Last week, we hosted a live customer webinar, 'Recent Updates and Innovations from Act-On' that outlined our continued investments in product and customer success initiatives designed specifically with you, our customers in mind.
Act-On's COO, Bill Pierznik shared a Q1 executive update. Kevin Williams, our SVP of Customer Success, provided important updates on customer support and the latest training offerings. And Olaf Kowalik, Director of Product Management talked about our product feedback process designed to provide greater visibility and input into the Act-On platform.
Below is a recap of the discussion as well as Q&A we wanted to share with those of you who couldn't make it.
Thank you for your continued partnership,
Kate Johnson, CEO
Thanks for being customers of Act-On and trusting us with your business. In the spirit of ongoing communication and dialog, you'll be hearing more from us as we move forward.
As many of you know, we reorganized the company in early January to better align with our commitment to focus on you, our customers. We decided it was critical that our customer-facing functions such as Sales, Support, Customer Success and Services be co-located both physically and metaphorically with our Product and Engineering teams, with the ultimate goal of establishing a more robust customer feedback loop.
To that end, we took some steps to move all of our operations to our North America headquarters in Portland, Oregon and our EMEA headquarters in Reading, UK. I am very pleased to say that as of today, this transition is complete and we are fully staffed in all areas of the business.
I also recognize that this was not without some challenges, including some bumps in the transition of our tech support organization. If any of you experienced this in the form of longer wait times or other support delays, I sincerely apologize. But I'm also here to tell you that this will soon be a thing of the past as we are in the final stages of ramping up all of our employees in all areas.
Kevin and Olaf are new to the organization and represent our hyper-focused approach on customers and ensuring you are getting the most value from our solutions. Just as importantly, they are eager and committed to actively listening to all of you because you are our best advisors. Everyone we've brought into the business since the reorganization approaches their role with the understanding that the customer must be at the forefront of everything we do. Thank you again for your business. We look forward to working with you to further your success.
I'm three months into my role at Act-On and learning quickly. I've had the opportunity to speak with over 50 customers so far and really appreciate hearing what we are doing well and where we can improve. With that in mind, I'm happy to share some of the recent improvements we're making on the customer journey front!
Launching Act-On's Account Management Model
I'm getting lots of questions that go beyond how to use the Act-On platform and have heard that you don't always know who to contact for questions outside of support. So, to solve that, we are in the midst of rolling out a new Account Management model so that you have a single point of contact moving forward - this is brand new to Act-On and we are about three weeks in. If your Account Manager hasn't done so already, he or she will be reaching out to you soon and will regularly touch base to ensure you're getting the most value out of Act-On and that we are actively contributing to your success.
In listening to our customers, it's clear that many of you purchased, and continue to renew based on our level of customer support. We are proud of this accomplishment and are working to improve the quality of support even further. One of the core issues we identified in the customer support experience is an issue we call the 'black box'; we were quick to respond, but for many complex issues, we didn't always get back to you for complete resolution.
To solve this we physically moved the support and engineering teams so they are now located together. This did involve consolidating personnel to our Portland office and regretfully resulted in an unintended customer impact with delayed response times. I want to apologize for this as our goal was to make it a seamless transition for our customers. I'm happy to report, that at this time we are fully staffed (many of whom relocated), and are in the final stages of training and ramping up our new employees.
Coming in June...New Support Packages
We will roll out our new support packages in June, which include:
- 24x7 support for critical issues for all Customers
- Business hours now cover Monday-Friday in APAC (3pm PT Sunday-5pm PT Friday)
- Current Premier customers will automatically upgrade to Gold support, which comes with improved service offerings such as, a named escalation manager, improved SLAs, and a dedicated point of contact
- Current Premier Plus customers will move to Platinum support, which again is a higher level of support with improved SLAs, and additional deliverables to help maximize the value out of your investment with Act-On.
Strategic Guidance & Training
Marketers are increasingly being asked to do more with less. To address those of you who want more strategic guidance, beyond the technical how-tos of using the Act-On platform, we've invested in additional customer education and services to better meet your needs.
- Boot Camps - In addition to our popular monthly regional Boot Camps, we've recently launched high-quality Virtual Boot Camps via video conferencing for those looking for a more cost-effective option. These Boot Camps are great for new users, new team members, or existing users who might benefit from a refresher.
- Act-On's Professional Services offerings, whether directly through Act-On, or our Partners, are available for those of you seeking more strategic guidance or staff augmentation.
Act-On is very successful as a stand-alone product, but it becomes even more valuable when integrated with other products like your website and CRM. We want to be sure you have the most streamlined, automated process across your entire marketing technology landscape so that you can maximize the value of your investment.
Investments in Act-On Knowledge Resources
We are also investing heavily in online resources to ensure that we are meeting you in the channel you prefer. We want to make it easier to find the answer you need, where you want it. To that end, we are continuing to invest even more in the following channels.
III) Product Feedback Process Improvements, Olaf Kowalik, Director of Product
I joined Act-On back in March and have had the opportunity to talk to about 40 individual customers from over a dozen different companies since then. I am grateful for the conversations, have learned a lot, and collected some great feedback already. I look forward to more conversations and have set a personal goal of connecting with a number of customers each week for frontline feedback. I've asked my team of product managers to do the same. Some of the ways we're creating a dialog between customers and product include:
- Community product forum engagement; thank you for contributing to the conversation. My team and I will be even more engaged in the discussions going forward.
- Adding a feature voting process in the Community (coming in June) where you'll be able to not only post a new feature request but also up-vote and add your support to what somebody else proposed on the Community.
- In-product surveys specifically focused on product features to better understand your highest priorities.
- Tracking feature requests and reflecting them back to you to make sure we're hearing and responding to your needs.
Recent Top Feature Requests
I've read through all feature requests submitted since 2016 and consolidated some of the themes. Here are some of the top feature requests submitted to date:
- RSS-to-Email feature enhancements
- Salesforce connector failure notification
- Global search for contacts
- Consolidated view of a contact
- Support for sub-folders
- More granular permissions
- Drag-and-drop organization for list items
We will continue to follow up on these requests internally as well as feed these into the Community voting process and/or some in-product surveys to get a better sense of your highest priorities and then push them into our product development pipeline. Keep the great ideas coming!
Opportunities to Connect with the Act-On Product Team
I firmly believe that an active partnership between Act-On and you, our customers yields the best product. To that end, we need your ideas and feedback to help guide where we invest our time and focus our energy in product development. We want to connect with you so that the product accurately reflects your needs. Please accept an open invitation to connect with us and share your feedback. Some great opportunities to participate include:
- Usability testing
- Product feedback with clickable prototypes
- Product feedback with controlled availability features
- Product Roadmap presentations
I mentioned on the call that Kevin and Olaf were specifically hired because they embody the customer-focused approach we have made a top priority here at Act-On. It is our goal not only to be more responsive but to also proactively engage you, our customers, better and more frequently than before.
As we move forward, you will see more communication from us in all areas of the business because you are our best advisors. Please continue to provide your honest feedback as to where we are delighting you and where we can improve.
Thank you for your support and partnership.
Bill Pierznik, COO
Q: Are you planning on making any changes to the phone support?
Kevin: No, we are not. We believe that phone support and our ability to offer phone support is unique to Act-On and important to our customers. It is something we are looking to continue as one of our competitive differentiators. We are committed to investing in the additional channels I mentioned earlier.
Q: If I submitted a feature request in 2017 or earlier will it still be considered?
Olaf: Yes. I've gone through and reviewed all of these and have categorized and recorded them. The product team looks at them each time we consider new product updates.
Q: Will anyone acknowledge my feature request on the Community once I've posted it?
Olaf: Yes. We haven't been as good at this in the past as I would like. Moving forward, my team and I will be more engaged on the Community, replying and contributing to the discussions. You can definitely expect more engagement from us on the Community. We recognize it is a great channel for communication with customers.
Q: How will I know if my feature request has been selected to be part of the product?
Olaf: You'll see your feature request be up-voted and we'll also reply back in the original post. You'll also see what's been updated in the published release notes every two weeks as well as notifications in the monthly customer newsletter.
Q: I see Salesforce connector notifications is a product enhancement, are you working on this for Dynamics as well?
Olaf: Thanks for the suggestion! Although most of the Community requests were for salesforce connector failure notifications, this is a great suggestion and we'll explore whether we can make this a generic feature across all connectors.
Q: When will phone support be available again?
Kevin: Phone support is definitely still available! We are fully committed to providing high-quality support through all of our channels, whether that is online through our Knowledge Base, our Community, online inquiries, or over the phone.
Q: Will there be any enhancements to the Lead Scoring capabilities? Such as the ability to set more custom actions?
Olaf: We have some ideas about improving Lead Scoring--would you please post more details on the Community? Are you asking about additional lead scoring rules which are currently called 'general behavior'?
Q: Have you thought about implementing a LinkedIn Prospecting feature? I know for us it would be very beneficial for our business.
Olaf: Can you add some more details on this request to the Community feature request forum? What type of prospecting activities do you envision for LinkedIn?
Q: Over the past few months there has been a drastic increase in the hold times and responsiveness of the phone support. This is a big difference in how Act-On used to operate and makes the overall relationship less valuable due to this loss of differentiation from other vendors we have worked with. What are you doing to correct this?
Kevin: First, I would like to sincerely apologize for this experience. We have finished relocating and hiring personnel, and are now in the final phases of training and catching back up on our backlog of inquiries so that you can continue to receive the differentiated level of support you deserve and have come to expect from Act-On.
Q: Is there a planned release date for updates to the reporting functions? E.g. Reporting that is topical, outside of setting up in Data Studio.
Olaf: Can you add some more details to the Community feature request forum? What do you have in mind when in terms of 'topical' reporting? Are there specific types of reports that you'd like to see in Act-On?
Q: Is your support team back up and functioning at appropriate response times after your recent office closure and consolidation?
Kevin: Almost! I really appreciate your patience. We have finished relocating and hiring personnel, and are now in the final phases of training and catching back up on our backlog of inquiries. I am confident the level of support you've come to expect and deserve will be fully restored very soon.
Q: Thanks for acknowledging the recent support issues. But now that you are fully staffed, can you commit to going back and resolving all open tickets?
Kevin: Yes, we are in the final phases of doing exactly this! Our expectation is that this reorganization will also help with addressing and resolving some of these longer-term underlying issues with Dynamics as well.
Q: Where can we access the Virtual Boot Camps?
Kevin: You can find more information, including a listing of all of the upcoming regional and virtual Act-On Boot Camps here