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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Posted on by Chris

Support feedback in real-time

This blog post continues to focus on our support quality and builds on the graphs and analysis from my post two weeks ago. This time however, the graphs are not static but updates in real-time! Read on for the exciting details.

Offering good support is a balancing act – a compromise. How much developer time should we allocate to support? Being software developers (a.k.a. Tech Geeks), we’ve always wondered how we can measure this balance. I then had an idea… In the last “Vote for a Feature” survey I decided to add the following question:

PaperCut’s support is done direct by the development team. Should the developers allocate more time to supporting customers, more time to development, or do we have the mix about right?

[a range to select]

It’s a bit of a loaded question and hence the results needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but still is sure to give us some level quantitative feedback (and the sample size is now large enough to pass a significance test, just to bring back bad memories for those of us that did Stats101 :-).

With over 20,000 organizations running PaperCut, our surveys collects a lot of data. I started crunching the figures so I could email the results around to our development team, but half way through I had an idea. I could do one better. How about a real-time graph for the world to view! Anyway, after a late night playing around with some Google Docs APIs I’ve come up with a solution.

The gauge below represents the current real-time results of the survey data:

  • If the gauge is at the top in the green range, we have the mix right.
  • If it leans to the right (positive), our users are suggesting that we should spend more effort on new development and a little less on support.
  • If it leans to the left (negative), we should spend more effort on support and and a little less on new development.

You’ll need a modern SVG enabled browser (e.g. Firefox) to view.

The gauge above is live. As of 27th of March, it’s at 4.76% suggesting we have the mix right. If you think the gauge should be leaning one way or the other, make sure you log in and express your vote! Anyway, too much time playing… back to adding new features to our print management software as the gauge currently suggests!

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Posted on by Chris

Election Time

We’ve just rolled a new “Vote for a Feature” survey form. This is your chance as a PaperCut user to influence our development priority and ensure your most demanded features are pushed to the top. To vote, log into PaperCut as an admin user, click on the About tab and under Application News, click Vote now and have your say.

The survey results are sent through to the development team in real-time and are discussed at our feature review meetings. Please take a few moments to full it out and let us know what you think!

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Posted on by Chris

We like graphs…

Rick, our first USA based member of the team started with us late last year. One of our goals was to ensure we had someone during US business hours to help speed up response times for customers in North America. We’ve recently run the stats across our support system and it’s great to see some movement. The graphs summarize our average response times. It’s consistently dropped over the years and much so over the past two months since Rick started. It’s now down to under 4 hours during weekdays. This is a great achievement seeing during this time our customer base has continue to grow at amazing rates!

Average Reply Time By Hour (last two months) Average Reply Time By Month (last few years) Response Time By Day of Week (last few months)

(click on a thumbnails to view)

I should also point out that this is 4 hours for a quality response – not an email from someone in an outsourced call center letting you know that “Your support issue has been elevated” and you end up getting a real response days or even weeks later. All our support is done by the developers that write the code. This offers a number of advantages to you and to us:

  • You get the correct answer first time. No buck passing, no question is too hard.
  • We, as developers, benefit from direct contact with our users. This open channel helps us turn your ideas into features faster (or your bugs into fixes faster!).

One of the downsides to this approach however is that trivial support questions get a bit annoying. Us developers love working on the hard problems, especially the ones that force us into source code and debug logs. The trivial RTFM questions get a little frustrating at times! If you’re reading this blog, here are a few tips that would help us out:

  • Always check the manual and search the knowledge base for answers. You’ll fine hundreds of common questions answered here.
  • Make sure you review the reporting problems KB article and include the information requested in your email. Simple things like the full version number, and/or logs are always a great help.
  • Try to put something interesting in the email support request! We love to hear little stories like how PaperCut helps you, what funny things have happened on your network over the years, or even simply what the weather is like in your end of the world! We’ve formed great friendships with many PaperCut users and it’s always fun to talk not just about computers and print management software.

Oh, and if you say you read our blog, you’re bound to get even better support 🙂

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