How we turned a cancellation call into improved customer service

Clients come and go. It’s part of the natural cycle of business, right? But to be sustainable, you need more clients coming than going.

Karbon's Andi Ancheta and Ian Vacin sitting at an outdoor table with a laptop, in discussion.

And sometimes the best client feedback comes from the ones who are on their way out the door. 

If we’re lucky, we can talk to a client on the way out and find out why they’re unhappy. If they give us the chance, we can work on the things that aren’t going well and keep them as a client.

Since 2017, Karbon has seen growth both in terms of customers and the product. Early on, we added new features with the assumption that users were loving the changes. That is, until one of our earliest adopters called saying they wanted to cancel.

The call prompted us to closely examine why one of our most enthusiastic supporters was ready to leave us in the dust. Below, I’ll walk through what led to the ‘cancel call’ and how we used it as an opportunity to better serve our customers. 

Recommended reading: 3 tips to enhance customer service at your firm

Parable’s best foot forward

Parable, formerly known as Xcelerate, was founded in 2011 by stay-at-home mom Jessica Daley as a means to prepare for her impending adoption with husband Greg. With Jessica’s background in accounting and finance, starting a bookkeeping firm seemed like a natural fit. The work could be done from home and in her own time

The duo experienced natural growth, serving mostly churches as its vertical. A major turning point came in 2016, when Jessica and Greg began networking with accounting colleagues at events. Hearing about other teams’ systems, they became inspired to better leverage technology at their firm. 

They were so excited that they decided to implement seven new tech systems at once. One of those systems was Karbon. 

But the team was split on whether they liked our offering. 

It would be easy for us to sit back and say, “Well, that was Parable’s fault for implementing so many systems at once. That’s not a Karbon problem.” But that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. When Jessica and Greg called to cancel, we asked them why. We determined that the debate boiled down to three issues:

  1. Each person on Parable’s team used the software differently. Greg called Parable’s usage of Karbon “the Wild West”. Because each team member had customized it to their own liking, there was no structure or consistency across the system (and the team). 

  2. One of Parable’s key stakeholders didn’t see the benefits. Karbon was more of a burden than a blessing to one of Parable’s most valued employees, Adrienne Weir. She was on the path to becoming the lead accountant at Parable, so her compatibility with Karbon was critical. As Greg said, “It’s Karbon or Adrienne—and we’re not losing Adrienne.”

  3. We kept adding features without providing enough support. New software functionalities came at breakneck speeds, but without much education (if any) on how to best use them. As a result, Parable’s team felt overwhelmed.

Here’s how we turned the relationship around and became a stronger product at the same time.

Retracing Karbon’s footprint

Thankfully, Parable was willing to consider us a partner rather than just a vendor. As a result, we interviewed a few of Parable’s team members to understand how they were using the system and where our software fell short. From that invaluable feedback, we gained three key insights. 

1. Listen, even if it hurts

No one wants to hear that their baby is ugly. It can be tough to open yourself up to criticism, particularly when you’re proud of what you’ve made. 

2. Time to scale up

At the time of Parable’s complaint, we had a Success & Support team of four employees. As such, we did everything we could to get new features built and implemented—but that was about all we could do, given our team size. 

Jessica and Greg showed us that to properly serve our customers, we needed to bring them along the journey.

It wasn’t enough to just give customers the keys to the car. We needed to teach them to drive.

It’s important to note that it’s not just a numbers game. Simply adding more people to our Success & Support team isn’t enough. That’s why we make sure everyone on that team is passionate about our product, the industry, and our customers, and who are experts in what they do.

3. Offer alternative workflows

Knowing where Parable’s team struggled, we could offer better workflows to maximize their use of the system. One example of this was reporting. By talking to the team, we uncovered what reporting needs weren’t being met. We could then show them how to leverage Karbon to get the data they needed. 

This also helped Parable get better visibility on how everyone on the team was performing. 

Previously, since each member used Karbon in their own way, it was difficult to see how the team was functioning as a whole. We showed them how to use our software to its full potential, which gave them that team visibility. 

Today, our Customer Success Managers are there to support, educate and customize Karbon for your team’s needs. This resource is available to all users, so please don’t hesitate to take advantage of the service. 

Stop, listen, learn, repeat

Experiencing our growing pains with Parable early on helped us develop our healthy customer obsession today

We now add features and bring our customers along the journey, all the way from inception to release. We also look critically at whether our systems are making things easier or simply adding more stress. Part of our product development process involves reaching out to customers to beta test our newest features. 

Another way we get feedback is from our Karbon Community. There, our users can make suggestions for improving the system, including new features that would be helpful. 

We’re forever grateful that Jessica, Greg, and the rest of the Parable team took the time to explain what was wrong and give us a chance to make it right. Our goal is to be more than a software system, and instead, a partner in your accounting firm’s success. Customer feedback helps us to improve, and we look forward to growing by your side.