Unless you have been living under a rock for the last several years, you will most likely have heard of Xero and know that it’s one of the fastest growing and most effective cloud accounting platforms available on the market.
“I admit I’m one of those people who sleeps with their phone and never has screen-free time. Well, not since the invention of Twitter and the iPhone. I’m Xero’s community manager, and have been for almost 10 years now. This means my days are filled with checking the Xero accounts across the main social networks to see if anyone has asked a question or made a comment that needs a response from Xero. Sometimes these are from our customers and sometimes not, and the comments and questions are very broad in nature, temperament, urgency and topic!
But my life at Xero started a few years before this. When I joined Xero as part of the founding crew in 2006 we had no customers, no social media and of course no product! First there were 2, then 14 of us in a Wellington apartment researching and building a product and doing all manner of roles and errands. My first 3 years at Xero I wrote the predecessor to Xero Central, essentially the full user guide, which started out as a text-based document uploaded to each screen in Xero so that our customers had help from anywhere. I’m not an accountant or bookkeeper and have never owned a business nor kept the books for one, except for balancing my own cheque book back in the day. Which my patient logical brain actually liked! I still don’t know a lot about accounting although sometimes I surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth.
However, I do know Xero, and knew it inside out down to character limits on form fields back when Twitter and Facebook started catching the eye of businesses, and we signed up for Xero social media accounts alongside the ubiquitous blog and user forum that we already had.
Our customers and anyone else interested started coming to social media to find out about Xero, or talk about their experiences with Xero or other software, ask their peers for recommendations and celebrate their accomplishments or share their frustrations. We needed a Xero expert on the end of our social media accounts – right from the start we wanted to be accessible and human and available to our customers wherever they were and whatever their question. So being around for a while with knowledge across our entire business, and understanding our brand and responsibilities as a public company (which we were by then) I took on a role to be the voice of Xero on social media. For a while there, I was known as the Xero Twittress, but that didn’t stick as we grew our community across multiple platforms. That was a decade ago, and still to this day I’m there, one of the human beings at the end of comments, accolades, rants and anything else posted to us on social media.
These days my first thought in the morning can be of coffee, toast and what to wear because we no longer have 70 staff and 50,000 customers, but almost 3000 staff and 1.6 million customers, all around the world. So I share my role with 4 others in different timezones so we always have someone online no matter the time of day or night that a small business might be doing their books and have questions about Xero. Because let’s face it, small business is not 9-5!
You may wonder if online accounting software is being discussed on social media and it is! My day-to-day is reading through the comments and questions posted about Xero and either answering them on the spot or investigating what the answer might be if it’s something out of my area of expertise, or making connections with our support team or other staff. And yes, this takes all day! And sometimes into the night. When it doesn’t I’m helping to make new staff feel welcome, keeping up with happenings around the business, entering data into our demo companies, digging photos out of our archives, playing with new Xero features, knitting Xero baby sweaters, chatting or writing to those who ask about community management, or emailing/tweeting/messaging people I’ve come to know in our large global Xero community just to check in with how they are.
I try not to take everything personally but when I’m messaging with a customer or anyone else who posts about Xero on social media it is just them and me in that moment. Some are surprised in this age of automation that there’s a human being on the end of their post or tweet but at Xero there is, whether it’s me or one of my fellow community rockstars. We share all feedback posted with the right team, and if we can’t answer any questions we do everything we can to get someone who will. Has a customer driven me to tears? Yes! Often! But also brought me great joy and laughter.
I prefer to work on my laptop, but with everything in the cloud even when on my phone I’m always around. I live in New York now (thanks to working relentlessly towards my dream, the nature of my role and Xero’s flexible working policy) and I realize that our customers have had responses from me from cafes, waiting rooms, my couch, my office, a bench in Central Park, on the subway, on a plane, from NZ, Australia, Milton Keynes, Paris and at all times of the day or night. I love the community that’s developed around Xero whether it’s online or in person. Colleagues are family and customers are friends. Small business is so much a part of an owner’s personal life that I’ve been on the end of Twitter with customers facing death of pets and loved ones, hospital visits, floods, earthquakes, redundancy, retirement, marriage, babies, anger, joy and humdrum. And many have been there for me too. We host a Xero partner conference annually in different locations and it’s the highlight of my year to meet someone in real life after years or months of only knowing them as a Twitter profile pic or by their cat or dog.
I’ve long been personally dedicated to orange and affectionately known by friends and family as Orange Girl or OG and this is who I am at Xero too. So if you see OG on social media or blogs, forums, review sites or somewhere in person, please say hi! I’m always up for a coffee or to hear how your day is going.”
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