Earth Class Mail

New Feature: Now Offering SHREDDED Service

At Earth Class Mail we take pride in the high level of security we provide to customers and their confidential information. That's why we've spent a lot of our resources on securing our cloud storage and mail handling operations. 

Now we're excited to announce a totally new security feature, a whole other level of Secure Shredding (already available for free on most accounts). For just $15/mo you can get true peace of mind when you securely shred documents with SHREDDED. 

In case you ever wondered what all those Gym Rats did when they weren't in the gym, well now you know. They've been here, at our Headquarters in Beaverton tearing mail to teeny tiny pieces.

"It's just way more effective than what secure shredding services can deliver" says Doug Breaker, CEO at Earth Class Mail. "A shredding machine can only do so much, but the team we have here for the SHREDDED service takes it to an extreme". 

We aren't kidding either. The SHREDDERS take a team approach, one doing the tearing and the other spotting and shouting "come on, one more"! Unlike a machine that might give up, the team won't. At least until someone collapses or we turn the lights off.

Jocko, our Project Supervisor says, "It's really about the passion more than anything. We want to do this. We dream about it at night". Adding later that "once you get your first uncontrollable muscle twitch it just becomes like an itch you have to scratch again".

This Guy is the Reason You Get Junk Mail

Junk mail. It's the reason you dread going to the mailbox every day. It's why your mail carrier has back problems. Simply put, it's the source of all the frustration in the world.

If you've ever wondered "why the hell are they sending me this"? Here's the answer: Derrick S. of Wyoming, he's the reason you treat your mailbox like it just told you it tested positive for VD. 

Derrick refused to go on the record with his full name and address. We assume it's to protect his parents' home from hordes of pitchfork wielding citizens. He also asked us to hide his face for fear of retaliation.

From the basement of the home he has lived in for 42 years, Derrick has been patiently printing postcards, coupon books, and pretty much any piece of junk you can imagine. In fact, he's very proud of the work he's been doing over the past couple of decades. You can thank him for:

  • Those sweet stacks of coupons in your "random sh**" kitchen drawer, all expired now because it's been 6 months since you got them in the mail.
  • Postcards from your mortgage broker telling you he can get you a lower rate than the one you just got from him.
  • That letter you thought was important because it said "IMPORTANT!" on it, only to find a credit card offer from the Bank of Ridiculous Fees.
  • Birthday cards from your Aunt in San Antonio with $5 checks in them and a message to "buy something nice!"

Ultimately though, Derrick understands the pain he's causing the rest of the world. When asked why he does what he does, he said...

"At some point in my 20's I realized I don't have any friends anyway, so why the heck not"?

There is an upside to all this. Since Earth Class Mail was able to track down Derrick, we've partnered with him to help reduce the junk mail you get. All it took was a fat check from us and Derrick's agreement to wear a Wi-Fi enabled shock collar. 

Why you ask? Well, for only $19.99/mo you can unlock the "Zap Derrick" feature on your account. It's really simple, just choose the option in your account anytime you get a piece of junk mail and Derrick's collar will go off with a 120 volts of reminder that what he does is neither acceptable nor appreciated.

You're welcome world.

How We Unlocked The Hidden Revenue in Our Site

Earth Class Mail has been around for a long time, longer than most tech startups at least. In that time the product, site, and marketing strategy have gone through a lot of iterations. It seems though that the longer an organization exists, the easier it is to neglect the things that seem to "just work".

Our site did exactly that, it just worked. The common pitfall there is that your audience changes over time, even more dynamically over a 10 year span. For some added perspective, 2006 was the year that: Amazon launched Web Services, the Nintendo Wii debuted, and Google bought YouTube. 

Now our site definitely had some facelifts since its inception, but we never really sat down and focused on making the site better at doing what it's supposed to do - sell the product and get people to sign-up. Partly that's because the tools that make it easier have only really evolved in the last few years, and partly because it just worked.

In early 2015 we reached out to Conversion Rate Experts to help us get the most out of our site and implemented some shiny new tools like,, and live chat. Working with the CRE team, we conducted a lot of due diligence on our audience and existing user base. Tools like Survey Monkey helped with that, as well as diving deep into our web analytics.

Just like any business we have to prioritize and allocate resources to our projects, so we zeroed in on the three most impactful visitor touchpoints on our site: the home page, the pricing page, and the first step of our sign-up path (our "Basic Info" page). 

What resulted is an iterative approach that seriously impacted our site's conversion rate and revenue potential, without driving any significant additional traffic to the site. That's right, we made more money without investing in marketing just by doing this. It's something any business can do and, frankly, should do.

See the detailed case study from CRE here.

Meet Katelynn Minott, Partner at Bright!Tax

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series. Katelynn Minott, CPA is a Partner at Bright!Tax, the cloud-based U.S. income tax prep firm for Americans living abroad.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Katelynn. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company? What does Bright!Tax do, and what sets you apart?

I began my expat journey outside the States while I was at University in Vina del Mar, Chile. During my exchange, I met my husband, a Green Beret officer in the Chilean navy, we married and now have two beautiful children. I travel often to the States and I am thrilled that my kids have the opportunity to grow up bi-culturally. I am an actively licensed American CPA and am a partner with the firm, Bright!Tax.

For Americans overseas the annual filing of US taxes can be daunting, if not impossible from a personal standpoint. We have clients in over 150 countries worldwide that count on us to file their U.S. expat taxes, and we are very good at it. At Bright!Tax we have developed a perfect blend of cloud technology and personalized approach that allows us to create long term and meaningful relationships with our clients.

How did you get started and why?

I was a practicing CPA in Chile when Bright!Tax's founder, Greg Dewald, and I happened upon each other. We found that we had a tremendous synergy and developed a working relationship that has been unique. Greg and I both share many of the same ideas about the experience we wish for our Bright!Tax clients to have, and we're both perfectionists. This has evolved into a process that is clear, precise, and exacting to our clients' needs.

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Bright!Tax's niche is quite interesting in that we serve American clients living overseas who need to file U.S. taxes every year. The U.S. has enacted new laws that have significantly ramped up their compliance efforts and a large percentage of our American clients overseas were simply not aware of their obligation to file taxes every year (the U.S. is about the only country on the world that mandates this).

One of the most fulfilling aspects of what we do is helping many clients out of their state of despair. They have just discovered that they need to be filing U.S. taxes and are often completely disoriented, wondering if their lives will now be disrupted by an overzealous IRS. We are always able to offer a reliable and safe path forward to tax-compliance for our clients, and it is often easier than many clients think at first. By the end of our projects our clients are happy, satisfied, and some even overjoyed that they have put something that was once frightening successfully behind them.

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

Answer email, and fast! One of the client service points that we pride ourselves on is our responsiveness. By answering client emails within 24 hours we are able to keep projects moving efficiently through our production process, and also create a client relationship based on support and communication. Despite working with 99% of our clients via our cloud-based infrastructure, we've found that our quick & friendly communication provides a client service experience that actually feels quite personal.

What was the situation before you used Earth Class Mail, tell us how EarthClassMail makes you better at your job, or your company better at what it does?

For the most part, before signing up with Earth Class Mail we were relying upon the kindness of a few trusted individuals to receive and forward mail that was coming to our mailbox. We had our company's mail as well as clients' mail coming in faster than we were able to keep up with. Earth Class Mail brings us our physical mail electronically, and allows us to stay paper free in our practice.

What has Earth Class Mail been worth to your business in terms of $?

This may be hard to quantify and yet, as time is money, we have realized a greater efficiency and peace-of-mind knowing that our mail is being handled securely and professionally by Earth Class Mail. Just the time we wasted processing physical checks in the past, for example, makes our relationship with ECM worthwhile.

What would you say to someone considering Earth Class Mail as a solution?

Try it! Use it! And realize all the benefits that your business (and even individuals) can get by utilizing ECM's comprehensive solution.

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, "shut the front door, I need that!" ?

As we often send correspondence to physical mailing addresses within the U.S. & around the world, we would greatly benefit from the ability to turn electronic documents provided to ECM into physical mail correspondence to be sent on our behalf. That being said, ECM has already created huge efficiency in our system and we wish we'd found the service sooner!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

Yes! For those of us who are overseas, we all know that living abroad involves a number of necessary and time consuming pre-arrangements. Word of advice (and a plug for Earth Class Mail!) - Try ECM's service and realize the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all your matters mail-related Stateside are in good hands. You guys have been great and we are so pleased to have had the opportunity to utilize and expand upon your excellent solution!

Study: Majority of SMBs & Startups Mismanage Their Back Office

Back office work tends to be the red-headed stepchild of items on your to-do list. No one wants to deal with it, but it has to be taken care of. Your business mail is at the center of that burden because in it there are important notices, invoices, and checks from your customers. 

All that gold is buried in a mountain of junk. Once you're done sorting and opening your mail, the job tends to only be half done. Now you have to scan the important stuff or head to the bank for a deposit.

You are not alone... 

  • 70% of small businesses burn over an hour each month managing mail,
  • 40% more than three hours, and 
  • 20% waste six or more hours each month*. 

That's a crazy amount of time to spend on dealing with snail mail. In a recent survey, jointly conducted by Earth Class Mail and GetApp, 500 small business owners answered the question: 

How much time do you spend managing your business' mail each month, including: depositing checks, scanning, and distributing to recipients?

*Survey results adjusted to exclude "None of the above" responses, and percentages normalized.

There is a real cost to all this waste

Sometimes you don't know something is a problem until you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Managing your business mail can turn into a routine pretty quickly, and you can probably go to bed feeling like you've accomplished something. But at what cost?

Fred Wilson, a famed VC investor and entrepreneur, suggested in 2011 that the average burn rate for a fully burdened employee at a startup is $10,000 per month. Marc Andreessen suggested it was in excess of $16,000 per month in 2014. Even the median income for a small business owner in the U.S. is $60,000 per year according to, not including all of the added cost burdens that can more than double that figure.

All of that means that it's costing businesses real money each month, from $100 to $1000 or more, and that doesn't account for the opportunity cost of working on tasks more directly tied to business growth.

Earth Class Mail plans start at $49/mo. Learn More

Sometimes business mail is just a pain in the a$$

When mail becomes white noise it can lead to real problems for businesses. Today's companies are dynamic, ever-changing machines. They move often as they expand and hire, they work with a myriad of vendors, and they focus on the things that drive growth. That means that minutia like updating an address with an insurance provider or the secretary of state can easily get overlooked.

"We didn't receive a renewal notice at my last company because the insurance provider had an old address. It cost us a lapse in coverage." Jeff Judge, Founder @

Missteps like that can lead to big problems. Lapses in insurance coverage, missed incorporation renewals, and worse.

Then there is the new breed of entrepreneurs that choose to run their companies without walls or borders. A 2015 Gallup Poll revealed that 37% of workers telecommute on some regular basis, and some predict that 50% of the workforce will work remotely by 2020. That sentiment is surely overrepresented in the entrepreneur class, with tech startups leading the way.

As a small startup, we didn't have physical office space until a few months ago. Earth Class Mail took care of that and our mail, so we could focus on our business. Matthew Juszczak, Founder @

This trend will only continue as the workforce moves to more flexible location opportunities and the cost savings of remote work are realized by larger organizations. 

Thinking ahead on the future of the back office

The need for digital solutions that mirror the benefits of traditional services, while offering more efficiency and cost savings, is only growing. Physical addresses and snail mail are still required to legally operate a corporation. 

As archaic as it may sound, there is definitely a superficial need for professional contact information as well. Just like businesses want a public facing phone number that isn't the founder's personal line, they need a public facing "physical" presence that isn't also someone's home. 

There is no shortage of tools and resources that solve these common back office problems around phone, mail, and communication. These solutions make back office operations better, and do it cheaper. There's certainly a lot more to come, and the future looks bright for both entrepreneurs and employees.

Meet Matthew Juszczak, Owner of Bitlancer, LLC

Our customers rock.   We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, Matthew Juszczak, Owner from Bitlancer, LLC – a cloud automation and management consulting firm.

Matthew Juszczak, Owner from Bitlancer, LLC

Thanks so much for sharing your story Matt. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company? What does Bitlancer do, and what sets you apart?

We started Bitlancer in 2010 as a systems and database consultancy, helping companies manage and maintain servers that powered their websites. As times have changed our services have evolved and we now focus on software-based cloud solutions, particularly around an industry term known as “DevOps”. Without getting into too much technical detail, we essentially help organizations move to and succeed in the cloud, and we’d like to think that our approach to DevOps sets us apart. 

DevOps is hard to define and means something different to everyone mostly because it’s new and unfamiliar, but also because it’s meant to be a unique prescription: a plan targeted towards a specific company based on a high-level view of the whole business, not just immediate technical pain they’re experiencing. We really like to get to know our customers before we get too deep into a project. A lot of times they think they know what they want and need, but once we get to know them, their business processes, and their infrastructure, we are able to truly cater our services. I guess you can call us DevOps doctors!

How did you get started and why?

Off the record? I have trouble focusing, so full time jobs usually aren’t for me. Building a business around consulting allowed me to do what I love, work alongside some of the best talent in the industry (I’m biased) and, most importantly, keep things dynamic by helping multiple organizations succeed in what is today known as The Cloud. 

Prior to 2010, I had been performing independent consulting for a few customers and had begun to see patterns in the work I was doing – organizations were having the same issues and experiencing the same pain. I thought it would be best to productize some of the services I was offering and scale to multiple people: a team of “we” can be so much more productive and successful than a team of “I”! Five years later, we’re strong and still growing. For the record, I explicitly remember Earth Class Mail being the very first service I signed up for on that chilly winter day in 2010 when Bitlancer was born.

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Is it wrong to think every success story has been incredible? In all seriousness, our customers are great. We’re a boutique company by design, which means that we strive for long-term relationships with our customers and focus more on quality than scale. We want to actually solve problems our customers are facing, not just with their technical debt, but also related business processes.

What’s the best business decision you made in the last year?

The best business decision we made in the last year was to fail on our Bitlancer Strings (“Puppet-as-a-Service”) configuration management offering and focus solely on consulting services. We realized that, while Strings was a great product when we first built it, we were focusing so much energy on maintaining it that we were not able to focus on consulting – which is what we really enjoy and where our team thrives. Since we have concentrated our efforts on the consulting end of the business we have grown significantly. Strings is still great software, and if anyone is having trouble with configuration management, I highly recommend you check it out — it’s open source and available on Github!

The second best decision we ever made was to get new office space. There’s something to be said for working from home, but there’s nothing like working next to your team every day. You can solve problems quickly, look over each other’s shoulder when there’s something to read, and have quick discussions about simple things you’d normally need to schedule a call for. If you’re working from home, are you really as efficient as you think you are?

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

Yoga, I can’t recommend it enough! I think in our fast paced world it’s hard to take an hour to just breathe, but it’s so important. Taking that hour for myself in the morning makes me feel like I’m ready to take on any challenge, plus it’s a great workout. Also, and this one I owe to Bob Buda one of our partners, it’s important to take 5 or 10 minutes per day to just look outside at the world around you. Go for a walk, grab a coffee at the local café even if your office offers it to you for free. Remember that a world exists out there, and it’s important to continuously take notice of it!

Tell us how EarthClassMail makes you better at your job, or your company better at what it does?

As a small startup, we actually didn’t have a physical office space until just a few months ago. ECM not only made it possible for us to receive mail, but the scanning means we don’t have to waste our time opening and sorting through physical letters. That gives us the time to focus on growing our business, and if we move again we don’t have to change our address!

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, "shut the front door, I need that!" ?

We need a junk folder! Stop sending us magazines with delicious looking fruit Harry and David!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

The best advice I can give you is to be passionate about what you do and passionate about the people you work with. Life is short! There is nothing better than coming into work every day excited to talk to your customers and co-workers and feel like you’re making a difference. If you’re happy with what you do now, write down how you feel. Come back to that note every 6 months and make sure you still feel the same way.

Launch! Why we decided to spin out a FBA logistics & China private label imports company.

We're thrilled to announce that we're spinning out a new company from Earth Class Mail, No, Varehouse is not a vampire warehouse, although we debated a logo depicting that. helps online sellers navigate the waters of Amazon FBA logistics and private label import from China.

FBA logistics? Huh? What's FBA? China private label import? What's that?

FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon, or, "sell your stuff on Amazon" in plain english. Importing private label items from China is the process of getting one's goods manufactured in China (or other country), imported to the US, prepped, delivered to and listed on online marketplaces like

What does this have to do with Earth Class Mail? Read on.

Rewind the clock two years. Jim Wilson, President of Earth Class Mail, sat at his desk, and said, "whoa" as the proverbial lightbulb lit up over his head. He had noticed a growing handful of customers asking for a specific kind of help. These customers needed logistical support to help them sell on Amazon and other online markets. These customers would ship us palettes or even shipping containers full of merchandise. They would then ask us to inspect, package, and prepare the items for Amazon's strict FBA requirements. Imagine our thrill the first time we got a knock on our door and saw a shipping container full of imported merchandise from China. This presented quite a different challenge than receiving and scanning in people's mail.

Seeing that demand, Jim launched an internal service we dubbed "Virtual Warehouse". Jim & team ran that business, growing it steadily until new investors bought Earth Class Mail last June. At that point we huddled and decided to give the virtual warehouse business the chance to stand on its own two feet. To our delight, the virtual warehouse business proved itself worthy of leaving the Earth Class Mail nest and navigating it's own path.

With much delight, I officially announce the launch of Jim Wilson, who launched the business years ago, will lead it as Founder & CEO. We'll continue to support it at Earth Class Mail, and will be their biggest cheerleader. For any readers out there interested in launching your own Amazon business, head on over to, Jim, Kyle and team will gladly help you find success.

Meet Lauren McLeod, Co-founder at Flightfox

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, Lauren McLeod, Co-founder at Flightfox - a marketplace of flight experts who find you the best flights.

Thanks so much for sharing your story Lauren. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company? What does Flightfox do, and what sets you apart?

I love to travel, not just on short vacations, but journeys to live all over the world. This led to my company Flightfox, which is a marketplace of travel experts who help you (and me) travel much better for less. What sets Flightfox apart is our team of genuine travel experts who we call “travel hackers”. They aren’t traditional travel agents; they are genuine travel experts who know all the tricks of the trade and use deep technical analysis to build the best itineraries for the lowest prices possible.

For example, they recently helped me fly from Germany to the US on Singapore Airlines in first class for almost 80% off the retail price. They also regularly help with my frequent flyer miles and hotel programs.

How did you get started and why?

When I began my travels I would run into people who were just like me, but were traveling much better than me. They told me if I search for flights online like everyone else, I’d forever travel like everyone else (i.e. always paying retail to fly in coach). As I learned the tricks of the trade it became obvious there were just too many tricks to learn. So I thought, why not build a marketplace of genuine travel experts who could earn money doing what they love while helping the rest of us travel just like them.

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Honeymoons are our favorite customer success stories. Most newlyweds have big plans to travel around the world, but they come to us already resigned to fly in economy class and stay in cheap hotels. That’s when we go to work to make their honeymoon more special than they ever imagined.

The most recent honeymoon we did was for Jeff and Danielle. We helped them book first class seats on Emirates for a fraction of the retail price. Nothing starts a honeymoon off with a bang like walking into the first-class cabin of an A380 and getting wined and dined at 30,000 feet in the air for the next 10-15 hours. Here is the testimonial from Jeff’s Facebook page: 

Flightfox testimonial

What’s the best business decision you made in the last year?

Our best decision was definitely to make customer happiness our number one priority. It’s easy to justify a focus on profitability or system performance, but nothing makes us happier running Flightfox than our customers being happy and getting real value, which they often convey to others. Happy customers help us grow too, arguably more than anything else.

Our team wrote and in-depth article on how we measure customer happiness and everything we’ve learned along the way.

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

Our favorite hack, especially when productivity or morale has slumped, is to pick up our things, pack our bags (carry-on only) and work from a different city or country. Meeting different people, hearing different languages, and having to adapt gives you a boost you just can’t get from the latest productivity app. It helps a lot with creative work too, because all of a sudden you’re surrounded by what seems like another world.

Tell us how EarthClassMail makes you better at your job, or your company better at what it does?

Being a travel company that travels, we’ve (so far) worked from Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, Thailand, Estonia, Hong Kong, and Nicaragua. Sometimes for a few months, sometimes for more than a year. Managing a physical mailbox is just impossible for us, even with forwarding because we’re always on the move.

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, "shut the front door, I need that!" ?

Mailboxes in other countries. We’d love if EarthClassMail were available in Australia, Canada and European countries so we could operate the same there too. Instead, we have to have our mail sent to friends and family and burden them with opening mail, taking photos, and sending what seems important.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

Travel! And use EarthClassMail as your excuse to not come home :).

Meet Jordan Harbinger, Co-Founder of The Art of Charm

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, Jordan Harbinger, Co-founder from The Art of Charm. 

The Art of Charm teaches networking and relationship development skills to help clients build charisma and personal magnetism.

Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger

Thanks so much for sharing your story Jordan, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company? What does Art of Charm do, and what sets you apart?

We run in-residence programs and online training to help people make the big changes they need. The Art of Charm is very nuanced, it’s not just general advice like "look people in the eye and give a firm handshake" - that doesn't produce real results. From handling first impressions to managing intimate relationships, clients can create real identity changes in their personal and professional lives.

How did you get started and why?

I was an attorney on wall street and found that the successful lawyers at the top of the organization weren't just hard-workers, but they had put in the time to develop their network even more than their legal skills. I also found that the people we were hiring were the most personable, not just those with the best experience on paper. This showed me that the top predictor of success was, in fact, people-skills and that's where I've been focusing my energy for the past decade.

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Some of our most successful clients come from the intelligence and special forces community, many officers have gone through our program. Of the stories we can share, we had one client who after our program left a bad relationship, quit his job, started a company, got in shape, and now travels the world doing what he loves. We see this type of success every time we run a program.

What’s the best business decision you made in the last year?

The best decision we've made was to bring on trusted business partners who can help us with some of the areas we struggle in. This was tough because, as entrepreneurs, we hate to give up control and would rather try to figure it all out than bring on others who can help. So far, this has been an amazing decision, even though it took a while to let go.

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

This is stupid simple, but I use a calendar and schedule everything from meetings to yoga classes. I find that people are always looking for the latest productivity 'hack' and yet they don't even manage their daily tasks well. Having a calendar scheduled out in 15-minute blocks ensures that everything important gets done and that there's time to do it.

Tell us how EarthClassMail makes you better at your job, or your company better at what it does?

I can batch all company mail, taking perhaps 15 minutes per week sorting and opening instead of spending time doing it each day. We also travel a lot for business and I can use the service anywhere. I've even delegated all company mail to my assistant to sort from home, so mail has stopped being a task for me and has simply become a duty that I can delegate to someone else.

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, "shut the front door, I need that!" ?

Something that tells mail senders that I'm no longer at this address, or some sort of USPS unsubscribe from junk mail would be a game-changer.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

My entire existence is predicated on sharing wisdom and advice. I have over 500 hours of knowledge from hundreds of guests on the Art of Charm Podcast, check it out. 

Naughty and nice. Our adventure in fraud detection automation.

Here at Earth Class Mail we harbor strong feelings. We love things, and we revile things. Take a gander at a few things we love, and a few things we loathe:

We love:

We loathe:

  • Letting our awesome customers down in any way
  • Making preventable mistakes
  • Spending time on fraudsters and other unsavory characters

Unfortunately our business attracts the occasional bad actor. These undesirables suck our team's time away from serving our great customers. These undesirables stink and we don't want them as customers. We'd rather spend time with our great customers vs. dealing with the unsavories and their like.

What to do then? A bit ago we embarked on a journey to weed out these miscreants, so we could spend more time on the customers we love. We wanted to build a system & process that would automatically and reliably:

  • check for potential fraudsters
  • follow up with them to prompt for verification
  • alert our customer support staff, and automate our follow up

To assist in our task, we recruited a few key players to the team. We tapped for fraud detection, Zapier for workflow automation, Slack for team visibility, and Zendesk automations for automated followup.

WARNING: you may want to caffeinate before proceeding, the weeds get deep on the details.

Ok, so here's how we did it. First we tackled checking for potential fraudsters and making that visible to the team. To do that, we bolted on an API call to Sift every time someone completes an order. Sift offers a cool fraud prevention service that takes in a bunch of info and gives back a fraud probability score. The score ranges from 0-100, with 0 = no chance of fraud and 100 = certain fraudster. Once Sift returned a fraud score, we wired up a notification into our signups Slack channel. This let our team know when a likely fraudster sauntered through our doors. Here's an example:

We let that run for a bit until we gained an inkling of what things meant. We followed up manually on every case that seemed suspicious. After a few weeks, we dove into the deep end of the automation pool to see how much time & effort we could save. Enter Zapier and Zendesk.

We wanted to send and automatic note to any potential bad guy. The note should let them know that we harbored suspicions of their sincerity. We also wanted to give them the chance to clear the air if our system screwed up and flagged them by mistake.

Zendesk rocks. We use it for all customer contact. We knew we wanted to craft any solution into it. That's where Zapier came in.

Using Zapier, we built a Zap (cool name huh?) that created a Zendesk ticket anytime a potential villian signed up. Here's exactly how we did it:

  • Our ordering app uses Postrgres as a data store
  • Zapier let us sniff whenever a new row appeared in our orders table

  • If an order arrives with a high sift score we created a ticket in Zendesk with the likely fraudster's name, email, and other info. Here's what it looks like:

  • Zendesk emails the likely shady character, telling him/her that our system flagged them as potential fraud, and asks them to verify their identity. Here's what the potential villain sees:

  • To make sure we follow up we use Zendesk's Automations. We check back in 48 hours to see if the potential shadester rectified the situation and corrected our false assumptions. If not, we fire off an action to re-open the ticket and add an internal note so our customer service team can close the account and refund any money. Take a peek:

We hope this gives us more time to spend with the customers we care about. If we can weed out the troublemakers before they start using our service we'll get to do more of what we love - making our awesome customers happy.  

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