September 16, 2020

Our Growing Team!

David Child @DaveChild

One of my biggest challenges is that my customers are mostly (85%) in North America. I, however, am in the UK, as is my awesome first employee, who handles customer success and copywriting at the moment.

So we can have a situation where someone on the west coast of the USA reaches out for help, and we don't even see the query for 16 hours. We can respond to a ticket immediately upon seeing it, and so can the customer, and yet a conversation can feel stilted, slow and the customer can be left feeling like we don't care.

The other big challenge we have is ensuring that we listen to the customers and are including customer feedback in our planning and product development processes. We don't have a lot of time in the day to do the kind of proactive outreach I'd like, and I struggle to look at things from the customers' perspective often enough.

The solution to both of these problems was obvious - we needed another person, working North American time, dedicated to customer success and becoming the voice of the customer in the business.

And as of this week, we have found that person - a thoroughly delightful, enthusiastic, experienced, spreadsheet-obsessed Canadian. We couldn't be more excited, this opens up so many opportunities and should make a huge difference to how our customers see us in future.

Hiring our first fully remote person has been, and continues to be, a complicated process. How do you advertise a job where the potential pool of people spans two continents and 35 or so countries? How do you pick a salary range? How do you bring them on board, logistically? How do you ensure they don't lose out on national employee rights and benefits by working for an overseas company? How do you cover yourself when your new employee is based thousands of miles away? How do you manage them, when your work days only overlap for an hour?

Some of these are questions we've already managed to answer. Some we are working on now. And there will be more to come in the coming months. When our new team member has settled down, I'll write about the process and the pitfalls so everyone else can avoid repeating my mistakes!

Anyway, this felt like a big enough deal to mark as a major milestone. What started in 2012 as a few lines of PHP I wrote while learning to code is now a fully-fledged and growing business with employees in multiple countries.

  1. 2

    Hiring remote is hard!

    Zapier has a collection of blog posts about running a remote company, it's very good.

    What I do in a small team is:

    1. Insist of the vast majority of communications happening in groups. Some people will try and resolve everything with private messages and that doesn't work well when it's remote, because other people aren't even aware a conversation happened.

    2. All hands meeting every week. 24 hours ahead of time I write down a detailed agenda, and people comment and discuss all the topics on it ahead of time so they come in prepared.

    3. One on One every week with everyone working directly under me. It's really important to facilitate communication. In this call I tell people stuff I was happy with and stuff I was unhappy with, and they do the same. This is just a 5-15 minute talk about performance and systems, it's not meant to be the only call that week.

    4. End of day. I use Geekbot, a slack integration, to send out a series of questions to everyone towards the end of their day. They will talk about what they did that day, what they will do the next day, whats holding them back, stuff like that.

    5. Other random things are, insist on a great video call set up. They need a good mic, ethernet connection, quiet area. They will be on a number of video calls a week and it quickly gets frustrating dealing with problems.

    Extensive, up to date, written onboarding material. This is hard to do if the company is new and processes aren't nailed down, but even more than in a regular company having a document they can refer to will make onboarding better and them more comfortable.

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