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Let's talk about weekly reminders from Concierge

Greg SchroederGreg Schroeder Posts: 9 Expensify Success Coach

If you’ve been using Expensify frequently as an individual user, employee, or administrator, you’ve probably received an email like this one:

This is Concierge’s Weekly Reminder Email, which is designed to remind folks that there are reports that need their attention. Generated every weekend, the reminder email works to provide you with a list of actionable reports at the beginning of each business week:

  • Open reports that need to be submitted
  • Open reports with violations that need to be fixed
  • Processing reports that are awaiting approval
  • Approved reports awaiting reimbursement
  • Reports that are awaiting export to your accounting software

This email is a pretty common point of contact from our customers, especially because many folks have reported that they don’t quite understand where this email comes from, how to resolve it, or how to just turn it off entirely.


So, where does this email come from? Concierge looks for reports that are being tracked in your Inbox. Look for the task that says "Here's the list of reports that need your attention.":

Once you’ve resolved all of the items listed in this task, you’ll no longer receive reminders from Concierge. It’s that simple!


All of that said, some customers have reported that the timing of the email might not work with their desired workflow in Expensify. For example, some users tend to submit their reports on a monthly basis and leave their reports Open for an extended period. As a result, the weekly reminder can feel a bit excessive.

In an effort to adjust the feature to be actionable and helpful for as many users as possible, we’re definitely looking into ways to improve reminders going forward. The Expensify team heavily values user feedback when molding the product, and we would love to work with you to improve reminders going forward.

Note: For transparency’s sake, it should be noted that weekly reminders are an extension of Concierge. We don’t currently have any plans to allow folks to disable Concierge at any point in the near future.

If we take a measured and collaborative approach, we can build the perfect reminder system that caters to all types of Expensify users. Please take a moment to share any ideas you have for improving how and when you receive the weekly reminder email in the comments below!

Comments

  • cbiowcbiow Posts: 8 Expensify Newcomer
    edited November 5

    Greg, it would be a significant improvement in Expensify to simply remove all misfeatures generating emails with Subject lines including "awaiting your action" and "Violations holding up," concerning the ordinary, routine expenses that haven't yet been submitted.
    Otherwise, if you can't remove it, perhaps rename "Concierge" to something representative of how it annoys customers. I've never had a human concierge run after me down the hall, shouting in my ear, demanding my attention to how much he's helping me. I've never had to implement two Gmail rules to silence a human concierge.

  • tylerzolltylerzoll Posts: 527 Expensify Pro

    @Greg Schroeder Thanks for the opportunity to provide some input here. Sometimes I think that the concierge reminder creates a little bit of a barrier from folks adopting the automated processes. One of the things that in my mind would help would be for the concierge reminder to work based off of the scheduled submit date. For example, if I have a scheduled submit date of the last day of the month, send out the concierge message that there are x number of violations holding x number of dollars.

    This way if a user has weekly report submission, the reminder goes out a couple of days before the end of the week. If they have monthly submission, a couple of days before the end of the month.

    It would also be nice for something to go out a day or two after the end of the month with a reminder for approvers to approve reports.

    I'm pretty confident that all of my users dismiss every email that comes from Expensify because they get so many of them even with the reduced emails feature turned on. I think if there were fewer emails, the emails that get sent would have more of an impact and drive folks to action.

    I'm all for the reminders, but please just not email. The Expensify inbox is a great place for reminders as well as notifications on the app.

  • Greg SchroederGreg Schroeder Posts: 9 Expensify Success Coach

    Hi @cbiow, appreciate you taking the time to comment!

    "It would be a significant improvement in Expensify to simply remove all misfeatures generating emails with Subject lines including "awaiting your action" and "Violations holding up," concerning the ordinary, routine expenses that haven't yet been submitted"

    Is the concern here that the copy on the email indicates that there's something seemingly dire to address? I know I've heard some folks say that "Violations" sounds too harsh or alarming, but that's just referencing what those items are called in the product. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative?

    "Otherwise, if you can't remove it, perhaps rename "Concierge" to something representative of how it annoys customers. I've never had a human concierge run after me down the hall, shouting in my ear, demanding my attention to how much he's helping me. I've never had to implement two Gmail rules to silence a human concierge."

    Ha, I certainly haven't experienced this either! Look, the intention certainly isn't to annoy folks, which is why we're here trying to make improvements. It sounds like this email in its current iteration isn't matching your expectations, so I'm all ears to any potential solutions beyond renaming the tool or turning it off completely. Thanks!

  • Greg SchroederGreg Schroeder Posts: 9 Expensify Success Coach
    edited November 7

    Hi @tylerzoll, thanks for contributing in the Community as always. :)

    First thing's first, I like the idea of making reminders more specific to each organization's chosen workflow, especially when it comes to submission timing. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that a hard and fast weekly timing will work for everyone, so more customizable timing options seem to be an obvious win.

    As for reminders a day or two after the month for approvers is similar to how we handled reminders for Automatic Statement Reporting. I think that's another iteration of making the reminder more dynamic to the chosen submission timing. 👍

    "I'm pretty confident that all of my users dismiss every email that comes from Expensify because they get so many of them even with the reduced emails feature turned on. I think if there were fewer emails, the emails that get sent would have more of an impact and drive folks to action."

    This really rings true for me, especially as I continuously monitor customer contact about these emails. I was struck by how many folks tend to ignore emails from Expensify because they're too ubiquitous. I know that I tend to follow that in my own personal life, so I certainly can't blame anyone who follows suit.

    Ultimately it sounds like a bit more control over the reminder method so that it can match up with your chosen workflow and cutting down on emails overall are the main takeaways here. Thanks a ton for the input!

  • cbiowcbiow Posts: 8 Expensify Newcomer

    @Greg Schroeder , I'll try to do a proper threaded response; this app doesn't seem to do that natively. (But Markdown does seem to do the right thing!)

    "It would be a significant improvement in Expensify to simply remove all misfeatures generating emails with Subject lines including "awaiting your action" and "Violations holding up," concerning the ordinary, routine expenses that haven't yet been submitted"

    Is the concern here that the copy on the email indicates that there's something seemingly dire to address? I know I've heard some folks say that "Violations" sounds too harsh or alarming, but that's just referencing what those items are called in the product. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative?

    "Violations" is certainly too harsh. Specifically, it's "crying wolf" which is one reason users will respond with rules to ignore it, or everything from Expensify.

    But my point is more general. These notices are primarily generated by ordinary use of the system and are therefore primarily crying wolf. Disable them all by default, and you'll do your users a great favor.

    Otherwise, if you can't remove it, perhaps rename "Concierge" to something representative of how it annoys customers. I've never had a human concierge run after me down the hall, shouting in my ear, demanding my attention to how much he's helping me. I've never had to implement two Gmail rules to silence a human concierge."

    Ha, I certainly haven't experienced this either! Look, the intention certainly isn't to annoy folks, which is why we're here trying to make improvements. It sounds like this email in its current iteration isn't matching your expectations, so I'm all ears to any potential solutions beyond renaming the tool or turning it off completely.

    Unfortunately, annoyance is the primary result (of this and most automated "reminder" emails). This is where a zero-based review is warranted. Turn in all off, and let users turn on the specific cases where it actually helps them. Study that user behavior, and perhaps you'll find others that might help.

    Always, provide a prominent unsubscribe to messages like these link. Make it single-click, so users don't have to navigate a laundry list of your in-house terms (like "Violation") to figure out what you thought you should have users try to do. Just turn it off when the user clicks. That user behavior will also indicate, for those users who haven't just created a rule to suppress them, how they regard your messages.

  • jbaxterjbaxter Posts: 35 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Greg Schroeder I also appreciate you asking for feedback.

    I can agree with both the posts from @cbiow and @tylerzoll as I have certainly experienced the same feedback. My clients REALLY have an issue with both the frequency and the language in the emails, to the point where one of our junior staff was yelled at by a frustrated CEO because she had to reject his report after he submitted it before the end of the statement period. The only reason he submitted it was because he is getting nagged by the Concierge to do so!

    The other point I would like to make is that the emails are trying to drive behavior that is not consistent with the process we have implemented for clients having card feeds. For clients using Expensify for cash expenses, having the concierge push them weekly is not as much of an issue as it helps them to ultimately get reimbursed faster. But for clients with a Corporate Card feed this approach just doesn't work.

    Before all these changes and when statement reporting was still an option we were able to successfully manage clients with card feeds on a monthly process. The reports always got created as per the settings, transactions for the month always landed on the right report and reconciling to the statement was simple.

    Now that this feature has been removed we have the following problems:
    1. Reports are getting submitted before the end of the statement period, causing us to have to reject.
    2. When reports are submitted before the end if the statement period and have status = 'Processing' new transactions for the same period are added to either a new report or a separate existing report. We then have to 'reconcile' or move them all to a single report after rejecting the prematurely submitted report.
    3. If we were to change the process to weekly instead of monthly and get on board with your new card reconciliation process, instead of having to do an integration to GP monthly I would have to do it weekly. So, my workload would quadruple. As we charge our clients a flat fee for this I now have 4hrs of work per month but the client is still only paying us for 1hr. How can we explain to them that their fee has to increase because Expensify is trying to make them submit reports weekly?

    My suggestion for all of this is that you really need to have flexibility for users to control how much communication they get and when they get it. I know you don't want to hear this but I also think you should also let them decide if they want to get it at all. Personally when something becomes annoying I just don't want it anymore. I worry that we are heading this way with our clients and they may insist that we either move to use other software or go back to the manual way of using excel and scanning receipts on a printer. This would be such a shame as there is so much about Expensify that is really great and it does overall really make our lives easier.

    In life we get bombarded with so many things we cannot control. If we can give people some control in this regard shouldn't we try to do it?

  • Greg SchroederGreg Schroeder Posts: 9 Expensify Success Coach

    Hi @cbiow, just getting back to your most recent comments!

    'Violations' is certainly too harsh. Specifically, it's "crying wolf" which is one reason users will respond with rules to ignore it, or everything from Expensify. But my point is more general. These notices are primarily generated by ordinary use of the system and are therefore primarily crying wolf. Disable them all by default, and you'll do your users a great favor.

    First thing's first, I just want to be candid and reiterate that Concierge is a core feature of Expensify and can't be disabled. And since these reminders are an extension of Concierge, our discussions here won't result in that outcome.

    Ultimately, I'm not sure I agree that reminder emails are an instance of "crying wolf". Let's take the violation reminder as an example. If a user has expenses that aren't matching up with rules of the company policy they belong to, those expenses are in violation of the desired workflow set up by the company admin.

    Can we agree that expenses that fail to meet the prescribed policy rules need to be resolved before they're approved/reimbursed/exported to accounting? The violation reminder should help end users use Expensify most optimally by guiding them to complete needed actions that have been left dormant for an extended period.

    As for the word "violation" itself, within the Expensify app and website, the term "violation" is used to notify both employees and administrators that something isn't quite matching up with the policy. This term is transported directly from in the product into the corresponding reminder email.

    Do you feel like it's also too harsh in the product? It seems to be quite an apt term to describe an out-of-line expense in relation to the policy settings.

    Unfortunately, annoyance is the primary result (of this and most automated "reminder" emails). This is where a zero-based review is warranted. Turn in all off, and let users turn on the specific cases where it actually helps them. Study that user behavior, and perhaps you'll find others that might help.

    Always, provide a prominent unsubscribe to messages like these link. Make it single-click, so users don't have to navigate a laundry list of your in-house terms (like "Violation") to figure out what you thought you should have users try to do. Just turn it off when the user clicks. That user behavior will also indicate, for those users who haven't just created a rule to suppress them, how they regard your messages.

    Feedback definitely received! I absolutely recognize that automated emails just aren't that valuable to you. That being said, I would say that a baked-in unsubscribe link is almost directly counter to our desired approach here. Our goal isn't to improve the reminder email by just allowing folks to turn it off; I don't think that solves the underlying problem. Instead, we want to limit superfluous noise by fine-tuning reminders to be more timely and appropriate across a broader swath of customer workflows.

    I'm confident we can find a middle ground here, though. There is planning underway to add in more user control over email timing (besides just turning it off :wink:) which should help address some of your concerns in this space. For example, one option being considered is to allow users to "Snooze" certain outstanding actions for a period of time; which, to your point, would give us a chance to scope which tasks seem most important to folks.

    Really do appreciate the contribution, as always! Thanks for taking the time to keep the discussion rolling. 👍

  • Greg SchroederGreg Schroeder Posts: 9 Expensify Success Coach
    edited November 16

    Hi @jbaxter; thanks for reaching out!

    My clients REALLY have an issue with both the frequency and the language in the emails, to the point where one of our junior staff was yelled at by a frustrated CEO because she had to reject his report after he submitted it before the end of the statement period. The only reason he submitted it was because he is getting nagged by the Concierge to do so!

    The other point I would like to make is that the emails are trying to drive behavior that is not consistent with the process we have implemented for clients having card feeds. For clients using Expensify for cash expenses, having the concierge push them weekly is not as much of an issue as it helps them to ultimately get reimbursed faster. But for clients with a Corporate Card feed this approach just doesn't work.

    Shoot, sorry to hear about this example! As previously noted in this thread, this exact issue is at the center of the improvement process for us. We're definitely aware that the timing of the reminder emails could be improved to fit workflows at a monthly scale or longer.

    Before all these changes and when statement reporting was still an option we were able to successfully manage clients with card feeds on a monthly process. The reports always got created as per the settings, transactions for the month always landed on the right report and reconciling to the statement was simple.

    Not to stifle the discussion here, this section of your response is a bit out of scope for this discussion about reminders. I'd recommend discussing the ASR deprecation process here. Thanks!

    My suggestion for all of this is that you really need to have flexibility for users to control how much communication they get and when they get it. I know you don't want to hear this but I also think you should also let them decide if they want to get it at all. Personally when something becomes annoying I just don't want it anymore. I worry that we are heading this way with our clients and they may insist that we either move to use other software or go back to the manual way of using excel and scanning receipts on a printer. This would be such a shame as there is so much about Expensify that is really great and it does overall really make our lives easier.

    Oh goodness, I can't imagine Excel and printers would ever be preferable over an automated solution like Expensify, but I definitely take your point here! "Annoying" is not a term we want associated with Expensify, but I appreciate the candid feedback.

    I think the most common point throughout of all of the replies in this thread is that having more control over the timing of the reminders would go a long way. That's at the top of my list in terms of future improvements so far. 👍

  • cbiowcbiow Posts: 8 Expensify Newcomer

    @Greg Schroeder I think your view of "rules of the company policy" may be predicated on an abstract model of a customer that understands all of your jargon, has a business process aligning with your ideals, and perfectly configures everything.

    Keep in mind that nowhere here has anyone complained about notifications that an expense amount exceeds policy limits. What we're complaining about is emails like [Expensify] Violations holding up $XXX.xx of expenses when:

    • There are no violations
    • Nothing is being held up

    Other than that part, sure, the email Subject line is spot-on! :s

    What is happening is that ordinary monthly expenses have been forwarded to [email protected], have undergone the usual categorization, and will be reviewed, updated, and submitted at end of month. Is there some internal mechanism of "violation" triggered by this situation? I should neither know nor care.

    In practice, these rules may be default settings or the least-bad configuration a rushed accounting person was able to quickly set. This is a pretty standard antipattern, where the user role absent from business process modeling becomes the victim of the resulting solution.

    Bottom line: if something called a "concierge" is mostly an annoyance, it's broken.

    I'm a bit passionate about this because it's such a disappointment. Expensify started as a quantum leap in ease of use for what's traditionally a painful chore. But now it's getting "enhanced" the sort of excresences that dilute this proposition.

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