Introducing the New Earth Class Mail

By Jess Garza and Nicole Hairston

“What’s new at Earth Class Mail?” is a question I’m asked frequently and I’m thrilled to finally be able to share some exciting developments with you! The last time you heard from me was when I joined the company as its new CEO. And while I wasn’t able to get into any specifics about what was in store for 2018, I’m proud to say, since then, we’ve been working feverishly to make significant upgrades to our product. 

First, let’s have a quick look back at this year so far. We’ve:

  • Processed approximately 1.5 million physical mail actions (like scanning, shipping, depositing checks) for you since January, which is on track to double the previous year’s activity.
  • Deposited over $1 Billion in checks for our customers to date, and close to $120 Million this year alone.
  • Processed 87.49 tons of mail items in 2017, and so far 49 tons to date this year (includes packages)

Thank you for allowing us to serve you!

Over the past six months, we’ve been laser-focused on learning what is most important to our customers as well as prospects considering our services in order to determine how we could create the greatest value for their businesses. 

One of the first things we learned is that we would need to provide more than just an updated look for our app and that we would have to build a more thoroughly updated user experience with more functional and efficient ways to use the service we provide to both individuals and businesses.  

To help us collect your valuable feedback and turn it into the effortless experience we’re committed to delivering, we brought in our new Director of Product, Nicole Hairston. Under Nicole’s leadership, thousands of customers were invited to engage with us in one way or another to share their experience and use cases. She challenged our team to look at our (now former) product roadmap with a critical eye to ensure that all that we planned to do aligned with both what customers asked for and what we, as experts in the industry, know they’ll want and need in the future. 

We’ve completely revamped the Earth Class Mail interface then added a number of improvements and new capabilities. 

Nicole explains the new improvements in detail below. 

We’re Listening 

Thanks, Jess! Many of you have expressed to us that you need a modernized, friendly and easy-to-navigate interface to manage your personal and business mail, so that’s exactly what we set out to provide. 

Here are some of the new improvements we’ve delivered so far that make it easier to digitally organize, share, automate and integrate physical mail into your back-office workflows. When you log in today, this is just some of what you’ll see, but by no means are we done: 

  • Share Mail Content via Email – Sending important mail to your team and contacts just got easier. Our new email share feature allows you to send mail contents as a searchable PDF attachment to one or more email addresses!
Share mail content via email
  • Organize with Custom Tags – You can now create and add one or multiple custom tags to any mail item for quick reference. Click on any of your custom tag(s) to quickly view a filtered list of the items you’re looking for.  
  • Filter your Account View – If you have Admin or Inbox access, you can now view all mail items at the account level in one consolidated view. We’ve provided improved visibility into the list of recipients on your account so you can then quickly and more easily filter your inbox by Recipient when needed. 
Filter Your Account View
  • Access Multiple Accounts – If you have multiple Earth Class Mail accounts, you can now quickly view and access each one from a new Accounts dashboard view. 
Access Multiple Accounts
  • Integrate Payments Received – We’ve added new integrations for Xero and Quickbooks Online to help you manage the payments you receive in your mail. After connecting security to one of these accounting services from your Earth Class Mail account, you can record payments to Xero or Quickbooks Online invoices with the click of a button. 
Integrate Payments Received

Paired with our CheckStream service, which allows you to request check deposits directly from your account, these accounting integrations can save you time and help avoid the hassle of having to track multi-check deposits in a spreadsheet or in an isolated application. 

Integrate Payments Received 2
  • Search and Find More – We’ve always had a search feature, but it was somewhat limiting in its results, only finding items with a specific status. Our updated search feature has fewer status restrictions and searches for content by any alphanumeric term across any scanned mail item in your Inbox. You can still search by Sender or Recipient, and we’ve added the ability to search by custom tag as well. 
Search and Find More
  • Brand New Look and Feel –  We gave the new customer interface a fresh color scheme makeover and added easy access to available actions you can request for your mail. 
Brand New Look and Feel
Brand New Look and Feel
Brand New Look and Feel 3

Our goal is to continually improve and simplify your experience so that it keeps getting easier and faster to use Earth Class Mail, in more ways, and with increasing value. The best part is that we’re just getting started!

As we get additional feedback from you and learn more about what works and what doesn’t, we will continue to iterate and improve. There are Support and Feedback links in your Inbox menu so that you can reach out when you need assistance and let us know what you think about the new Earth Class Mail experience. 

We look forward to continuing to build a paper transformation platform that enables you to turn your mail and office paper clutter into the first step of more efficient, digital and automated workflows!

Be well, Jess Garza, CEO Nicole Hairston, Director of Product   Header Image Credit: Steve Roe

Spotlight: Meet Russ Perry and DesignPickle.com

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series. Russ Perry is the Founder of Design Pickle, the world’s most helpful graphic design company – offering flat-rate, unlimited graphic design help to businesses large & small.

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

Of course! The long & short of it is this: Design Pickle is a flat-rate, unlimited graphic design service. We’ve got one monthly rate for unlimited requests and unlimited revisions.

No more wondering who’s working on your request each time, or worrying about revisions and scope of work driving up the cost of marketing materials!

Design Pickle solves a lot of problems for just about everyone, from the small business who doesn’t have an in-house designer to the entrepreneur who shouldn’t be spending time trying to put Facebook ads together for hours on end.

Our mission is to be the most helpful design company in the world, and that starts with alleviating the daily stress for our clients. 

How did you get started and why?

After about a decade in the creative agency arena, I found myself needing a change. I switched to individual consulting, but realized I didn’t want to be stuck designing business cards instead of getting to use my skills on a bigger level.

So I created a beta system of what would become Design Pickle – helping clients request their day-to-day production graphic designs. It kind of blew up after that!

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

Is it a total cheeseball response if I say I have a million of those? Yes? Ok then.

ONE that really stands out to me, and I just shared this with my team, is from a client who co-founded a great online start-up helping people be the best version of themselves.

Before finding us, she would agonize over blog post images and Facebook ads, trying to do everything herself and losing sight of what she was really working so hard to achieve. Her big-picture wasn’t in the picture because of the minutia.

It wasn’t until we were at an event here in AZ when her husband (and biz partner) came up to me and thanked me for giving her back her time, and in reality, her life!

She’s now able to focus her incredible talent & energy on growing their business and truly enjoy the “why” behind starting the business in the first place – building a community that will impact the world for good.

Bottom line, helping someone with a few simple graphics for marketing collateral can have a much bigger effect than I ever realized. I’m proud of my team for that.

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

I’m totally NOT a micromanager, but need to keep tabs on where my Pickle People sit on both big projects and daily dealings alike.  We use Trello for managing event plans and content strategy, and I Done This for the day-to-day tasks.

We get the satisfaction of checking off the to-do list each day in I Done This, but can keep big-picture plans moving via Trello boards.

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?

I think we were in a pretty standard situation for location-independent teams. I had my home office, my team had theirs, and we’d convene regularly to calibrate our plans at the local coffee joint.

I didn’t want my home address used for mail (read: my wife wasn’t thrilled by the idea of our humble abode’s location being broadcast to the world). Having a P.O. Box is the simple answer, but no street address lends itself to the “ehhhh, is this a legit business?” from clients & potential partners.

Plus you have to GO to a post office regularly to collect said mail (they don’t mess around when you neglect to pick up mail regularly. The disapproving side-eye from the clerk is the stuff of nightmares).

I found ECM and immediately knew it was for us. Secure, consistent, reliable, friendly. It’s kept me on top of the important mail and simplified the check deposit scenario for us.

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

Let’s see…by my calculations *carry the one*…Can I just say it’s been “priceless”? Because seriously, the peace of mind knowing that no Design Pickle team member is spending their time sorting through pre-approved credit card offers and penny-saver ads is especially valuable to me.

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

DO IT! Right now! How you wouldn’t see the obvious perks of this service is beyond me. Until everyone on this planet goes green & moves to digital correspondence, this is your ultimate weapon against wasted time.

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

Would you consider a service that sends thoughtful replies to Aunt Irene’s annual family status letter? How about going through my spam folder so I don’t miss out on that “Earn_thousands in ur sleep with this 1 $imple Hack” email?

Other than that, I think you’ve got all my needs covered!

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

Thank you for having me! I think my honest advice would be to make sure you’re systemizing or automating every task you can… just because it’s important enough to do, doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself!

Free up your bandwidth to focus on making moves and growing your business!

Also, pickle juice is an amazing option for relieving muscle cramps, so if you’re an active person, make sure you’re stocked up…knowing is half the battle. 

Open Source Experiment: Chargify App for Zendesk

From Steven Maguire, VP of Tech @ Earth Class Mail

One of the key value propositions of Earth Class Mail is the ability to access important business information, the kind contained in your mail and physical documents, from anywhere in the world.

This same principle drives the development of internal tools that we use to ensure our customers have a positive experience with our services.

The Problem

Two of the third-party tools that we use a lot everyday are the Chargify recurring billing platform and the Zendesk customer service platform. They are “mission critical” and we couldn’t deliver the level of service our customers expect without them.

Each of those tools contains important information about each customer, their accounts, history, pending support requests, and the like.

We noticed that our own team members were switching between Chargify and Zendesk dozens, if not hundreds, of times everyday.

The Solution

We also observed that the primary reason for switching to Chargify’s web UI was to view read-only data within Chargify’s platform. That is, they were just looking at customer information, not taking any billing related actions.

That observation led us to a very natural and, it seems now, obvious hypothesis:

If we eliminate the need to switch between Zendesk and Chargify, then our team members would be more productive and be able to provide better service to customers.

Fortunately, Zendesk supports a third-party application development platform, that means we can build internal tools that will work natively in the Zendesk platform. So now we have a great opportunity to test our hypothesis.

We’ve also decided to make our Chargify Zendesk app open source, so that anyone can use it. The reasons for that are:

  1. Zendesk apps are not how we make a living.
  2. The more contributors there are to this project, the more we will all benefit from a better product.
  3. If we can make it easy for other businesses to provide better customer service, then we’ve done some good in this world.

We’ve built, tested, and released a minimum viable product of the open source Zendesk app, here’s how:

Development

After reading the documentation for Zendesk’s Apps Framework v1 we learned a few things:

  1. A tool to create and scaffold a new blank project.
  2. A tool to lint and validate the code that you write for your project.
  3. A tool to package your application code in a zip file that will be uploaded, unzipped, and installed within your Zendesk account.
  • Zendesk supports a third-party app marketplace where you can find and install public applications; some free and some paid.
  • Zendesk supports installation of private apps without going through the marketplace.

With these observations in mind we created a goal for the experience of our app:

Whenever a Zendesk agent is viewing a customer profile or ticket, we want to use the email address associated with that customer or ticket to display customer and subscription records from within Chargify.

After some research we discovered that a single email address can be associated with more than one Chargify customer record, and each Chargify customer record can be associated with more than one subscription.

This discovery drove the decision to include two views:

  1. A customer search results view, and
  2. A customer detail view.

Using the “app.activated” event emitted by the Zendesk application framework we attempt to load the customer search results view first.

During the creation of this view we use Zendesk’s Data API to fetch the customer’s email if we are looking at a customer profile view in Zendesk, or the requester’s email if we are looking at a ticket.

With this value in memory we issue a customer search to Chargify to fetch customer results.

We introduced a few use cases here:

  • If no Chargify customer records are returned we update the search results view with an “empty results” alert.
  • If more than one Chargify customer records are returned we update the search results view with a list of each of those customer records as links which will load a customer detail view.
  • Finally, if a single Chargify customer record is returned we redirect the application to that customer detail view; we feel a search results page with one result is not valuable.

When loading a customer detail view we issue a couple other calls to Chargify to first fetch the fully hydrated customer record as well as a second call to fetch each of the subscriptions associated with the customer.

When all this data is available we update the customer detail view to display the data.In order to facilitate these API calls to Chargify our Zendesk application needs to know two pieces of unique information:

  1. The subdomain associated with our Chargify account
  2. The API key associated with our Chargify account

Fortunately, the Zendesk framework provides a way to ensure we can gather and securely store that information during installation.

In the unlikely event that the app begins running and that information has not been set, the app will display a third settings view with instructions on adding that information via the Zendesk API.

Installation

Another hat tip to Zendesk here as they have made the installation and management of third-party apps very simple and straightforward.

The process involves:

  1. Downloading the zip file of the latest binaries
  2. Uploading the zip file
  3. Accepting some terms and conditions
  4. Providing subdomain and API key

That’s basically it! Be sure to read the documentation on the project page for a more granular walkthrough.

Additionally, if you need to update your subdomain or API key, you are welcome to do so via the API or a point and click interface provided by the Zendesk App management tool.

Once installed the app will appear in a new pane to the right of a Zendesk user profile view and Zendesk ticket view.

The Future

We mentioned previously that this project was designed as a minimum viable product, and that’s what we’ve delivered here. While our team is really enjoying the current version, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Here’s a short list of immediate opportunities that we see:

  • Add client side caching to reduce API traffic to Chargify’s API
  • Add nested detail views for things like Subscription Statements, Subscription Invoices, etc
  • Add some update operations to push data into Chargify’s API
  • Add the project to the Zendesk App Marketplace
  • Minor enhancements designed to get novice engineers involved in open source; look for the “first-timers-only” label in the issues.

Contributions to the project are very much welcome in regards to any of the items listed above, or any other improvements you can dream up!

Meet David Fideler, Owner of Concord Editorial and Design

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, David Fideler. David is the owner of Concord Editorial and Design, and the creator of the blog Brainstorm Every Day. 

Concord Editorial creates books for publishers in the United States, and Brainstorm Every Day helps people generate ideas and create their own business opportunities. 

David Fidler, Concord Editorial

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

We create high-quality books, mainly for university presses. The thing that sets us apart is the quality of our work — from the design, to the editing, to the quality control processes we use to make sure every book is error-free.

How did you get started and why?

From the day I was born, I grew up around books and publishing. My father owned a textbook publishing company, which he started as a young man. Then, when I was twenty-four, I started my own publishing company which I ran for twenty years.

After that, I started Concord Editorial to create books for other publishers. I’ve now worked to bring well over 100 books into print, probably closer to 200.

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

Not really, because all of our customers are happy with our work. That’s because we guarantee total customer satisfaction. In fact, we won’t deliver a project until a customer is fully satisfied with every aspect of our work.

In my view, every business should guarantee total customer satisfaction.

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

Five years ago I decided to move my business overseas to where I now live in Sarajevo, in southern Europe. Without question, that was my best decision. I used to be based in West Michigan, and my editors still live and work in the United States, but after visiting Sarajevo I just fell in love with the city and decided to move here.

When I started the business ten years ago I designed it to be a location-independent company, but I had no idea I’d eventually relocate overseas and even buy a home here. Book publishing is not the highest-paying field in the world, and outsourcing work to other countries has been going on for many years now. In this case, I decided to outsource myself and take advantage of the much lower cost of living here to increase my quality of life.

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

Actually, I can offer more than one. There’s a resource guide available on my website, Brainstorm Every Day, that describes in-depth “The 12 Tools and Hacks I Use to Run My Business From Overseas”. I included Earth Class Mail in that guide because it’s one of my most important tools.

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

Ever since I moved my business here five years ago, Earth Class Mail has been invaluable. I couldn’t run my business without it. It gives me total control of all my mail at a distance, and I’ve never once had a single problem with the service.

The most important feature of Earth Class Mail, for me, is the automatic check deposit feature. It works perfectly. Based on the research I did before leaving the United States, Earth Class Mail is the only company that really has this down as a complete, affordable service that is totally automated.

Whenever I get an envelope containing a check, the check is scanned, automatically identified as a check by the software, and automatically deposited into my business’s bank account. It just works flawlessly, each and every time.

Another feature that is very helpful is the cloud storage of everything you receive in the mail. After my documents are scanned and my checks are deposited I have Earth Class Mail recycle the original hardcopy documents, but keep all the PDF scans online in cloud storage until I have time to print them out and process them. I often get very busy with work so while I have my checks deposited immediately, I can wait even a few months to update my invoicing database, whenever I have the time.

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

For the life of me, I can’t think of anything. Earth Class Mail fully meets my needs, it lets you work anywhere and still have a U.S.-based company.

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

Yes — I truly believe we are living in the best time ever for anyone to create a location-independent business. I feel so strongly about this that I’m now creating an online course to help people who want to start their own business and, most importantly, do the marketing so they can get great clients no matter where they live.

When I started my book design business ten years ago I wanted to be able to work with clients anywhere in the United States, because at the time the economy was just so terrible where I lived in West Michigan. I had no idea that I’d one day move to another country, I just wanted to be able to work with anyone, anywhere. That, in my mind, was the best way to be financially secure.

So if anyone is reading this and contemplating something similar, I want to encourage them and let them know that yes, it really is possible.

Case Study: How HealthyHearing.com Uses Earth Class Mail to Increase Online Review Volume

HealthyHearing.com connects its 2,000,000 visitors to a national network of hearing centers and clinics. They also provide industry leading thought leadership on hearing loss and hearing aids. It’s estimated that 28 million Americans are impacted by some degree of hearing loss.

The Setup

With a demographic that trends older, 55 and over, HealthyHearing.com struggles at times with generating the online engagement they need from their users. 

Although that age group can be tech savvy, it’s still a generation that appreciates a handwritten note over an email. – Dr. Paul Dybala, President at HealthyHearing.com

In 2011, Healthy Hearing rolled out a new feature allowing users to leave reviews for the more than 2,000 clinics in their directory. The review process was simple and completed entirely online.

The jury was still out on whether users would remember to come back to the site and leave a review after visiting a clinic. Would they respond better if they had the option to submit a handwritten review instead?

The Experiment

To give their users a more traditional option for leaving reviews, Healthy Hearing implemented a solution that allowed clinics to provide postcards to their patients. The patients could write their review and then mail it in. The postcards would then be transcribed and published online.

Since the Healthy Hearing team is completely virtual, they initially used a PO Box located near one of the editors. Hundreds of postcards started to roll in, but managing all that wasn’t ideal.

The Problem

It worked ok, but there was a delay as the editor would pick up mail once a week from the post office and then it took a while to get the information from the postcards entered into our system.

Soon, Healthy Hearing would learn of another pitfall. The editor in charge moved to another company, leaving behind thousands of postcards and a PO Box nobody else could access. This would inevitably lead to delays, and likely frustrated consumers and clinics.

They needed a solution that was scalable, accessible for a virtual team, and reliable.

The Solution

With a real problem on their hands, Healthy Hearing reached out to Earth Class Mail for a solution. They needed a physical address with virtual mail management for their team.

New postcards were printed with the Earth Class Mail address. Those were distributed to the clinics in the network, while the old ones were recycled. 

Knowing that not all of the old postcards would be dropped from the network, mail forwarding was setup from the old PO Box to the new address.

We then had mail forwarded from the old mailbox to the new ECM address and monitored what addresses were listed on the postcards coming in. 

About 3 years later, with virtually all of the postcards coming direct to the Earth Class Mail address, they shut down the old mailbox. 

More importantly, the postcard reviews don’t live in a silo anymore. They can be accessed from anywhere, making transcription scalable. 

The Results

Postcards now account for 50% of all reviews posted to HealthyHearing.com, and it’s increasing. There are two team members currently monitoring and managing the program, both completely remote.

The use of these postcards are important for the demographic that we serve and ECM has enabled us to do this in an efficient way. 

The Healthy Hearing team focused on what their users wanted and, based on their research, found that the paper reminder and process would resonate well. 

They also knew that the address transition would not be a clean one for the clinics, and the time it took to filter out mail from the old address confirmed that.  

ECM helps us to deliver on our promise to help serve the consumers and clinics that use our website and to do this efficiently with our virtual team. – Dr. Paul Dybala

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.

Meet Lauren McLeod, Co-founder at Flightfox

Our customer’s 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 customer’s 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. 

Meet Claire Lew, CEO of KnowYourCompany.com

Our last customer spotlight highlighted a long time Earth Class Mail customer.  This time around we chat with one of our newest customers.   I am thrilled to introduce you to Claire Lew, CEO of KnowYourCompany.com. KnowYourCompany.com is a killer software tool that helps CEOs with 25 to 75 employees overcome growing pains.  I used when I was CEO of HomeFinder.com, and we’re implementing at Earth Class Mail this week.

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

Sure thing! I’m Claire Lew, the CEO of Know Your Company. We’re a simple software tool that helps business owners with 25 to 75 employees overcome growing pains. The software was originally built by Basecamp (formerly 37signals). Since then, Know Your Company has helped over 8,000 people at companies like Airbnb and Kickstarter.

What do I mean by “growing pains”? As the founder of your company, you start with 5 or 10 people. But then you hit 30, 40, 50 employees. As you grow, it gets harder and harder to know what your employees think about the company, and how they think things could be better. Sustaining a good company culture is tough to do. You just don’t feel as “in tune” with your company anymore.

That’s where Know Your Company comes in. Every week, you’re guaranteed to learn something new about your company you never knew before. You’ll learn what folks are working on, you’ll learn how people feel about employee benefits, the vision of the company, etc. And you’ll learn more about your employees, and feel more connected to them as people.

How did you get started and why?

We were actually originally a software product built by Basecamp (formerly 37signals). In December 2013, they spun it out Know Your Company as it’s own separate company and asked me to run Know Your Company as its CEO (you can read more about the spin-off here).

How did I get involved in all of this, to begin with? A few years ago, I was an unhappy employee. I was working at an early stage ecommerce company. As an employee, I would have ideas and suggestions that I wanted to voice to our CEO – but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. I felt that I couldn’t give open and honest feedback at work.

So I decided to quit my job and dedicate myself to solving this problem. I founded ClarityBox, a consulting practice for CEOs, to help CEOs uncover what their employees really thought about the company, and to help employees feel more connected to their company, as well.

Basecamp (then called 37signals) was my first official client. Coincidentally, Basecamp also happened to be focused on solving the same problem. They were building a software product…called Know Your Company. The rest is history from there!

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

Ah, yes! We’re lucky to have quite a few customer success stories. One story that always sticks out to me is about one of our customers, Paul Bellow, co-CEO of Yellow Pencil, a web consultancy based in Canada. He told me that they actually changed their target market as a company because of suggestions that employees gave through Know Your Company. Without Know Your Company, Yellow Pencil never would’ve learned that valuable insight and made that important shift in their business.

That’s just one story, though. If you were curious, we’re humbled to have a whole bunch of nice things that other CEOs have said about us.

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

By far, the best business decision I made in the last year is to hire our programmer, Matt. He absolutely kicks butt. Plus, we’re a small company too – two people, in fact 🙂 We support over 8,000 people who use our product. So choosing Employee #2 was critical. It goes to show how the right hire can really make all the difference. Matt, thank you for everything you do for us!

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

One tip I try to live by is “focus”. Sure, it’s common to hear, “You need to have focus in your business.” But practicing that on a daily basis requires real disciple.

For us, as a small company, we have to stay focused in order to survive. And it’s paid huge dividends.

To force ourselves to be focused, we’ll pick one thing to focus for a month – and only one thing – and throw all of our energy behind it. For instance, one month our focus might be to redesign our blog. Another month, it might be to improve our Icebreakers feature.

By only choosing to focus on one thing at a time, we’re able to execute on that one thing much better.

Why did you choose to become a EarthClassMail customer?

I’m out on the road pretty often, doing a lot of speaking (you can check out some of the talks I’ve done here, if you’d like!). We’re also a 100% remote company (I live in Chicago, Matt lives in Atlanta).

So checking our mail regularly can be a real obstacle. I loved the fact that EarthClassMail takes all the hassle out of it. Now, I no longer have to worry, “Oh is a client’s check arriving soon, and will I have time to cash it?” Or, “Am I going to miss an important insurance notice because I’m out on the road the next month?”

EarthClassMail saves me all that time and stress. Signing up for the service was a no-brainer for us.

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

Thanks so much for having me here! Was fun to share a bit about ourselves, and hopefully, it was useful to learn about us too. If you’re business owner who’s felt those growing pains I mentioned earlier, definitely feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected], or check us out at http://knowyourcompany.com. I’d love to see if we could help.

Have a great week! 

Want to make your business more efficient?  Sign up for Earth Class Mail and say goodbye to paper mail drudgery.