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.