The increase in business we’ve experienced is amazing, and we’re very thankful for it. Last month, we saw an 84% increase in sales over October, but that increase was not without its side-effects. I was often working late into the night after Beautiful went to bed, while we were watching TV, and more time than I cared to do on the weekends. The one thing we don’t want to do at this point is hire another person because of the obvious dip in earnings per person, so it was time to think about efficiency.
I’m becoming pretty darn good friends with our Creative Architect, James Dalman, in the last few weeks. Since he ran his own business for the better part of 20 years, he knows what things will drag you down, waste your time, and generally suck the life out of you. We have been spending 2-5 hours per week on Skype and the phone going over routines, common issues, standardized wording for responses, and so much more. When I get in one of my “I’m going to rip that person’s hands off so they can never type again” moods, he responds in my place with something a tad (read: WAAAAY) more customer-friendly.
Today, with Cory gone and an empty inbox early in the day, I set off to improve our support forum. Between the forum and e-mail, that is where I spend 85%-90% of my time doing Company work. They are inter-mixed, too — I get e-mail notifications of forum topics, and I get topics resolved via e-mail when I have to request login information to peoples’ sites. It’s all very convoluted. My main gripe with our current forum software is that the notifications come through with just a link to the thread, whether it is new or a reply, and if you haven’t checked the thread before someone replies to (and possibly resolves) the thread, I don’t know until I click the link and go to the board. Also, the moderators didn’t have the ability to modify the threads in the same way as me to indicate that they were resolved. In the end, I had to read every single thread, even though I have 5 other moderators helping me.
I found some new software to run our boards on, setup a new database on the host, slapped the software in a new folder and imported our existing forum database into it for a trial run. I had a major snag with the host permissions that I had to create a helpdesk ticket for, and I still can’t get the e-mails to send with the address I want them to, but it is already leaps and bounds better than our old boards. Even as I am typing this, I keep going back and checking my e-mail to see if they have a solution for my e-mail question. Nope. Nothing yet.
Just to make sure I’m on the right track with heading this direction with a change in forum software after almost 6,000 posts, I sent our moderators a link to the boards to check out and I already heard back from one of them who said he’s already a fan of the software and is fully behind the change if I go all the way with it.