Stopping the conveyer belt.

In this business we deal with independently owned small business people. In each of their markets they’re at the end of the food chain when it comes to supplier relationships, access to deals, negotiating strength and business acumen. Not in all cases but certainly most.

While it may seem harsh to talk of clients in this way, I’m not making the comments to offend but rather recognize a core challenge of small and even micro business. We are at the end of the food chain. And many of us are slipping away.

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Water water everywhere

One of our frustrations is people not reading what we say or listening to our words. While this discussion may seem arrogant please stay with me and decide at the end.

We publish our after hours numbers in our newsletter, by email, on our Help Cards, on our Advice Sheets, on our website and on support faxes.

Despite all this I personally get at least 10 calls a week from users saying they are calling me because they do not know how to reach after hours support people. They say they don’t get newsletters, do not have internet access, have never been sent advice sheets and don’t know what a Help Card is.

I check our database and find them listed with current correct details.

So we fax out a current newsletter with the after hours numbers circled. The fax goes through. And, sure enough, I get a call a day or two later from some of them saying they need help and that they don’t have the numbers. I say I faxed them and they say they never got it.

We focus on service, answer the questions and wish them well for the day.

So, we’ve taken to writing personally to the users involved and pleading with them to put the numbers (which NEVER change) in the wall next to the phone. If they’re local to one of our offices we visit and do it ourselves. We reckon there’s no choice if we are going to get them using the infrastructure we have put in place to help them.

We have an excellent support infrastructure with fifteen of our team involved full time on any day of the week. This team is backed by 100 pages of current advice sheets – accessed from our website. More than half the calls which come into our help desk are self resolvable thanks to advice on the advice sheets.

Our goal is to respond to every call for help within 15 minutes maximum. This is hindered by people who do not follow our advice. One option we have is to put a cap on calls per year. We don’t do this. Never have. We’ve said we would do it but never did. Gee I wish we had though – to make people accountable for us training new staff over the phone rather than them doing it themselves.

Of course we’d love it if people never had to call – if our software was that perfect and our help and advice sheets that amazing. We’re human. We get it wrong. We make the road more complex than it needs to be sometimes.

So, where’s all this going? We’re looking for ways to make support even more self accessible – so people rely on us less. This means better content accessed in more useful forms. We’re also looking for ways of bringing the fringe dwellers – those who don’t file things and don’t stick our numbers on their walls – to today’s world so that their life is better.

We have 2,000 customers and it’s our goal to ensure that every one of them has an enjoyable and useful experience through their partnership with us.

2005 Kick Off

We held our 2005 kick off at the Park Hyatt on Sunday January 17. It’s a good affair with the evening taken up with a trivia quiz. When it got to the music questions one employee (Jason Maughan) showed us his skills as this video shows. Here.

Calm before the storm

With our last update being well settled in our Help Desk is not that busy – taking just 100 or so calls a day. And since we’re just over a week away from shipping the next update we’re all aware that the calm will only be short lived.

No matter how much we test and re test updates generate a 300% to 500% increase in call traffic. It seems that everything which goes wrong with a system following the installation is blamed on an update.

So, we’re enjoying the calm and using the opportunity to call users we have not heard from in a while – offering new advice sheets and helping with any minor issues they have not wanted to call about.

We’re also catching up on going through backups people have sent in. Checking a backup and researching any problem reported when the backup was sent usually takes a couple of hours. It’s all part of the service.

In the beginning

This is the first entry in our first blog. Hurrah! So our communication about all things Tower takes a new life.

This will be a place of deeper insights to our world and into our opinions.

We’ve started the blog more as a means of experimenting with this new medium. Since we own a newsagency we felt we should better understand this new phenomenon which could impact newspaper and magazine sales.