- The Bottleneck
- ⚙️ The Ops Playbook #18
⚙️ The Ops Playbook #18
Don't rebrand, a parental coverage plan, and avoiding data issues
Read Time: 5.1 Minutes
Good Morning Operators ⚙️
Thanks to the 90+ people who filled out our survey last week! I hope you're enjoying your free book. If you learn anything interesting, please let me know by replying to this email.
Now about that survey. You might be wondering why I sent it.
I plan to build The Bottleneck as the best place to learn and connect with other tech operators. The first step is to build out the most helpful paid subscription plan.
How do I do that?
Simple. I’ll just ask all of you what you value most.
One of the questions in the survey was what we should offer in the paid plan.
Are you curious about the results of the survey? (I know I was).
Here you go!
The numbered rows are how you all ranked the product. I created a weighted score to calculate the ranking. I gave more weight to higher rankings (a ranking of 1 is more valuable than an 8).
Each item will save time on your operations, learn from the best, and reduce spending on useless tools.
Everything in yellow is going to launch throughout the quarter. Everything else won't be.
As an item launches, I will raise the paid subscription price each time.
If you want to review each item's ETA and lock down your price now, click the button below. I’ll anxiously wait here till you’re back.
Back from upgrading?
Ready to roll?
Here are the 3 tactics we plan to chat about today:
Customizing your own data quality system
Creating a coverage plan during your parental leave
Refuse to rebrand
P.S If you want that free book from the survey, be sure to have recommended a friend and email me with your address at [email protected]
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1. How to build a great data quality system
Insight from Avenue x Athena Case Study
Do you have a ton of moving pieces to keep track of?
So many moving pieces that data issues in your operations have caused you to lose thousands? (I definitely have)
You're not alone.
Athena was facing this exact problem. Athena helps businesses by placing thousands of virtual assistants (VA's) a year.
Athena manages onboarding, account management, payroll, and more for those VA's.
Data accuracy became a challenge because of the amount of data coming into their system. Clients not billed or employees not paid on time were because of these data issues.
A few other issues included:
Multiple deals with incorrect pricing = thousands of dollars at risk
Blank VA address = missing payments = churn
Inaccurate VA employment status = customer paired incorrectly with a VA (or former VA) = task delays = poor customer experience
So what did Athena do about these operational data problems?
Peter Dimov is the director of data science at Athena. He tried building a janky QA system but knew this wouldn't scale.
When Peter sought out a quality control engine for Athena, he had a few requirements in mind.
His must-haves included:
Plug-and-Play integrations: connect existing data sources in minutes (Snowflake, HubSpot, Coupa, Greenhouse, Zendesk).
Easy to use: non-technical members can set up monitors without knowing SQL
High security: the ability to manage who has view/edit access to underlying data with role based permissions
Reporting: Track performance across individuals and teams (SLA’s, efficiency, accuracy).
Smart task assignment: set custom working hours and auto-assign feature.
Communication syncing: don’t want to force people to learn another tool. Let operators stay in existing tools like email, Slack and Zendesk (unlike Zapier).
Affordable - as a start-up you dont have the resources to hire an engineer to build a reliable internal tool or staff a QA team.
Automated: the ability to auto-resolve certain issues that shouldn’t require human input to fix
When sourcing or building the right QA system, just like Peter, you must scope out what works best for your system.
Maybe the above works as a guide to building your own system.
Maybe you need to build a whole new list.
Just don't spend your time on data inaccuracies. It'll kill you.
2. Creating a parental coverage plan
Insight from Tamara Hinckley
With a newborn on the way (coming this month!), parental coverage plans are super interesting to me! Should I give myself parental leave from The Bottleneck??
Anyways, Tamara built out a great template to ensure proper coverage while you are away. You should focus on your little one, not your team at work!
A solid coverage plan will help you:
Focus completely on your family without unexpected disturbances
Minimize business disruptions by maintaining continuity for your projects
Build and maintain relationship capital with your manager, peers, and the broader team
Here’s a step-by-step playbook for creating an exceptional coverage plan for your parental leave.
Start early and socialize often: aim to finish the plan a month before your leave
Determine your parental leave timeline: Optimize what is best for your family but try to work with HR
Outline a coverage plan
The outline of the coverage plan is the most important piece here so listen up.
You have two routes here. You could choose a de facto proxy or create direct responsible individuals (DRIs).
If you choose a de facto proxy, choose a senior team member who has held a similar role in the past or is eager for a challenge.
If you go the DRI route, list major focus areas (3-5 maximum) and assign one DRI for each area. Please list meetings, specific projects, and other processes for the other person to know.
Finally, limit the number of people who have your contact information. Like I said earlier, this is a time to be with your child.
P.S. If you want this template, click here.
3. Rebranding kills momentum
Insight from Kurt Schrader
Your brand is not secondary to your product.
When someone mentions Apple, you don't only think of the iPhone. You think of what Apple symbolizes: power, slick, and fast.
That's the power of a brand.
If you are thinking of a rebrand, don't.
A rebrand will kill your momentum.
You've put in years of work to mean something to your users. Your operational processes, customer experience and more will need to change.
Changing the look and feel of your company will force you to earn back that mindshare.
Kurt Schrader, the founder of Shortcut, had to learn this the hard way.
Kurt rebranded his company from Clubhouse to Shortcut. Sales slowed down a ton. His company relied on word of mouth to grow, which was especially brutal.
After two years, Kurt is still working on building out his company.
The only time when a rebrand might make sense?
If you've built a multi-billion dollar company and trying to escape controversy.
X (AKA Twitter) and Meta (AKA Facebook) are perfect examples.
Until you build that unicorn, let's refrain from that rebrand.
4. Fourteen ways to get customer reviews
Insight from Codie Sanchez
Tool of the Week
I’m exploring what it takes to build a community supporting operators like us. There’s a ton of options.
Do I build on Slack, Discord, or Telegram? Maybe I build in-house?
Telegram has been the best for engagement in all the communities I’m a part of.
I found this neat tool, Sublaunch, to help you create and manage subscriptions with Telegram.
Has anyone used this to build their own community?
P.S. To get featured in this section, share the newsletter 10 times (your referral link is below), and I'll include you in a future issue.
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Jan 3, 2024
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Jan 3, 2024
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