An open and honest manifesto to Expensify, if you care to listen
I have to say, overall I am extremely disappointed with Expensify lately. I really feel that when we started the process almost three years ago to convert to Expensify, that as a Company/Enterprise level account, we were severely mislead. During the onboarding/demo/sales process, never once was it emphasized that Expensify's far reaching philosophy was everything was driven to be strictly user centric, even if it directly contradicted what the company paying for the service was intending, wanting, or needing. We were always impressed by how intuitive Expensify was to a users needs, because I think we can all agree that the easier a product is to use for it's end users; the better the adoption and results stemming from the product are.
Instead, we were promised a product that could fulfill all the needs we expressed, and good customer service with quick problem resolution. The beginning was rough, with very little formalized training and self service implementation. We understandably ran into quite a few kinks and issues the first 3-6 months. Keep in mind, this is before the community even existed, or there were regular training sessions for admins. Expensify also made a lot of mistakes (https://community.expensify.com/discussion/690/a-brand-new-look-for-a-brand-new-year Changing the entire user interface and design during year end, the worst timing possible, with no forewarning or communication to admins and customers. Or who could forget the billing increase announced right on the heels of the UI changes disaster? https://community.expensify.com/discussion/731/new-billing-options-for-your-expensify-account).
Eventually, Expensify seemed to be learning more and increasingly flexible to feedback (when Expensify wanted to get rid of Statement Reporting, but ended up delaying it due to overwhelming user response). Expensify even deployed some things that made admins lives easier (Don't get me started on the nightmare of having to walk an employee through addressing an 'unreported' credit card expense). Expensify seemed to be evolving and improving for the better.
We were still unsure if Expensify was everything it said it'd be, but quickly gained confidence when we were given a dedicated success coach (the ever amazing and talented @Nicole Mendonca) Life was good in the world of Expensify. We found a workable means around some of the issues we had. Everything was running smoothly for the most part, and even though issues and problems became increasingly rarer, when I had an issue or hiccup, Nicole always took care of everything. EVERYTHING. She listened and provided workable solutions for our issues. If there was a technical issue on Expensify's side, she'd always get it handled. Even if it probably meant badgering the engineers repeatedly for follow up. She was relentless in her pursuit of making Expensify continuously better, not just for me, but all her customers. She was always very candid and realistic in what she could help with or influence.
So things were good, right? I know we were a very 'healthy' account for Expensify. Expensify had a regular source of revenue for about 300-400 users monthly, with very little maintenance needed. I would like to think that for every issue I brought up that needed Expensify to be hands on, I either saved Expensify time later on by identifying a vulnerability, OR I paid it back within the community by taking my own time to help users navigate the complicated process of getting set up as an enterprise level account and administering it through best practices.
It sounds like over time, Expensify has taken an even harder shift towards only focusing on individual users instead of enterprise accounts. Except, you all kind of forgot to tell your Enterprise customers. I guess the writing was on the wall, when your support model changed drastically and we were stripped of our success coach.
After we lost our dedicated Success coach and were informed your support model was changing, we were promised we would feel no impact. We could continue to get the same level of support through Concierge. Rather than have a team of experienced and dedicated professionals who were well versed in the unique challenges an enterprise account may have, you decided to lump us all in to the same abysmal support queue. Where people inquiring on credit cards that no one seems to know the answer to, or anyone’s tech averse Grandma who couldn’t figure out how to download the app (let alone complicated API, policy creation, credit card administration, complicated engineering issues, etc) can now inquire and get the same flat level of support. Support from Concierge is now a Russian Roulette. Would I get someone helpful? Would I get someone knowledgeable? Do they know I'ma kinda an Expensify bada$$? Will they give my issue the attention it deserves, or write me off as a more pedestrian user who hasn’t already researched the community and all available documentation, and give me a pre-canned response offering such that isn’t all that helpful?
How about my users, can I get issues resolved for them like I used to? And explain it to Expensify in language that they understand versus having the employee reach out directly to concierge and potentially unknowingly use our own company jargon that is foreign to Expensify?
Well, after months of API issues that have gone unresolved (it remains an open unanswered question in the community, one of over 50. The final concierge response was that Expensify has an open 'self serve' API that they couldn't support end users on through issues, and to consult the community. Our most talented and senior software developer spends hours at the end of the month manually pulling and calling the integration because of these unresolved API issues. A quite menial task, but one that has such a huge impact on our business that it is unavoidable. My Chief Technology Officer just LOVES having his best talent having to waste time to make up for Expensify’s shortcomings), unresolved issues surrounding the rules for mileage no longer working (since August, and we get put in an never ending cycle of being directed to email concierge, or posting on the community, and 'people would look into it'. Still, no resolution. It's been almost HALF A YEAR. That is embarrassing knowing this is a major functionality for our end users that is contributing negatively to productivity and ease of use for our employees), and countless other things, I can say confidently that the level of support we've received is staggeringly different from what we were guaranteed.
To add insult to injury, instead of focusing on fixing existing problems, you all decided to roll out your credit card program in the most tasteless and disastrous way possible. You refuse to turn the advertising off, despite an outcry and practical mutiny from your user base. You all are in direct violation of several aspects of the FTC's guidelines and laws for the CAN-SPAM act. Expensify's responses have been tone deaf, condescending, incorrect, confusing, and you have lost what little faith I have left in Expensify. You don't even care that your enterprise level users are saying they will be looking for a new solution.
I have long advocated that Expensify really needs to expand it’s offerings to have BOTH a user driven product, and a product tailored more for enterprise level accounts. Too many facets of your functionality are EASILY changeable, but you refuse to, because you state that it COULD affect how SOME of your users use Expensify. This makes it really difficult from a company or enterprise level to optimize our users experience. I have gone above and beyond to try and make my ideas and voice heard, and advocated for enterprise users. I have offered valuable feedback and ideas that went unacknowledged beyond the amazing Expensify team in the Community. Expensify just really isn’t interested in changing under anyone's terms but their own. So I guess the only change left to make, is to change expense solutions. Expensify, who do you recommend from a larger enterprise account perspective since you continually make it clear you are only interested in supporting individual users?
I know many enterprise levels who will be doing the same within the next year. I can’t imagine this is sustainable from a business perspective, to lose vast amounts of bulk paying customers, in order to opt for individual users or small business accounts. Especially now in a time where subscription based services are being scrutinized more heavily from consumers, and it’s easy to enroll in services that will do ALL THE WORK to unsubscribe for you. Soon, all your revenues from low maintenance people who require little hands on time (because they forgot they even signed up for it or didn’t realize they did because it can be very tricky to set up policies) will be replaced with smaller users who need lots of hand holding and guidance to actually use your product effectively. You will find yourself in an endless cycle, where instead of spending a little more resources on the front end to implement accounts for larger organizations that then basically run themselves and generate significant subscription numbers monthly, you will struggle to increase or maintain monthly subscription counts. Your credit card looks like it leaves much to be desired, and you’ve left SUCH a sour taste in the mouths of those that actually have any ability to implement it, that you will probably never see their business or get your cut of their credit card processing fee revenues.
This is what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you, and then fart in it’s face and make us smell it. I hope I’m wrong, because you have many amazing employees who don’t have the control or influence to guide some of these bigger top down decisions. You can’t be a one hit wonder, and rely on your initial model of gaining usershare by providing a great product that makes those users influence it’s companies to use your services. That model only works when your space doesn’t have as much competition as the current state. That model only works if you are keen to solving problems for your customers, and getting better, and providing a better product that can’t be replaced. That model only works if you have great customer support that fixes and resolves issues, TIMELY, and without repeated nagging follow up when they continue to go unresolved.
Do better, Expensify Leaders. Your core base of customers and employees deserve it.