Newbee Corner: What Happens When I Email Support?

Friday, February 10, 2017
By Chelsea Miller

Picture of a pencil telling an eraser, 'you just don't seem very supportive'

At some point in your Beeminder experience, you may find yourself needing to contact support. Usually this is because your goal has derailed — but you actually did your goal and just forgot to tell Beeminder about it! A fair amount of people apologize for this and ask if it’s an approved excuse. Let’s just put this out there: it’s by far the most common email we get, it’s okay, and we’ll fix it! You can also email us anytime with questions you have, problems you encounter, or features that would make Beeminder better for you. Also, unsolicited compliments are always appreciated. Please send more of those to us. Actually, send more of those to anybody.

You may be hesitant to do this, because contacting the average company’s support can be anywhere from inconvenient to pure unadulterated searing pain. But we’re not like a regular company; we’re a cool company. [1] We try to do the fair thing and act like humans, not robots. (Sometimes we do better than others, due to actually being humans and not robots.) Here’s a brief overview of what we actually do in order to reply to the 50-100 emails we receive each day!

Support Logistics

Just about everyone replies to some support emails. Mostly Bee, Chelsea, and Alys, with others chiming in with their expertise/interest where necessary. Chelsea (US central time) & Alys (Australia eastern time) go through the more routine requests and questions a few times a day. Bee (US pacific time) jumps in once a day to dig into more technical threads or founder-level inquiries/discussions. Danny dives into more philosophical emails, and helps out when Bee is scrambling to meet her Beeminder deadline for working on support. [2] Emails from premium subscribers mostly get looked at first. Then we quickly hit some of the simpler requests and derailment-undoings. Finally, we reply to or flag for other folks any more complicated, time-consuming emails. Every email gets looked at by at least one person within 24 hours, and 98% of those get a reply in the same window. For now, 3-7PM (US pacific) is the best time to send an email and get a quick reply… usually. Most of the emails fall into the following buckets, and we will reply in the following ways:

1. I derailed and it wasn’t legit because I forgot to enter data / my data didn’t sync!

No big deal! Just reply to that legitimacy check email for each derailment and let us know. If you weaselproofed the goal, we’ll be more strict about excuses, as described in the weaselproof option. The rest of the time, we’ll open up your goal, cancel any pending charge, and reset the pledge level if necessary. If you’ve already entered/synced the data you forgot, WE LOVE YOU. If not, we’ll email you back asking you to add that data. We’ll probably adjust the yellow brick road as well. (If you’ve already entered data, the road will be put back to how it was pre-derailment. If you haven’t, the flat spot from the derailment may be shortened, so that you don’t get a free week off. We’re watching you!)

If you don’t send and/or we don’t reply to this email within 24hours of the derailment occurring, the charge will be processed automatically. In that case, we have to issue a refund, which we do all the time!

2. I derailed and it wasn’t legit because I’m sick / my flight got delayed for 36 hours / my phone fell into the ocean so I never saw reminders!

Okay! We’ll cancel the charge and leave you a break on the goal to account for your illness / delay / time to buy a new phone. If something comes up, you can also preemptively email us before your goal derails. Just let us know your Beeminder username and what goal(s) need to be adjusted. This increases the odds we don’t miss that 24-hour window.

3. I derailed on 10 of my goals last week and it wasn’t legit because I’m on vacation!

All righty! In this case, it’s super helpful for us if you can reply to each of the legitimacy check emails that need to be undone. Since the derailments occurred last week, we’ll have to refund, so we go do that. We’ll also recommend that you make use of that take-a-break feature next time… it’s quite handy! Again, if you can let us know before they derail, that’s really helpful and awesome. But it’s totally fine if you forget due to extreme beach relaxation vibes.

4. I’m flying to Europe in 2 hours and I forgot to put breaks on all my goals!

No problem! We’ll put them in for you so you won’t derail while you’re gone. Enjoy your trip!

5. I derailed and it wasn’t legit because Beeminder is broken / I am so incredibly confused!

Oh no! We’ll cancel the charge and reset the pledge, since those derailments are definitely not legit. Then we’ll try to get more information from you on what seems broken/confusing, so we can fix it or explain it. Anything that seems like a Beeminder bug will get flagged for Bee to investigate and/or fix in her daily review.

Sometimes these are known but unfixed bugs or common confusions that could be explained better on the site. In those cases we will feel great shame and resolve to do better. (For real, it’s hugely helpful for us to hear about these issues, even if you think it’s just your own confusion.)

6. Can you delete my account?

Sure thing! We’ll ask you to confirm one final time, and once you do so, we’ll delete the account. (This is also available in your account settings, as long as you have no active goals.)

7. Beehavior X is happening on my goal, but I want Beehavior Y to happen instead!

Thanks for letting us know this isn’t super clear on the site! If Y is possible, we’ll fix your goal and let you know how to do it yourself in the future. Sometimes Y isn’t possible, and we’ll explain why and maybe offer up some workarounds to achieve something similar.

8. I’m new and I’m trying to set up a goal for Beehavior Z, but I have no idea how!

Ooh, good to know what’s still confusing for newbees! We’ll explain how Beehavior Z best matches up to a Beeminder goal/setting. We may also point you to the forum for additional input if it’s more of a philosophical question than a technical question.

9. It would be great if Beeminder could do Beehavior M and had Feature N!

Thanks for the ideas! Sometimes these are things we’ve heard a million times and want to do, but can’t or are intentionally not doing right now. (Like integrate with MyFitnessPal.) Sometimes these are brand new things that we can do in 15 minutes, and do. (Like adding Romanian to the Duolingo language options, which happened this week!) We’ll let you know if the feature already does exist, or its likelihood of occurring, or maybe some ideas for workarounds or hacks to get to the same outcome more quickly.

And don’t be shy about suggesting things we’ve probably heard already. Repetition sends a strong message about how to prioritize.

(Sometimes when I see other companies say things like “it’s on the roadmap” it seems so obvious that they’re blowing it off. But weekends off didn’t exist in Beeminder for years, while literally [3] five million people requested it, and now it does! So just ask. Persistently.)

10. insert unnecessarily aggressive refund request after never having contacted us before

We’ll refund the charges and close your account, if requested. If you ask nicely, we’ll probably do it a few minutes faster. It’s a bummer to deal with bummer emails.


 

Alright, are you feeling jazzed about contacting support yet? It’s support@beeminder.com if you don’t have a Beeminder email handy to reply to. Or click “contact” at the bottom of Beeminder.com or any of your own goal pages.


 

Footnotes

[1] ;)

[2] We beemind Beeminder to a ridiculous degree. Like Beeminder is making us publish this blog post, of course. Our favorite is probably User-Visible Improvements.

[3] Maybe not literally.


 

Image credit: kiplyall.com

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  • olimay

    I am really glad to see this blog post, since it addresses the worries of most of the people who are interested in Beeminder, but worried about.

    I would say that I miss a data entry deadline or botch a datapoint — causing a non-legit derail — _at least_ two times a week, even almost four years into making Beeminder goals. It got so bad that once, one of my email clients began to suggest “Thanks Chelsea!” and “Thanks Alys!” as email signatures/quick replies in non Beeminder-related emails.

    (I want to make it clear that I usually miss data entry for wacky manual goals or goals I am completing last-minute. I’m talking about goals where I am trying to also include the name of a Japanese TV show in the comments, and I get sidetracked trying to look up the right kanji. I also have goals that rely data from a 4 step IFTTT recipe chain, but I’m jsut wrapping up the first step at 11:58PM for a 12:00AM deadline.

    Most data entry via the site, the mobile apps, and autodata schemes is simple and easy!)

    I’m glad that Chelsea went through all these potential cases — I always feel bad about asking for help when I mess up, but, seriously: Beeminder Support will work with you to make sure things are fair. The great, personable support is what makes Beeminder work for me since 2013, and drew me into the community. In the personal tracking/accountability product sphere I think this great support sets Beeminder apart the most. (And I’m including improvements that come from communicating with users — that’s #9 on Chelsea’s list.)

  • Gretchen

    Beeminder sets my standard for excellent customer support and continuous
    improvement, in the same way that Ravelry sets my standard for forum
    design. I recently cancelled a subscription to a ‘beta’ service that has
    looked the same for a year now, and my reason for cancelling was “no
    user-visible improvements in the last year.” I no longer consider that
    an acceptable way of doing business now that I’ve seen how achievable
    the alternative is. Keep up the good work!