Freshbooks execs listen and respond to customers

What’s one of the secrets to success for a startup company fine tuning its offering to respond to customer needs? At Third Tuesday Toronto , Michael McDerment and Saul Colt of Freshbooks said that the top executives of the company regularly take support calls from customers.

This was “born out of necessity,” says Freshbooks founder McDerment. “I read the first three and a half years of every support request that came through. We were a pretty small company at that time.” Now that the company is growing, new support systems are being put in place. But, McDerment insists that the involvement of senior executives in support calls “is conscious and it is something we’re going to hold on to. … Just to ground you, it’s huge. Because otherwise, you start thinking, ‘we don’t need to change the products. We just need to sell more.’ …“ I’m doing more support now than I ever used to because I’m afraid of losing that touch.”

Here’s the clip. (Yes, the lighting is bad. But the content of what Michael and Saul were saying was just so strong, I really wanted to share it. We’ll get better lighting for future Third Tuesday events.)

But execs aren’t expected to be up to speed on technical issues, are they? How does Freshbooks ensure that their execs have the technical knowledge to respond to the support calls they take? Says McDerment, “For the most part, tech support for us is answering simple questions and holding people’s hands. … We build teams … a marketing person, a development person, a management person all doing support on the same day. So they get to spend time together, communicate, collaborate, get things done, get all the answers within a team.”

Now, you may be sceptical about whether the company actually lives this every day. Well, spontaneous validation was provided by Connie Crosby , a Freshbooks client, who spoke up to offer her story about how Saul Colt had responded to her support request late on a weekend night.


I’ll post more Freshbooks at Third Tuesday Toronto clips over the next week.

  • Mike

    So obviously a setup having a “fresh books” client in the audience.

  • Hi Mike:

    No, it wasn’t a set-up. I have been attending Third Tuesday events in Toronto for a number of months, long before I decided to set up my own consulting shop and before I started using Freshbooks. I’ve been part of this group and usually ask questions at the meetings, so they know me. They actually really put me on the spot with this question since I kind of expected there to be other clients in the audience!

    The session was also covered by Dave Fleet earlier on his blog.

    I’ve just started using Freshbooks and happen to be a fan.


  • Hi Mike,

    I can vouch for Connie on this one. She’s not a plant. I actually volunteered with her on an event that we used Freshbooks for (was that the one you meant that night, Connie?).



  • No, actually I’ve started using Freshbooks for the new little consultancy I have started. That’s when I contacted Saul for help, when I was using it for the first time. I’m using it at the free beginner level so far and love it. I won’t hesitate to upgrade when I have enough clients and invoicing.

    Thanks for vouching for me, Dave. 🙂

  • Thanks Connie and Dave for your comments. I was sure that Connie’s intervention was totally spontaneous and resulted from an unanticipated question from Michael O’Connor Clarke. Third Tuesday is all about authenticity and we would never stage anything fake.

  • I can assure you that Connie was not planted to say nice things because if I was to ever plant someone I would insist that they mention how handsome I am….at least once 🙂

    Saul Colt
    Head of Magic

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