Similar to my stabilizing health the strides that we have made in improving customer service are only beginning to have an impact. Over the summer the time and effort that we made to improve our customer service infrastructure made the situation noticeably worse while we spent time and energy to integrate the software and built the new web site. Given that my health was quite a drag on productivity at the time I had to make a lot of hard choices about our short-term priorities versus long-term improvements.
Over the summer we installed a new Customer Relationship Management system (“CRM”). There are substantial benefits to the system, which I hope has become apparent to many that have had experience with it. The system allows us to better organize and prioritize service requests. Within each “ticket” all of our correspondence with each client is aggregated and has a more personal feel. I will admit that the idea of “ticket” and the way that the system randomly picks the ticket IDs can give everyone more of a deli counter, take-a-number feel but there were limits to what we could change. The most significant benefit of the system is that we are finally free of the side effects of SPAM filters blocking our e-mails.
There is also a lot more that the CRM system is capable of that we will begin to take advantage of over the next 18 months. Eventually the system will be accessible through your login on the main site. There are still some technical hurdles that we have to overcome before we can make that a reality. The system will also begin to handle our general inquiries in the future as well by having the system automatically generate tickets for customers through our e-mail system. We haven’t begun to use this capability yet because I still have to understand the system and its inner workings better. There is also a knowledge base function that I have started filling in with information that I will continue working on after the holidays that will make answers frequently asked questions more easily accessible.
New Web Site
As many of you have noticed we have launched an updated version of our web site. I hope that you have found it easier to navigate and to use. We made the navigation simpler and have divided our watch collection into two easier to reference groups. The Specialist Series which is our sub-$1,000 watches and The Professional Series which is our higher end line. The differences between the collections will be more evident over the next year as we make adjusts to the offerings. The biggest improvement to the system is one that will likely go un-noticed by anyone that doesn’t build web pages for a living but represents a significant improvement in efficiency. The web site is now almost entirely “dynamic”, which means that I can update the site with a click of a mouse, finally fixing the mistakes of our original web developer. The old site was entirely “static”, requiring a lot of software coding to make the smallest change to anything. This improvement represents an exponential reduction in the time required to update our web site. That may not sound impressive but when you are literally drowning in work every day counts.
The new web site took significantly longer to launch than originally advertised. The site had originally been slated to go live in July and after substantial delays I had to take a much more active role in the finishing the site in September and October. The new site is a critical part of our long-term strategy to stabilize the operational portion of the company thereby improving customer service and the overall Mk II experience.
In short with playing catch-up on the production, sending out the Kingston parts to assembly, and making improvements to our systems left me with a choice. I could A) keep up with the demands for updates, B) work on watches and the system or C) maintain my health but only choose 2 of the 3. I chose B and C and have relied on Winnie and used the blog to keep the communication lines open. However in the last few months I have come to a conclusion. I have had to make these kinds of choices one too many times and that prompted me to take a hard look at Mk II.
I have some pics to post of the process for the Kingston that I prepped but will have to post later this Monday. There is a significant quantity watches out for assembly and I am in the process of preparing more. I have a few e-mails out the assembler looking for updates but no word yet. This is the busiest time of the year for assemblers. In the mean time, in addition to continuing to prepare more watches for assembly, I am doing my best to clear the backlog in preparation for the return of the Kingstons.