Open Startup: Hand-to-Hand Combat

Phew! Ever since the Mashable story hit I’ve been scrambling to keep up with the new customer signups at Askablogr. To get a sense for the kinds of folks who are signing up, I decided to make a point of welcoming each new member personally, including a visit to the blog they registered as a part of their profile. As it turns out, this was a very time-consuming task, and because Askablogr isn’t my primary focus it was easy to fall behind.

I finally caught up this afternoon, sending off a welcome question to our most recent signup, user number 363. Things have calmed down since the story hit, so I expect to be able to keep up with things a little better going forward, but for the past few weeks I’ve felt like I was climbing a customer service mountain, and the summit kept getting higher.

The most interesting takeaway from this exercise was the global diversity of signups we saw as a result of the story. I haven’t actually counted, but it feels like a majority of our new members are international, primarily from Spanish-speaking countries (Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico), but with a healthy distribution of Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Indian members as well. My language skills are limited, but I did my best to welcome these folks with a nod to their native tongue, which was fun to do but added significantly to the time required (thanks, Google Translate).

I’m considering automating this initial welcome message going forward, but I’m glad I took the time to tackle this initial wave of signups personally. I now have a much clearer picture of the kinds of folks who are responding to the idea, and the way they’re implementing the widget on their blog. Next step: decreasing friction around the ‘ask a question’ process to increase the volume of questions our members receive.