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The Best Customer Service Is Small

Blog

The Best Customer Service Is Small

Pierre Séguin

There's a little BBQ place that just opened, not too far from our house in South Etobicoke. It's called Appalachia Smoke House. Last Saturday, we decided to try it, encouraged by great Yelp reviews.

My fiancée Stasha has been eating vegetarian for a while, so she ordered a couple of different side dishes to eat as I devoured a giant brisket sandwich. The restaurant owner, who was working the cash, asked if we could take home the leftovers, because apparently the side orders were pretty big. Stasha asked if she could get half orders instead.

"Sure," he replied, "I'm the owner. I can do anything!"

Some of the goodness you'll find at Appalachia Smoke House.

Some of the goodness you'll find at Appalachia Smoke House.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meals and left quite happy (not overstuffed), sure to be return customers. 

Earlier that same day, we had a customer service inquiry of our own. Here's the timeline:

1:53 AM EST: A mom in Guam (14 hours ahead of us, so almost 5pm for her) emails our support address because one of her son's four routines won't run on the Pebble watch, despite having purchased our Brili Extra upgrade, which removes routine limits.

Note: the Brili help desk is currently staffed by yours truly, who was snoring in bed at the time.

6:17 AM EST: My internal clock, a parched throat and a full bladder conspire to awaken me. Without thinking, I reach for the iPhone, scan the inbox. Customer email! I hop out of bed.

6:27 AM EST: Urgent biological needs addressed, I send a reply asking for a bit more information so I can help troubleshoot the problem.

7:29 AM EST: Our customer in the South Pacific is apparently more of a night owl than I am. She replies with clarification including photos of her Pebble watch screens.

8:15 AM EST: Having received enough info to determine she has found a bug, I loop in Kyle and reply to our customer, letting her know that I'll extend her free trial of Brili Extra until the issue she's experiencing is resolved.

12:12 PM EST: Kyle texts me. He has isolated and corrected the bug, committed new code to the repository. For the technically curious, it was a memory allocation issue – a big deal with little devices like smart watches.

12:45PM EST: I pull Kyle's code from the git repository, build and test the app on my own Pebble and publish a new version on the app store.

12:48PM EST: I reply to our customer, asking her to update her Pebble and give the new version a try at her earliest convenience.

Total time to issue resolution: less than 11 hours. On a Saturday.

These stories show the kind of responsiveness and customer care that eludes a lot of companies when they get bigger. We've all been on the customer end of frustrating interactions where the front line wasn't empowered to make things right, or the organization had too many silos and layers to ensure the fix got prioritized.

Being small doesn't mean we can move as fast as we'd like on everything, but we care deeply about our customers and what they think of us. We are passionate about improving the lives of parents and kids and we're proud of our work. When someone shares a success story, it totally makes our day. When someone reports a concern or a bug, it really bugs us (pun intended) until we've addressed it.

We have big things ahead for Brili. For customer service, though, we will always strive to seem just as small as we are today.