display, not metered, and pay for one year’s worth at a time. They don’t want to deal with monthly bills. All products in the Store must have a monthly and yearly option.
  • When looking up invoices in the store, checking out carts, and other activities, it can take up to 8 seconds for pages to load. Needs to be faster.

All in all an awesome Customer Day. And here is the really powerful thing. All of my coworkers do the same thing once per quarter, and all of us are looking to find problems, the friction, the improvements, the ah ha moments, about what our customers want and what they are experiencing. This isn’t a one-time thing, by one person, this never goes away, this continuous investigation and improvement is just that, CONTINUOUS.