Service in innovation

Sometimes innovation is not about the technology but the service behind the technology. Customer service, that stuff that keeps us all going back to our favorite store and what drives us away from others, can often be overlooked but it is core in our day to day buying experience.

When we at Truffle Media Networks were looking to have someone handle our book keeping, the traditional approach was to "find someone" to do it. But what do you look for when trying "to find someone"? Book keeping is a task that few people really like to do but if it is not done regularly, and done well, the work load to "catch up" can be stressful (very stressful). Sure I could do the work. But I have other items I need to do. Truffle is a media company, not an accounting company. I needed to spend my time on media and its audience.

Not knowing anything, I started with Angie's List, a service that rates various companies, gaining its input from the customers of those companies. I started calling people from a list of about 10 certified public accountants and book keeping services, all that had some level of "A" or "B" rating in Angie's List. I asked questions, I generated more, and I tried to understand how to find someone to handle our book keeping needs.

I finally narrowed the list to several people that I thought would work. One of them, Foster Results, I had received as a referral from another name on the list. Foster Results was unique on my list because they focused solely on book keeping as a service and they accomplished it all on the Internet. Many (all?) of the other people I called would be able to handle our needs but the key action I just cringed at was how QuickBooks information was shared. The main main approach was to pass a QuickBooks data file back and forth. Uggggggg.

Foster Results offered a service that allowed me to have access to the company data at the same time they did. No need to coordinate on who had the file. While this sounds like a Homer Simpson "D'oh" moment (things on the web duh!), keep in mind that the QuickBooks world has been living like this for quite awhile. It has only been in the last couple years where technology infrastructure has developed to support the needs of QuickBooks as a shared service.

What Foster Results offers is a full blown version of QuickBooks, available on line. This allows me to log on to another computer (kind of GoToMyPC like) and have access to QuickBooks at the same time as the Foster Results team. But it is the service Foster Results provides that really makes this work. Jennifer Foster, President of Foster Results, was able to have me launched on their service within a week of signing the contract. While she did advise that they plan for a 90 day transition from current processes to their process, I was fully transitioned in about 30 days.

For a monthly fee I regularly coordinate with the Foster Results point person, Julie, on what bills are due and what needs to be posted. Julie handles the postings, setting up checks to print, and handles the processing of monthly tax payments. She also handles the quarterly reporting needs to various state and federal agencies. An added benefit is that Jennifer, as a certified financial analyst and having worked at several firms as a CFO, reviews our financial state and provides recommendations.

The importance of the service is that I know required actions will be done. That service, combined with the approach of standard QuickBooks, available without having to "pass the QuickBooks" ball, and the ubiquitousness of the Internet, gives me a sense of calm that I can apply to other areas within Truffle Media.

Labels: , , ,


0 Responses: