I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I love Spiceworks.  I think the 2M+ members are among the best and brightest in IT.  And what I love more is that what you get when you read the forums is a rough and tumble in terms of raw information.

A few days ago, there was an interesting post concerning Unitrends – particularly, asking if Unitrends support was overwhelmed and understaffed.  I thought it was interesting enough that I immediately talked to the person who had asked that question – we got the issues there fixed pretty quickly and the customer walked away happy.

But there was a quick follow-on post that I found even more interesting.  The poster admitted he wasn’t familiar with Unitrends – but was calling out what I took to be the state of overall support in the industry.  Since I’m pretty obsessed with support, I thought that it was an interesting read.  And I thought I’d take the time to analyze the opening paragraph of the forum posting and tell a quick story.

[Warning: If you’re not interested in backup and support, well – then you haven’t worked with many backup vendors! :)]

“If we were being accurate, it isn’t that Unitrends is understaffed…merely that they most emphatically are overwhelmed. Unitrends are showing the very classic signs of a startup struggling to deal with hypergrowth. (You are going to start to see the very same issues at Spiceworks soon, if it isn’t already apparent.) The issue manifests most blatantly as “the left foot not knowing what the right hand is doing.”

This isn’t a bad analysis at one level – what Unitrends has done is spend on support faster than we’ve driven revenue.  What is being noted here is that the issue all too often isn’t just spending, but is operational in nature – and impacts companies with high growth rates.  I agree.  As the senior executive responsible for support (yep – at Unitrends the Chief Strategy/Technology Officer is currently responsible for support – it’s a strategic part of the company rather than an afterthought) I can tell you it gets a ton of not just money but attention.  This is the reason of course that we currently have a 98% customer satisfaction rating as measured via NPS (Net Promoter Score.)

98% sounds great, doesn’t it?  And it is great compared to the industry.  But I’ll let you in on a presentation I gave at our annual kick-off for 2013.  It was a set of slides with very, very little text.  Each slide is a bullet point below (my comments are in parentheses):

  • 98% (Current 2013 customer satisfaction at Unitrends)
  • 95% (Worst month’s 2012 customer satisfaction at Unitrends)
  • 2% (The number of less than “strongly agree” customer responses for Unitrends at 98% customer satisfaction.)
  • 5% (The number of less than “strongly agree” customer responses for Unitrends at 95% customer satisfaction.)
  • 2% > 250  (The number of customer interactions per year are not delighted that worst-case we have with 98% customer satisfaction.)
  • 5% > 700 (The number of customer interactions per year that are not delighted that worst-case we have with 95% customer satisfaction.)
  • 1 = 2M+ (All it takes is one unhappy customer interaction and that can be raised to over 2M Spiceworks users.)

The bottom line on this stuff is simple.  No one is ever perfect on customer satisfaction.  But you have to strive to be.  You have to go after that “relentless pursuit of perfection.”  Because these days, it’s just not possible with things like Spiceworks to give lip-service to support – you have to live it.