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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

No pain, no gain

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Pain 100% sauce by wstryderWe’ve gone through hundreds of software implementations, and there are always challenges – sometimes it’s just time and effort, other times it’s a frustration, and occasionally a failure. 

One of the main reasons that we’re excited about Skedsheet is that we want to eliminate “implementation” altogether by having a software utility that’s easy enough to just get going.  But, it’s still on my mind…frequently.  Any time you decide to change something in your life or business, the process requires effort, and maybe a little pain. 

There are some steps you can take to make sure that when you’re making a change (buying software, using new equipment, changing pricing, or introducing new products), it goes smoothly.

  1. Get everyone on board early.  If your coworkers and employees don’t know what kind of change is coming, they will revolt. The earlier they’re involved in the process, the better.
  2. Be ready to break things.  Making a change to your business means breaking the way you do things today – even if it’s already broken.  This is scary, but it’s necessary because you can’t just add to what you’re already doing – that doesn’t fix things.
  3. Set deadlines.  If you don’t have a deadline for getting software implemented, it’s really easy to put it off another day. Setting hard deadlines and sharing it with your coworkers is a good way to make sure you’re accountable.
  4. Uninterrupted time.  This is probably one of the hardest, especially if you’ve got the responsibility for changing your business and the authority to actually do it… your time is in short supply.
  5. Remember the goal. Every so often you need to take a deep breath and remember why you’re making a change.  It’s to fix the problems you had before or allow you to do something new.

It’s not foolproof, because there are always going to be unexpected problems that come up in a software implementation, but having a little planning and perspective will help.


Written by Harry Hollander

September 16, 2009 at 8:28 am

Posted in Customer Service

You’ve got to set expectations

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Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. 
     –P.T. Barnum

My washing machine is leaking.  It’s under warrantee and I’ve left two messages and sent an email…today.  All I want is a call back or some kind of response.  It’s okay if you can’t come out to fix it this week and I don’t mind if  there’s going to be a charge. 

But, every minute I wait I get frustrated for no reason.  On top of that, I’m cursing, getting worked up, and won’t recommend you to my friends.

I understand why this can happen – I’ve been guilty of not following up when I say I will, not being clear about what I’m doing, and mostly taking on more things than I should.

We try to treat our customers as we’d like to be treated.  No matter how you slice it, most of the time it comes down to one thing:

Set the expectations from the beginning and keep communicating.

We keep improving how we set expectations, but it really comes down to being organized enough to tell your customers what’s going on.  If you’re selling something, you need to end every conversation with a plan for what will happen next. 

If you promise to make a phone call, you need to follow through – especially if it’s uncomfortable or bad news.  Even if you don’t know the answers you’re being asked, just be honest – rather than making up excuses, most people are happy with the answer:  “I’m really sorry.  I don’t know.  I’ll try to help.”

After four calls, I finally caught someone live on the phone.  “Didn’t you know?  Our tech is scheduled to come to your house to fix your machine at 10 tomorrow”.

Written by Harry Hollander

July 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

Posted in Customer Service

How to make sure your customers never come back

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no escapeAbout five years ago we started using WebEx for technical support and sales demos. They offered a 3-month trial to try it out, and the contract renewed automatically for an additional year if we didn’t cancel.

After using it for a bit, we were having trouble getting users on the other end of the phone to figure out how to click the right buttons to share their screen and keyboard with us. We found another service called GoToMeeting, which did what we wanted, was a little cheaper, and had big obvious buttons for “Show my screen” and “Give keyboard & mouse control” which makes life much simpler when you’re telling someone over the phone what to click.

So we canceled our WebEx contract 3 weeks before it expired, and immediately started using GoToMeeting.

A few weeks later we got a bill from WebEx for $5000 for the entire next year of service! It turns out they had some fine print in the contract that said you had to cancel 30 days before the contract expired. (So their 3-month trial was really a 2-month trial, but they didn’t call it that.) We told them that was ridiculous, and we weren’t going to pay. We had our lawyer review the contract, and he said they had no basis for charging us, and not to pay the bill.

Eventually WebEx handed the bill off to a collection agency, and we told him why we weren’t paying it. He understood and never called again.

The sad thing for WebEx is that we’re going to be paying for this type of screen sharing software for probably the next 20 years. (It’s been 5 years so far, and we use it every day.) They likely have already addressed the issues we had with the service, and are probably very competitive with GoToMeeting. But I’ll never know or care, because I don’t want to do business with them again. All because some sales manager they had five years ago thought trying to trick people into paying for an extra year of service was a good idea.

At Moraware we have always had a simple philosophy about this: if you’re using our service you should pay us, and if you’re not using it, don’t pay. That’s why we have a 90 day money back guarantee, and you can cancel any time without paying us anything more.

I understand the temptation to lock people into contracts: you want to recoup your sales and support costs as part of the initial contract. But if a customer signs up for your service then cancels quickly, who’s fault is it? You either screwed up the sales process by not ensuring you were a good fit for the customer’s needs, or you have problems with your product that makes your initial support costs too high. Either way, you need to fix your own process rather than trying to pass the problem off to your customers.

Written by Ted Pitts

June 11, 2009 at 5:03 am

Posted in Customer Service

The best customer support is no customer support

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PhoneWe work hard to make JobTracker support above and beyond what our customers expect, and occasionally we succeed.  I’m not sure if this is the Golden Rule, but we try.  What we try to do is:

1) Before a customer buys our software we give them a realistic expectation of what will be involved in implementation.

2) Make outgoing support calls to encourage our new customers to get started and call us for help.

3) Have the salesperson call the new customer to make sure they’re happy with the support they’re getting.

4) Different people learn in different ways, so we have a variety of video an printed help available on our website.

5) Being available by phone or email most of the time.

Providing this level of service has been instrumental to any success that we’ve had.  The way that we think about our business is that we want lots of happy customers who tell their friends about us.  The support we provide is usually instant and provided by someone who’s an expert in our software and pretty good at  understanding our customers business, so we avoid several pitfalls like these that Seth Godin talks about.

But at the same time, getting started with enterprise software is incredibly hard because it requires implementation.  To implement software that changes your business, you need to:

  1. Review the business problems you intend to solve with everyone involved.
  2. Designate an implementation manager who understands the business
  3. Allocate time to develop a plan and implement software.
  4. Phase the implementation so it’s not overwhelming, and set deadlines.
  5. Train all of the users… both at the beginning and as an ongoing process.

With skedsheet, we want to skip all of this.  How?  Instead of building enterprise software or even “software for scheduling”, we’re just building a “utility” that mashes together a spreadsheet and a calendar.  By narrowing the scope of what we do, we want to make so that if you’re already using excel and outlook (or some web-version of either of those), there’s nothing new to learn.

This is good for the customer – you don’t need to think too hard about what you’re doing to still get value.  And, by making a scheduling spreadsheet that’s easy to use and share, it should be good for us – we can offer great customer service by eliminating the need to contact us at all.

Written by Harry Hollander

March 2, 2009 at 9:43 am

Posted in Customer Service