One of the things we understood in a very early stage of the outbrain product life is the space we are acting in and the huge influence it can have on the company. We are in the zone of the reporters. We consider every blogger as a reporter with massive audience. The truth is that every blogger can start a bad WOM (word of mouth) on us which will be very hard to revert.
One of our biggest missions is "stay on the positive side of the WOM".
So we took few considerations to do it:
- We are monitoring our WOM closely. We have a google alert on us as well as twitter alert. So we know of any potential WOM, good or bad, at the time it starts.
- We put great effort on quality. Formal QA as well as software automated unit test that are running upon every commit to the SVN.
But as we all know, no software is 100% perfect and there will always be glitches. Especially if you are acting in such dynamic space as the blogosphere, there is no way to predict all the HTML variations to act on.
The way we handled that is to create a "support culture" within the company.
We initiated a support forum based on getsatisfection, which is a great tool for interacting with your support needed. We are all registered as mail subscribers for every issue being raised there. It includes CEO as well as the latest engineer that just joined. We are all equally responsible for our support responsiveness.
When needed, an engineer will drop anything he is currently doing in order to give support promptly.
We get very high appreciation from the bloggers on this.
The bottom line is that we convert potential criticizers to big fans of us. Since they are all reporters, we count on them to stand on our side for every nasty criticism that will come in the future.
Support is a tough, routine job which is basically not as cool and innovative as other design and development work. However, it is so rewarding when you get the warm words of a blogger that you were willing to assist him. We sometimes find ourselves helping bloggers with other nasty widgets that crap their blogs.
Our ability to give this great support, is mostly due to the team members themselves that took it as a personal mission. So thanks Daniel, Uriel, Tom, Gabi, Itai, John and mostly Rotem. You are all doing great job on this.
BTW: this post is written on my IPod touch. Also great story of customer support.